Jayne Frankland is the only woman in Britain to have had a baby through a surrogate and then become a surrogate herself. Mary Braid tells her story

In the kitchen of a detached house in an Oxfordshire village, Jayne Frankland, 39, produces a little leather-bound photo album containing a clutch of pictures of the baby boy she gave birth to four months ago. The photos show a happy but unusual birth scene.

In the kitchen of a detached house in an Oxfordshire village, Jayne Frankland, 39, produces a little leather-bound photo album containing a clutch of pictures of the baby boy she gave birth to four months ago. The photos show a happy but unusual birth scene.

Baby Isaac, born a bouncing 8lb 12ozs, is lying sweetly in his hospital cot. Jayne is behind him with her husband, Mark, and their four young children. In their midst is a beaming Lynne Sonley, the woman the midwife handed Isaac to the moment he was born. Lynne and her accountant husband, Richard, took Isaac home as part of their family.

By having Isaac - created using Jayne's eggs and Richard's sperm - for Lynne, Jayne became the first woman in the UK to have had a baby through a surrogate and then gone on to become a surrogate for someone else.

Despite her passionate belief in an infertility solution that produced her first child, Abigail, now eight, Jayne's friends worried that when it came to it, she would find very upsetting to hand Isaac over to Lynne. Jayne adores her own children - the three that followed Abigail were conceived naturally when Jayne's fertility spontaneously recovered after more than a decade of unsuccessful medical treatment. Friends suspected a primeval maternal instinct for a baby to whom Jayne was, after all, the biological mother might scupper the surrogacy arrangement. But Jayne was always sure everything would be fine.

She was right. It's Lynne's kitchen she is showing the pictures in. Little Isaac, a strapping blonde with the bluest eyes, is sitting on Lynne's knee having his bottle. Lynne dotes on Isaac and there's no doubt who Isaac looks to as mummy. Jayne takes him in her arms when Lynne goes off to find something, but only in the way she would with a close friend's child.

More than 500 children have so far been born through surrogacy in the UK, and it is more respectable than it was 20 years ago when Kim Cotton gave birth to the UK's first surrogate baby. Last year new research from City University, London, found that most surrogacy arrangements proceed smoothly and that only in one in 10 cases did relations between the surrogate and the couples they help end with the birth.

Despite this, Jayne says that surrogacy is still too often portrayed as a rent-a-womb, commercial practice, prone to messy and traumatic breakdown. She insists that simply isn't the reality of the vast majority of today's surrogate births. "People ask me things like: 'do you ever meet the couple?'," says Jayne, shaking her head. "They ask: 'will you ever see the baby again?' The media still writes about 'giving away' the baby. I never felt Isaac was mine to give away. He was always Lynne's baby. I just wanted Lynne to feel the joy I felt when my surrogate handed me Abigail."

Lynne already had a daughter - also born through surrogacy - when she met Jayne through Surrogacy UK, which was founded three years ago to support infertile couples. Isabelle Sonley, 6, was always asking her mum for a sibling, which was heartbreaking for Lynne, who yearned for another child. "I remember Jayne putting her youngest daughter Betty on my knee at a Surrogacy UK meeting," remembers Lynne. "I burst into tears."

When Jayne met Lynne she had already decided that her family - Abigail, Sam, five, Charlotte, four, and Betty, almost two - with her IT-manager husband was complete. She had also decided it was payback time for all the happiness surrogacy had brought her. "I'm not particularly religious but I do believe in God and I think my fertility returned for a reason," she says. "I just wanted to help someone else."

Surrogates are scarce and demand for them from infertile couples - who have generally exhausted all other options - outstrips supply. Surrogacy UK provides occasions for couples and surrogates to meet. It does not, Jayne emphasises, promise couples it will find them a surrogate. It is the surrogate who chooses the couple she wants to help. And Jayne chose Lynne.

The women look like each other and it's obvious that they click. They also have a lot of past heartache in common. In the kitchen, they compare their infertile years. Jayne was 20 when she married Mark, simply assuming that she would one day have children. After two years of trying to conceive, she sought medical help. Eight years of NHS waiting lists, countless cycles of hormone treatment and IVF followed. Along the way she gave up her job as a civil servant. A doctor suggested that less stress might help her conceive and anyway, hospital appointments were eating into work time. Eventually it was discovered that polycystic ovaries and an abnormally thin womb lining were making it impossible for her to get pregnant.

