Foreword - by Leeza Gibbons
Over the course of my three decades in the radio and television business I have interviewed tens of thousands of people. I feel I have learned something from each of them, but only a handful have opened the doors of my heart and stayed there. Steve and Kristi Welker not only changed me personally, but through our show, and their exceptional lives and love, they have made an indelible mark on all those who hear their story.
Before I met them, our producers had already told me about this “Ken and Barbie” couple. We were producing a show about surrogates, and in the early 90's this was provocative stuff. I was assured that Steve and Kristi, with their good looks and fairy tale love, would win over the audience. They over-delivered! By the end of the day's taping we were all cheering for them and their unborn twins.
Sharing time together on a TV show is an intimate thing. In many ways it is, by it's very nature, a manufactured, forced event. Yet, it's a dance of trust that sometimes unfolds in an uncannily natural way. The Welkers and I seemed to know the steps the moment we said hello. Even backstage I knew that this was an important step for Kristi-to validate her journey as a beautiful young woman unable to have a biological child. Steve was less sure of this whole scene, but I could see that he would have followed Kristi to the ends of the earth. As it turned out, this stop was just shy of the Pacific, in Hollywood at my studio on the Paramount lot.
Steve was handsome beyond belief, with the kind of smile you see only in a toothpaste commercial. As he told his story of using his sperm and his sister-in-law's eggs to create children who would grow in another woman's womb, the audience loved his sensitivity and openness. They were the perfect couple, pioneering a new frontier and empowering the audience along with them. Twelve years later, they are still doing that, but in a way none of us could ever have imagined.
Our staff at the Leeza Show was gathered around our production conference table when the nauseatingly horrifying news came in: our favorite guests had been in a devastating accident on the way to meet their surrogate. When Steve and Kristi's baby boys were born, Kristi was hurt so badly she couldn't hold her twins, and Steve had been blinded and couldn't see them. Cruel reality had shattered the fairy tale! Adding an unbearable twist of irony, our show featuring their happy anticipation of the birth would air just two days later.
I remember, as a pre-teen at a sleepover with my friends, that we asked each other as we gorged on junk food, “If you had to lose one of your senses what would it be?”
“Oh, I would never want to lose my sight,” I said, certain that the world would be impossible without vision. When I heard about the Welker's wreck I flashed on that moment, wondering what would happen to their infant boys, and what would happen to their marriage and their faith now that pain, suffering and darkness had reframed their perfect world?
On the pages of this book, my friend Steve Welker shows that real vision has nothing to do with what the physical eye can see. His story demonstrates that some questions don't have answers, and sometimes the answer is “no.”
I always consider it a blessing when someone allows their story to find its way to the public through me. But, Steve and Kristi Welker did more than bless us with their story. They softened hearts and healed souls. They educated and empowered. They offered a quiet example of selflessness and hard-fought-for love that has sustained them.
There is a lot of Steve Welker that is the same as it was when I interviewed him on stage in 1994. The smile is the same. And the face, while different, is still as handsome. It is the spirit that has newly emerged. It has met up with its destiny and held hands with its purpose. This book is where he is on that path-so far.
Los Angeles, California