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Marriage Equality And What It Means For The Future of Surrogacy

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On June 26th, 2013 the Supreme Court of the United States overturned California State Ballot Proposition 8, ruling that the amendment it created to ban same-sex marriages is, in fact, unconstitutional.  Also overturned was section 3 of The Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA), thus unbarring the federal recognition of same sex marriages.

This was a huge step forward for so many couples waiting to become families. In these cases, with natural conception an impossibility, it really has changed and continues to change the world of IVF and surrogacy. In the past, only one of the Intended Parents could be listed as the legal parent of the child; now both possess complete custody. Both partners can now be fully recognized as a legal family, with all the coinciding benefits:  health insurance, life insurance, wills and trusts for spouse and children. All included, no one gets left behind. Everyone is taken care of.

This is an amazing time for gay parents, especially here in California. With our world-leading surrogacy laws in place and now fully legalized marriage equality, we are truly leading the way into a new era. TV titles such as “The New Normal” and “Modern Family” have nailed it. We are slowly changing societies view of what a traditional family is. I have many friends in this community and the collective sigh of relief can be heard throughout. They are starting to become accepted, which is all they have ever wanted. These parents go through all the same struggles as any family does but they have been doing it on the outskirts without the aid, care, or understanding of the masses. This changes now.

Taking our families to places like Disneyland or even just to school, I now see openly gay families who are not afraid to show their love and devotion out in public. These kids can start to grow up without feeling stranger’s eyes on them constantly. Without the gossip and unnecessary drama of a once taboo subject, their families are normal. And now we’ve got the documentation to prove it!

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I predict a large influx of gay IP’s using California in the upcoming years. Surrogacy itself has become more of a common place word. With big names like George Lucas, Jimmy Fallon, Angela Bassett, Nicole Kidman and Neil Patrick Harris all using surrogates, it’s not as unknown or misunderstood anymore. We’re mainstream baby! Now that gay marriage is becoming more global, there is nothing in the way of longing parents having much wanted children of their own and being accepted by their communities. Because let’s face it, gay or straight, it really does take a village to raise a child.

Also, besides the moral uplift of all of this there comes the practical and financial ones as well.  More marriages = more money.  More babies = more money. More families = more money. All going to our economy. It’s a win/win situation. Basically any loving family rocks and now we can show the world just that. Keep growing and keep changing for the better world, it’s working. It really is.

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Surrogacy, the new prostitution?

Negativity exists in every form of work. Uniformed and overly (and overtly) opinionated people are everywhere. The subject matters they dwell upon range from politics to plumbing. Surrogacy is, by far, without exception to this rule. I recently read a blog calling surrogates “prostitutes;” those who work in IVF “pimps” and the intended parents “Johns.” I am not referencing or linking to this person’s blog because I don’t want to lend it any credibility. While I do understand some people’s aversion to the idea of surrogacy–due to religious or emotional ideas–I absolutely cannot condone those who judge without research or understanding. Especially when it is by someone who isn’t affected personally by another’s choice. This is my broad statement of belief, not just when it comes to someone’s fertility or lack thereof. I am a firm believer in live and let live.

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Surrogacy fulfills a need, a yearning that is denied to a person by unlucky circumstance. It is born out of a desire so strong, I would put it akin the fulfillment of their life. I don’t believe it’s even really a want at this stage. It’s a need. A need for the love of their own child.

Some opt for adoption, which is just as long and as tedious a process as surrogacy. Surrogacy is a very, very personal choice, alongside a woman’s right to choose. It is an expensive one as well. I am not sugar coating it here: if you cannot afford it then it is not an option you can utilize. However, it is not a profit deal either. The doctors, nurses, lawyers, and agencies involved are not doing it for the money. They are just people who felt the need to help other people in their profession. There are swindlers out there, as in any profession, which is why it is important to do your research. The reason it costs so much is that there are separate steps with many specialized professionals. No one person is making a large lump sum.

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The women who opt to become surrogates aren’t in it for just the money.  Who, in their right mind, would want to go through at least a year of medication (needles mostly), dealing with lawyers, and then giving birth (!!!)  just for money?  The money involved helps support us as we go through this process, but we aren’t buying Lamborghini’s or paying cash for a mansion. We do it because we care. We are mothers, too. We’ve been blessed with easy pregnancies and healthy bodies and are able to give back to those who need us.
Also, there are moral laws in place that are strictly adhered to by these professionals. They aren’t making babies in the lab or selling babies to families. They are merely doing outside of the womb what would naturally occur (if it could) in the womb. It’s just putting all the pieces together with hopes for the best outcome. Trust me, if any of these people could have a baby the old-fashioned way, they would. It’s not about wanting to keep your nice body while someone else does the work or about picking out some sort of “super baby” with selected genes.  It’s about having a healthy child to call your own. That’s it. There are no ulterior motives involved. At least, not from reputable sources.

