Katy Melo, 31, runs Kuro Surrogacy & Beyond agency, two-time surrogate and five-time egg donor, Houston, Texas
I can’t imagine my life without my own four boys. When I started researching surrogacy, it broke my heart that so many people who wanted children their whole lives couldn’t have them. It took me four years to convince my husband that wanting to be a surrogate wasn’t just a phase I was going through, that it was something that I truly wanted to do. We compromised, and I started with egg donation first.
The intended father from my first donation is now widowed with two children, and he sends the surrogates and me flowers on Mother’s Day. He said, “I sent you these flowers because if you weren’t a mom, I wouldn’t be a dad.” He knows that we helped him because we love our own families so much.
As for surrogacy, I view it as a “pre-birth nanny,” a babysitter who doesn’t have to change diapers or wake up in the middle of the night to soothe a crying baby. I get to feel the babies play in my belly, and I have cravings and get to eat the food that I want without too much guilt over the weight gain. I get a lot of questions about both surrogacy and egg donation, and I have no problem talking about it to anyone, including my own children. They are 11, 10, 8, and 6. The lovely thing about kids is that they have no prejudice about how babies come into this world; for my kids surrogacy is normal.
My parents taught me that if you want to be happy you will be, and if you want to be blessed you must help others, and if you want to grow you must be willing to be taught. To keep the balance of life, you must give back, and so I began more extensive research on surrogacy. Anja Morehouse and I started the Koru Surrogacy & Beyond agency to continue to help others become parents by aiding egg donor and surrogacy matches along with providing support, guidance, knowledge, and peace of mind even when our bodies are no longer serving as surrogates or providing eggs. To us, our job doesn’t end when a match is made but rather when our members tell us they no longer need us.
People ask about the money, but I didn’t need the money. And really, no amount of money is worth risking your life. People also ask about the emotional connection with surrogacy, but to me, a son or daughter is someone you raise, and I’m not raising these children. I have my boys, and my gestational surrogacy couple have their girls. With donating eggs, a lot of people look at it as donating my genetics, but I look at it as donating hope.
Stacie Lykins, 37, former police officer and owner of Prodigy Ovum Donations, two-time surrogate, Tavares, Florida
I was a surrogate who experienced the “just a number” treatment from clinical staff and others associated with assisted reproduction, so I started Prodigy Ovum Donations to provide personalized and ethical services for those in need of third-party reproduction. When I was growing up, we had a family friend who was a labor and delivery nurse. I remember when she’d come home from a shift, she’d tell us all about “her babies.” She loved each and every baby that was born as if it were her own. Her love of babies and desire to help others played a fundamental role in who I am today. As a surrogacy and egg donation agency facilitator, I like to refer to all of the babies born as a result of my assistance as “my babies.”
Some people say that surrogacy is nine quick months and you get compensated for it. Well, there’s not really enough money in the world to take on what we do as surrogates. I don’t view it as a job, but some people better understand it if you describe it as a 24-7 job. And if you calculate the compensation over the nine months for which you are getting “paid,” it doesn’t amount to anything.
To me, it’s a gift to be able to be a surrogate. Nothing can replace the expressions I saw on the parents the moment my surrogate twins were born. You see them hold their children for the first time, and they cry. You cannot put a price tag on that, and to see that twice in my lifetime along with witnessing the birth of my own children is something that I will always treasure.
I experienced such a high after giving birth knowing that I’ve given something that very few people can give. I knew within hours of delivering the first set of surrogate twins that I had to do this again...and I’d even had a c-section! I did it once more, and now I’m done because it’s time now for me to give all my time to my own family—my two daughters and my partner, Misti—instead of other families.
Surrogates are often misunderstood. Most are employed, have insurance, and are financially able to support their own families. We are not trashy women who want to take advantage of anyone. People ask me about being a surrogate and whether or not I miss and love the babies I give birth to. I do love them, but I love them like I love my niece and nephew. They are not mine to want to have at my home and raise. I want to see pictures, get updates, and hear what they’re doing this summer, but I have my own family and life to live.