For much-loved broadcaster Toni Street and husband Matt France today is a very special day - they have just emerged from court having legally adopted their baby son, Lachlan.
Toni announced the happy news in a heartwarming Instagram post, "Super special day for our family... Lachlan Stephen France has had his morning in court and is now legally our son!"
Toni thanked Judge Druce and their lawyer Zandra Wackenier "for being so warm & making the process less daunting".
The biggest thank you went to Toni's best friend and surrogate Sophie Braggins and her husband Michael Braggins: "But most of all thank you @sophiebraggins & @michaelbraggins for this precious gift 💙😇 #bestchristmasgiftever"
Toni and Sophie warmed the hearts of New Zealanders earlier this year with the story of their incredible friendship leading to Sophie offering to carry Toni and Matt's third baby for them. Toni and Matt have two daughters, Juliette and Mackenzie, however Toni had always "seen myself with three or four children" and was unable to have any more as she suffers from an extremely rare auto-immune condition, Churg-Strauss syndrome.
Toni at first refused Sophie's selfless offer: "My biggest concerns," Toni told NEXT magazine, "were for Sophie's health, because any pregnancy has risks attached, and I was also very worried about the impact it would have on her children, husband and parents. She also has a really big, busy job. There were a lot of people who could be affected by this and I couldn't have carried on if any of them were unhappy."
But Sophie bombarded Toni with texts, and eventually convinced her to accept her heartfelt offer.
Toni and Matt went on a fact-finding mission at Fertility Associates, and were shocked to learn that even though Lachlan would be 100 per cent genetically theirs, the couple would still have to legally adopt Lachlan after he was born.
Surrogacy laws are extremely tight in New Zealand. Those involved need to gain approval from the Ethics Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology (ECART). You are forbidden from paying your surrogate. And under New Zealand law the surrogate is the legal mother until the child is adopted, at 10 days old or later.
"For that reason, I just can't imagine in a million years doing this with someone I didn't know as well as Sophie," Toni shared with NEXT. "The trust required is just so huge."
"Little man has arrived early!" Toni posted to Instagram. "Sophie Braggins was an absolute trooper.. we adore our new son."
Matt was also full of praise for Sophie. "This little man will be so loved!" he wrote. "Surrounded by amazing women! So proud of his mum and so grateful for this gift from our amazing friend."
Sophie posted an image to Instagram of Toni holding her new son for the first time. "The happiness is real," she captioned the image.
Congratulations to the happy family of five!