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I just felt the air around here needed some cleaning. I recently spent the weekend with a group of surrogates and the number one topic we spoke about was the things people say to them. The positive is what makes the experience worthwhile. We need the support of others just as anyone in a highly involved position would. However when strangers come up to and say “How could you sell your baby?” or “You must be numb not to feel connected to the child growing inside you?” or even “What you’re doing is wrong!” it hurts. These are not fictions; these are actual statements collected (and shared) by many surrogates. We try not to let it in, we try to rationalize and forget, but it still twists the knife and hurts every time.

When you are doing something you truly believe in and are told it’s wrong, your first instinct is to fight, to justify and to make them understand. I’m just trying to share the other side of the story. I can’t make those who don’t want to listen hear. But I can put this out into the world in hopes that it may make a change somehow, somewhere for someone. I want people to ask me questions. I want them to become more knowledgeable and informed, then I want them to go and make their own personal decisions.

And remember dear readers that old saying your mother probably taught you: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all (at least to people you don’t know 😉 )

Twins

This is one of the only words in the English language that elicits a positive and negative response simultaneously in the human brain. The levels very, depending on the person’s point of view. To someone who is using a surrogate to start their own family, it could be the equivalent of winning the lottery. Killing two birds with one stone, if you will. Some of the best news they’ve had in years! To someone finding out for the first time they are carrying twins, it can also send up a red flag of a potentially high risk pregnancy.  With twins come Complications such as: bed rest, premature delivery, fetal demise and others. A new father may become doe-eyed at first, then as the realizations of double the responsibility sink in, his eyes may then keep widening with nervous apprehension. To feel so excited and so scared all at once is a roller coaster of exhilaration.

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I recently discovered these feelings myself. When I filled out my surrogacy application I, like most others, put down that I would be willing to carry twins. It is clearly stated that the probability of this happening through IVF increases due to several facts. People tend to use more than one embryo in a single transfer to increase the likelihood of one sticking and turning into a positive pregnancy. When you are going through so much it’s best to hedge your bets as much as possible. Also, you’re on fertility medication and have been accepted as a surrogate because of your beautiful uterus. All of this makes for a pretty cozy environment that persuades embryos to stay put. It’s by no means a guarantee however, it just increases the odds. In the past 10 days, my IPs found out that they are going to become parents to not one, but two baby boys, sometime here in the next 7ish months. They are ecstatic; it’s what they dreamed of! I’m so happy for them. This is exactly the payoff moment of why I do what I do. I’m also nervous as hell. I openly admit it. I’ve heard a range of twin stories from “easiest pregnancy I ever had!” to “Oh my god, I was on bed-rest the whole time and I was so sick!”

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I can’t speak for other surrogates, but I do get the strong feeling that though most of us are generally excited about the concept of carrying twins, when the reality hits it’s a whole new ball game. My head races with all the complications that “could” happen and I start to freak out. My main panic attract came about by worrying the babies won’t be getting enough nourishment and they will come too early. That’s when I took to the old faithful social media and reached out to friends who were twins or have had twins. I discovered I wasn’t alone and that yes, my fears are justified, but there is absolutely no reason to freak out any more then with the other three pregnancies I’ve had.

You see, our bodies are amazing things that can adapt to almost anything we throw at them. Well, we fortunate few who pregnancy comes easy to, can anyways and Doctors are very used to twin pregnancies and know what to expect and what to look out for from beginning to end. Now I really do believe I’m getting the easiest end of this deal. The parents are the ones who’ll have to deal with the midnight double feedings and diaper double-dutch. Which of course, they are more than happy to do :). I’ve been down similar roads before. This will be a new adventure for me. My IP put it best. “You’ve been pregnant before, we haven’t. This will be great because it’ll be new to both of us. Something we can experience as a first together.” They are on board and ready to dive in and that gives me the confidence to take the plunge too.

Funny enough while putting my thoughts together for this blog I got a call from the lovely Ms. Ann at SAI wanting to share something she had heard on the news this morning: A mother in Ireland may have just beaten the world record for time apart delivering twins. Her first was born after her water broke at only 23 weeks and was born June 1st of last year weighing just 1lb 3oz. Bizarrely enough her contractions stopped after the first and the other’s fluid remained. Her second twin was able to stay in her womb until August 27th and weighted 5lbs 7oz at birth. A full 87 days later! Both twin girls are perfectly healthy now and doing very well.

Stories like this just go to show that yes, we can worry and fret about unpredictable things in our future, but they also can turn out miraculously. I’m excited. I know the home these boys are going to is going to be so full of love that, in my bones, I can tell anything will be surmountable.

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Twins, wow, what a word!

Do you have what it takes?

This is a call for help to all women who enjoy being pregnant and who would love to help others. Have you ever considered becoming a surrogate mother? It just may be something that could change your life! You could help build a family from the ground up and be emotionally and financially rewarded in the process.

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A surrogate mother is a special woman who helps others who physically cannot carry a child themselves. She, through IVF (In-vitro Fertilization), carries another’s person’s child in her womb and relinquishes that child to the Intended Parents when the child is born. A surrogate mother is a selfless angel helping others in their quest to become parents.

