Have you grown your family through surrogacy?
March 4, 2009 3:27 PM   Subscribe

Calling all experiences with surrogate pregnancy - on any side of the equation. I am considering having a child through a surrogate mother, and wondered if anyone had any anecdotes, experience, advice, warnings, etc.

I (very) recently lost a child and am physically unable to become pregnant again. In considering whether to adopt or to pursue surrogacy, I am in search of any Mefiverse collective thoughts or experiences on surrogacy. I have read some online resources and will be shortly pursuing a meeting with a lawyer who handles surrogacy, but in the short term, your anecdotes may be helpful. I am particularly concerned about what the experience is REALLY like (for both sides, for Moms, for Dads, etc.), and the ways in which I might be manipulated (emotionally, financially, etc.) by surrogacy and conception clinics. As an example, one promises to match a carrying mother and intended family within 14 days - that seems ridiculously short and somewhat suspect. The issue is not so much the time, but that seems like a "hook" promise designed to prey on me, somehow.

PLEASE: The loss of my child is recent. I AM seeing a grief and family support counselor, weekly. I do NOT intend on rushing through this process too quickly, but see no reason to delay getting educated. I am also considering adoption, but this question is NOT "adoption versus surrogacy". I appreciate that surrogacy is medically and legally complicated, all will of course be pursuing the appropriate channels of guidance, should I take this path. Thank you.
posted by bunnycup to Human Relations (10 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I'm so sorry for the loss of your baby.

It might help if you could let us know what kind of surrogacy you're considering. Broadly, there is traditional surrogacy, in which the surrogate mother is inseminated with the prospective father's (or donor's) semen, and therefore is the biological mother of the baby. The second type is gestational surrogacy, in which the surrogate is implanted with an embryo via ivf, and is not genetically related to the baby. There are all kinds of permutations of this, but that's the basic idea.

I have not gone the surrogate route myself, but we did consider it. We adopted an infant son last year, and I can tell you that it has been the single greatest experience of my life. I would not argue that adoption is necessarily better than surrogacy, as every family is different, but if you would like to hear some first-hand experience with adoption, please feel free to memail me.

Again, I'm so, so sorry.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 3:58 PM on March 4, 2009

Best answer: There's a blogroll that tracks all of the different ways people build their families. You'll see there's a ton of stuff re: infertility, IVF, and adoption, but there are about 10 blogs listed that deal specifically with surrogacy. (The topics are ordered alphabetically, so you have to scroll way down or search for the word.) I haven't read any of them, but I assume that might be one great resource for hearing first-hand accounts.

Best of luck in your journey, bunnycup and family! I'm so sorry for your loss.
posted by juliplease at 4:03 PM on March 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I don't have a strong feeling at this point between "traditional" surrogacy (my husband's genetic child, but not mine) and IVF surrogacy (both of our genetic child), although I have considered that if I went the IVF route, I would investigate donating eggs at the same time to help another family as well. I do not know whether that is remotely possible. I realize there are significant cost differences between the two.

We are nowhere near actually starting any process - our grief is so raw. But I'm a "knowing is half the battle" kinda girl.
posted by bunnycup at 4:08 PM on March 4, 2009

Response by poster: Wow. I just bookmarked that blogroll. Thank you!
posted by bunnycup at 4:12 PM on March 4, 2009

Best answer: I have no direct experience in surrogacy, but I would recommend the book Budgeting for Infertility which covers the financial and some of the emotional issues surrounding infertility. It's not officially on sale until March 17 but you might be able to pick it up already or in a week or so.

I'm sorry for your loss; best of luck in your decision.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 4:21 PM on March 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Surrogacy has become a complex class issue, and most recently flashed in the mainstream pan with Alex Kuczynski's NY Times article about hiring another woman to have her child. I think the article handles the pain of infertile/high-risk women well, but she got a lot of flack for hardly mentioning the life and trials of the woman who carried her baby to term.

