Several people have asked me recently how to find a surrogate on your own without using an agency, so I thought I’d share my ideas since we did surrogacy independent of an agency. An agency was not an option for us because it was way too expensive. While I do think you have to put some effort into finding a surrogate on your own, I will be the first to admit that what you really need is a healthy dose of good luck.
For more information about the whole surrogacy process, see my post Guide to gestational surrogacy in Virginia.
It’s a hard process, because you can’t do anything to move the process forward at times. It took us a year and a half to find a surrogate and get started. In the end, we got really lucky with our surrogate. But, that first year and a half was fraught with many hits and misses. We thought it would never happen!
But, we finally hit the jackpot! One random day, I received a Facebook message from a girl that had read my “Guide to Gestational Surrogacy in Virginia” on my website. She was interested in being a carrier and really connected with our story. She offered to carry for us. When she first saw the post, it mentioned that we were already matched at that time. Later, she came back to my website, clicked around and discovered that our match fell through and then she contacted me. Whoa! What if I had never written that article?!?!?! What if she hadn’t come back to it? Here’s the post I wrote about how my surrogate and I found one another.
Just because you find someone willing, doesn’t mean it will work or that it’s a good match. I recommend asking all of the tough questions right off the bat. For me, there was that flutter every time someone new showed some interest, but I also knew many of the pitfalls from the past, so I wanted to get right to the point. I didn’t want to get my hopes up until I got through these things.
I would love to hear your stories. Please comment below.
Cole and Ellis are almost 8 months old now. It’s shocking how fast these months go and how much they change. I still look at them and can’t believe they are here. They were just a dream for so long that it doesn’t feel real.
We had gorgeous photos taken by Owens-Lugar again for their 6 month birthday. I wanted them to be classic and timeless, so we went with bright and light with a pink tutu for Ellis and a seersucker bowtie for Cole. I found it all on etsy, of course.
Another Advocacy Day has come and gone. And, it was the biggest one yet! It was a lot of work these last several months to co-chair the event, but it was so worth it. I couldn’t have asked for a better team than RESOLVE, a better co-chair than Jen and a better mentor than Risa. And, thanks to all of them for giving me the opportunity.
I’m so proud of our team and of every single person who came. I met some really great people. I regret not being able to spend more time with some and not able to meet others at all. It really was a whirlwind.
“Today, infertility comes out of the closet. Today, you get to actually do something about your infertility. You will put a face to this disease and educate congress about this healthcare crisis we are all facing. Today we stop being victims of our disease, and start being advocates for our community.
Our work today can’t be an isolated moment in time. It’s going to require some endurance on our part. My step-mother-in-law told me that she didn’t think we’d be having to fight for something like this today, like she was doing back in the 60s/70s. Well, here we are today and it does fall to us to fight for this — let’s make sure it doesn’t fall to the children that we all want so badly.
I want to share a favorite quote by Margaret Mead:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
A silent disease will yield silent results, so it’s going to take ALL of us to speak up! I invite you to find your voice today. You will turn your personal struggle into something more. I’m proud that you are not only here today, but that you guys are also leaders in a grassroots movement of mobilizing your peers to speak up and take action as well. WE ARE BUILDING A MOVEMENT!
For those of you that are feeling overwhelmed with all of the information and think you can’t do this or are nervous…are you kidding? No, what’s hard is what you’re going through, what we’ve all been through…all of those tests, injections, trying to burrow out of your homestudy paperwork, trying to get through beta day, waiting on a adoption match, suffering miscarriages, AND, paying for it all out of pocket…that’s hard. We’ve already done the hard work.
You have real grievances and you have a right to be heard by those representing you in Congress. You are making an impact and bringing this disease to life with your presence here today and your story.
You have an important story to tell, a mostly untold one. So, go do it with your heads held high.”
RESOLVE decided to make us an appointment with Puerto Rico’s Representative in Congress. Hey, cool…why not? We were supposed to meet with his aide. We arrived and introduced ourselves with a flurry of Spanish being spoken around us. This isn’t your typical Congressional office.
I went in thinking we will ask him to help on the island somehow, we’ll ask him to use his influence with other voting members of Congress, especially the latinos, for our bills. However, he can do more than we thought. He can vote in committee, sponsor and co-sponsor; he just can’t vote on the House floor.
