When I heard that Kim and Kanye were expecting via a surrogate for a second time, I waited for reactions from everyone I knew.
You see, as a four times surrogate everyone expects you to have an opinion on the latest celebrity having a baby through surrogacy. Then come the questions, the very personal questions, that everyone wants to ask.
How much money do you get? Can you keep one if it’s twins? Do you have to sleep with the dad? Do you think Kim’s surrogate gets thousands of dollars because they are rich?
The hardest thing about surrogacy is educating people around you, all the time, especially when it’s hitting the headlines.
Surrogacy in the UK is altruistic, which means that you can only receive expenses for being a surrogate, you don’t get paid. We do if for love, not money.
A surrogate’s relationship with the intended parents is key in the UK, which has a legal system built on trust – the surrogate remains the mother of the baby (regardless of genetics) until a court approves a parental order.
That’s how all of my surrogate journeys have been, a journey of friendship and teamwork. Surrogate and intended parents working together to create or complete a family. My bond has always been with the parents, never with the baby.
That doesn’t mean that I didn’t love the babies. Of course I love them, I spent nine months looking after them. But like any child I’ve ever babysat, I don’t keep them and that’s what surrogacy is: babysitting.
My surrogate babies are now 15, 14, six and two. They are amazing, beautiful, wonderful children and they know all about me, and how I helped them to be. The children and their parents are my extended family, the family we created for ourselves.
I became a surrogate through Surrogacy UK, a not for profit organisation that helps surrogates and intended parents to meet. They did background checks on me, and had my GP write a recommendation, making sure I was physically and emotionally ready to carry someone else’s child.
The next step was an interview with an experienced surrogate and I received counselling from the fertility clinic we used. I was supported by the organisation, and the other surrogates, who I affectionately call my ‘surro sisters’.
It was wonderful to be surrounded by people who just understood my dream of helping to create a family. The surrogacy community is so inclusive and welcoming and we are all in it together – surrogates, intended parents and completed families.
To be able to give my friends their much wanted baby is a feeling I can’t even describe. It’s euphoric. After giving birth, to watch new parents having skin to skin contact, tears rolling down their faces, is magical. The warmth that you feel just makes all the pain of childbirth disappear.
That feeling never leaves you. It’s there every time you visit, every time you receive a photo, every time the parents send you a message thanking you, even years after their children were born. How many times can you say you’ve changed someone’s life for the better? Giving someone a child is the ultimate gift.
Surrogacy UK’s ethos is friendship first and there is the expectation that you stay in contact and have a lifelong relationship. The intended parents believe that their children should have a positive birth story to be proud of, and knowing the surrogate that carried them is a part of that.
Children born through surrogacy are proud of how they came to be – it’s a positive, not a negative. They were so wanted and loved that a whole team worked together to being them into the world. Not only do they have parents that love them, but also their surrogate.
I’m now working on a fifth surrogacy journey. It involves going to the fertility clinic, taking IVF drugs and injections every day but all that pales into comparison when you get the chance to tell your friends that, after years and years of heartbreak, loss and pain that they are going to become parents.
Nothing compares to it. You are making someone’s whole world, doing something that comes so easily to you.
So when I hear about Kim and Kanye, I just think of them like all the parents I have helped, full of joy welcoming their new baby to the family.
And to the surrogate helping them, who has just been through the most amazing experience, I understand, surro sister, I completely understand. Congratulations!
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