6 Reasons (Besides the Biological One) to Consider Surrogacy

One of the reasons I wanted to write this blog is to assist other gay couples who want to have kids.  It’s not easy and it’s not cheap, but with a little knowledge and a lot of perseverance, there are any number of ways it can be done.

So at times, I’ll put up an informational post about Makin’ Gaybies.  This one’s about some reasons you might want to consider surrogacy, which is how my boyfriend and I had our kids.

Our Extended Family

I’m by no means an advocate for surrogacy.  Everyone needs to do what works for them, and everyone’s situation is different.  But surrogacy is probably the most misunderstood way to have kids, and being that it worked so well for us, I felt an obligation to show the positives.

Yes, surrogacy is expensive.  All in, it cost us about $150,000.  I’ll give you a moment to take that in.  It’s a big number.  It’s a terrifying number.  And you have to have all that money up front, in cash, before you can even get started.

Still, it’s cheaper than buying a house in LA.  So we chose to have kids first and to buy a house… someday, maybe, hopefully.  That’s why there are now four of us crammed into a two-bedroom condo.  But we couldn’t be happier with our choice.  (Besides, adoption isn’t cheap either.)

And the benefits of having our kids through surrogacy were enormous:

1. The fetus is legally yours from the start.

This is huge, and no other means of having a child can promise you this.

We’ve all heard the horror stories about birth mothers who change their mind in the delivery room and decide to keep their baby.  Then, the would-be adoptive parents are forced to go home empty-handed and cry in a beautifully decorated nursery which might never get used.

Well, that doesn’t happen with surrogacy — because it’s your baby, not hers.

I should be clear that I’m talking about gestational surrogacy.  In that arrangement, the surrogate is not using her own eggs.  There’s a separate egg donor.  So the surrogate has no biological connection to the child and thus feels less of a bond to him or her (or in our case, them).

Tiffany holding Bennett in the hospital

She also signs a mountain of paperwork stating that she doesn’t want — and can’t have — your child.  When the twins were born, Drew and I were listed as their parents on the birth certificates.  Neither of us had to go through any adoption procedure, and our surrogate, Tiffany, didn’t have an opportunity to keep the kids.  She was sent to a recovery room with her husband, and the babies came to another room in the delivery ward, where Drew and I took care of them.  We all got to enjoy the moment for what it was, because legally, everything was already settled.

2. You can go to all the appointments. 

Our first ultrasound

I’ll never forget the day the doctor told us about the fluid in Tiffany’s uterus and how much danger it posed.  We were six weeks along, and he put the odds of Tiffany carrying the pregnancy to term at 50/50.

He also told us, at that same appointment, that we were having twins.

Being pregnant is rough, and it’s full of moments like these, ups and downs, thrills and panic, a million little bumps and big bumps along the way.  And Drew and I lived through it all.

We crammed into every ultrasound room, we watched the fetuses grow week by week, we were the first ones to hear that we were having a boy and a girl.  We were at our surrogate’s side – and our kids’ – for every important moment, from before conception all the way through delivery.

When our kids caught their first glimpses of the world, we were there.

Right before the big moment

And we never felt like intruders.  We were welcome everywhere we went.  Our surrogate was thrilled to share these moments with us, because they reminded her constantly of why she was doing this amazing thing.  Our joy was her joy, and we formed a very special bond with her throughout the process.

3.  It’s perfect for control freaks.

No matter how you make your gayby, you can’t grow him or her in your own uterus, because you don’t have one.  This is another way surrogacy works in your favor.

I remember a friend telling us that his son’s birth mother chain smoked all through her pregnancy.  She didn’t even try to hide it.  She didn’t have to.  It was her fetus.  There was nothing he could do to stop her.  In an adoption arrangement, the birth mother is in no way accountable to you, because it’s her child until she declares otherwise, usually following a waiting period after delivery.  (And let me say, I’m a big supporter of waiting periods, for the birth mother’s sake.)

A surrogate could never get away with that.  She’s tested regularly for drugs, alcohol and nicotine.  She has an obligation to take good care of your fetus.  She agrees to it up front.

Ultimately, you’re still at her mercy to some extent, but until you can grow a uterus of your own, this is the next best thing.

4.  Your relationship with the surrogate can be as open as you want it to be. 

Most surrogates, from what I’ve heard, would like to be on your Christmas card list.  They enjoy getting an annual reminder of the family they helped create, and they love seeing how the little ones have grown.