The receptionist took us winding through the halls of Rayburn and into Longworth where they had a Judiciary hearing happening. She set us up in the Judiciary Library to wait for the staffer we were meeting with.
We’re hanging out admiring the room we are in and then the door opens and it’s Rep. Pedro Pierluisi himself. He says,
Am I the one you’re looking for? Is it ok if you meet with me instead?
We told him what we were there to talk about and he stopped us and told us he had a heart for this issue. We went over the three bills and he said he supported all of it and would co-sponsor all three. I hope I had my poker face on, but Erick and I looked at each other and with our eyes said, “Holy crap! Did he just say what I thought he said?”
He wrote on the RESOLVE flyer — “Please add me as a co-sponsor on these three bills.” and signed it. Then, he interrupted his staffer in the hearing to come out and take a picture of us all three together. And, he gave him the RESOLVE flyer and instructed him to sign him up to co-sponsor.
Un-freaking believable. We left there shocked. I would love to take credit and say that I gave him an impassioned speech or convinced him with data, but the reality is that WE SHOWED UP and got lucky. He already cared about the issue. This is important, but not always enough for some elected officials.
Sometimes you get lucky, like we did, or sometimes you have to keep coming back and keep talking about it. Ahem…all of my reps in Virginia.
So, my Virginia meetings couldn’t be any more different from our Puerto Rico meeting. I’ve been meeting with these offices for three or four years. This time, Senator Warner’s chief of staff sat in on our meeting because he saw it on the agenda and he cares about these issues. So, that was a nice surprise and we had a frank conversation about everything. Senator Warner is vehemently opposed to tax credits right now and wants to see what will happen with the broader tax reform. Does he care about infertility? I don’t know, but even if he did, he’s not going to support a tax credit right now. Ok, fair enough. Disappointing, but not unexpected.
It’s my job to stay on task and not get disappointed and give up. It’s my job to keep following up and keep the conversation open and determine if there is there anything else he can do to help. It’s my job to be a resource to him on these issues.
I’m so proud of EVERYONE — those still fighting infertility, those that have resolved, the lobbyists, the doctors, the fertility professionals — that we all came together as a community. We did good work this week. We don’t have final numbers or official results quite yet, but we heard of lots of verbal promises to co-sponsor these bills. We have four Senators and Reps that are supporting all three now. We made an impact and we’ll keep at it for as long as it takes.
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We had a really good Easter this year as we have much to be thankful for: Ellis and Cole of course and my hip surgery recovery. Easter is a time that I always think of life and death because of the resurrection and I’m still so amazed by the gift of life with our children.
We had a great day at church and with family. I’m going to share a few photos.
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Recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) isn’t really a popular topic and not something I thought I would experience after having trouble getting pregnant. Who knew that getting pregnant was only a small step in the right direction?
Recurrent pregnancy loss is a distinct disease from infertility and is defined by two or more failed pregnancies. Some people experience both infertility and loss, like me, and others experience one or the other.
For me, recurrent pregnancy loss and infertility are one and the same. They are what kept me from bringing a baby home from the hospital for seven long years. I am infertile and while IVF helped me conceive, I miscarried every time. Recurrent loss is the ultimate problem for me.
Most miscarriages are due to an abnormal embryo — an unlucky accident, with no underlying medical issue, unless your specific issue is age-related or egg quality related. But, if you have miscarried three times, it is quite unlikely that this is due to three abnormal pregnancies, but rather one specific abnormality or underlying condition.
According to ASRM, although approximately 25% of all recognized pregnancies result in miscarriage, less than 5% of women will experience two consecutive miscarriages, and only 1% experience three or more.
I, of course, am that 1%.
I miscarried five times. We eventually moved on to gestational surrogacy.
In 50-75% of women with repeated miscarriages, doctors can find no cause for the losses. There may be clues, but no concrete answer. This was the case with me, as we had treated my clotting disorder and I still miscarried. Because our embryos were thought to be high quality, we could only assume that the problem was with my uterine environment and involved a highly complex reproductive immunological issue.
