Surrogacy stories are storming the internet as Kim Kardashian and Kanye West prepare to welcome their third child by way of a surrogate. For most of us, the idea of allowing another person to carry our child is wildly foreign and something only available to celebrities. But the truth is surrogates are everyday women working with every day aspiring parents to create families of choice.
In this video, created by “The Cut”, Growing Generations’ Co-Owner Dr. Kim Bergman talks about what surrogacy is, and how it can be done ethically. Also in the video, two-time Growing Generations’ surrogate Mandy Storer talks about what it’s really like the moment the baby is born. Her answers may just surprise you!
As surrogate Mandy described, gestational surrogacy is the process of creating an embryo outside of the body, and then placing it back inside of the surrogate’s uterus. Doctors can create these embryos using the genetic material (eggs and sperm) from the parents, donors, or any combination of the two. One important thing to note is that in gestational surrogacy, the surrogate’s genetic material is never used. In this form of surrogacy, the carrier will never bear any genetic relation to the child she carries.
The surrogate begins by taking hormone medications in order to create the perfect conditions for pregnancy. Once doctors determine the surrogate’s uterus to be ideal for receiving the embryo, and the embryos look strong and ready for transfer, doctors transfer the tiny embryo through a small tube into the surrogate’s uterus. The whole procedure takes fewer than five minutes. But those five minutes can absolutely change the lives of every person in the room!
The parents are matched with their surrogate during a “double blind” selection process. First, both parties create profiles that discuss how they came to consider surrogacy, what their preferences are for the pregnancy and beyond, and where they stand on complicated issues like abortion. Once a surrogate accepts an intended parent’s profile, her own profile is then sent to the parents for consideration. Once everyone agrees to work together, the magic can really begin. Quite often, the result of this unique relationship is a deep bond that can last for years following the birth!
But, because IVF is not an exact science, there is still room for failure. Sometimes an embryo transfer may not take on the first try. This can make the journey longer than expected. As Dr. Bergman reminds parents and surrogates alike, “Surrogacy is a marathon, not a sprint.” It’s important to stay committed to the long-term goal.
Parents wait, often on pins and needles, as their surrogate goes through hormone therapy to prepare her body for the embryo transfer. If it takes, the team work together to have the best possible pregnancy. Then, if all goes according to plan, the team comes together nine months later to celebrate the birth!
Surrogates are not adoptive mothers. We often hear surrogates tell us, “I didn’t give my baby away. It was never mine to keep. I simply gave the parents their baby back.” As Mandy described, the moment of birth is life-affirming and empowering. It’s no surprise that so many surrogates wind up returning to have the experience more than once!
What’s important for potential surrogates to understand is that this process, no matter how empowering, isn’t for everyone. Growing Generations screens surrogates intensely, and as a result, only about 1% of applicants complete the journey from potential surrogate to Growing Generations’ surrogate. Surrogacy can be a time imposition on families, and often means rearranging vacations, daily life, and other major life events. It’s important to be flexible. Mandy says she often tells people, “We’re not a family with a surrogate in it. We’re a surrogate family. Because the pregnancy impacts us all, we all have to make sacrifices. We all agree that those sacrifices are totally worth it.”
Growing Generations has been building families of choice since 1996. With programs for a variety of intended parents, from single parents, to both heterosexual and homosexual couples, and yes, even celebrities. Growing Generations prides themselves on meeting the highest standards of ethical surrogacy. To date, just shy of 1,600 babies have been born through Growing Generations’ surrogacy program.
To learn more about surrogacy with Growing Generations, check out this infographic.