Other than that, it’s all up to you — and to a lesser extent, her — to decide.

We knew we wanted someone who would always stay a part of our lives, because it’s important to us that the kids understand where they came from.  So when we first met with Tiffany, we made sure she was on board with being a special aunt.

Other people don’t want an aunt, and they’d rather keep things as casual as possible afterwards.  There are plenty of surrogates who are looking for that arrangement, too.

One thing’s for sure.  The surrogate won’t have any visitation rights with the kids.  It’s entirely the parents’ prerogative how much contact you maintain with the surrogate after the birth.  Even our surrogate, whom we love like family, doesn’t have any legal rights to see our kids.

5.  The odds are good.

When we signed up with our surrogacy agency, we were told that 98% of couples pursuing gestational surrogacy had a baby within the first three in vitro attempts.  We were astounded by that figure, and I still think it may be slightly inflated.  But when you think about it, gestational surrogacy is bound to have a high success rate.

The surrogate is tested extensively before she’s matched with an intended parent couple.  In most cases, she’s already carried at least one baby of her own to term, if not several.  So her fertility is never in doubt.

The egg donor is also tested beforehand.  She’s young and healthy, and she may even have donated eggs for other couples in the past.

Plus, you have two potential sperm donors.  Even if one of the men is infertile, which is unlikely, then there’s a good chance the other can step in.

That goes for the women, too.  If your first in vitro fails, you can replace the surrogate and/or the egg donor for your next try.

In vitro can be an uphill battle for a straight couple who have already had trouble conceiving on their own.  But for two men, fertility is rarely a problem.

6.  You’re not as altruistic as you think you are.

Here’s the one I’m going to get some flack for.  Let me say that I think adoption is a beautiful way to make a family, one Drew and I considered ourselves, and which, in different circumstances, we would’ve been thrilled to pursue.

But occasionally the adoption advocates will imply that they’re better than us, that we’re selfish or greedy or that we’re letting parentless children suffer while we go off and make our designer fetuses.  Well, before those people get to you, let me tell you that they’re misguided at best.

Yes, there are plenty of babies ready to be placed with loving families, but there are also plenty of loving families looking to adopt.

The ones who are getting left out of all of this happiness are special needs kids.  They’re the ones stuck in the foster system, the ones most desperate for families to take them in.  No one ever tells straight couples that they should adopt a special needs kid rather than selfishly reproduce from their own genes, and the argument could just as easily apply to them.

Infertility isn’t a curse or a sign from God that you need to dedicate your life to helping sick children.  Not everyone is made for that, and that’s OK.

If you feel a calling to open your home to a special needs child, then I commend you, you are a saint, and I’ll admit it: you’re better than me.  But if you’re foregoing surrogacy so you can put yourself on a waiting list for a healthy Caucasian newborn from the Midwest, then I don’t think what we’re doing is all that different.

—————————–

Another birthday picture

You’ve probably noticed that I left biology off my list.  Yes, if you conceive a child through surrogacy, then either you or your partner can donate the sperm.  You get to do that fun thing where you say, “Oh, look, she has my eyebrows!”  You might even be so lucky as to have your sister donate eggs, like we did, so your kids can be biologically related to you both.  (I need to state the following every time so people don’t get confused: I was the sperm donor.  Drew’s sister was the egg donor.  She and I are of no biological relation.  There was no test tube incest going on, nor would any reputable fertility doctor allow that.)

Ultimately, though, I don’t think the biological argument should sway you one way or the other, because the kid you have is your kid, regardless of how they came into your family.  You’re going to spend a lot more time diapering them, playing with them, teaching them, learning from them and loving them than you are pondering their genetics.

Let me reiterate that I’m not endorsing surrogacy or saying that it’s right for everyone, but these are a few of the reasons it worked for me and Drew.

Once you’re a parent, it won’t matter where your gayby came from, but getting there isn’t easy, and hopefully this helped someone along the way.

25 comments on “6 Reasons (Besides the Biological One) to Consider Surrogacy

  1. BTW have I mentioned to you lately how lucky Bennett, Sutton & Drew are to have you in their lives (I’m sure Drew already knows tho!)

