01/30/2015 01:16 EST | Updated 04/01/2015 05:59 EDT

Surrogate mother Barb Nimchuk says Canadian laws too tough

The story of a BC couple who used a surrogate mother in Mexico is calling attention to how difficult it is for would-be parents to find a surrogate mother in Canada.

Greg and Elaine Smith are now fighting to bring their twins — born premature — back to Canada after going through a paid surrogacy clinic in Mexico.

That the couple would look abroad to find a surrogate mother comes as no surprise for Barb Nimchuk — who acted as a surrogate for her former co-worker Katie Welsh and her husband Matt.

"Legally, Katie and Matt could not ask anyone to be a surrogate. Somebody has to fall out of the sky," Nimchuk told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff.

"It's not illegal — it's just you can't ask or pay someone to do it, so finding that person is not always easy for couples."

Nimchuk offered to help when she found out the couple was having fertility issues.

Already a mother of three, she said carrying a child for the couple seemed like the right thing to do.

"To me it doesn't seem like a pregnancy is putting yourself through anything that people do everyday," she said.

Nimchuk and her children continue to have a special relationship with the Welshes and their son Charlie, who knows her as "Auntie Barbie."

Charlie turns three this year, and isn't old enough to understand the circumstances of his birth.

"He will know. It's been all over the news before. He will know when it's time to know about me. He knows he has a special aunt. My kids know they have a special cousin. Katie's family is great, they've completely immersed me in their life and I feel like I have another life. My mum and dad — they're surrogate grandparents and they're up in Prince George, and they're like, 'Yup, Charlie's our surrogate grandson.'"

She would like to see Canadian laws change to make it easier for other couples to find surrogates at home.

"If I can one thing about a pregnancy — to go through that — the biggest part was having Katie and Matt there the whole time. They were at every appointment. They felt the baby move. They were there in the delivery room."

To hear more about Barb Nimchuk's experience becoming a surrogate mother, as well as an interview with Valorie Crooks, a SFU professor of geography who researches medical tourism, click the audio labelled: The trouble with finding a surrogate mother in Canada.