Today’s Surrogacy Article in the New York Times

Jerry Mahoney, Mommy Man

Thanks, surrogacy!

The New York Times ran a feature story on surrogacy on today’s front page, and I’m left wondering, as I often do when this topic makes news, what most people are taking away from the story. The article reminds us repeatedly that “commercial surrogacy” (the term for a pregnancy in which a surrogate is compensated, as opposed to “altruistic surrogacy”, in which she is not) is illegal in most of the world. The writer also references some horrifying stories about intended parents abandoning their surrogates and their offspring or contracting multiple surrogates simultaneously with the intention of giving some of the babies produced up for adoption or aborting whichever fetuses don’t meet their exacting standards. They’re mostly unverified anecdotes, the kind of thing that makes most of us who had wonderful experiences with surrogacy shudder and then think, “Hmmm… really?” But I won’t deny that there are some legitimate horror stories out there.

MommyManCoverThe problem, in my opinion, isn’t surrogacy itself. Everyone in my situation — my husband and me, our egg donor Susie, our surrogate Tiffany and our kids themselves — benefitted from the experience. No one was exploited and no one has any regrets. (This seems like a good spot for the obligatory shameless plug of my book, “Mommy Man: How I Went From Mild-Mannered Geek to Gay Superdad”, which tells my story in full.) Stories like mine are pretty common. The other parents I know who’ve grown their families through surrogacy all have similar experiences to relate.

That doesn’t mean we should ignore the potential for things to go wrong. Surrogacy remains largely unregulated, and as such, it’s conducted on kind of an honor system, the only true regulator being the consciences of those engaged in it. The honor system works because most people are honorable. Most college students know that cheating is wrong, and most people have enough respect for life and women’s bodies to treat surrogacy with the care and moral reverence it deserves.

The big difference between a college honor system and the one around surrogacy comes in the stakes. When college students break the honor system, the fallout is minimal. Now and then a cheater gets an A, but that barely cheapens the hard work of the majority who earned their grades legitimately. The stakes with a pregnancy, though, are much higher. No one wants to see even one woman exploited or one baby abandoned.

It’s time for the honor system surrounding surrogacy to end. The U.S. should be proud of the fact that we’re the destination of choice for people seeking surrogates from overseas, and we should lead the rest of the world by example by showing them how surrogacy should be conducted. There needs to be greater regulation of what’s become a big industry, in order to protect the rights and lay out the responsibilities of intended parents, surrogates, clinics and surrogacy agencies alike.

Just a few thoughts…

Surrogates and egg donors need to be fully informed of the medical and psychological risks they’ll be undertaking. Surrogacy isn’t for everyone, and no one should feel like they’ve been coaxed into it against their will. Likewise, all potential surrogates and egg donors should be screened medically and psychologically to make sure that they’re fit for what the procedures entail.

There should be limits placed on embryo transfers. Intended parents should accept that surrogate pregnancies, like any other, carry certain risks. Just because you’re not carrying a baby yourself, you don’t get off easy when it comes to the big ethical issues that pregnancy sometimes raises.

Surrogates and intended parents should have detailed, enforceable contracts. Before they ever enter into an agreement together, surrogates and intended parents should discuss every potential issue that may arise during pregnancy and make sure they would agree on how to handle it. One of the more common horror stories you hear about surrogacy arises when the fetus develops a birth defect and the intended parents want to terminate the pregnancy, but the surrogate doesn’t. In those cases, the surrogate and the parents should never have gone forward together. This is one of the reasons I highly recommend anyone pursuing surrogacy go through a legitimate agency. In my book, I complain a lot about the agency my husband and I used, but one thing they did right was to make sure our surrogate was a good match for us.

There are people arguing that surrogacy should be made illegal, and that breaks my heart, because I owe my family to the process and to all the people who helped us through it. So many wonderful families are created through surrogacy, and so many women have had their lives enriched by becoming surrogates.

We all know there are unethical people out there on every side of this phenomenon — intended parents, clinics, surrogacy agencies and even surrogates themselves. Exploitation does occur, some stories don’t have happy endings, and it’s only a matter of time before a major horror story leaves us all shaking our heads. Let’s not let that happen.

This is an important issue. Let’s keep talking about it, and let’s acknowledge that if surrogacy is kept safe, legal and regulated, there will be a lot more stories like mine, a lot less cause for concern and a lot less fearmongering, legitimate or otherwise.

70 comments on “Today’s Surrogacy Article in the New York Times

  1. The Chinese guy who wanted five surrogates at the same time! Craziness! I’m glad so many agencies were quoted saying they would never take a client like that, but the sad part is, I’m sure someone, somewhere would.

    • Yes, and someone transfered 8 embryos for Octomom. I truly believe the vast majority of people are doing things ethically and with an appropriate respect for human life. All the more reason for regulation — it’s only going to affect the people who aren’t.

  2. You have a beautiful family! I enjoy your posts a lot. If surrogacy isn’t something you’ve ever had to contemplate, it can be a very scary thought and the horror stories all the more horrific. I couldn’t imagine putting that much trust in someone! I think it’s fantastic that you’ve been able to do that and have such a wonderful family because of it.
    Just my two cents from the other side of the coin, so to speak.

    • I appreciate the comment. I wrote this post for people like you, who might read an article like this and come away with a negative impression of surrogacy and the people involved in it. Stories like this remind me why I feel the need to get my family’s story out there, to dispel some of the misconceptions and fear around surrogacy. Before my husband and I chose to build our family that way, I had a lot of misconceptions of my own.

      • You are so right Jerry! I an a previous Gestational Surrogate and I agree wholeheartedly. Our journey was nothing short of amazing, because we had amazing communication and had great attorneys to help make sure we discussed every possible situation and had come to decisions before our contract was written (really made that part super easy). There are so many old views on surrogacy…people really need to catch up on the times and learn the changes that have happened and that are still happening to make surrogacy possible and as safe as possible. Everything has its risks, everything has its price, everything has it consequences. People need to buck up and face that and realize that they can’t have a perfect world. There is no perfect. People that cannot naturally have children should not have to go without because certain people in this world don’t agree with it.