  2. Jerry, this is a great post! I have just recently started the process to be a surrogate mom & I really hope my intended parents are like your family. I like reading stories from the parents’ side because it gives another angle of what I will encounter once I do get pregnant. But a $150K, WOW! I knew it was a lot, but, well, WOW. It makes me wonder if there is a way that I as a surrogate or surrogacy advocate could somehow reduce that number. I’m assuming that a lot of that goes to insurance & lawyers, but does it really have to be that much? Perhaps I have been given a new task…

    Congrats to you & yours on your beautiful family ~Mazy

  3. Thanks for commenting, Mazy. I’m so glad you found my blog. I really wanted to reach potential surrogates or IPs and share our story. I’ll say this about the money. There are probably cheaper ways to do things than the way we went (i.e., through an agency), but one thing I wouldn’t skimp on was the surrogate’s fee. She earned every penny! Good luck with the journey ahead and please stop by and let me know how things are going! (Also, if you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them.)

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  5. What a well written post. You seem to anticipate lots of the questions and concerns people have about surrogacy, without coming across as at all defensive. My partner and I had never given much thought to surrogacy (we knew from the start that was the path we wanted to pursue), so your post gave me lots of insight into why other parents choose surrogacy, beyond the biology reason. Thanks.

      • Thanks, Josh. Glad my post shed some light on the process for you. Like I said, once you’re a parent, it doesn’t matter where your kid came from. They were meant to be yours, and you’ll love them just the same no matter how they came into your life or whether they have any biological connection to you.

  6. I found myself agreeing with several points in your post Jerry but the biggest one was that straight couples (typically) aren’t told that they should adopt (special needs or not) rather than make their own babies.

    There are probably groups out there that suggest it for people who want children but they either can’t or they’re not sure if the pregnancy would change things. By change things of course I mean if one or both parents go on maternity/paternity leave will it affect their career, their hours/pay when they get back, will they ever be able to go back, etc?

    In high school (and college) when we used to discuss adoption vs having your own I would get looked at funny when my reasoning for adoption was that while I didn’t want any children of my own (other peoples babies are cute…I just hate spit up on my clothes) I wouldn’t mind adopting because there are already so many children in the world who need somebody to love them.

    Then in the discussion we were offered local adoption vs foreign…once again I got odd looks for local adoption…but I was raised in a “take care of your own first” mentality. If I had the option to adopt a family member’s children rather than adopt locally, I would.

    As much as I think that couples (straight or gay) should consider adoption I can also understand going with the surrogacy route. The biggest reason I can understand for going with a surrogate however is that you know you want the child (or children), you’ll love them no matter what, and they are biologically your own. You wouldn’t front the $150k if you weren’t sure about it and if half the straight population put as much thought into bringing life into this world as you and your partner did we wouldn’t have nearly as many kids in the system!

    • I totally agree with you that all prospective parents, straight or gay, fertile or not, should consider adoption. My partner and I considered it quite seriously, but ultimately we just went another way. Thanks for respecting our choice and best of luck to you if you do decide to adopt someday. It’s a wonderful way to make a family.

      • Everybody has to find out which method is best for them. Sometimes adoption can take a while to get through while I see surrogates being a sort of almost “instant gratification”. There’s no if, and, or maybe. It is your child, people can nay-say as much as they would like but in the end you have complete legal parenthood. If I was in your position I probably would have taken the same route, but that’s mostly because I like to feel like things are mine. I’m greedy like that lol.

  7. I don’t think I could go through with a surrogacy. There are a couple of reasons. There would always be the nagging fear that one parent would claim the child as “more theirs” than the other parent’s. There are also too many people on earth, I don’t think I need to contribute. Finally, and I think you sort of address this, there are so many neglected children in government care. They are the children who aren’t babies any more, the children who prove challenging to care for. I think they are most in need of a loving, supportive family, whether it’s by adoption or foster care, and I understand that it is very likely that we will never form a connection like parents and children from infancy. That is okay with me, because I can help introduce a little bit of love into the world while taking out a little hurt.

  8. Amazing post, thanks so much for shedding some light on the mysterious world of surrogacy. I’ve always found it really interesting and it’s great to read about your experience. I love your honesty! So true that straight couples don’t ever get told to adopt instead, why should you! Thanks for sharing.

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  11. what a great blog! Just FYI, the rules are the same for traditional (using their own eggs) surrogates. The baby ‘belongs’ to the intended parents from the start and the intended parents’ names are on the original birth certificates. This is not an adoption.