Sometimes, doctors or insurance companies will recommend testing after three losses, but I couldn’t disagree more. I highly recommend advocating for yourself to have the necessary testing done after two losses. Why risk another loss at this point if you could possibly avoid it?
For more information about possible reasons for RPL and available testing, check out the extensive post I wrote on recurrent miscarriage testing .
Dealing with both infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss seemed cruel and unfair to me. While infertility was emotionally exhausting, dealing with loss after loss, along with infertility, was truly devastating. My worst triggers always are related to my losses. Don’t underestimate the emotional toll that recurrent loss will take on you. Take time to grieve and do it in your own time. Seek out support from others that have been through the same thing. A couple of good websites are Still Standing Magazine, Faces of Loss and Carly Marie Project Heal.
I have written this post for RESOLVE’s “Resolve to know more” theme in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week (April 20 -27, 2014). If you know someone experiencing infertility or loss, consider taking it upon yourself to learn even more about the disease. You can go to RESOLVE’s Infertility 101 to find out more.
For my recovery, I wanted to record how I felt, some observations in general and when I was able to start doing new things. I’m hoping this will help me for my second surgery and maybe help some of you be aware of what can happen and a timetable for recovery. Of course, we’re all very different and this varies for everyone. I was 36 at the time of my surgery.
Post Surgery in hospital
First two weeks at home +
Two weeks post-op
Three weeks post-op
Four weeks post-op
5 weeks post-op
6 weeks post-op
7 weeks post-op
8 weeks post-op
9 weeks post-op
10 weeks post-op
12 weeks post-op (3 months)
14 weeks post-op
4 months post-op
Ellis and Cole are nearly 6 months now! I am thoroughly enjoying my role as a mom and embracing it. I thought I’d share a few photos…
On this day one year ago, our surrogate told us that she had taken a positive pregnancy test.
We were so elated and hopeful. Thinking back to how we were feeling is incredibly emotional. I have been shocked at how emotional I am today.
I think I am finally realizing this is all over. Life has been crazy and wonderful and a total blur as well. I am just now processing it all.
I don’t have to constantly wonder if I will ever be a parent. I don’t have to do any more hormone injections. I don’t have to debate whether or not to keep trying. I don’t have to drive 6 hours round-trip to the reproductive endocrinologist for every visit. I don’t have to suffer another miscarriage (God willing). I don’t have to wonder if I will burst into tears for an untimely pregnancy announcement. There’s so much that was a part of my life that I don’t have to do any more.
Sure, I will still remember it all and certain things will sting every now and again. But, not like they used to.
It’s actually over. I feel like I can stop holding my breath and finally exhale and let it all go. All of the pent up frustration, sadness, anger. It can all go.
It’s crazy to think about all that we went through and we had no idea if it would ever work out. But, we did it anyway, even when things seemed bleak. We are one of the lucky ones. We made it through. Through our own persistence, through being lucky to afford treatment, through the ultimate kindness of a young woman and by the grace of God.
Infertility sucks so bad and now my heart hurts for everyone out there that is struggling.
I’m tired of reading about how surrogacy is unethical and not in the best interest of women. I think these are lame cop-out reasons that detractors give and that some of the real reasons behind their attacks are the ridiculous personhood madness and to prevent gay couples from having children. Regardless of why, as someone who is infertile and who needed gestational surrogacy to have children, I resent this. I resent that people are trying to take away this crucial family-building option.
I resent opponents and lawmakers using personhood to sneakily take on abortion and as a result take away my ability to treat my disease using IVF. To take an anti-family issue and use it against my pro-family issue. I take this personally as the personhood fight was brought to Virginia and I testified before the Senate committee against personhood.
I also resent opponents trying to ban surrogacy as a way to prevent gay couples (especially men) from having children. I won’t comment on this issue as it’s a separate topic, but again I take offense that the ability to treat my disease would be banned as a result. My issue is that I feel like the innocent bystander who would be a casualty of this war. What about the infertile women and men in heterosexual marriages?
The reasons that the opponents give against surrogacy are flimsy.