Lynne has been through the same mill. She married Richard when she was 30. A primary teacher, she also adored children and just expected her own to turn up eventually. Lynne was diagnosed as having refractile bodies on her eggs, which prevented penetration by sperm. Years of treatment - including eight tries at IVF - failed to make her pregnant. "I dare not add up what we spent," says Lynne.

"Some people might say I was obsessed and if being desperate to have a child is obsessed then I'm happy to be obsessed. Without that attitude, we wouldn't have these children."

The bond between Jayne and Lynne reflects the sisterly foundation of many surrogacies. Jayne is still good friends with the surrogate whose eggs and womb made Abigail possible. This makes the emotional aspects of surrogacy all sound a bit effortless. They aren't. In the bad old days, when there were no surrogacy support social gatherings, the most many surrogates expected from the couples they helped was a brief annual update on a child's progress. Kim Cotton said recently that she deeply regrets never meeting the couple for whom she was surrogate, and never seeing the child again after the birth. Back then, some couples wanted to go home with a baby and pretend it was entirely - biologically speaking - theirs.

When Abigail was on the way, Jayne was determined to have a different kind of relationship with her surrogate. "Mark and I always encouraged a friendship and I think our surrogate is pleased now," she says. Jayne has also raised Abigail always to know that she "grew in her surrogate mummy's tummy because my tummy was broken". Abigail occasionally shows photos of her biological mother to her school friends and, when Jayne was pregnant, Abigail proudly announced to her friends "Mummy is having a baby for Auntie Lynne." That Lynne has followed the same open policy with Isabelle was important to Jayne.

"I could never have helped anyone who just wanted to take the baby home and we would never see it again," says Jayne. She and Lynne did the midwife and hospital visits together. They talk about how Lynne burst into tears when Jayne called to tell her, after five months of trying, that she was pregnant with Isaac. There were more tears from Lynne when she attended the birth and Jayne made sure it was Lynne who held Isaac "skin-to-skin" in the hours after he was born. Having her own children come to visit in hospital was in line with Jayne's general philosophy.

Adults conceived through gamete donation sometimes complain of identity difficulties. But Jayne and Lynne believe that, as long as everything is in the open, there ought to be few problems with surrogacy. In an era when the gene is king, Jayne and Lynne insist that parenthood is more about raising a child than genetic connection.

And how do they expect their children to feel when they get older? After all, Isaac is the biological half-brother to Jayne's youngest three children? "We can't predict how the children will feel," says Lynne. "But they will know about each other." Both women believe that knowing other surrogacy children through Surrogacy UK is helpful. "Then they know they are not alone," says Lynne. "They don't grow up feeling different."

You have to admire the do-it-yourself aspect to surrogacy that requires no IVF and therefore no clinics or doctors. Jayne points out there were years when hospitals "would not touch surrogacy with a bargepole". The infertile had to come up with their own solutions. Lynne reckons the informal infertility solution has been quietly in use for centuries.

It also demands a huge amount of trust, for the legalities around surrogacy remain tricky. Jayne is entering controversial territory when she says the law should be changed to protect couples against a surrogate changing her mind about handing over a baby unless the surrogate has real doubts about the welfare of the child. But you can understand her position. As the law currently stands, until a parental order is granted to the couple in a surrogacy arrangement (Isaac's comes through next month), the surrogate is the mother of the child even if she has no biological connection (this is the case in "traditional" surrogacy, in which the egg and sperm of the intended parents are used). Strangely, the surrogate mother's husband is the legal father.

Jayne's philosophy is that a solid friendship has to be developed before surrogacy takes place. Did Lynne ever worry that Jayne would keep Isaac? Never, she says firmly. She understood the motivation of a woman who had benefited from surrogacy and knew the happiness she could, in turn, bestow.

"What matters to Jayne is making other people happy," says Lynne. "And I am so happy now that I have blocked out all the years of infertility treatment. I now see it as a journey - that led to this beautiful boy."

Jayne seems just as delighted. "I honestly did not find it hard to hand Isaac to Lynne," says Jayne. "I just felt such joy for Lynne. I just remembered how I felt when Abigail was handed to me. " For further proof of Jayne's conviction that she did the right thing, consider this. Next month she will start trying to conceive a baby for another couple. She is very determined, while her own fertility remains, to spread some more parental joy.

For information about surrogacy contact www.surrogacyuk.org