Surrogate Alternatives, Inc. (SAI) has the best “surro-sister” mentoring program in the world. These women have all been surrogates themselves and work alongside new surrogate mothers every step of the way. There are monthly support group meetings, family events and weekend retreats twice a year for all of their surrogate mothers to attend. The staff are always available to answer any and all questions you have and even attend doctor visits with you if you so desire. They hold hands and guide lives. Every woman has a different experience. Some carry twins, some help IP’s from around the world, some want a little involvement others want a lot. The additional support that SAI provides enriches every one of these journeys.

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SAI needs you! If you meet the following criteria for their program, call them today!

1) You have to have given birth to at least one of your own and are raising that child
2) You cannot be not on welfare, AFDC or housing assistance.
3) You are between the ages of 21-40 (if you are older than 38, you have to have delivered in the past two years).
4) You cannot have had any serious medical conditions during your pregnancy or delivery.
5) You must be able to provide medical and delivery records, if requested.
6) You must have a vehicle and a valid driver’s license to be able to attend your doctor appointments.
7) You must be willing to be tested for STD’s and undergo a drug screening.
8) You must have a stable residence with no plans of moving out of your state from the time you submit your application to delivery.
9) You must agree to a background check and a psychological screening.

The total fees you receive are between $35,000-$50,000. Repeat surrogate fees are higher. Keep in mind that this is just an estimate for pain and suffering and reimbursement. If you are solely relying on this as income, this is not the “job” for you.

Becoming a surrogate mother is not for everyone. Those who choose to become surrogates are uniquely special women. Some of these ladies find the experience so richly rewarding that they choose to continue on and help more than one couple.

If you think YOU could be someone’s angel and give them ultimate gift: the gift of sacrifice, compassion and love; you may just have what it takes to be a surrogate mother. The rewards go above and beyond any monetary gain and it is an experience you will never forget.

If you feel you are that kind of person, apply with SAI today and see where this path takes you.

SAI’s office number is (619) 397-0757

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Trusted Doctor Uses Forged Surrogacy Documents to Sell Babies In India

Have you heard about this? A gynecologist in India has been charged with human trafficking and forgery after selling a baby using fake surrogacy papers. He and his “clients” have been making the international headlines for the past couple of months and it looks as if this has been going on for some time now. Dr. Bharat Atit, along with three of his staff, were arrested and booked after it was discovered that a newborn baby had been illegally sold via the Doctor by a woman and her boyfriend. Now they are investigating previous claims and more cases are coming to light.

The woman involved, claimed rape towards her boyfriend when she was 5 months pregnant. It was discovered that she had done this because they were arguing over the price of the child and she is to use this claim to cut the boyfriend’s percentage. Once this was found out she dropped the charges, however, this opened the investigation to that of the Doctor.

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This newest scandal involving surrogacy in India raises the issue of legality when it comes to these delicate waters. India has had issues before dealing with the health and treatment of their surrogates during prenatal care and the backgrounds of the women that were being used.

India was a place that was considered to be “a great deal” to go to for people looking to start an “inexpensive” family which made it easy for some, to turn a blind eye to the murkiness involved. However, with these new legal issues piled on top of the old health ones, they may be losing their drawing power for even those with lesser morals.

First, it is used as a method of human trafficking.  Second, the surrogates are treated like cattle. Yes, it is cheaper, but at what cost? This is a child we are discussing.  A child carried by a person no less important or critical to the process than the intended parent. Having a child when you physical aren’t able to is tricky enough, without weighing on your conscience as well.  People are now coming to realize it’s not worth the gamble of saving money. This is a child we are talking about and ensuring that child has the best start in life starts at conception.

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Overall, India doesn’t seem to present a viable option for surrogacy now to those who were able to justify their means to an end before.

As I am doing research for this blog I have also just learned that India has now implemented new guidelines this year which no longer allow foreigners of same-sex couples, single individuals, unmarried couples or couples who have been married less than two years to commission a surrogate there. Also, if you did qualify to utilize their surrogacy programs, you would still be required to provide a letter from your countries government expressly giving you permission to bring your child home from India and that your country would agree to recognize this child as a product of a surrogacy pregnancy and birth.

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I think the chapter on surrogacy in India is closing, and very quickly. After everything, it is my opinion this is for the best.

What do you give your Intended Parents for Christmas?

This post is from our wonderful staff member Bernadette:

During my surrogacy journeys , I always felt it was a hard decision on what to buy Intended Parents for Christmas! I was lucky enough to be pregnant during my surrogacy journey at Christmas time. I wanted my gift to them to be special, to mean something, after all I was carrying their babies!

I did some research and decided not only to buy something for them, but to buy something special for the babies, as well. I bought baby blankets and sweaters and had them embroidered with the babies names. Then for the parents I decided to have 4-D pictures put on DVDs, so they could watch their little girls in the womb! Since my Intended Parents live in Australia, I wanted them to feel as close as possible to their babies, so I also bought them two teddy bears and inside the bears were recordings of the babies heart beats. They loved their gift so much they actually cried! I knew in my heart they were going to be amazing parents!

I know for future Christmas’s I will send them gifts that I know are unique. This year I will be sending them gifts that are personalized just for them, from their SurroMama! Geppettos toy store has wonderful one-of-a-kind toys for this purpose 🙂