Overall, I was impressed with the article. Most things I've read about or seen on television or even in movies regarding surrogacy is usually negative. We are ususally portrayed as unstable, weirdos, or the surrogacy process itself is usually not accurate. (one of the reasons I wrote my book, to provide something positive out there about us)
I believe it was Glamour that may have been the reason I fell in love with surrogacy in the first place. It was a magazine article I read back around 2002(?). Surrogacy was a new concept to me back then and I completely fell in love with the idea. The whole concept was beautiful and the fact that you could get compensated on top of it all, blew me away. I wanted to be a surrogate. My husband was on deployment (US Navy) at the time and he didn't feel quite right about it. He didn't like the idea of me being pregnant with another man's baby. The timing was not right, and without his support I left it alone and moved on.
Funny thing is, I was living in Utah at the time, and it would have been ILLEGAL for me to be a compensated surrogate. Thank goodness that's not the case now, since I'm living in Utah again.
So, then how did I become a surrogate? Many of you have heard this story before, so you can skip this paragraph if you want to. It was the summer of 2005 and I was getting ready to move to San Diego to be with my husband. He wasn't going to be on a ship anymore, so I was going to be able to actually see him more than 1 month a year. He was always donating blood for his favorite radio station. We could have used some extra money so I started looking into donating blood for money. Well the internet led me to donating sperm for money. Hubby had a vasectomy in 2004, so that was a no go. However, it also led me to donating eggs. Hmm, that could be a cool experience. We were done having kids, hence the vasectomy, so how cool would it be for me to help someone else have kids? I did some research and contacted an agency near where we'd be moving to. One lady was very helpful in educating me. I wasn't 100% sure if egg donation was right for me, so she asked if I had ever considered being a surrogate. Why yes I had. We discussed the situation that occurred a few years back and she reassured me that the baby would not be mine at all. She explained that I would be a gestational surrogate which meant that I was the carrier, no genetic ties. She asked if I was concerned about being able to give up the baby and she told me it was actually pretty easy knowing that the baby is not yours to begin with. (that mindset really helped me) She also told me that being a surrogate was much more rewarding than being an egg donor. My passion grew. My husband hesitated, but even miles away, he could feel the passion within and wanted to support me the way I had supported him when he joined the Navy. I was ecstatic!
I learned a lot about surrogacy in the month before we moved, and even since then. I found a wonderful online community/support group where I could learn about issues before they arised. (http://www.allaboutsurrogacy.com/) I could talk to other surrogates there as well as intended parents. (IP's)
The agency I had spoken with offered me an extra $5000 if I used my military insurance. (Tricare) I thought nothing of it. They were an agency. I figured they knew what they were doing. I ended up not going with that agency though for other reasons that made me feel uncomfortable.
The next agency did not offer anything extra, but I was told by many agencies that I was very desireable as a surrogate with military insurance. It almost hurt my feelings. I kind of felt like that took priority over who I was as a person, like that was the only reason they chose me. However, being new to surrogacy, why would I question these agencies? Not only that, but I didn't see a problem with using my own insurance when I was the one who was going to be pregnant.
I was matched right away. The embryo transfer was about 2 months later and I got pregnant on the first try. I didn't expect that, and yet I wasn't surprised. The IP's paid for the shots, IVF, and everything up until pregnancy confirmation. Then I started using my insurance. I want to point out that there was nothing at the time that said Tricare did not cover surrogacy. However, it was starting to become a topic of interest that one day they would no longer cover it. I didn't want there to be any misunderstandings so I was upfront and honest with all the doctors I saw. They even gave my IP's a room at the hospital when the baby was born. I was told that they had dealt with plenty of surrogacies before and I was very happy with how I was treated.
It is my personal opinion that all insurance companies should cover surrogacy pregnancies, regardless of compensation. Most insurance companies cover pregnancies that end in adoption. Those moms are similarly compensated. And what about pregnancies that are a result of an affair? Are those denied? (I hope those moms aren't compensated) If I am pregnant and I have insurance, why can't I use it? As a pregnant woman, I have a medical condition and I need to be treated, right? I would love to be matched right now, but because of all this hoo ha with insurance NOT covering surrogacy, I'm at a standstill. (P.S. my husband is no longer in the military and we no longer have Tricare)
This is what rubbed me the wrong way about the Glamour article- how our compensation was referred to. I'm 99% sure that most surrogates will back me up on what I have to say here.
- Surrogacy is not a job.
- Our compensation is not a paycheck.
- Our IP's are not our employers.
- Surrogacy is not a business transaction.
For those who say surrogacy is prositution-
1- Are you stupid?
2- It's quite the opposite. We have restrictions where we absolutely cannot have sex for certain lengths of time. My husband would like to get his own compensation during those times.
I think of our compensation similar to compensating a mom who is giving up her baby for adoption. What is she compensated for? Well it seems that she is compensated for living expenses, and anything needed while she is pregnant. If a husband's wife was pregnant he would make sure she had a roof overhead, clothing, food, etc. Of course he would provide for her at all times. Our compensation covers whatever is needed to make sure we have all we need during the pregnancy and to make sure we are comfortable. That is my view and understanding of it. Also like I mentioned, it is for our pain and suffering. Being a surrogate is not as simple and easy as most people think. There is much more involved than merely getting pregnant and handing over the baby.
I would actually forget at times that I was being monetarily compensated. There are other compensations that come naturally. Being pregnant is nothing short of a miracle. If you've ever been pregnant, you know the speical feelings that come along with it. It felt above and beyond wonderful to know I was carrying precious cargo for someone else. I'm sure you know the glow that pregnancy can bring. For a surrogate, that glow is 10 times as bright and can be felt within. My compensation was the icing on the cake. It was very much appreciated.
For most surrogates, the compensation does not last long. Some use it to pay off debt, buy a new car, build up savings or a college fund for their children. The monetary compensation may not last forever, but the wonderful feelings from helping a couple become parents is ever lasting. Those feelings do not fade. I can still feel that "high" after giving birth to my 1st surro-baby.
I designed this t-shirt about 3 years ago and I think it sums it up nicely: