• Left to right: Eric Portenga, Maureen Farris and Kevin O’Neill with the triplets. Photo credit: Ted Stevens/Akron Children’s Hospital via Akron Beacon Journal

Ann Arbor Couple Beyond Overjoyed After Birth of Rare Identical Triplets: ‘It’s Just a Bizarre Fantasy’

'We love these girls' birth story,' says the couple's surrogate

By |2021-10-08T14:09:39-04:00October 8th, 2021|Michigan, News|

Who says three’s a crowd? Not this Michigan couple who recently welcomed rare identical triplets. Kevin O’Neill and Eric Portenga of Ann Arbor welcomed baby girls Parker, Robin and Sylvie O’Neill via their surrogate Maureen Farris on Sept. 9. Farris, the couple said, will play a role in their daughters’ lives.

“In our mind’s eye, before this started, the surrogate was always going to have to be a part of the kid’s life,” O’Neill told the Akron Beacon Journal.

O’Neill, a native of Scotland, and Portenga, a Michigander, met when Portenga moved abroad to pursue his doctoral degree in earth science. The couple came back to Michigan for work. O’Neill is the chief administrator for Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Michigan. Portenga, meanwhile, is an assistant professor of earth surface processes at Eastern Michigan University.

“We wanted to be dads and that was a cornerstone of our relationship,” said O’Neill to ABJ.

Farris was initially scheduled for a cesarean section at the Cleveland Clinic Akron General at 34 weeks. But when both Farris and the babies were doing fine, doctors pushed back the delivery so the babies would have an extra week to grow. When they finally came out, Parker was 4 pounds, 14 ounces; Robin was 4 pounds, 11 ounces; and Sylvie was 4 pounds, 8 ounces. The babies spent 18 days in the NICU and were able to come home to Michigan after a month.

“Nobody ever dreams of having triplets,” said O’Neill. “It’s just a bizarre fantasy. It changed our mindset of being so overjoyed to ‘Oh my god, we’re getting three and all the logistics that come with it.’”

Farris said she looks forward to the day when the girls can be told about how they were brought into the world.

“We love these girls’ birth story,” she said. “And I hope someday we can sit around the table and share it with them and tell them and they’ll love it as well and be proud of it as we are.”

About the Author:

Jason A. Michael
Jason A. Michael joined Between The Lines as a contributing writer in 1999. He has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author for his authorized biography "Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story," released on his own JAM Books imprint.