It seems like surrogacy is everywhere in the news lately, and now on TV and a movie. Many of the articles and stories are good, but there's still such a negative slant on it. It's disheartening.
There's a series thats out now called 'The Return of Jezebel James' where a well-to-do woman waits too long to have a child, thinking she still had plenty of time, and when she starts trying she realizes she has fertility issues. So she looks for her wayward sister (who is characterized as irresponsible and flighty) who she hasn't even had contact with for years and propositions her to carry her child. She gives her a place to sleep and meals, basically covering all her expenses. She considers her sister her employee, basically, and the sister looks at it as a meal ticket. I'm sure the show will be interesting and will probably have its funny moments, but to me it seems that it will perpetuate the stereotype that surrogates are only in it for the money and, as I've heard recently, "prostitute their bodies".
There's a movie coming out with 2 hilarious SNL ladies (Amy Poehler and Tina Fey) called "Baby Mama". It has a similar premise to the TV series previously mentioned, where the professional woman puts her career first, and tries to have a baby at 37 but has fertility issues. She then 'hires' a 'working class' woman to be her surrogate. The surrogate ends up having to move in with her (she finds herself homeless somehow but I dont know if her husband/boyfriend leaves her or what) and they get to go through the pregnancy together and develop a close bond. So it could be a pretty good movie, depending on how they portray the women. I have an issue with the mother always being portrayed as a busy career minded woman who has no time to have kids until its too late, and I also have a big problem with the surrogate always being portrayed as someone lower class, who will do anything for money.
What I think most people who are not involved in a surrogacy relationship fail to realize, is that being pregnant is NOT easy and if it weren't something that most of us surrogates REALLY wanted to do to help someone, then no amount of money would make it worth it. And I know there some people out there who are truly only in it to make money but I would seriously hope that they had a change of heart once they saw the faces of the people they are helping to become parents as they see their child(ren) on an ultrasound for the first time, and especially when the babies are born. As any mother knows, the moment you see your child you would die for that child. Your whole life changes in that instant. That is why I wanted to be a surrogate. No woman should be denied that life changing moment. Some people argue that if a couple cannot be parents then God didn't intend them to be parents. Well God gave us the technology for IVF and other Assisted Reproductive procedures, just as He has given us the technology over time to eradicate or cure diseases. No longer do people have to die from Small Pox thanks to vaccines and progressive health care. He gives us the technology and the scientific discoveries and we use them for the advancement of mankind. I see surrogacy and IVF as no different. But I digress.
Newsweek's current issue has surrogacy on the cover with the tagline "Womb for Rent". This phrase is abhorrent to most of the surrogate community, as it insinuates the whole 'doing it just for the money' issue. Technically I guess we are renting out our uterus, if even just for reimbursed medical costs. But I look at it this way, I'm not using it for myself right now so I might as well help someone else. But the term makes my skin crawl.
The article was meant to be about military wives being surrogates while their husbands are in Iraq, but they ended up interviewing 2 ladies from the agency I'm using who are NOT military wives. Amber B and Jen H, who are both pregnant with twins. There were a couple ladies who said they did it for the money, and then there was a military wife who talked about using the government insurance 'Tricare" to pay for the medical costs of the pregnancy. I think a whole can of worms has been opened up due to that article because there was another article on ABC news about military surrogates abusing Tricare to pay for pregnancies for other peoples' children and there were pages and pages of comments from people who were incredibly ticked off that their tax dollars are paying for that to happen. They were urging people to write their congressmen to have Tricare reformed to exclude surrogacy. They were also saying some horrible things about military surrogates. Absolutely heartbreaking things. I just can't believe that in 2008 we still have people who are so resistant to change or are afraid of anything new, that they can't accept surrogacy as a viable means to have children. They say "Well why can't they just adopt?". I think its nobody else's business how a couple becomes parents, whether through IVF, adoption, surrogacy, egg donation, artificial insemination, etc. Adoption is a wonderful, loving option but it shouldn't be the ONLY option that people are ok with. As humans we have the natural instinct to attract a mate who will produce quality offpsring to continue our bloodlines and genetics, so the desire for biological children is always there. Before I had my first son I couldn't wait to see what he looked like. I couldn't wait to see who's eyes he had, or if he'd have curly hair like me or straight hair like his daddy, how tall he'd grow to be, if he had the Blackburn doublejointed thumb (he doesn't but Quinn does!), etc. So it's important to me that I give someone else that chance.
Last night on NBC Nightly News they did a little segment about another surrogate from my group named Megan. She just delivered a little girl last week for her IPs from the UK. They had formed a pretty strong bond throughout the pregnancy. The mother was over here for a month around transfer time and lived with Megan and her family for that time. They became pretty close and her kids even named the extra bedroom "V's room". They were staying with them for several days once they were discharged from the hospital too, while they waited for the baby's passport and everything to be finalized. So on the segment they talked to them and showed them all interacting together and playing with the kids and cooing over the baby. It was very nicely done. Megan shared all the photos of the delivery with the rest of us Midwest CSP surrogates (even the 'revealing' ones!) and the shot of the doctor placing the baby into the father's arms just made me all teary eyed. The look on his face is absolutely breathtaking. And THAT is the reason I'm doing this.
So surrogacy is everywhere these days. Some things are wonderful and positive, but others, not so much. It's disheartening when you are doing something you believe so strongly in and people (and the media) try to portray it as something immoral, selfish, or 'prostitution -like'. But while I rant about it here in my blog, I really haven't encountered it much in real life yet. Most people who I've told about this journey are incredibly supportive. And if they weren't then I would pity them for being so closed-minded. The voices of the dissenters don't matter much to me, but I do worry for the future of surrogacy. There are other things to be concerned about that would be a much better use of their time, such as education (and birth control) for women who keep having unwanted babies, education and programs for women who are addicted to drugs throughout pregnancy, and a reduction in women who abuse the welfare system for higher checks. They need to worry about what's already broken rather than trying to break something truly beautiful.
Kudos to you if you put up with my rambling/ranting. :)
Edit: Here's an interview with Marissa Winokur (from the broadway show Hairspray and Dancing With the Stars). She had cervical cancer and her surrogate is 5 months pregnant with her son. Some great coverage!