  3. I had no idea that there were Surrogacy Haters out there!!! To all the haters out there, I would like to start a gymnasium full of BOOOs to them.

    No matter how wonderful anything in this world, there are always going to be people who find some way to damper it or to ruin it completely. I don’t have babies yet and I assume that I’ll be able to carry my own, but I think that surrogacy is one of the greatest gifts a woman could ever give a person.

    To all you Surrogacy Haters out there trying to take this beautiful gift away from such deserving folks, shame on you!!!

  4. As a feminist leader, I abhor the further commodification (beyond universal sexual commodification) of women and their bodies, the serious & even life-threatening short and long-term health risks to women that result from pumping them full of carcinogenic synthetic hormones & drugs not FDA approved for fertility use such as Lupron (a drug used to treat men with advanced stages of testicular cancer), and the creation of a breeder class of marginalized women for the wealthy – regardless of sexual orientation.

    Anyone contemplating getting involved in surrogacy should read the feminist “bible” on the subject: “Being and Being Bought: Prostitution, Surrogacy and the Split Self” by the Swedish feminist leader Kajsa Ekis Ekman. As she notes, “The parallels between prostitution and surrogacy are immediately evident. Two industries profit from women’s bodies: one from her sex, the other from her uterus. Two industries commercialize basic human phenomena: sexuality and reproduction. And these, as it happens, are also the basis of the historical oppression of women and the ongoing division of women into ‘whores and virgins/madonnas’.”

    And for anyone who cares about abortion rights, laws that legalize commercial surrogacy (contract pregnancy) play right into the hands of those who promote “personhood” bills to ban abortion; both define women as merely “carriers” or “containers” and the developing fetus as a separate person. Again as Ekman articulates: “The idea of the fetus’ independence from the mother is a foundational patriarchal idea that has long been used to control women. The Vatican’s opposition to abortion is built on exactly this same thesis: that the embryo/fetus is a separate person as soon as there is a fertilized egg, and that the woman is only a container.”

    In 2011 the European Parliament passed a resolution on violence against women that condemned surrogacy as a violation of women’s human rights and an extreme form of exploitation of women. But in the U.S. commodifying capitalistic culture of exploitation of all living things, anything goes if it sells and the wealthy are “entitled” to anything they want. For the affluent, desires are transformed into “needs” and “needs” are then turned into “rights.”

    • Hi guys. Welcome back. We obviously have a fundamental disagreement on this issue. I did not ever see our surrogate as just a container or a womb to be rented. She is Aunt Tiffany to our kids, and she’s a loved, honored part of our family. We celebrate Surrogate & Egg Donor Day every year, the day before Mother’s Day, so our kids will never forget the amazing gift she and our egg donor gave our family and so that they will always feel our gratitude.

      If anyone is guilty of dehumanizing the women who choose to become surrogates, I’d argue that it’s you, who would deny them the choice of what to do with their bodies. If you want to draw parallels to abortion rights, then ask yourself if you really want government laws telling you what you can and can’t do with your own uterus. You may not personally want to be surrogates, and that’s fine. It’s not for everyone and no one is suggesting that anyone do it against their will. But plenty of surrogates, like mine, found the experience fulfilling, even life-changing.

      Nonetheless, I think we can find lots of common ground on the issue in that I believe these women should be well taken care of, fully informed of the potential risks and that any medication used should be safe.

      I don’t think surrogacy is anyone’s right. It was a privilege for sure, and one granted to us by an amazing woman I care very deeply about and who is just as happy and proud of the family we built together as we are.

  5. So just to be sure I’m understanding you correctly on the detailed enforceable contracts. If a woman enters into a surrogacy agreement as the surrogate and changes her mind, (based on myriad circumstances) she would be forced by law to do something with her body she doesn’t want to do? And also as a correction to human biology – Octumom had six embryos implanted and two naturally twinned b/c embryos can and do twin. So in theory, you could transfer two embryos and end up pregnant with quads.

    • Regarding the question of a woman being forced to do something she does not want to do, the answer is no. A woman’s right to choose what she does with her body is a Constitutional right. No contract can change that. There is usually a clause in the contracts that if the surrogate refuses to get an abortion while the Intended Parents have requested that she does, then she is forgoing further compensation. However, a disagreement happening like this is almost unthinkable because these situations are usually discussed in detail far before an embryo transfer takes place.

      • Thanks, Charles. You answered this very well. We went into great detail with our surrogate ahead of time about all the possible outcomes of the embryo transfer and how we’d respond to each. We never told her she would be forced to act a certain way or to terminate a pregnancy against her will. Had we not been on the same page on those issues, we would’ve been free to find a different surrogate and she would’ve been free to find another set of intended parents.

  6. Jerry, thank you so much for writing this. I really do appreciate you sharing your story, and I agree with you that the best counter to such sensationalistic reporting is for more of us to get our stories out there. My partner and I had our first child through surrogacy last November. We are currently beginning a second surrogacy to complete our family.

    One point that I would add is that women are not paid for having a baby. It just doesn’t work that way, and I think any decent person would find that abhorrent. I would defy anyone to find a contract where compensation issued to the surrogate is dependent upon a baby being born. That is not surrogacy, that is human trafficking. A more accurate way to phrase it is that the surrogate is compensated for taking on all of the typical risks associated with pregnancy, not only the physical ones, but the mental and emotional ones. She is also compensated because the experience requires the support of her family. While she is the only one who is pregnant, everyone in her immediate family is affected by the process, and they are all sacrificing themselves in both big and small ways. If a surrogate were to deliver a stillborn baby, she is still compensated in the same way she would be if a healthy baby was born.

  7. I was shocked when I did this that there was no background check on myself as an intended parent. I would have welcomed the same kind of rigor applied to finding out if I was a potentially good parent, as was applied to my egg donor and my surrogate, who was as wonderful as yours. (Yes, I read your book.) However, your agency really was the pits. Ha, ha.

    And being the proud father of two year old twins, I get asked a lot for my recommendations on how to start the journey. Half the time, I am an enthusiastic guide. The other half, I am thinking, “I know you. You can’t take care of yourself, let alone children.” So I recommend a few books first. (Which I know they’re too lazy to read.)

