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First surrogate baby ever born in the Fox Cities soon to give birth to her own daughter

Dr. John Harris, Annette Popke, baby Lacey Popke
Posted at 11:00 PM, May 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-24 18:11:35-04

APPLETON (NBC26) — Lacey Popke likes to say she has two moms: the one who gave her life and the one who raised her.

“I was told that I was a surrogate baby because my mom couldn’t have her own kids," she said. "It turns out that her eggs were even rotten.“

Almost 28 years ago, her mother Annette’s cousin, Rachel Tolmacs, offered to carry a child for her.

“The one thing my mom always wanted was a little girl," said Popke. "And she hoped and hoped and hoped. When I finally came out as a girl, she was so excited.“

Growing up, Popke learned more the doctor who made her life possible.

“Appleton Medical Center, at that time, kind of frowned upon doing surrogacy," she said. "Dr. John Harris was the one who is on the medical board, and he was like, ‘I’m about to retire, so I’m just going to help you guys out.'”

Dr. Harris passed away in 2016, before Popke ever got to thank him.

“He had a little snippet of his obituary that his first accomplishments with in vitro fertilization and surrogacy," she said. "I’m like, I was mentioned practically in his obituary, and I didn’t even know he died.“

Now on week 38 of her own pregnancy, Popke will give birth to her daughter any day, at the now-Thedacare Regional Medical Center. She already has a name picked out: baby girl Sierra. This all has her father, John Popke, feeling pretty grateful.

“That’s what got me started thinking about, it’s coming full circle," he said.

Lacey just wishes her mother were still alive to witness another dream come true.

“It would be nice to still have her here," said Popke. "So that she could experience having a grandchild.“

Rachel Tolmacs and Lacey Popke