I took an anthropology class on surrogate motherhood a few years back, and while we mainly focused on new ways of constructing the meaning of motherhood in the age of fertility treatment, there were many account of complicated emotions and ethics arising from a system where well-off families employ younger, less financially solvent women to have their babies (wow, I now see Baby Mama in a completely different light). Not to say this is wrong, but lots of families on both sides struggled to negotiate a way to keep childbirth from turning into a financial transaction. Still, there were just as many stories where the two mothers bonded over the shared experience.
posted by zoomorphic at 4:31 PM on March 4, 2009

My condolences for your loss.

My SIL was a surrogate (using her egg) and though I am not privy to all her innermost feelings, she seemed to do it with respect and genuine care for the child without feeling like it was "hers". Kind of more of the doting relative type of role. She had 3 older kids of her own and was adamant that she didn't want more. I think that helps the surrogate equation--when the surrogate is out of that baby stage themselves and can think "Cute baby! Good luck with that!"
posted by agentwills at 6:03 PM on March 4, 2009

Best answer: So sorry about your loss. That sounds like a very tough blow, and you have my deepest condolences.

My experience in the world of assisted reproduction is as an egg donor (to close friends, a male/male couple); the children were carried and delivered by a paid gestational surrogate.

My friends worked through a large agency (Growing Generations, which specializes in working with same-sex couples), and they felt that having a well-staffed organization managing the issues was worth the financial investment. (I know other people who have worked with/are working with Growing Generations and also had very good experiences.)

The world of fertility medicine is quite a strange one, at least from my perspective (it did not help when, a couple of years later, I saw the doc who did the procedure judging the masturbation contest on "Jackass!"). My experience was that it combined the drawbacks of the US medical system with the drawbacks of the US luxury-car sales industry.

My friends actually did some shopping around; we met with a couple of fertility docs before connecting with the one who did the procedure (and despite his odd choice in TV show appearances, he was an excellent doctor and his staff were all highly competent). Apparently they interviewed a number of potential surrogates as well before choosing the truly amazing woman they worked with.

So I suppose the thing I would underscore, callous as it sounds, is that it's really important to shop around. I know that seems odd when you're talking about bringing children into the world, but you'll be both laying out a lot of cash and having to open up a lot of really intimate areas of your life, so it's really important to find folks you're comfortable working with.

The very best of luck to you. My friends' children are such amazing little people; I'm so proud to have been part {the easiest part by far} of bringing them to the world.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:06 PM on March 4, 2009

Best answer: So sorry about your recent loss, and the more general news that you can't carry your baby. Your need for more information is totally understandable and it makes sense as a way to move forward by knowing your options.

I read a bunch of blogs on the blogroll listed above, though not ones pertaining to surrogacy in particular. If you poke around there, you'll probably find some good ones to follow - on adoption, GLBT parenting/pregnancy, and single-mothers-by-choice. It might be interesting just to see others struggling with the beast of infertility (and all of the huge losses that usually come with that badge) from a variety of perspectives. There are also tons of posts on those blogs about miscarriages and stillbirths, which could be affirming (at some point) for you, but perhaps be gentle with yourself at the moment -- just be willing to read (or not read) as your mood changes. I've found it to be incredibly powerful to read about a wide range of people, women, couples, and families and the ways they've been negotiating how to grow, hurt, heal, help and memorialize. And, of course, eventually get the family that they'd like.

There's also a forum for Surrogate Mothers here. I've never spent time there, so can't vouch for its content, but the message boards get a ton of traffic.

Be kind to yourself during this process and make sure to have a friend or two that's in on the stress.
posted by barnone at 8:51 PM on March 4, 2009

I'm so sorry for your loss. I came to recommend the same blogroll as juliplease did. I regularly read some of the blogs, and there's a loving and welcoming community there. I don't have any direct experience, but my first thought would be to get in touch with Mel, who is the host(ess) of the blog where that blogroll is located. Poke around her site, follow some links, and consider writing to one of the "peer counselors" she has listed.
posted by KAS at 8:35 AM on March 5, 2009

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