If you’ve been anywhere within a five-mile radius of me lately, you know that my husband and I are having kids thanks to a surrogate.
But a lot of people don’t know what surrogacy actually is. Heck, I didn’t know, either. So it’s been really exciting to learn about the process and then to see the questions flow in from friends and family.
I’m guessing you may share many of the same questions, being human and all. So without further ado, I bring you the Top Ten Questions We Get Asked About Surrogacy list.
1. “What is surrogacy?”
If you break it down simply, surrogacy is an assisted pregnancy. It’s where a woman chooses to carry and give birth to someone else’s child.
2. “What are the laws surrounding surrogacy?
Surrogacy laws are a patchwork of contradictory rules across the country, with different laws for each state.
We currently live in California, which is what we like to call a “surrogacy-friendly state.” It allows traditional surrogacy (when the woman uses her own eggs) and enforces contracts for gestational surrogacy (where the surrogate simply carries the child for someone else). The state also makes it possible for the intended parents, regardless of their sexual orientation, to establish legal parental rights prior to the actual birth of their child (or children without needing to go through proceedings for adoption).
But as interesting as that all is, it doesn’t actually matter for us. And that’s because surrogacy laws only impact the state in which the baby is born. In our case, Minnesota.
Family law in Minnesota does not mention surrogacy (though they are attempting to push The Minnesota Gestational Carrier Act through as we speak). The only thing certain under Minnesota law is that the intended parents will need to take legal action to make sure they are established as the child’s parents, through a paternity action (the legal father) and an adoption (the second father).
So what do you do to ensure that the children are legally yours after everything’s said and done? You hire an amazing agency and you pay them to hire an equally amazing lawyer that specializes in surrogacy to solve it all for you.
Yes, it’s as stressful and complicated as it sounds.
3. “Whose sperm are you using?”
*ahem* Excuse me. That’s an incredibly personal question, Jeffrey, and one which we only discuss in person. [I’m just assuming your name is Jeffrey. If your name is not Jeffrey, carry on.]
4. “How did you find your surrogate?”
We used an agency called Circle Surrogacy from Boston, Massachusetts. We vetted a few different agencies across the country over the course of a few months, and felt the strongest connection with the team at Circle.
After providing them with all our basic information, they walked us through a bunch of paperwork, interviewed us a few separate times, and then had us speak with a psychologist to make sure we were not only in it for the right reasons, but that we were a stable couple who could handle the potentially long and challenging journey.
Meanwhile, they’re vetting potential surrogates until they find a match. What really drew us to Circle was the fact that you’re only matched with one surrogate, and that surrogate is only matched to you. It felt less like an online dating site, and more like a personalized matchmaker.
And boy did we luck out. We love our surrogate, and it seems like the feeling is mutual.
5. “How much does a surrogate get paid?”
Each agency and surrogacy case is a bit different. Depending on their experience and the number of children they will carry, fees range from $25,000 to $50,000.
The women receive compensation for the initial transfer, monthly allowances, maternity clothing, travel expenses, lost wages, child care, housekeeping, bed rest and post-birth recovery.
Additionally, if surrogates choose to pump milk, they’re compensated about $250 a week.
6. “Did you consider adoption, too?”
No. We rushed into the most expensive option without weighing the others first.
Of course we considered adoption, silly! In fact, we walked into the parenting conversation certain that we’d adopt. We attended a few different introduction sessions, were impressed and inspired, but decided to move forward with surrogacy when we knew we had access to family eggs.
For more on why we chose surrogacy over adoption, you’ll have to wait a few more weeks for my “Surrogacy vs. Adoption” post.
7. “Is the surrogate the mother?”
No. But she is an incredibly selfless and crucial part of our Modern Family. She is, in our minds, a very special aunt who will always be involved in our lives.
8. “What’s the difference between the surrogate and the donor?”
The donor is the biological mother, who donates her eggs. The surrogate is the carrier who actually gives birth. She is not genetically related to the baby(ies), but she’s absolutely critical to their growth and development.
9. “Do surrogates pass on DNA?”
Not really. The DNA is, as you would imagine, passed down from the biological parents.
But in the great struggle between nature and nurture, a third factor is looking more and more important. “Epigenetics” is the study of how our genes get switched on or off depending on our environment. While the babies don’t inherit the surrogate’s genes, the way their own genes get activated seems to be heavily influenced by what’s going on in the womb.
10. “After the baby is born, will you stay in contact with the surrogate?”
Absolutely. And not just our surrogate, but her entire family. We have fallen in love with them and plan on keeping them updated for the rest of the children’s lives. Or at least until they get bored of us.
11. “Aren’t you worried that the mother won’t want to give the kid up?”
This is the question very few people ask, but we imagine so many people think. The reality is, mothers have not wanted to give their surrogacy babies up before, but those cases are few and far between, and often involve challenging family situations.
We paid an agency to thoroughly screen and select a surrogate who was in it for the right reasons. In almost all cases, surrogates have finished making their own family and therefore go into this journey looking to help out someone else. Additionally, we communicate frequently with our surrogate to establish a strong relationship. In our case, our surrogate is a genuinely good human being who was clearly put on this earth to help others.
So, no, we’re not worried at all. If anything, we’re more worried that we won’t want to take them. 😉
If you have another question for me about surrogacy, feel free to leave a comment below.
Until next time, stay crafty.