Terri, 31, college student studying accounting, two-time egg donor, one-time surrogate, Northern California
Truthfully, I first became intrigued with surrogacy because I am a huge Days of Our Lives fan and followed actress Deidre Hall’s surrogacy journey. I knew
I could bring someone that happiness. I’ve never had trouble getting pregnant. My husband and I had our son, then two miscarriages, and then our daughter. After she was born, I was set on helping other people create a family. I offered to be my sister’s surrogate, because she had a back injury and surgeries, but she eventually was able to carry her own child.
It still amazes me how difficult it is for some women to get pregnant. I’ve always taken my own fertility for granted, and being a surrogate and egg donor has been very humbling. I try to teach my kids to give what they have if someone else needs it, and that’s what I’m able to do.
So far, each donor and surrogate experience has been different. The first time I was an egg donor, the intended parents knew who I was, but I knew them only online and they used a pseudonym. The second time I donated, both sides were anonymous. I don’t prefer one way or the other. It’s such an intimate thing, and when a woman is told that her own eggs won’t conceive, that’s a big blow. Whether or not she knows who I am or I know who she is just doesn’t matter to me; I just want her to get what she wants.
With the egg donations, I do know in the back of my head that they are biologically mine. But are they really mine? No. And with my surrogacy I felt the same way—the twins that were born are not my children. I would have liked a better relationship with the intended parents, but they chose after the delivery to cut ties. The only thing I ever got was a photo that said, “Per our contractual agreement.” On the one hand, I delivered their twins, and everybody was happy. On the other hand, I felt like I gave them what they couldn’t have, and I thought the mother would be a little more appreciative. But that’s her life and her family, and that’s a woman dealing with the fact that she couldn’t have her own children, so I understand.
There is an ethical thing that I have about donations. I don’t want to call it a “moral” thing, but an ethical limit. One of the things I require of my intended parents is the date and general geographic region the children were born, and the gender. I don’t need a name, but if my son brought a girl home born in January of 2005, I’d be curious.
Barbara, 35, stay-at-home mom, two-time surrogate, Tampa, Florida
I’m a surrogate because I enjoy being pregnant, and I’m now preparing for my third surrogacy. It will be my last unless this couple would like a sibling for their child, because the thought of looking for another couple is not for me. That’s one of the hardest parts of the process. Anyone you meet on the phone or on the Internet can make themselves out to be whatever they want—and that applies to both the surrogate and the intended parents. So, I always meet the people in person.
Not everybody can be a surrogate emotionally, whether gestational or traditional. And for anyone who hasn’t completed her family, it’s a bad idea not only for medical reasons, but emotionally as well. My kids are 12 and 10 years old, and I know I don’t want any more children of my own. But I don’t have problems being pregnant.
I was a volunteer firefighter and EMT during my first surrogacy, and I ran calls until I could no longer button up my bunker gear, which was at 36 weeks. Sometimes the intended parents don’t realize that the surrogate has to continue with her own life even while she’s pregnant, but it worked out just fine for us.
When I first talked about being a surrogate, a friend of mine in medical school said, “You can’t do that, you could die.” But I could walk out my front door and get hit by a truck, too; you never know. Someone has to be a surrogate, so it’ll be me.
For my own moral reasons, I am not an egg donor. My husband and I talked about it, and we didn’t want our kids to meet up with those kids [biological siblings] one day. Egg donation is not regulated at all, and I know people who have done donations eight times. What’s going to happen when those kids meet up and want to get married to a half-brother or sister? I don’t want to have anything to do with that.
My second surrogacy pregnancy was particularly special because it was the first time a cancer patient used her own frozen eggs. There was no better feeling than handing that baby over to his mother. It took three transfers to become pregnant, and we used the last four eggs in our final, successful attempt. At first, I had no clue what a huge deal this was and what it meant for cancer patients. Unfortunately, with joys come hard times as well, and I’m on my way to help my intended mom return home from the hospital because her cancer has returned. I’m going to help a member of my family: the mother of the beautiful surro baby I delivered.