New Documentary Follows A French Gay Couple’s Journey To Las Vegas To Start A Family Via Surrogacy

What defines a family? And who gets to decide what defines a family? Do we all have equal opportunities and support to plan and start our families? What if you are a gay couple living in a country that forbids same-sex surrogacy, and refuses to view the children of said couple as essentially “non-existent”? This is the central question being explored in a powerful new documentary called ‘Ghosts of the Republique’, out now on Amazon Prime, iTunes and other platforms.

Titled after the classification given to children borne through surrogacy for same-sex couples, ‘Ghosts of the Republique’ follows Aurelien and Nicolas, who, when confronted with France’s conservative surrogacy laws (where surrogacy is illegal), decide to exhaust their last option by traveling to Las Vegas to start a family of their own through international surrogacy. Nicolas and Aurelien’s story is unique in that it is a portrayal of the same-sex experience in creating a biological family through surrogacy, a technology developed in the 1980’s becoming more and more commonplace each year. This technology is one that has not only brought hope to couples who struggle with infertility but also to couples who struggle with equality. But while it is a source of hope for many, surrogacy also raises ethical considerations with various legal implications across the globe.

“We’ve achieved marriage equality in the US and other countries around the world, but today’s laws are far from clear when it comes to surrogacy, and that’s where things really get interesting…the idea of what a family is, is one of the most coveted values in society, and ‘Ghosts of the Republique’ shows us that the definition of family is constantly changing,” said director Jonathon Narducci in a statement.

Through the lens of one family, this film demonstrates the extreme lengths many gay couples go to have children, while highlighting the ever-expanding and controversial surrogacy industry. This powerful film seeks to explore the complexities of the issues, and in particular, asks, what does define family in our modern age?

After watching this film and feeling ALL the feels along with Nicolas and Aurelian in their journey, we had the opportunity to speak with their surrogate Crystal, based in Las Vegas, about her relationship to the French couple, helping them start a family of their own, and breaking down misconceptions and fears about the idea of surrogacy.

Nicolas, Aurelian, Crystal and baby Louise in ‘Ghosts of the Republique’

How did you first decide to become a surrogate? 

I was actually first exposed to it through my occupation. I started working for a local fertility center in 2004. The 1st time I encountered a surrogate I thought it was just the neatest thing. At the time I had barely started my own family so it was not really an option. Almost 7 years later and after 2 babies of my own,  I finally made the decision to move forward. 

You have helped Aurelian and Nicolas have two children. The first was shown in the film. How was the pregnancy experience with the second baby?

The 2nd baby was a much for relaxed experience since we all knew what to expect. They knew they could trust me and I knew they were going to be there for me every step of the way. When I delivered the second baby I didn’t even have my husband come as my “support person” because I knew Nicolas and Aurelien would be there to support me the entire time. 

Do you keep in contact with Aurelian and Nicolas quite often? And how has your bond deepened since the experience of helping them start a family? 

They have become a 2nd family to me. We have frequent contact, at least once a week I get a little message or a picture of them or the kids, or I update them on what is going on in my life. I have been to Paris twice and they still come to the U.S. often. We had plans to spend a week together earlier this year for Spring Break….but Covid. We are all looking so forward to the day we can be together again. The bond that was created from this unique and intimate experience with Nicolas and Aurelien has no comparison.   

For those who might be uncomfortable at the idea of surrogacy, what would you say to them after being through it yourself? 

Most of the time when people are uncomfortable about the idea it’s because they are misinformed about how surrogacy works and how both parties benefit from the experience. I love to tell how surrogacy changed my life for the better in so many ways. I know that I am a more confident woman today because of surrogacy and my experience with Nicolas and Aurelien. 

Here in the United States there is increasing restrictions around reproductive rights and abortion access, and France we see a different side of the same coin in terms of control and restriction. What are your thoughts on the way governments work to restrict and control personal decisions around family planning? 

When it comes to abortion…I hate it! No woman should be told what to do with her body. Abortions are something that women should always have safe access to. 

When it comes to LGBTQ discrimination, it just baffles me. Most often the very same people that are forcing these beliefs of what a “traditional family” looks like, are lucky enough to have families of their own that they too yearned for. What makes them think they have any more of a right to have a family then any other human being!

If you are comfortable sharing, how did you work out the details of your involvement post-birth, specifically around breastfeeding? 

We discussed the option of me pumping and providing the baby with breast milk during our initial meeting. I don’t think this was a deal breaker for them either way. However, I was happy to do it. I know how important that breast milk can be in the baby’s development. I knew that I wanted to give both those babies the best start in life I could. I never actually “nursed” either baby. 

How do you feel now that the film is about to be released? Are you excited for more people to see your experience as a surrogate and to see Nicolas and Aurelian’s story? 

I am super excited! I want people to see how wonderful those two men are,  I want people to see how much I enjoyed the process, I want people to see surrogacy done right, and I want people to see how unfair the laws are for gay couples.

What do you hope audiences will take away most or be inspired by after watching ‘Ghosts of the Republique’? 

I want people to see that surrogacy isn’t “dirty”. It’s not just some rich person paying some poor woman to carry a baby. Its regular people finding a way to fulfill their greatest desire…creating a family. It’s a woman doing something for someone else that makes her feel good about herself and teaching her own children compassion and giving. 

You can watch ‘Ghosts of the Republique’ on Amazon Prime, iTunes and other platforms now.