Exactly one month after the PBA honored Hall of Famer Parker Bohn III for his extraordinary community service, Bohn’s wife Leslie delivered an even more significant gift. Literally.
On Feb. 14 – Valentine’s Day, Leslie Bohn gave birth to Christian Leslie Forry, a healthy nine-pound, four-ounce, 20-inch-long baby boy.
Yes, the name is correct. The baby doesn’t belong to the Bohns. The child’s parents are Chris and Janine Forry. Because Leslie Bohn agreed to be the surrogate, with husband Parker’s blessings, the Forrys have the child they have always wanted.
It's an extraordinary story of how bowling brought two families together in a very special way.
Chris Forry, a former PBA member, owns Buddies Pro Shop in Fairfield, Conn. His wife Janine is a special needs teacher and former collegiate bowler. They had been trying to have a baby for several years, but learned Janine is unable to give birth naturally.
Back in 2009, Chris Forry was bowling in the U.S. Open at Carolier Lanes in North Brunswick, N.J. – not far from the Bohns’ home in Jackson – and he was commuting back-and-forth to Connecticut during the tournament because Janine was having in vitro procedures performed in hopes of eventually having their first child.
“I was getting ready to head back home to Connecticut and I bumped into Parker and Leslie, and I told them Janine was having an in vitro procedure early the next morning,” Forry said. “Leslie mentioned she had considered being a surrogate to help another family member have a child. At the time I didn’t think much of that conversation because I thought the in vitro process would eventually be successful.”
Three years later and several more unsuccessful procedures later, another chance meeting took place. Parker, now working for Brunswick as a bowling ball sales rep, made a visit to Forry’s pro shop where the conversation again turned to family.
“I asked Parker about his family and he asked about mine, thinking that by this time the in vitro efforts were successful,” Chris said. “I hated to tell him that unfortunately our efforts weren’t successful and it looked like we wouldn’t be able to have any children. That’s when Parker suggested I give Leslie a call.
“When Parker got home he told Leslie to expect a call from me. I can only imagine what Leslie thought of Parker volunteering her to even consider it,” he continued. “It took me a few days to work up the nerve to call Leslie but I finally did. When I called, Leslie mentioned Parker had told her I might call, but she wanted to give it some more thought.”
Leslie wasn’t immediately taken by the idea, but it didn’t take her long to consider the possibilities.
“I was originally thinking more of helping a relative who might not be able to have a child and not necessarily someone outside of our family,” Leslie Bohn said. “Plus our family situation had changed. (Carrying someone else’s child) really wasn’t on my bucket list, but after talking it through with Parker and thinking more about the opportunity to give a couple something as wonderful as what we have, we made the decision to go ahead.”
That’s when the process began in earnest. The Forrys came to visit the Bohns (Janine had never met Parker and Leslie). They discussed the details Leslie needed to know about the surrogacy process.
It was a life-changing process for everyone concerned. There were the legal issues, medical and psychiatric testing, and, maybe most important, discussions with their own families.
Leslie and Parker wanted their three children - sons Justin, 10, Brandon, 9, and daughter Sydney, 8 – involved in the decision process. Parker also has two children from a previous marriage.
“We didn’t have to do too much convincing of Justin and Brandon, but we had a little explaining to do with Sydney,” Leslie said. “We just explained to her that we were able to give a family something wonderful like we had and I think she understood that.”
“A few weeks later, Leslie called and said she was all in,” Chris said.
In June of 2013, the Forrys received the call they had dreamed of: Leslie informed them she was pregnant.
Leslie said the pregnancy was normal. She was even able to continue bowling competitively until shortly before the delivery.
“All we could think of during the pregnancy was the excitement and what we were bringing this couple was priceless,” Leslie said. “All we could think of was how happy we were to be part of helping another family have what we have.”
On Valentine’s Day – one month after Parker had been named recipient of the inaugural PBA Tony Reyes Award for his unselfish community service - Leslie exceeded him, delivering the ultimate gift of love.
“Valentine’s Day will never be the same,” Janine Forry said. “The whole nine months has brought tears to my eyes. Parker and Leslie have made it so special. It’s been a privilege to know them. A special bond has formed between us and now we’re an extended family.”
It was equally special for Leslie and Parker Bohn.
“It was the greatest gift of love you could imagine on Valentine’s Day,” Parker said. “Giving two people the pleasure of being a mom and dad is something you have to experience to appreciate.
“I’ve experienced a lot of things, on and off the lanes, but I know that having children and a family far exceeds anything else I’ve ever done.”