    • That’s a good point, Jon-jon. Considering how much checking adoptive and foster parents have to go through (rightfully so), it’s hard to believe how easy it is for people to begin the surrogacy process. One more example of a place where I think regulation would be helpful.

      And I agree with you that not everyone should be a parent. Do me a favor, though, if you’re going to recommend some books, will you make one of them mine? 😉

  8. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy reading your posts. I have thought about being a surrogate since I was very young. I now have three kids of my own and still think if there was someone close to me in need of a uterus, I would love to help them in that way. I don’t think I could do it for just anyone. Tiffany is a very special person for doing that for a stranger. Yours is a beautiful story and I am happy that you and Drew have the family you clearly deserve.

    • Thanks, Courtney. My husband has a brother who’s also gay, and his sister was a surrogate for him and his husband. (Confusing? We have quite a family, don’t we?) I definitely agree that it’s a wonderful, loving and rewarding experience you can give to someone you love. It’s not for everyone, and neither is being a surrogate for a stranger, but if the opportunity does arise, it’s worth considering, and I’d be happy to tell you more about our experience if that situation ever does present itself.

  9. Jerry suggested the contracts as a way to protect the stakeholders. I suppose if the woman can change her mind (her body, her choice) what’s the purpose of the contracts then? Charles, why would we pay a woman to put her body/life at risk? That’s one of the reason we don’t compensate organ donors, because money clouds decision making when there are risks.

    • The contracts determine who has decision-making authority if she is on life support, how much she is compensated and on what schedule, that all parties must mutually agree on how many embryos are transferred at once, that the IPs are responsible for paying for any post-partium psychiatric care that the surrogate or her family may need for up to a year after the baby is born and how lost wages are handled, along with any other needs or requests which vary on a case-by-case basis like housekeeping or childcare needs. It’s not just for the issue of pregnancy termination. The idea is that a couple and a surrogate discuss all possible issues in advance and do not work together if there is a disagreement on how to handle the possibility of birth defects or pregnancy complications. Disagreements can still happen, but as long as everyone involved has open communication from the beginning, they are typically rare.

      • It’s also usually in the contract that the surrogate’s husband/partner cannot put her in harm’s way while she is pregnant.

      • Ah, sophistry. It’s not buying or selling the use of a woman’s body, it’s just economics.

        You are happy to pay for the use of a woman’s body to get the baby you want. You’re happy to pay any price.

        In all of this, I rarely hear from the children (expected because the majority of them will be young and conflicted) or advocates for them. That will come.

        Surrogacy is the commodification of children. Let’s “grow our family”.

        In a Petri dish? No, we’ll get a surrogate. We can afford it, it’s not like that awful trafficking – we’re just paying for her costs, and maybe a bit of compensation. We deserve it.

    • The contracts are in place to keep people honest and if they still choose to go against the contract, it is there to supply consequences.

  10. Charles, to your point on human trafficking – that’s exactly what the New York Task Force said on commercial surrogacy. Here’s the language from their report: The Task Force unanimously recommended that public policy should prohibit commercial surrogate parenting. The members concluded that the practice could not be distinguished from the sale of children and that it placed children at significant risk of harm. They also agreed that surrogacy undermines the dignity of women, children, and human reproduction. The Task Force rejected the notion that rights as fundamental as the right of a parent to a relationship with his or her child should be bought and sold or waived irrevocably in advance of the child’s birth.

    • It’s only human trafficking if her compensation is based on the outcome. She still receives full compensation for the sacrifices that accompany being pregnant. Her compensation is not dependent upon the successful delivery of a healthy baby.

      • Not true at all. I’ve met/interviewed several surrogates who miscarry and the compensation stops. So you maintain the surrogate gets all the money up front then and keeps it even if the pregnancy results in loss, miscarriage, or stillbirth?

    • I couldn’t reply to your last comment directly so I will do it here. I stand by what I said. The money is not given to the surrogate up front, at least in my experience, but in intervals throughout her pregnancy.

      • So she receives the final payment at the time she surrenders the baby? Is this income? Does she pay taxes on it?

      • Stemming off of Jennifer’s question: Jennifer you are correct that if something happens to the fetus, the comp stops four weeks after the event of the fetal death however, as Charles said, the comp is given in intervals throughout the pregnancy. So the surrogate receives comp regardless of how long the pregnancy lasts or if there is a live child in the end or not, as compensation for her time and risks she underwent for that time period. Obviously a surrogate that unfortunately loses a surro babe will not get the same amount of comp of a surro that delivers.

      • It is not income and no taxes are to be paid on it. Compensation for surrogacy, is legally considered “pain and suffering.” Again, for the time, discomfort (let’s be honest, pregnancy, no matter how beautiful it is, is very uncomfortable physically), and risks she is taking.

        Having said that, there are surrogates that have paid taxes on it from being misinformed. There have also been surrogates that paid, and received every dime back from the federal government, when they learned they didn’t have to pay taxes on it, and disputed it with the IRS.

  11. As a gay woman and a foster parent, perhaps what’s obvious to me isn’t obvious to others, but the body a baby came from is not inherently a “parent.” The person who builds a relationship with that child is a parent. Thus surrogacy is not offending anyone’s fundamental rights.

  12. As a child of the gay community I say no sirs, no, no, no. As a feminist I should, just no holds barred, tear you a new one sir and that adorable picture probably will not stop me. First, this is the biggest bunch of “Mansplaining” I have seen in a long time. It sloshes so much belongs in a bed pan and in case nobody has noticed, not sure how they can miss it– blast from the past wake up call: Meet the new patriarchy men who want women protected by contracts that in fact legally erase and deny women ANY rights.

    Surrogacy preys on women’s economic disadvantage. The rigorous psychological test cherry pick women who are not likely to voice regret or make any waves. So you prey not only on the economically disadvantaged but also on women who have an innate fear and are easily controlled.

