Surrogacy Options in the Midwest

We are each often not granted our every wish in life, and most of those disappointments, while painful, are taken in stride by most people.  However, the issue of being able to choose to have children is one that is so personal, so culturally powerful and so public that it takes on mythic proportions for many families.

The availability of surrogacy as a potential option to consider has become a very powerful arrow in the quiver of reproductive technology.  And the impact is magnified when you consider the nature of the gift the surrogate is offering the intended parent(s) as well as the possibility of becoming a biological or legal parent for a person who has been denied that biological choice.  For us in the Midwest, we are blessed with a plethora of altruistic women in Wisconsin and Minnesota who are committed to offering someone else the opportunity of having a family as healthy and robust as their own via gestational surrogacy.  They are eager to form a partnership with a family that has been denied the chance to have a child without great risk to themselves, or who are in a same-sex relationship where they need the support of another gender to help them achieve their dream of parentage.

In my tenure facilitating matches of generous gestational carriers (GCs) and the intended parents (IPs) who are seeking a vessel to carry their precious embryos, I have been struck by the shared dedication to completing the biological imperative of raising children by both sets of ‘parents’.  The desire to give back in a big way that all GCs express is matched by the desire and focused dedication to becoming a parent that the IPs demonstrate.  In combination, these two commitments create such a powerful partnership that the shared goal is cherished that much more.

If you’ve been toying with the idea of considering surrogacy to complete your family, I believe you will find this journey an incredibly powerful one – not without risk, but with the potential to make your desire to share your life with a child that you choose to nurture through this process as fulfilling as any biologically automatic family.  For gay or straight, singles or couples – there is someone out there who is waiting to help you achieve your dream of having a family.

-Jeanne Ferguson, MSSW, LISW

My Surrogacy Story by Delia

At my 20-year high school reunion I reconnected with an old friend. We kept in touch after that and got to be close again. She eventually confided in me that she and her husband got married “late” (in their 30s) and had been having a very hard time getting pregnant. After about a year of watching them struggle I told her that I would have a baby for them. We were both surprised that those words came out of my mouth, as my own children were teenagers and I had never had any desire to be pregnant again. She went home and discussed it with her husband and he thought that would be too “weird”. But I am the kind of person who gets an idea in her head and then needs to pursue it until I can make it happen… So I started to research surrogacy online. I found a great agency in Maryland, Creative Family Connections, that accepted carriers up to age 42. Once I had all materials turned in the agency sent a case manager to my home, to meet me and see if I’d be a good fit for any of their waiting Intended Parents.

They felt like they had a very good potential match for me in-mind – a gay couple from the middle east who had been waiting a year for the right candidate to come along. We did our “match meeting” via Skype, with an agency person on the “line” as well. We all liked each other and decided to move ahead with the process. That was in April 2012. By August 2012 I was ready for my embryo transfer and my husband and I met the IPs in Connecticut. Their clinic of choice was Connecticut Fertility, as they had done research and found that Dr. Doyle had very high success rates. We spent all our time with them while in CT – they picked us up at the airport, stayed at the same hotel, ate meals with us, came to the transfer appointment (and were in the room, holding my hands while the doctor inserted the two embryos – one from each father’s sperm and donor eggs), etc. We had a wonderful time together and were all so excited and nervous. We were extremely fortunate that my transfer was successful the first time, as many carriers try more than once to get pregnant. We were all a little bit disappointed to find out that only one of the embryos had “taken”, though, as the dads were really hoping that they would only have to do surrogacy one time to complete their family and have children with each of their genetic material.

The dads and I did FaceTime calls about once a week, and were in touch via email and Facebook. I sent photos as my belly changed shape and size. They were sad to be so far away and unable to attend OB appointments with me, but my OB’s office (Clinic Sofia in Edina) was wonderful and allowed them to be on FaceTime when I had ultrasounds.

We found out that it was a girl, and that the due date was May 1, 2013. The dads arranged to be in Minnesota two weeks before the due date so that they could purchase all the necessary baby equipment and supplies beforehand. The first night they were here we all went out to dinner and then walked around at the Mall of America. A day and a half later my water broke in the middle of the night and we all met at the hospital. It was time!
I gave birth to their baby girl (E) in the late afternoon on April 19. The dads, my husband, the doctor, and I were in the delivery room together. I had specified in my contract that the dads were not to video or photograph me (or the baby coming out of my vagina) while giving birth. They held my hand. My husband and I were both crying when she finally came out, and the dads were in shock. I had been given an epidural (my first ever – at my insistence from the beginning), so needed a little help from the “suction thing” to help her come out. The dads saw her little cone-shaped head (temporary but startling to them) and didn’t know what to think. Baby was whisked off to the side with the dads and nurses, for her APGAR tests, etc.

The dads and E had their own room in the hospital, down the hall from mine. Friends came to visit me but I didn’t feel like I could ask the dads if they could see the baby, so I didn’t. I did feel kind of self-conscious during the rest of my stay, wondering if the cleaning people and nursing assistants thought I had lost my baby or something (since I didn’t have a baby in the room with me).

The dads, E, and one set of grandparents stayed in MN for another 2 weeks, to finalize the adoption (here in MN the IPs – at least at that time – had to adopt E from us because I was considered the mother since I gave birth to her, and my husband was considered the father because he was married to me). I cried a lot at the hearing, but not because I was sad that she was officially becoming their baby; I think it was a combination of ‘hormone meltdown’ and just being sad that my ‘project’ was finished.

The following year the dads and E were going to be in NYC for her 1st birthday, so my husband, sons, and I met them there and spent a wonderful day together celebrating. On her 2nd birthday they were back in Minnesota, for the birth of their twins via another surrogate. We had a birthday party and spent lots of time with all of them while they were in town for about four weeks. When they left they said that they wouldn’t be in the US for E’s next birthday, so if we were going to continue the tradition it would have to be in their country the following year. I feel very fortunate to have been able to do that – and spent 10 days traveling around their country and celebrating E’s birthday with her whole family. It was amazing and wonderful.

They are now a very busy family of 5. We keep in touch about once a month or so now, via text or Facebook. It was sad for all of us when E’s 4th birthday came around and I was unable to go back to the middle east to celebrate with them. Hopefully we’ll all see each other again in the next year or so. We have become like family and I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything.