Who are the Surrogates?

It’s the first question for many people considering gestational surrogacy: Who are these people ready to carry a child for another family?

Recently, Washingtonian magazine profiled several gestational carriers – or surrogates – and asked what motivated them to get involved in building families.

The women don’t describe money as being the primary motivating factor for them to be surrogates. Their desire to help another family have a baby is more important. A woman named “Julie” said “My single proudest moment was doing what I’ve done for those people. It was the most important thing I will ever do in my life.”

The gestational carriers interviewed preferred to work with families that want to have a close relationship during the pregnancy, which may or may not continue after the baby is born. One woman expressed dissatisfaction with intended parents who “treated the situation more like a rent-a-womb transaction.” She described the ideal relationship as one “where you both grow to love each other, to be excited to complete or add to their family. Because you want them to experience the joy of parenthood and you feel the support and the gratitude from them. It’s this homeostasis of ‘I can’t believe you’re doing this for me’ and ‘Oh, my God—it makes me so happy to do this for you.’”

Another surrogate wrote on her blog:

“I hear from hopeful intended parents praising me for what a selfless thing I've done but, I always respond by saying that my life has been enriched by surrogacy just as much as the couples I've helped. It's an amazing process that has helped me grow emotionally and challenged me to be a more loving, caring, understanding person.”

Now, that said, they also expect compensation. At a surrogacy conference I recently attended, the head of one surrogacy agency commented that she used to ask surrogates how much they expected to be paid, and “No one put zero.” Often surrogates want to have income so they can be stay-at-home moms to their own young children.