    Surrogacy as commercial reproductive slavery adds to human suffering and devalues– all women and children by creating a lower caste of breeders for the wealthy. And while it may work for you it is abhorrent and demeans every women and every child in significant political and social and economic ways. That you can deny this speaks to your self serving misogyny. More white males who want stock and trade for profit in uterus—old story, not progressive in the least. You have no right to women’s bodies in part or whole. And society has no obligation to provide you with unfettered access to women’s bodies in order to fuel a dark and sketchy billion dollar industry that is de facto a new flesh and slave trade.

    How disingenuous that suddenly the light bulb went on and now you will argue for “regulated” reproductive slavery. Funny you did not argue for that before but now that it is threatened you act like you imagine a whole class of disadvantaged women are human? Please, who are you kidding? You demand that society provides you with eggs and create entire breeding farms stocked with herds, the stalls filled with commercial rows of Industrial Uterus so you can obscure “mother” and erase women’s rights. You dehumanize all women. And some die from it, they die from the superovulation drugs and other complications. Some Women go on to live tortured lives of regret and loss because of surrogacy. The fact is you do not want this looked at closely because when it is people will see beyond the adorable pictures and then it will be banned. People will know what the super ovulation drugs do to women and their loss of fertility and cancer, the stuffing of women’s uterus with multiple embryos, the reductions and woo hoo what happens when designer Jr. is not up to snuff and it is past the 2nd trimester. And when those of raised in the gay community are starting to say no I would urge you to listen to listen to us. Please forgive me directness it was how I was raised. If someone’s sister wants to carry a baby for them fine, but commercial industrial surrogacy for profit is the worst exploitation since slavery was abolished.

    • SAY IT SISTER!! As a feminist colleague of mine calls it “industrial factory farming of women” which is entirely apt since the model of industrial factory farming of animals has been copied by the fertility industry to extend to women. What a repellent patriarchal/misogynist culture!

    • Ridiculous. That is the only word that comes to mind here.

      “Surrogacy preys on women’s economic disadvantage. The rigorous psychological test cherry pick women who are not likely to voice regret or make any waves. So you prey not only on the economically disadvantaged but also on women who have an innte fear and are easily controlled.”

      That may have been the common practice when surrogacy was in its infancy, and nowadays, that is only the case when uninformed individuals or very immoral individuals attempt a surrogacy path. It is DEFINITELY frowned upon and STRONGLY discouraged by those in the surrogacy community that have a moral conscience and believe in doing it the RIGHT way, with attorney’s, contracts, reputable medical staff, etc. There are agencies and reproductive endocrinologists that have strict regulations that each surrogate must meet in order to be a surrogate, some of those include being financially stable, having NO government assistance whatsoever, be of a certain age, have tons of medical screenings done, psych evals, etc. Some even require home visits to make sure the surrogate lives a healthy, stable life (this includes finances). There are communities that are devoted to supporting surrogates, intended parents, and to offer accurate information and credible resources for others to educate themselves on what surrogacy is about and how it should be done. Those people that are taking advantage of women that are at an economic disadvantage, should not be having children to begin with! That is the bad apples that are found everywhere, not the soul of how surrogacy is meant to work.

      I can say with certainty because I, myself was a surrogate. I spent years researching the process and was quite educated before I ever decided I wanted to do it. We had great, very knowledgeable attorneys, medical staff, etc to make sure we did everything right and it all went smoothly. We (the intended parents and I) became family during our journey. We are family now that the journey is over. Their son is like my nephew to me. I am also deeply involved in the communities to help educate others about surrogacy and about the proper ways to go about it.

      “Surrogacy as commercial reproductive slavery adds to human suffering and devalues– all women and children by creating a lower caste of breeders for the wealthy.” Are you kidding me?!?! Surrogacy DEVALUES women and children….it adds to human suffering?????? What planet are you from?!?! If anything, surrogacy (when done PROPERLY) ADDS VALUE to women and negates human suffering from those that deeply desire to have their own family!
      What say you to those couples that are not able to have their own families?? “Too bad, so sad, you don’t get to experience the joy of having children?” Tell me THAT doesn’t add to human suffering or devalue someone.

      “Reproductive slavery” Let me educate you….the definition of slave: “someone who is legally owned by another person and is forced to work for that person without pay.” By definition, surrogate, whether gestational or tradition are NOT INVOLVED IN ANY KIND OF SLAVERY! I would also be willing to bet that people that have been subjected to REAL SLAVERY, would be very offended by the two being compared.
      Surrogate: ” to put in the place of another:
      a : to appoint as successor, deputy, or substitute for oneself .”
      Surrogate mother: “a woman who becomes pregnant usually by artificial insemination or surgical implantation of a fertilized egg for the purpose of carrying the fetus to term for another woman.”

      Soooo…by definition, a surrogacy, is in NO way slavery.

      As long as EVERYONE involved is properly educated on the process, knows what they are getting into, does it willingly, has appropriate legal support, etc, then there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with a couple having a child/ren through surrogacy when they have no other options to parenthood. Period.

      • lol. Yay for informed consent.

        I’m sure the women living in India in baby farms agree with you. It’s a fantastic opportunity to be paid for the gift of life to a wealthy western couple.

        Mind you, since it’s such an expensive process for those who can’t have one but can afford one, it’s okay to spread the wealth around, too.

        I speak as someone who seriously wanted to be a donor, but the more I learn the more it horrifies me.

        As for empowering women? Only until science brings into being the decanting rooms.

      • First of all–what do you say to those couples? Nothing. I am a total stranger why would they ask me unless it was to be manipulative. You see It is not any societies problem. Nobody owes people other people in parts or whole. The Nazi’s tried that and it didn’t work out so well. Do you go demanding a kidney from someone? These people are like grim reapers pretending it all ice cream cones and pony rides. What would I say–Oh good god. I say that is something that you and your partner should work out it is not my issue and the world does owe you other people because you really really want it. How the hell dare these people throw that manipulative crap at people, in light of all the damage and deaths they have cause with their selfishness. Bawaahhh but what should we do. That is not my business what they do and I would not offer advice or feel responsible. When these people start coming around and women die then I will beat them back with a stick.

