PATRICIA ADAIR has given birth to four children - three of her own and, in between her own second and third, one for another woman. The child born three years ago, she stresses, was never hers but always belonged to Sharon and John.
Mrs. Adair, as a surrogate mother, was impregnated with John's sperm. Now she says she is proud to have carried a child for a deserving couple who were unable to have their own.
Her husband and her first two children, sons now aged seven and five, supported her throughout.
At first her parents ``didn't understand.'' And some of her other family and friends resisted the idea. Now most of them have come around.
``Patty'' and the child's intended parents had a formal contract describing the terms of the surrogacy. She received $15,000 for her services. The lawyer was paid $10,000 for arrangements and professional advice.
Originally, the agreement specified that Patty would have an abortion ``if something went wrong'' during the pregnancy.
``I made them take that out,'' she says. The couple agreed to take full responsibility if the baby was born handicapped. And Patty said she would keep the infant if something happened to Sharon and John.
All went well. Patty delivered a healthy male infant which she immediately turned over to the intended parents.
Since that time, Patty and her own husband have had another son, who is almost two years old. But she says she would act as a surrogate again for Sharon and John to provide a biological link for their children.
Patty firmly believes in surrogacy. But she also says it is not for everybody. ``Surrogates should be very carefully screened,'' she says. ``If you are going to do it for the money, you are not going to be able to give up the baby.''
This young woman also says that surrogates should probably not serve in this capacity more than twice. ``This would stop people from thinking we are breeders,'' she says.
Patty says she is a religious person. When she first considered surrogacy, a spiritual adviser told her:
``It's between you and God. Go with the feelings in your heart.''
Patty and her husband are building their own home in a small community in northern Virginia, where she is setting up her a hair-styling business. Most of her friends and neighbors know about the surrogacy and accept it.
``It's all the way you look at life,'' Patty says. ``I believe God gave me my children. They are His. I just take care of them.''