When you hear stories about women becoming surrogates, it usually goes something like, “I knew someone who struggled with infertility, and I knew right then that I needed to help someone who couldn’t have a baby.”
That’s not how my story began at all.
I met my husband, Kyle, when my son was about six years old. I had been a teen mom, Kyle was a step-kid three times over, and we both agreed early on that we were not interested in having any more children.
We got married in 2008 and poured all our love and energy into raising our one kiddo and growing our careers. I graduated college that same year and landed my first teaching job, right smack in the middle of the Great Recession.
I had been teaching high school English for about five years, with no raises due to a wage freeze, and my husband had started a thriving IT business that was steadily growing. We were working as hard as we could, and although we had done everything “right,” life kept getting more expensive, and my life-long dream of owning my own home kept moving farther and farther out of reach.
After our third landlord in three years notified us that she was selling our home and we would need to move again, I decided it was time to get creative. The wife of one of my husband’s former coworkers had shared her surrogacy journey via Facebook and although I followed her story with interest, it hadn’t been something I thought I’d do.
My only pregnancy was a traumatic event. I was 16 years old and terrified when I gave birth to my only child in a room crowded with student doctors. I had never felt more vulnerable and violated in my life than during my pregnancy. One can imagine it wasn’t an experience I had any intention to relive.
But when she shared that carousel of photos I can still see in my mind, her smiling happy family moving into their forever home, holding up the keys, jumping into the sparkling pool—it clicked for me. Maybe surrogacy was my path toward finally escaping the rent trap!
The thought of carrying a child for someone else, especially after the trauma I had experienced during
my own pregnancy, seemed an alien concept. Yet, the promise of financial stability and a forever home was too enticing to resist.
Once I made the decision to go for it, the hardest challenge was getting my husband on board. He, you’ll recall, had never even seen me pregnant, and the idea of seeing me pregnant for the first time with someone else’s baby was understandably a weird proposition for him. He had every typical fear that most husbands have when their wives first bring up surrogacy. All the what-ifs — what if I get attached and become horribly depressed and our simple life is ruined, what if I die?
Kyle doesn’t like to take risks and shake things up, so it was quite an effort to wear him down to the point of just going along with it, but fortunately, he was able to talk through his fears with his former colleague, whose wife had inspired the idea in the first place.
As soon as he got there, I signed up and got the ball rolling as fast as I could. Looking back now, I could definitely have taken a lot more time to learn about the process. I put a lot of trust into the agency referral of an acquaintance and just went with it. I didn’t see any red flags and the process moved quickly once I gathered my medical records and I was excited to get to the fun part. Finding intended parents.
I guess I must have known that some people struggled with family building, but previous to surrogacy, I never really considered going outside of my comfort zone to help another person who wasn’t right in front of me, especially someone I didn’t know.
I had no idea how many couples and individuals struggled with infertility but once I read through intended parent profiles, the reality struck me. These were real people, hopeful people, who poured their hearts and souls into letters to a potential surrogate detailing their love stories, and their stories of anguish and loss.
They told of their heartbreak over not being able to build the families they’d dreamed of. They shared their hopes for the life and adventures they wanted to create for a child they dreamed they’d hold in their arms someday. They hoped that a potential surrogate would read this letter, look at these photos, and choose to help them over all of the other parents they knew were also waiting alongside them. I read stories that made me weep because I was not expecting to want to help them all.
These people had to endure watching friends and family conceive, attending baby showers, and watching their best friends raise kids who had their daddy’s sparkling eyes and the same wide smiles as their beautiful sisters, knowing that such a family simply may never happen for them.
It made me feel so sad and guilty that something that had happened so easily for me, so easily that it was even accidental, was something that all of these beautiful people simply could not obtain no matter how hard they tried.
When I read the profile of my intended parents I knew that I had to meet them. They had been together for five years, bought a home together, and were building a new home in the countryside in Melbourne, Australia. Gav was working in IT for Parliament and Joe was an Accountant, going to school for his second Master’s degree.
Joe spoke five languages and Gav rode a motorcycle. And they had two little dogs that they loved so much they had family photos taken with them and the dogs in matching sweaters. Kyle and I had two dogs that were our babies as well and Kyle ran a mobile IT service business so I knew he’d have lots to talk about with Gav.
Building a friendship with them was easy, and after we met we knew that we wanted to help them. It was so hard to say yes to them because I knew it meant saying no to all of the other hopeful couples in the stack of profiles I had reviewed. But alas, I only had one uterus.
What I did not expect when I embarked on this wild journey to get a down payment for a house was to meet these two incredible, humble, kind, generous, fun people and grow to love them as an extension of my own family. Carrying their sons and bringing them into the world, to the big salty tears of gratitude and joy of their grandmothers across the globe, is one of the greatest honors of my life.
It is the thing I am most proud of having done and I have done a lot of incredible things. I’m so thankful for the student loan debt, the low-wage teaching job, and the desperate desire to buy my own home. I’m so grateful because it led me to meeting Gav and Joe and being part of the story of how Taylor and Tyler came into existence.
We may never meet their egg donor, but we are so grateful for her too. Families are miraculous and love is meant to be shared. I am truly a more empathetic, generous, and loving person as a result of this fluke decision I made when I was 33.
I got the money I hoped for. But I got so much more than that too. Becoming a surrogate feels like this special secret club I stumbled upon but I can’t figure out why it’s so secret. It’s a beautiful, amazing, incredible, life-giving treasure of an experience.
My surrogacy journey changed the course of my life in completely unexpected ways. Although I loved teaching, and I thought I’d retire as an old lady, surrogacy completely stole my heart. I still consider myself an educator, but now I’m educating women, and with such I have a further reach.
Everyone's surrogacy journey is unique. Mine started as a quest for financial freedom, but it gifted me so much more — a bigger family, deeper connections, and a newfound purpose.
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