    • “And some die from it, they die from the superovulation drugs and other complications. Some Women go on to live tortured lives of regret and loss because of surrogacy. The fact is you do not want this looked at closely because when it is people will see beyond the adorable pictures and then it will be banned. People will know what the super ovulation drugs do to women and their loss of fertility and cancer, the stuffing of women’s uterus with multiple embryos, the reductions and woo hoo what happens when designer Jr. is not up to snuff and it is past the 2nd trimester.”

      NEWSFLASH: Women die from birthing their own children! Women that have fertility problems and choose to, use those same medications to aid in their own fertility to gain children. How is it any different when a WILLING and EDUCATED woman decides to be a surrogate for unable couples???? The risks are all the same whether the pregnancy is natural or not, the only difference is, whether or not the woman does it for her own family, or another.

      It’s really not that hard of a concept to grasp.

      • OMG Kimberly that is the biggest bunch of gibberish not to mention deeply unconvincing, Surrogacy is reproductive slavery. It has evolved out of the worst misogyny in the past six centuries and was fed by the the worst greed. It turns women into breeding animals and it is a form of prostitution. Then a human is produced, a baby and that baby is sold–which is what slavery is. Those are not parents, will never be parents. They bought a human–I have been around this long enough to know that those kids when they are older will hold the adults in utter contempt.

        At any rate you have made my case–women die birthing their own children. People are not going to be so supportive of women dying to birth live humans for the market place of the jet set, lets play parents. The corruption and profit that surrounds surrogacy make it one of the most shady, sleezy industries. The fact is it will not be legalized here because of all the problems including deaths. The other fact is that parenthood is not a civil right. It is not even a human right. But children have the right to not be bought or sold and according to the UN to have a mother and a father. There are not enough cutie pie pictures of family vacations in Italy to get people to swallow this pill when they are confronted with dead women, women made infertile and all the other horror stories. And people will be confronted by all of that.

        If you had any concept of how you have been played and used you might not be so willing to make yourself look so foolish, arrogant and self righteous. Let me tell you what I think. And I will put it bluntly. I bet you supplied the uterus and not the eggs. I would put money on that. Because you have been so manipulated and so unable to comprehend the basic issues–a perfect surrogate. But that same lack of understanding makes you an undesirable egg donor–oh these people want high SAT scores.

        And I do not say that to be mean. I say it so you maybe begin to grasp what they are doing and who they are doing it to You provided the uterus because they did not think you were smart enough to provide the egg. In other words they felt your DNA was not good enough for them. Think about that. They use women, they turn into breeder animals and then they buy a human.

      • Wow, such uncomfortable truths. I applaud you “Motherhood” for your bravery. You’ll undoubtedly be subjected to hate responses from those who will fight tooth & nail to avoid the facts. After all, patriarchal/misogyny is the culture we live in.

      • The option to reply to your comment does not exist, so I will respond under my comment.

        Motherhood, I have a question for you. Do you have a problem with reproductive surrogacy, or a woman being compensated for being a surrogate? Because you seem to be just talking about the money aspect, while not all surrogates are compensated. All of their expenses relating to the pregnancy are covered, but they are not given anything on top of that.

        “Because you have been so manipulated and so unable to comprehend the basic issues–a perfect surrogate. But that same lack of understanding makes you an undesirable egg donor–oh these people want high SAT scores.

        And I do not say that to be mean. I say it so you maybe begin to grasp what they are doing and who they are doing it to You provided the uterus because they did not think you were smart enough to provide the egg. In other words they felt your DNA was not good enough for them. Think about that. They use women, they turn into breeder animals and then they buy a human.”

        I do think your statement is mean, I think…no, I KNOW your statement is based on ignorance. I have not been manipulated by anything or anyone and I have a deep understanding for surrogacy. I’m an undesirable egg donor? Really? News to me, and I’m sure all the clinics that asked me if I would become a donor. I am not an uneducated, low/poor class individual. I am married, mother of 3, college educated with an RN/BSN and minor in psychology, among other areas of specialty knowledge. I provided the uterus because *I* chose not to be an egg donor due to my own personal reasons, not because someone thought I wasn’t smart enough. Good try though.

        Just that assumption in general is disgusting. To assume that GS’s are there because they are not “smart enough” to be egg donors. You are disgusting. Why don’t YOU educate yourself more on the matter, because it is clear here that I am not the one lacking understanding of the process.

        In the surrogacy communities I am a part of, we frequently have women coming in complaining that they were rejected as gestational surrogates by agencies and clinics because they were not living stable lives, they were not financially stable, etc. Us that are experienced try to get them to understand they are not good candidates and explain why those things matter in a surrogacy. Being educated, informed, stable, etc is VERY important to be a surrogate and thousands of us experienced surrogates, credible agencies, clinics and attorneys try very hard to get that info out there and get women to understand it, so less of the “disadvantaged” women are being taken advantage of by desperate couples. I have even ran into couples that were looking into other countries because it was easier to find surrogates that way (no doubt because of places like India) and we always, ALWAYS do our best to educate them on those conditions and discourage them from using surrogates from other countries unless they are able to KNOW FOR SURE she is not being taken advantage of.

        I ask a general question: Some of you here call yourselves feminists. That’s grand. I have several very close friends that are as well. Isn’t a big part of that having the belief that women have the right to choose what they do with their bodies?

        Now, I do have to agree that there are places in this world that DO use women, to be surrogates against their will. India is a great example of that. Women that are uneducated and have no way of fighting against it are held in “camps” and manipulated into surrogacy. It’s disgusting. Wrong on so many levels. THIS IS NOT THE WHOLE OF SURROGACY AND I IN NO WAY SUPPORT OR AGREE WITH THAT AT ALL. There are places and people that do that, yet. BUT, that is NOT what surrogacy is about, it is not the whole of the process and it is STRONGLY discouraged here in America. As I mentioned before, in EVERYTHING involving human rights, civil rights, etc, there will be people that take advantage of others. As much as we want to, there is NO way to rid of that 100%. It’s just not possible. There are going to be those sick minded people out there, no matter what is done. Surrogacy can be completely outlawed, and there will STILL be people out there finding their way around it.
        That shouldn’t mean that all of the people out there that are actually deserving, shouldn’t be allowed to have them through surrogacy if that is their only option to parenthood.

