Written by Alicia Gruber, a proud mom, Milspouse, 2x gestational surrogate, and active surrogacy educator and advocate.
Going through school there was never a specific career path that stood out to me. I never said, “I want to be that when I grow up.” EXCEPT when it came to being a wife and a mother. I always knew I wanted to be a mom.
When I met Kurt, future husband and father to my children, and found out he was Active Duty Coast Guard it pretty much sealed the deal that my career was going to take a back seat anyway. With frequent moves, the 14 years of restaurant experience I had fit the bill, just wasn’t paying them. My college degree collected dust in an unpacked-PCS box in the garage.
Fast forward 5 years later, our family is complete with two beautiful babies. Money is tight due to having two new humans, moving to four different states and still wanting to live our best lives. Everything I was making serving went straight to paying for childcare. But what job could I have that had extreme flexibility and still allowed me to spend more than 20 hours a week with my kids? That’s when I found the answer in an unexpected Facebook ad. A surrogate!!
The more I thought about it the more I realized that everything I had experienced and gained from the military life prepared me to be an excellent candidate as a surrogate.
Many of the characteristics that are embodied in thriving milspouses are the same characteristics that make a woman an amazing, successful gestational surrogate.
1. Financial Contribution
For the hours they work, military members are not highly paid. Yes, there are plenty of spouses who have a full-time, 9-5 job while running their household. But, like me, a vast amount of spouses have found that they work just to pay for childcare, plus they sacrifice the time with their children. Since a member’s schedule is sporadic at best, staying at home with the kids is easier than starting a career with very little growth potential.
Being able to actually make a contribution to my family’s finances was a driving factor when I decided to be a surrogate. Reimbursement for “pain and suffering” can range from $30,000 to $80,000 as a surrogate, all tax-free. You mean I can spend my time with my children and contribute to our finances?! Where do I sign up?!
2. Sense of Community
One of my favorite things about being a military wife over the past 10 years is the community I get to be a part of. With every move, I am surrounded by new places and new friends. The first thing a spouse does when Orders are issued is join the Facebook group for that area. You are immediately welcomed as part of the community, getting support and recommendations. Because family is not always close by, you learn to rely on almost complete strangers for personal things – like sharing TMI in the women’s health department. An openness to share with others will be just what the doctor ordered on a surrogacy journey.
The surrogacy world provides the same instant comradery. Sharing milestones, asking questions, and providing comfort in difficult times (surrogacy related or not) are a few examples of the unconditional support both military and surrogacy groups provide. Because these worlds are rather small in comparison, the best thing is knowing that you are not alone. There is always someone to talk to when people outside these worlds don’t quite understand. The transition from one role into the other feels seamless because of these communities. I recently created a new Facebook Group – Milspouse Surrogacy Journey – and would love for you to join me and other Milspouses as we discuss surrogacy, answer questions for new AND experienced surrogates, and continue to support each other through every step.
3. Sense of Duty
Military wives are proud and with good reason. Our significant others are serving our country, and while it’s recognized that spouses are serving too, being a surrogate is another way to give back. A sense of duty is a strong feeling in the military community, as it is in the surrogacy community. Having a child is the best part of life and what better way to give back than to help another family experience that same joy? The connections that are made and the look on parents’ faces during the journey surpass the feelings of Christmas morning.
The stats are all over the place, but military wives account for anywhere from 20%-50% of current surrogates. It’s easy to see that the characteristics that make them wonderful for our Country make them wonderful for the world. Being driven, engaging, balanced and self-less are only a few of the many adjectives used to describe this remarkable, elite group of women. If you are interested in meshing your current world as a milspouse with surrogacy, please join us on a journey!
4. There’s always one more thing
Being married to a member of the greatest military in the world means that at any moment they could get orders to pack up and leave for any period of time. The ability to stay mentally stable when life throws a wrench in your plans is paramount in the surrogacy world, just as it is with our service members. As a surrogate, it can take a year or longer from application to when you give birth. Setbacks can happen for many different reasons, but luckily as a spouse, we have already learned to just roll it, putting one foot in front of the other to move forward.
Milspouses are often thought of as very independent. Valuable surrogates have the same quality. Because of the schedules, constant moves and last-minute life changes it is often required we take the reigns of life. On a surrogacy journey, there are more appointments and commitments than in a traditional pregnancy, which means attending appointments, administrating medication and just being pregnant alone is unavoidable. Not to worry though! For most milspouses and surrogates being independent is just another part of the job description that comes naturally.
So what’s next?
No matter what branch or how long you have been a part of the military, there are certain undeniable traits milspouses exhibit. Because of these characteristics, milspouses often make wonderful surrogates. If you are interested in getting more information on where to start and to see if you qualify, here’s my list of suggested next steps:
- Join my Milspouse Surrogacy Journey group on Facebook
- Take the QUIZ: What’s Your Surrogate Score?
- Check out this List of Qualifications to Become a Surrogate
- Get an Estimate of You Compensation as a Surrogate with this Calculator
- Download The Insider’s Guide to Surrogacy