What the Media Gets Wrong About Surrogacy

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Surrogacy is an emerging discipline that pairs the innovation of science with the heart and soul of human compassion. As a result, it is no surprise that the media loves reporting on surrogacy. This is an emotional process that highlights the awesome ability of science, the incredible compassion of the human race, and for some, the ethical issues than can arise if this process goes wrong.

While many positive surrogacy stories are being shared via the news and across social media, the vast majority of headline grabbing surrogacy stories tend to revolve around cases that have gone astray.

We understand that this can be scary for incoming surrogates. Here’s what we’d like you to remember: it makes the news for a reason. These stories are the exception to the rule and are certainly not the commonplace experience for most surrogates. Growing Generations is proud of our 20+ year track record that has never once lead to a sensational media story. Here are a few other things to keep in mind before you Google surrogacy stories.

  • The media often doesn’t highlight the happy. It is not hard to find articles that will highlight potential dangers of surrogacy gone wrong. Using scare tactics and “worst case scenarios” can highlight people’s underlying fears, and in turn sell a lot of publications and lead to a lot of social media clicks. You’re less likely to trip across positive stories showcasing the immense happiness and overwhelming joy that is the more common reality of a surrogate experience.
  • Misrepresentation of motives. It is perhaps the most common question you will be asked as a surrogate, “How much do you get paid?” This bit of honest curiosity is often fueled by unfair media reports that can paint surrogates as money hungry or financially unstable women. Understand that reputable agencies will ensure that you are neither before moving forward. Most surrogates choose to participate out of altruistic motives, and all are required to meet certain income requirements before being cleared to move forward.
  • Confusing the standard. In the United States today, surrogacy has two predominant realities:
    1. Most surrogates bear no biological relation to the child they will carry
    2. Most surrogates, especially first time surrogates, will work with an agency.

While it is possible for a woman to become a surrogate using her own egg, this form of surrogacy is very rare in practice. Known as ‘traditional surrogacy’, this method is rarely used and even more rarely distinguished in media reports. Part of the beauty of gestational surrogacy, the form in which the carrier has no genetic link to the child, is that she exhibits far fewer, if any, emotional hardships following the birth of the child. It is important to note the type of surrogacy when reporting on any potential negative impacts to the surrogate. At Growing Generations we engage solely in gestational surrogacy.

Additionally, while some surrogates will choose to work outside of an agency, a process often called ‘going independent,’ or ‘indy’, this is the exception to the rule. Clearly, in many of these cases, women and intended parents may inadvertently miss a crucial step in the process, simply by virtue of lack of experience. This situation can set a pair up for hardship later on, and it is important to note if a troublesome case was the result of an independent journey. Many intended parents seeking an independent journey are seeking to save money. We understand that an agency-brokered surrogacy can be quite costly, but it’s a solid investment that helps take the risk out of skipped steps and lack of experience.

 

  • Tragedies happen. Growing Generations spends an inordinate amount of time screening our potential surrogates in order to prevent tragedy before it has an opportunity to occur. It’s something we call ethical surrogacy, and it’s a big part of why we’re so successful. While we’ve never had a surrogate even contemplate changing her mind about relinquishing the child post birth, these stories do exist. It’s important to remember that while things can go wrong, working with a reputable agency from day 1 can be your best safeguard against becoming one of those scary headlines.

 

Keep in mind that, by choosing to work with Growing Generations, you are engaging the support and assistance of a proven, respected program. We will help ensure your process is smooth and headline-free at every phase. We are proud of our complete surrogate support program that ensures you have everything you need in order to have a successful journey. If you still have concerns or fears moving forward, don’t feel ashamed to speak up! We encourage you to ask questions and educate yourself at every step in this process. Our experts are always willing and ready to support you, no matter what concern you may have.

Dr. Kim Bergman

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for Intended Parents, Surrogates and Donors. She is the co-owner of Fertility Counseling Services and Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national Emeritus board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman’s is the author of the upcoming book, Your Future Family: An Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Red Wheel Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. Her two daughters are in college.