      • That should say, “I do NOT think your statement is mean.” Shame on me for not proof reading before posting.

  13. Jerry, I am a queer father. I was raised by a lesbian couple. I categorically oppose the way you have formed a family and believe everything you are championing should be illegal.

    Over the last two years I have undergone the emotionally transformative journey of working with other adults who were raised by same-sex couples. Dozens of such adults shared their thoughts with me but did not want any details recorded or published because they still fear the backlash of the gay community. Those whose stories I have been able to record, many of which were compiled by author Dawn Stefanowicz (who wrote “Out from Under: The Impact of Same-Sex Parenting”), are digested and compiled here:


    Same-sex parenting is child abuse because two gay adults conspire to deprive a child of either a mother or father, and 100% of the time, the child is removed from a relationship with a biological parent (at least), then forced into an emotional relationship with someone who isn’t a parent. Overwhelmingly the people who grew up in these homes grieved for the missing parent and felt burdened by their relationship with the “extra” mom or “extra” dad, someone they very often felt some fondness for, but didn’t want to obey and simply could not love as they would a parent. There is a way to feel gratitude and warmth toward an adult who took care of you while still not wanting that person and the government to force you against your will to call them a parent. That’s not “love.” That’s abuse, because it is coercive and the children are stripped of a natural relationship to a parent when they are too young to consent to the loss.

    So what does this mean for a family of two gay men and a surrogate mother? You are beginning with a crime against the child: the theft of the child’s relationship to his mother. You are adding another crime: the abusive forcing of that child to be be subject to the emotional authority of a man who is not actually the child’s parent, but who is sleeping with the child’s father. Then there is another bit of unfairness: The home is controversial and politically fraught, and the two men who have thrown you into such a firestorm are also brandishing photos of you on a website and using you to advance an agenda that much of society dislikes and which you may end up disliking yourself. Perhaps it all seems fair to you because you say you love your children, but love is also what justifies cruelty in the mind of stalkers and other abusers. You have created an emotional difficulty for the child and deprived the child of a universal human experience–that of knowing one’s father and mother and being able to call them father and mother, not having to call someone else a father who the child knows is not a father.

    Then on top of all this, there’s money, and it gets ugly. It is illegal to buy and sell human beings, including children, in the United States. The 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution overturned Article IV of the original constitution. That Article IV, as it was first drafted, basically enshrined the “right” to enforce contracts over other people who aren’t one’s children — precisely what you are asking in the essay above when you talk about enforceable contracts. We fought a Civil War to expunge that clause from our constitution. Now you are trying to bring it back. You are justifying it to yourself with all the justifications that people used to buy and control other people’s children when slavery was legal: it’s all about love, they’re happier that way, this is the only life they’ve known.

    Your children cannot undo what you have done, so this is a serious crime. These arrangements should not happen. Every child should be born free, not with a price on his head. A woman who would agree to sell her child belongs in jail or in a mental institution. A man who would separate a child from the child’s mother and call it love is a cruel man; a man who has a contract to empower him to do that is a criminal.

    I am sorry, but I believe the best respect we can show to each other as queers is to be honest. You are engaged in an unconscionable business and our society will have to end it and correct course at some point in the future.

    Robert Oscar Lopez

    • Robert Oscar Lopez:

      Just so that you’re aware — as a ‘queer father’ and someone not living in the United States, maybe you’re not aware of how it works here, so let me spell it out for you. Take my advice, it is in your best interest to not post anything else on this website. Not a comment, not a rant, not a link to one of your ridiculous essays, nothing.

      Your delusional beliefs are not only toxic, they are indicative of the ramblings of a person complete devoid of any mental health.

      Go create your own blogs of hatred, lies and pathological ugliness — it is your right, after all, but I warn you — say one more disparaging word about me or my family, and I’ll make sure you discover that being ‘raised by lesbians’ was the best thing that ever happened to you, you spineless frog. You don’t want to make me any angrier than I am right now, I assure you.

      Drew, Jerry’s husband

      • Drew and Jerry, I am also the child of gay parents. Raised in the community. Do you know why I hide my name and my identity? Because I know that any voice of dissension is met with rage and hate, attacked, trivialized, or shamed. If you imagined that this is what I wanted to do with my time you are wrong. I just know, not feel, know that using women as breed animals is wrong and there is no such thing as ethical commercial surrogacy. This is not a nuanced thought or a complicated thought it is simply the truth.

        I have no idea what Robert Oscar Lopez said but if you think you can cast each and every one of us, children of gays as crazy or bitter or anything else I would think long and hard about that tactic because it does not bode well into the future and suggests how the next generation will be treated when they call you on all the bullshit. It may surprise you how many of us there are–it would take all of you 5 hours a day to call us all crazy. And if we are all crazy and screwed up well then I guess that could say something about our parents. I mean people might infer that. I would hope that you guys tread lightly around me and all the other adult children because we are all grown up now and not dependent and not afraid. Here is the common ground —no commercial surrogacy. You sister, your cousin, your friend wants to carry a baby for you that is the only acceptable arrangement–no egg harvest, no super ovulation drugs, no implant of 5 embryos. And the surrogate mother retains all rights as a parent.

        The truth is as you will both find out in spades from the children that you are taking care of is that it sucks big time to grow up with you guys. In my experience kids raised in the gay community hit critical rage sooner than kids with a mother and a father. In a girl as early as 11 boys are later 14 or so–but that is just my experience and in NY. What your daughter is saying is that she will be getting pregnant early because she needs to mother herself–you guys are so clueless it is scary. She is trying to fulfill the concept of mother–that she is missing. She is not a big fat mirror for all your greatness so don’t dress it up as some surrogacy positive crap that fits your fantasy–pull your narcissistic head out of your ass and parent for 1 second. That is my free advice, And reflecting on the fact you missed or did not care what the child was saying by 10 miles and turned it into an other “all about me moment” confirms that children have a right to a mother and father. They need both.

      • @Motherhood, please take your medications. You tend to ramble when you don’t take them regularly.

