This month, we're tackling fears and misconceptions about third party family building. This week's post is one that particularly gets me fired up because it's one of the biggest misconceptions in the industry. It's that third-party building is a "business transaction". Using that term and what it implies creates fear that would-be surrogates or would-be donors are being taken advantage of or used.
Of course, I can't speak for every agency, clinic or business that reaches out to these women asking them to help others build a family but to me, surrogacy and donating your eggs are nowhere near a simple business transaction. How can you call something a business transaction when it entails helping bring a human life into this world? Yes, finances are involved but again, let me repeat, what you're considering doing is helping create a human life. That is huge and meaningful.
If anything, it should be called a "Compassionate Commitment".
I think of this daily, if not several times a day, when I'm meeting with potential egg donors and/or gestational carriers. If a healthy woman who is an ideal egg donor candidate comes to me, and says anything along the lines of, "I'm not sure I can sell my baby" OR if an equally healthy woman who is an ideal gestational surrogate comes to me, and says anything close to, "I'm just in it for the money.", I will turn them down.
In the donor egg's case, I want them to not only feel comfortable with the process but to know fully and completely that you are donating your DNA, not your child. If you, on any level, feel an emotional attachment or like your eggs are your children, this is not for you. Again, while donors are paid, many truly care about helping a couple (gay, straight, single or married) to have a child of their own. Donating your eggs is giving these hopeful parents a chance to be a family and an ideal egg donor understands that and feels inspired to help them hope.
In terms of surrogates who solely care about the money, that says to me they are not fully committed to what lies ahead. When you do something "just for money", you are typically not emotionally invested and odds are you're going to do it half-heartedly. I immediately get concerned about how well you are going to take care of yourself and the baby.
Let me give you an example: Let's say you go to Starbucks and there's a barista there "just to get paid". They could care less about their job, will hand you a cup with the wrong name on it, the drink is incorrect, it doesn't taste right and when you ask about it, their demeanor (whether they say it out loud or not) is, "Who cares? I'm just here for the paycheck!" We've all had this experience, right? And conversely, we've all had a barista who cares quite a lot. One who knows your name, says hello, has your favorite drink memorized and takes care of who you are as a customer and a person.
When you're a surrogate, you are carrying a human being - a life. That's so much more than "just a paycheck" to the intended parents. Once you decide that you're going to be a part of bringing someone into this world, while the money is nice, ideally, you care intensely about the "compassionate commitment' you've made to those parents.
It's understandable to have fears when considering doing either egg donation or surrogacy. I have been both and I've had my share of feeling like I wasn't treated as well as I should have been. It's beyond important to ask questions, advocate for yourself and in my experience, work with a reputable agency who will have your back and ensure a solid match.
Ultimately though, if you're working with someone that understands and agrees that this is so much more than a paycheck, then chances are you're very much in the right hands.