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  13. Hi I am extremely new to looking into this issue, of surrogancy, egg donating and how to go about it with out finding many answers. Not sure if you could even help but figured I would ask. I am a 30 yr old woman who can not have children, tubes are completely blocked and clubbed so I can not carry, I also have damage to other lady parts, but dr said I ovulate so with that that an egg retrieval may be possible. I know the pain I have of not having children and would love to help a couple get something I may be able to help with. I can not carry the child myself, just donate egg. So I guess what I would like to do would be to see if there is a way to have my egg retrieved but not carry by myself. Any help or links would be appreciated. I am just trying to help someone to achieve the things always wanted but don’t have. And I believe in equal love so I know there are more obstacles for certain couples. hannahola@yahoo.com

    Thanks for any feedback.

  14. I’m an asexual woman hoping to be a Mom. I don’t need surrogacy (unless there’s an unforeseen issue, of course) but I still like reading how other people consider the options for building their families. If I do adopt, it will be special needs adoption because I have always dreamed of raising a child with a developmental disability (preferably autism, since I’m autistic). But I don’t know if I can handle the feeling of my parenting being scrutinized so much, or the risk of falling in love with a child only to have them taken away. (Especially if it’s not in their best interests – I’ve heard horror stories about kids being returned to bioparents who are not suitable, or kids who’ve lived most of their lives in the same foster home being returned to bioparents who are complete strangers to the child.)
    For that reason, my first child will probably be conceived by sperm donation. But if I decide to have more, I will reconsider adoption.

  15. so i’ve been really enjoying reading your blog, as a feminist considering becoming a surrogate with a friend. and then i got to this post, and the casual tone you’re using about controlling a woman’s body and decisions is upsetting. “Other than that, it’s all up to you — and to a lesser extent, her — to decide.” i dont know any woman who would be comfortable with having a lesser extent of decision-making authority over her life and relationships. I get that your kids are your kids are your kids and you have parental decision making authority and as a non-parent, your surrogate does not have parental decision making authority. But how does that translate to you having more decisional authority over your relationship with another adult? also, yikes: “A surrogate could never get away with that. She’s tested regularly for drugs, alcohol and nicotine. She has an obligation to take good care of your fetus.” i want to live in a world where women matter as much as fetuses. Like, not smoking and drinking is as much for my own health as it is for a fetus.

    • Of course not smoking and drinking is as much for a woman’s own health as for a fetus’, but who am I to tell anyone what to do for their own health? If a woman wants to smoke and drink, that’s her decision, but then I just won’t choose her to be my surrogate. That’s exactly the point I was trying to make: as the intended parent, you’re making decisions for your fetus, but NOT for the woman, who is perfectly capable of making her own decisions when it comes to her own body. The first and foremost decision is whether to be a surrogate in the first place, and making that decision means making a number of sacrifices. If a woman isn’t prepared to make those sacrifices, she shouldn’t be a surrogate.

      I’m glad you read my post. I’m sure you know feminists are very split on the concept of surrogacy, and some are very much against it. I hope you’ll take in lots of perspectives on the subject before making your own decision about whether it’s right for you. It’s a big decision to make. It was wonderful for me and my family, and my surrogate as well, but again, that’s just one perspective. It’s not right for everyone. Best of luck to you and your friend, whatever you decide.

  16. thanks for your reply. I’m on my third round of trying to get pregnant with my friend, as a surrogate for him and his husband. And the situation is working for me because my friend trusts me inherently to make good decisions for me and for a potential fetus, and because he cares about me as a person, and my health and my bodily autonomy. Im not saying you don’t care about your surrogate as a person-far from it, i can tell you care about her greatly-but I would counter that there are sacrifices on both sides of the equation, and no woman should ever be asked to sacrifice her bodily autonomy. Giving up smoking, sure. Giving up my bodily autonomy, no, never. as a queer feminist, my bodily autonomy is way to hard-won to ever give up. To your statement about if a woman isnt prepared to make sacrifices, she shouldn’t be a surrogate, i’d counter that if you aren’t prepared to sacrifice some of your control over a woman’s decisions, even if they affect your fetus, and if you aren’t prepared to trust her, maybe you shouldnt commission a surrogate. we’re doing surrogacy in an explicitly feminist way, which means, among other things, i’m trusted and no one is drug testing me; we all assume im a smart, caring person who is capable of making good decisions for a fetus without needing to be told exactly how to do that by men. Men controlling pregnant women’s decision making is a very tired patriarchal pattern that we have an opportunity to let go of, rather than continuing. I want my friends to be dads, and i want our process for making queer families to be an opportunity to let go of patriarchal patterns, and to find new, feminist ways to make our families that celebrate, rather than control, women.

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