    • Robert, I am sorry that your life has not been what you would have
      liked it to be and that you seem to have managed to surround yourself with people who have similarly been disappointed with what they have been given. I am even sorrier that the fact you are unhappy with your situation seems to have blinded you to the fact that others in the same situation are, in fact, happy – and have every right to be so. I am even sorrier again that you are channelling your hate of your own life into destroying the happiness of others.
      I won’t get into a long argument about the flaws of your logic – suffice to say that i find your saying the whole idea of surrogacy is wrong because you do not feel close to one of your mothers a rather long bow to draw… I had my heart broken in my twenties and it was a devastating experience. I know many others that have had a similar experience, but we are not banding together to deride all relationships that are formed by couples in their twenties. Because that would be…well…just silly.
      I hope you will come to realize that robbing others of happiness does not increase your own personal store of that emotion. Hopefully you will mature into a more open person, who will realize the gift of life that you were given was just that, a gift. And hopefully as you mature you will come to realize that while many people are not perfectly happy with the parents they had to raise them, the fact that you were given two people who loved you (regardless of how you felt about them or what their biological relationship to you was) is far more than so many millions in the world receive. Grow up, get some perspective, hell, get some counseling if you need to, but stop using your hatred of yourself to try to hurt others please.

      • O Carol so kind of you reach out to Robert with all those faint missives and veiled insults which come off as finessed and sophisticated as the lunchroom circa 7th grade,the big hair girls’ table. If peoples’ happiness depends on using women as breed animals and buying a human–then they can stay unhappy.

      • Carole,
        learn some other rhetorical tricks–the missives don’t work and ad hominem makes you look ill equipped to parse ideas and just mean spirited jack ass. Read this guys blog–all about him and him and what people think of him and him. Then go read a mothers blog and just count how many times the children are discussed and compare the two. This is an platform for navel gazing and blowing himself air kisses nothing else. I do not even think it is all that political–just a me and me and me fest.

    • Robert Oscar Lopez makes his money by making appearances as an “Ex-Gay” who has been transformed by a religous experience and now is in a “happy” 12 year heterosexual marriage to a woman. How is he a “queer” father?

  14. I’d say I have three more comments to make on this topic, and then I’m pretty much done. First, to the supporters like Kimberly and Charles, thanks, but please realize that the dissenters here are part of a very organized and well-funded effort to criminalize surrogacy. They have an agenda, a movie to promote and they are armed to the gills with talking points. Don’t waste too much time debating them. It will never end.

    To those dissenters, if you cared as much about women who choose to become surrogates as you do about your politics, I wish you would find some common ground with me, and we could work together to make surrogacy as safe as possible for those who choose to engage in it. You want to know what children born from surrogacy think? Well, my 4-year-old daughter has told her brother repeatedly that she would someday carry a baby for him if he needed it. I know her understanding of the situation is limited at this age, but I find that sentiment beautiful. (I suspect you’ll disagree quite strongly.)

    If you do choose to continue seeking a full-scale prohibition of surrogacy, I hope you’ll continue using the fearmongering, sensationalism and intellectual jargon you seem to favor, because I will counter you every step of the way with well-reasoned honesty and heart, and we’ll see which side people take in the end.

    And lastly, to Robert Oscar Lopez, you are a horrible person who is not even worth arguing with, and you can shove your blessings up your ass.

    I say that, of course, with my own sincerest blessings.

    Mommy Man out!

    • Very organized and well funded?? if only! I care more about women and children and have spent my professional career in this space (nearly 20 years as a pediatric nurse and now advocating for the protection of women and children). Common ground – NO commerce. No anonymity. Stop ALL of this until studies are done on the safety to women and the children, Full protections for women and children harmed. That seems a good place to start with common ground, not the Hallmark card platitudes of love and family and mind your own business, don’t do it if you don’t want to. Have you even studied ANY of the medical literature on Lupron in gestational surrogacy and the risk of cerebral hypertension? Or the risk of multiple births and C-Sections, common with gestational surrogacy and how that has cost women, children and our healthcare (see the new study out of Loma Linda in the Jrn of Perinatology)? Or the risks of women using donor eggs and pre-eclampsia (there is so much medical literature on this)? Or the risks to children born in one womb and then never to see that woman again? No, I don’t think so. You stand in judgment with your own children and family as your research.

      • All medications and medical procedures carry varying amounts of risk. If you used similar exaggerations and scare tactics when explaining medications to your patients, you must not have been a very good nurse. You also took a leap when you speculated about the “risks to children born in one womb and then never to see that woman again.” No such medical literature exists and you know it.

    • How dare you say that feminists who oppose the commodification, health endangerment & exploitation of marginalized women are part of some “well-funded effort” when in fact we work on a shoe-string, often with no income at all! Who’s the well-funded one here?! What’s your combined income Jerry? I’m sure you’re in no danger of having to apply for Food Stamps as many feminist activists must! But then the feminization of poverty is something you obviously know nothing about.

      • These are rich white arrogant men who do not care if women are kept in cages as breed animals or hung from meat hooks for that matter. They have already crossed every ethical line possible you think they’ll be honest in how the portray those who are calling them on it. Just agree–Yeah sure we are rich and fuggly and fat and bitter and lonely and wear work boots. Did I get all their misogynistic cliches out on the table. If that is all they got people will realize it sooner than later.

  15. Jerry is trying to present a balanced perspective on surrogacy. He is trying to demonstrate the positive outcomes while acknowledging that horror stories probably do happen. Has anyone ever done a large poll of surrogates afterward to ask whether they thought they were exploited? Instead of looking at a large balanced sample, disturbing anecdotes are being cited to vilify all of surrogacy. Given the horror stories and the easier analogies to human trafficking, similar arguments could be made for abolishing all private adoptions. But fearmongers won’t go there because adoption is much more common and accepted practice that has been going on for centuries. No, better to go after the newer thing because it is so much easier to work the general public into a frenzy about something they don’t fully understand yet.

    • So says another person who trades in live humans. I hope the general public educates themselves on exactly what is happening to women and children and to all the risks to life and the lost life and the cancer and the infertility and the damage of sloppy C-sections. I hope they make the right judgement. If they don’t right away they will in the future when the infants that have been purchased as a commodity begin to speak out themselves. And that will happen. And again all the cutie pie pictures of vacations will not convince anyone of anything.