Recently, a bill was introduced in Kansas that would have made surrogacy illegal. Fortunately, it was later withdrawn by its sponsor, Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook. “Surrogacy undermines the dignity of women, children and human reproduction,” said Jennifer Lahl, president of the California-based Center for Bioethics and Culture.
Proponents of the bill in Kansas said that it exploits women, that only poor women become surrogates. I heartily disagree. Women in this country can decide for themselves if they want to become a surrogate. Why take away their freedom to decide? What? Women are too stupid to decide for themselves?
Most clinics will not even move forward with surrogacy without a legal contract in place and without the surrogate and intended parents going through counseling. In Virginia, it’s even illegal to pay a surrogate; you can only reimburse her for expenses.
Supporters of the bill, such as Michael Schuttloffel, executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference, argued that surrogate contracts make children into a commodity. “You don’t see a lot of women who are not poor signing up to be surrogate mothers,” he said. “It seems on its face to be very exploitative.”
My surrogate carried our babies because she wanted to help an infertile couple. It was not about money for her. She is not poor and this was not a job for her, but rather an act of love. In my opinion, one of the greatest gifts of love that you could give or receive.
I don’t deny that there are some women out there to make money. While that situation wasn’t right for me, it works for some. It’s a mutually beneficial agreement between two or more adults that does not exploit the surrogate. One becomes a parent and one is paid for their trouble. Some want to call this “renting a womb” or being a “baby breeder,” but I take offense to their attempting to turn a beautiful thing into something ugly. I am thankful that there are people out there willing to help others who can’t conceive because a disease prevents them from doing so, for money or otherwise.
The Christian Post recently published an article as part two of a series on surrogacy, entitled “Renting a Womb (Part 2).” I was incensed after reading the first sentence in the article.
Although not specifically mentioned in the Bible, the act of surrogacy in order to produce a baby should be considered unethical, says Scott B. Rae, professor of Philosophy of Religion and Ethics at Biola University.
So, if it’s not mentioned in the Bible, what gives this Scott Rae such divine insight? Is he God? I am a Christian and I do not feel that surrogacy is unethical, religiously speaking or otherwise. In fact, couldn’t we consider Jesus to have been birthed from a gestational surrogate? Yes, I think so.
He goes on to talk about the typical stuff – a marriage is considered to be a man and a woman, blah blah. Again, I say…what about me in my heterosexual marriage? Is surrogacy unethical for me, too, even though I am in a heterosexual monogamous relationship? Even though I can’t carry a pregnancy to term? Sorry, pal, your reasoning doesn’t stand up here.
Rae goes on to say:
Gestational surrogacy is a little more complicated about “who is the mother here” because you can split biology like you never have before, meaning you can have one woman who is the genetic contributor and a different woman who carries the child to term. The question is then who is the mother? A good case could be made for both. My own preference, and I would not go to the stake for this, I think a better case could be made for the woman who gestates and gives birth to the child being the mother. She’s the one that has the real sense of bonding, connection, relationship with the child prior to the child’s birth. I particularly like this term, the surrogate has a much greater, what they call a “sweat equity” in the child that she is caring.
So, is he saying that I couldn’t possibly love my two children because they weren’t in my belly? I can assure him he is dead wrong. I love my two babies with all my heart and carrying them has no bearing on this. By this thinking, then he’s also taking aim at adoptive parents. He is saying they couldn’t love their children because the adoptive mothers didn’t give birth to them. This is so wrong. Not to mention that the bible encourages adoption as a wonderful act of love.
And sweat equity? Are you freaking kidding me jerk-face? Yes, my surrogate had a lot of sweat equity. I don’t deny that — she was sick, uncomfortable, had back-aches, high blood pressure, headaches and had to go through child labor. But, I have some equity in this, too! Eight long years building up to this. Treatments, injections, surgeries, losses and heartache beyond compare. Yes, my husband I and I have sweat equity in this endeavor as well. My surrogate’s sweat equity wasn’t to the children she was carrying, but rather in making my husband and I parents. That was her goal and her labor of love.
These two babies are not the product of a lack of ethics. They are not the product of exploiting women. They are not the result of baby breeding. They are the product of a tremendous act of love and many prayers.
For those hiding behind surrogacy to attack other issues, shame on you. For those outright attacking surrogacy, shame on you, too.