I got a question about compensation, from Bump Fairy. First, let me say that I love questions, please feel free to ask away. If you do not want to ask on the blog, you can e-mail me and I will not use your name, but I will answer the question.
So back to the question of compensation for surrogates.
Bump Fairy wrote:
Jaymee, you speak so highly of surrogates. How do you feel about the compensation aspect? I know some don't, but most surrogates request financial compensation for their journeys. I'd love it if you could post your thoughts, as an IM, on that issue. As a surrogate, that was (and continues to be) my biggest hurdle. Being called a "back alley baby seller" never feels good, and from my seat it feels like people suck all of the good out of the journey just because of that one detail; as if it is not a good thing unless it is "free". But the people speaking those words have never been in your shoes; I wonder how it is viewed from your side?
Wow, are you sure, you would not just like to know the meaning of life?
Seriously, this was one of my major concerns when we started this process. First, I need to dispel the myth that all surrogates are poor, financially unstable, and uneducated. In my experience, this could not be further from the truth. The majority of these women are doing this to help others experience the joys of parenthood, they had easy pregnancies or in some cases dealt with infertility themselves or someone close to them has, the money that they receive is a secondary benefit. From what I have read many of these women are using the money to put away extra funds, start college funds, or to help pay for further education for themselves, they are not using the money to throw crazy parties or expensive vacations. Most of the surrogates that I know are appalled when others comment on how nice it must be to get the extra money.
It would be wonderful to live in a world where everything was free, time ran as fast or a slow, as we needed, and every problem would be solved with a hug and a kiss. Unfortunately, we live in a world where everything, including the air at the gas station, costs money. We as a society have agreed that the paper with dead white guys on it is how we are going to trade goods and services, and yet somehow we have made it something dirty when it come to particular goods and services. I guess I could give my surrogate a $25,000 piece of jewelry, like a friend of mine received from her husband after the birth of their first child. That would then really feel like buying a baby and what a more degrading way than with something bright and shiny like you use to distract small children.
For me the compensation came down to taking an honest look at what money was being paid out and what that money was for. Reality is that being pregnant costs money, you eat more, you need new clothes, you need more help with you own children, you have to travel to doctors' offices and worse you have to sit in doctors' offices. Then there is the physical toll that pregnancy takes on the body, weight gain, swelling, being uncomfortable, heartburn, hemorrhoids, morning sickness, not seeing your feet, loss of sleep, limited mobility, and a thousand other things. Of course, there is the big pink elephant on roller skates in the middle of the room, the baby/ ies have to get out, and that is something that is not pretty, I saw the film in health class and that is some serious pain and suffering. Of course, this would be assuming that she was getting pregnant the "old fashioned way", which is not how this works. So add to all that the injections (done by her significant other or herself), hormone overloads, and all the other lovely things that come along with regular infertility treatments. Now tell me that you would willing do that free for a stranger.
In making, my decisions through out this process I have tried to put myself in the shoes of our future surrogate. This is hard to do at times, because I have never been pregnant and cannot fully appreciate what pregnancy is like. I consider myself to be a very generous person, I give to charity, donate my time, and think nothing of going out of my way to help others, but short of doing this for my sister (and even then there would have to be some really nice Christmas presents) I would never put myself through all that for nothing. Sure, the knowing that I helped fulfill someone's life dream would be an amazing feeling, but realistically I do not think that many people are that altruistic.
This is Joe-bob and mine's child who is lucky enough to have another woman willing to get them through the gestation period. This is going to sound like I am insane but bear with me for a moment. As a teenager, I was clinically depressed and my parents, who loved me more than anything, sent me to a boarding school where people could help me in a way that they were unable to at the time. Those people were paid to care for me when my parents were unable to, and nobody would expect it to have been any other way. I am unable to care for our child through gestation so we are sending it to someone who can. I do not see any difference in me going to boarding school and using a surrogate. Maybe I am stretching here but I really see these things as analogous.
What our surrogate will give to us is something that no amount of money could ever repay. How much is the appropriate amount for a dream? So realistically, the compensation that she is getting is simply for her pain and suffering, and I believe that she deserves every penny of that 25 to 35,000 dollars. At least this way I do not feel the need to follow her around for the rest of her life laying rose petals at her feet or erect a temple in her honor. In reality, she is not just giving us the chance to be parents. Going through this process is giving us the chance to heal from years of disappointment, intense pain, and so many moments of agony. Infertility takes away so much of your dignity, self-respect, confidence, trust and faith in humanity; it makes you bitter and makes the world a horrible place to live. The first time that I knew it was stealing parts of me was the first time that someone who I love told me that they were pregnant and I was angry. People are supposed to share in the happiness of a new life, not be angry and jealous. I do not want you to think that I believe a child alone will heal all this, because it will not and I am well aware of that.
Before we started this process, I did a lot of work on myself. Bringing all the pain and hurt of infertility into a surrogacy takes away from the beauty of the process. If you are going to be jealous of your surrogate and think that you are less of a woman, because another woman is carrying your child then you and your surrogate are in for a very long journey. From what I have seen of others' experiences it is these feelings that lead to misery for everyone involved. This is not a process for the weak; you have to know who you are and where your limits are to get through this, which goes for both parties. People are going to question what you are doing and say some of the most horrible things you have ever heard straight to your face. Without knowing whom you are and how you got here surrogacy is going to be another painful experience and the pressure will bury you. That is why being in this for just the money will never work; there is not enough money in the world to make anyone go through what surrogacy asks of you. It is a beautiful and amazing way to begin a family. It is also difficult and emotionally draining.
Bump Fairy, I hope this answered your question. Thank you for all the love and support you have given me through this process, you truly are an amazing woman who is giving P-daddy the gift of a lifetime.
For everyone else please feel free to ask me anything. I may not answer here but I will answer. I want to get as much information into the world as I can about this process.