      • I keep hearing (reading) about all the multiples, c-sections (which I don’t agree with in general anyway), and all the medical risks to the fertility medications. I get that, and you know what, you are right about that. So, having said that, I pose this question:

        How is a woman that uses these medications and willingly puts herself at risk for all those things for HERSELF, and different than a woman willingly putting herself at risk for another couple any different? Why is ok to do it for yourself willingly, but not ok to willingly do it for another couple? The risks are all the same.

    • docrocki are you a doctor? You call it scare tactics and fear mongering, I call it informed consent, patient advocacy, consumer protections, proper medical practice/care. Lupron, commonly used has never been FDA approved for this use and it carries a category X rating (google that!). Fertility drugs have known risks – it’s ethical to inform people of the risks. What’s hugely unethical in the co-mingling of money, informed consent and risks to otherwise healthy women (unlike a sick patient who assumes the risks to get well). And of course sick patients aren’t paid to take these drugs and assumes risks. Why are women paid to be “angels” but organ donors aren’t? Regarding the children – I’m a strong advocate of them and think adoption is necessary for orphans and as a society we need to do a better job of assisting birth parents to keep their children. The adoption literature is full of evidence on the problems of separation. Anne Fessler has added much with her recent book and documentary film.

      • Jennifer, you need to be corrected on this:
        I am an Oncology Pharmacist and it is true that Lupron is a Pregnancy Category X drug. What that means is that it should not be used during pregnancy because it can lead to spontaneous abortion. BUT, in the fertility protocols, it is NOT used after embryo implantation.

        And you can’t be that ignorant to believe that drugs are only used for their FDA approved indications. There are thousands of protocols where drugs are used “off-label” because there is clinical data to support it’s use.
        Drugs only need 1 indication to be FDA approved but new uses are being discovered and researched all the time.

        But, I’m sure you know much better than me. I do only have 6 years of education, my Doctorate degree, and 15 years of experience.
        And isn’t it much more fun to throw stuff out there to scare people?

      • You are correct, Lupron does hold a category x rating…..meaning it is not safe for pregnancy. And yet, it is not used in surrogacy for pregnancy, it is stopped weeks before pregnancy is attempted. So I’m not really sure what your point is on that one.

        Btw, when surrogacy is done PROPERLY, there is INFORMED consent. I was fully informed by our clinic of the risks of all the medications I would be taking and the procedures I would be subjected to. I even did my own research after they offered me all the information. And I still chose to be a surrogate. Was I exploited in some way? Nope. I was a completely willing individual that had deep compassion for another human and wanted to help them become parents.

        On another note, you are opening a whole other huge can of worms talking about “do a better job of assisting birth parents to keep their children.” That is so much bigger than the topic at hand. That goes into pregnancy resulted from rape, failed birth control, going into abortion rights, the rights of those unborn babies, forcing parents to raise unwanted children….and more.

  16. Jerry,

    Thanks for such a great and well thought out post. This is the exact information people need to hear, not the ideological dogma some are spreading or the rare horror stories that some try to inflate to frighten people away from surrogacy. We will direct our readers to this post and are so thankful you are willing to stand up and tell your story in hopes of actually helping others. Well done!

    • No Andy, it’s not dogma, it’s based in medical research. Google it and educate yourself.

      • “Google it” you say that a lot. Are you not aware that google is not a proper accurate search engine? “Google” and “educate” don’t exactly go together. If you want to suggest people to research something, why don’t you try directing them to something more credible, that not any Mary Jane and Tom can post on and edit with false information?

  17. wow!! I stumbled into a very big debate here… I am glad that you are a loving parent. Thanks for wanting to foster a life worth living. period. xxoo

  18. Jerry, I’m so sorry that your thoughtful blog post has devolved into this nonsense with the comments.
    There’s nothing wrong with having disagreements and discussions: that’s how education happens.
    But these people are obviously miserable and want everyone else to be.
    You are right that it isn’t worth our time or energy.

    Doug (Charles’s husband and William’s PROUD father)

  19. I did not know that the US was the destination of choice for those needing surrogates. Seeing as we have the worst maternal and infant healthcare of developed countries would make me want to go elsewhere. I totally agree with you on the need for standardization and accountability in surrogate situations. I’d also love to see it be made easily legal to have known sperm donors.

  20. Jerry, I agree with Doug, wholeheartedly. I’m so very passionate about this, it is sometimes difficult for me to just sit back and not say anything. My hopes in my comments, are not to change these people’s minds, because they obviously have serious underlying issues to tackle; but my hope is that other people that are learning about surrogacy, read your article and read the comments are not left with the terrible misinformation being displayed by those miserably unhappy people. My hope is that the information I leave, will be enough to get people to see surrogacy for the beauty it really is and to further their own research in it as well. Thank you for sharing this article. I wish you well in the future.

    Kimberly (The VERY proud gestational surrogate that carried and cared for William, son to Charles and Doug)

    • Thanks for commenting Kimberly — and Doug and everyone else who kept a cool head during this craziness. You guys were far kinder and more rational than the trolls sometimes warranted, and I appreciate everything you’ve added to the discussion.

      On this note, I’m going to shut comments on this post down, because everything that needs to be said has been said, and undoubtedly, some people will continue to see things the way they choose to rather than listening to those of us who’ve experienced this first-hand. I don’t see the discussion going anywhere else from here but down.

      One final note, though, since I was accused both of selling out my childrens’ privacy and of focusing too much on myself with this blog, as if that were an indication I didn’t care about my kids (!). Blogs are personal. This is my blog, and it’s about me. (The “Adventures of a Gay Superdad” subtitle at the top should tell you that.) While my kids’ lives are very much a part of my own, I do have boundaries as to what I’ll share in regard to them, and I’m more interested in sharing my own experiences as a gay dad, something it seems more people could stand to be enlightened about. Suffice it to say they are wonderful kids — happy, loved and well cared for. When they grow up, they’ll be free to write their own blogs, and if they want to expose how horrible it was growing up in this family, that will be their prerogative.

      I suspect they’ll tell a different tale, but what do I know? I’m just their dad.

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