In wake of the recent media attention on social surrogacy, I felt it was important to add to the conversation and not just sensationalize or try to create a story where one does not exist.
As an agency, the number of women who have come through our doors wanting to pursue social surrogacy solely for vanity reasons is far and few between but, that does not mean that this type of surrogacy does not exist or isn’t growing. However, the motives behind why some women say they want to work with a surrogate rather than carry their baby themselves – aside from medical or purely narcissistic reasons – vary greatly. For example, some women are in the prime of their careers, they have spent countless hours dedicated to their education and profession and do not want to lose out on that upcoming promotion or project that will take them to the top. Some are Hollywood actresses or models who have spent their entire lives pursuing their dream, and losing their shapes or disappearing from the public eye, even for a few months, could possibly mean losing everything they have worked for. Some women actually have a fear of carrying a child, a fear so intense that Psychologists have a name for it: Tokophobia. For others, they may have met their significant other later in life or post-poned giving birth because they spent time furthering their education or sacrificing their personal lives to climb the corporate ladder. In these instances, the chances of miscarriage or genetic and/or physical abnormalities is significantly higher than if they had given birth earlier. There are also other women who had traumatic pregnancies, and being pregnant again is just not an option, although physically, they are fine.
For these women, social surrogacy is a viable alternative – they want to be mothers; however they do not believe that pregnancy is right for them. Choosing this option is not an easy decision and there is no correlation between choosing this path and the type of mother one will be. It is disturbing that so many are placing judgment and labels on these women, when all they are trying to do is create a family.
Now more than ever, women are looking to have it all. Who can blame us? We have watched our male counterparts sail pass the glass ceiling, be offered prominent job positions, all the while having children at 60 years old without being called selfish or looked down upon.
Unfortunately for women nature only allows us a certain timeframe to make it work in order to have it all. If we don’t, we lose out. That’s it, no more chances. Luckily, science and technology are now affording women the opportunity and means to create their own genetically related family on their own terms and timeline. Elective procedures such as egg freezing and surrogacy are giving women freedom and more options.
From working in this industry, one thing I have learned is that the love a mother and child share goes beyond the bond created in the womb. This is evidenced not only by step-children, foster children and adopted children but also by children born via surrogacy. I think it is fair to say that these parents do not love their children any less than genetically related parents love their children. I do not buy the idea that giving birth to a child makes the love between the birth mother and child any stronger or more valid than the love shared between a child and the genetic albeit non-birth mother.
Social surrogacy is not for everyone. And just because social surrogacy is a possibility, it does not mean every woman will go down this path and not to want to carry her own child. It also does not mean that the mother who chooses this path, is a selfish, egotistical or vain woman. It is simply an option, and for some women this option will help their dreams of motherhood and “having it all” become reality.