Sarah Jessica Parker had twins this year… but she wasn’t pregnant. Georgia Clark discovers the truth about surrogates and not having a womb of one’s own.
Carrie Bradshaw and Sarah Jessica Parker may share their looks and love of labels, but when it comes to kids, they’re on a different page. Carrie was on the fence about having rugrats, while SJP was desperate to conceive again after the birth of her first son, James. But when her eggo wasn’t getting preggo (to quote Juno), she did what any smart city girl would do: she outsourced. SJP isn’t the first celeb to use a surrogate mother to give her and hubbie Matthew Broderick screaming bundles of joy, and they probably won’t be the last. So what’s the dealio with delegating your babies to someone else’s bod?
The Truth About Baby Mamas
Myth: Anyone with a working womb can pop one out (even if they’re total trailer trash).
As seen in: Baby Mama. Upon learning she can’t have kids, successful businesswoman Kate (Tina Fey) hires the ditzy Angie (Amy Poehler) to have her baby. Childless and eventually homeless, Angie is fast food eating slob with bad taste in men and music. (Hilarity ensues).
Fact: Say hello to reality! All surrogacy agencies carefully screen would-be baby mamas. “Surrogates must be between 20 and 39, healthy (including height/ weight proportionate), in a stable living condition and have at least one child with an uncomplicated pregnancy and birth,” explains Amy Nichols, from Australia Surrogacy. Sorry Baby Mama – your fiction ain’t anywhere close to the fact!
Myth: Surrogates get emotionally attached to the babe in their belly, and have trouble giving them up.
As seen in: Random pub conversations everywhere.
Fact: While the odd case of a surrogate wanting to keep their baby make the headlines, studies have shown the majority of surrogates do not become emotionally attached to their baby, and generally view the whole experience of having a child for another family as positive. “We have never had a surrogate try to keep the baby,” confirms Amy.
Myth: Surrogates become a part of the family.
As seen in: Home & Away. Leah Patterson-Baker acts as surrogate for Sally and Flynn’s baby Pippa, and is intimately involved in Pippa’s life in an ongoing way.
Fact: While the relationship between the surrogate and commissioning couple varies, Amy says a typical involvement would simply be getting sent pictures at birthdays and Christmas. “I don’t have an active role,” confirms surrogate Lori Gold, 28. “They are not my babies to raise! But I do enjoy seeing their pictures as they get bigger.”
Myth: You can score over $100,000 having someone else’s munchkin.
As seen in: Baby Mama.
Fact: $100,000? Forget about it! “Generally, first time surrogates receive $25,000 in compensation. More experienced surrogates receive between $30,000- $35,000,” says Amy. “Payments begin on confirmation of heart beat and continue each month of the pregnancy.” The surrogates also receive a maternity clothing allowance, and extra fees for twins or having a c-section (Lori received approximately $3,700 and $1,800 respectively).
Myth: Surrogates are just in it for the cash.
As seen in: Generalizations everywhere.
Fact: “This is not true at all!” Amy says emphatically. “While the money is nice and helpful, most surrogates want to help build another single or couple’s family.” While the whole ‘womb for rent’ idea is an easy argument to make, $25,000 isn’t a lot for nine months of being up the duff. It works out as being paid about $94 a day, and that’s not enough to sweeten a baby deal unless you’re superkeen on it! “Surrogates love experiencing being a parent so much, and want to give the same joy to another couple,” says Amy.
Myth: Career women want surrogates because they’re too busy climbing the corporate ladder to get pregnant.
As seen in: A stereotype near you!
Fact: While, theoretically, a woman could use a surrogate due to professional or social reasons (such as being an actress or a CEO), the majority of commissioning couples are reproductively challenged or have a medical condition. In Lori’s case, her intended mum had a heart condition. The couple might also be gay. Think about it: why would a woman too busy to even be pregnant want a new baby in the first place?
Meet the Lady With The Baby.
Hilary Henderson, 32, is married with three kids under five. She’s had one surrogate baby, Ryan, for a professional couple from Sydney.
How did the idea of surrogacy first came up for you?
I had a best friend who struggled with infertility. At the time, I wasn’t done having my own kids but I thought that when I was done, I’d be her surrogate. She ended up adopting but the idea of surrogacy stuck.
Why were your family looking for a surrogate?
My intended mother had very bad fibroids – she’d had five miscarriages.
What was the hardest thing about being pregnant with someone else’s child?
It wasn’t hard at all. My family and friends were all so supportive. I loved the experience and hope to do it again one day.
You Have The Right To Remain Pregnant
Each state in Australia has different laws surrounding surrogacy however, in most states it’s either prohibited or illegal. The birth mother is considered the lawful mother, and so the commissioning couple must adopt the baby, even if it’s their eggs and sperm. For this reason, many Aussie couples hire a US surrogate, because in the States they can be lawfully recognized as the birth parents.
They Said It.
We let pop culture do the talking…
“It’s her egg and his sperm, I’m just the oven. It’s totally their bun.”
Phoebes from Friends explains being a ‘gestational surrogate’ for her brother and his partner. In these cases, the surrogate and the baby are not related. ‘Traditional’ surrogacy is where the surrogate uses their egg and donor sperm.
Copyright Georgia Clark 2010