Why a Gestational Carrier / Surrogate is Not Right for Us
On multiple occasions in the last years, people have suggested we turn to a gestational carrier (GC) to create our family. In many circumstances, we find this is suggested even before adoption.
I think most people have this fanciful idea that surrogacy is easy and affordable. Because, really, it sounds pretty straight forward. How hard is it to pull out a few eggs from me, introduce them to a few sperm from Mr. MPB in a cute little petri dish, and then gently place them inside another women?
News flash – IVF / surrogacy is hard! And it’s expensive!
See, as Canadians we cannot legally pay someone to be a GC. So, in addition to the costs of IVF which would be required to harvest my eggs and create the embroys, we would only pay their medical costs – i.e. the cost of the embryo transfers, medications, pregnancy care, etc. This means finding a GC is logistically a challenge locally. There are basically two options to finding a GC locally:
- Find a willing friend who just wants to be an amazing person and carry our child. Although we have received two “offers” in the last year from friends, both are probably unrealistic for a number of reasons including using their reproductive organs to carry their own children and their own unique medical challenges. Both of which would remove them from the list of realistic GCs. (We are truly blessed to have such friends in our lives, and am thankful for the love and support they have showed us).
- In a country where people are not typically motivated to be a surrogate for financial reasons, we could try to find someone who is. But, they would have to agree to have all the financial payment stuff occur outside of the legal agreements – i.e. trust that we will actually pay them for carrying our child, when the legal documents will offer them absolutely no assurance that we will in fact pay them. Often payment happen by gifting the GC something at the end – i.e. a car. If this is the case, you are looking at an unofficial GC bill in the tens of thousands of dollars. I’m not really sure how you even find someone like this – put up an ad on Kijiji? Or take out a newspaper help wanted ad?
Or, we can go international and work with countries where it becomes possible to pay a GC. The top 3 countries that Canadians go to seem to be the USA, India and Thailand. Without travel costs appear to be at least $30,000, and even as high as $60,000 – $100,000 in some states (it is hard to get precise numbers without giving up all our personal and private data to online companies that I have not research enough to feel comfortable handing over our information to). Oh, and going internationally also raises a lot of questions regarding the political stability of foreign nations – a quick 2 minute google on the situation of surrogacy/GC in Thailand since the country is now under military control should send anyone considering surrogacy/GC running given the upcoming laws outlawing the booming business. And India has a history of lower medical standards then we are used to in Canada. These blunders are known to compromised the health of the mother during IVF, the GC during pregnancy and/or the baby before or after birth – we know someone who’s baby was born premature and they were unable to get the care in India that they could have received in a NICU in Canada. This of course will result in long term negative consequences for their child. So, this leaves the USA as our next option. While the USA has a great medical system for those who can afford it, we would be paying for everything out of pocket, without insurance of any sort. This will not be affordable at all and thefore makes the USA the most expensive country.
Even if we did find a surrogate, either locally or internationally, we still have three significant hurdles in front of us:
- In addition to the surrogacy costs, GC requires that I undergo IVF, or we purchase donor eggs. So, yup, that’s another $15,000 for IVF locally using a clinic we no longer trust or an international clinic. Or $18,000 to get purchase donor eggs, again using a clinic we no longer trust or an international clinic. And given our history, we would absolutely be recommended to do PGD or CCS, so add another $20,000 to the bill. And then we would have all the costs associated with an FET using the GC. Suddenly, the cost of a GC are just as high as the costs of our anticipated treatment from Dr. B. (wow, that was a lot of acronyms).
- IVF does not always work – it is not a miracle cure for all things infertility. So, while Mr. MPB and I can create an embryo, and assuming we find ourselves a GC, IVF is no sure thing and does not guarantee us a child. What it means is that we will have another two week wait, another hope and potentially another devastating loss. The RPL cycle of hope and despair, is statistically likely to continue. Just this time, we will pay a small fortune to remove my toxic uterus from the equation. While it may work, we know all too well the intense hurt and emotional wreckage that a miscarriage leaves in its wake. Even the thought of losing another baby sends shivers down my spine as I recoil in fear. Honestly, I know in my heart, that I could not survive another loss right now. I simply cannot survive another one, and this in itself means we cannot go the route of GC.
- The idea of undergoing IVF right now scares the heck out of me. I know many women have gone through IVF in the past, and many
more will in the future – and that’s great for those women. But, I don’t think it’s a viable option for me. I have no interest in putting my body through IVF. Remember, in two years my body has already gone through more then most. My body has experienced 5 pregnancies and 5 miscarriages. My body has already gone through 2 D&C surgeries, (one which was a medically required termination/abortion) and multiple hellish cytotec/misoprostol treatments that did not go smoothly. My body has also gone through countless procedures and tests that I struggle to even keep track of anymore because the list is just so long. And let’s not forget the mental health side of all of this. Ultimately, my body no longer feels like my own, and I am currently working really hard to reclaim my body and put myself back together both emotionally and physically in a way that resembles a modified version of the old me (picture all the kinds horses and all the kings men trying to put me back together – it’s taking a lot of work). The idea of shooting myself up countless drugs to force my body to do something completely unnatural just doesn’t seem like the best idea right now. I do realize that we could get around me doing IVF if we just use donor eggs, but honestly I don’t want to. This probably sounds horrible, but I don’t want to invest in an unsure thing (see point 2 above) when it won’t even be genetically ours. I’d rather take on the risks associated with adoption (i.e. health of the child due to risky birth mother behaviors) then to go ahead with a GC carrier using donor eggs and Mr. MBP’s sperm. Part of me feels as though I am taking away Mr. MPB’s ability to be a genetic father, but he seems to understand this and doesn’t appear to be hung up on the genetic composition of our child.
So, honestly, all of this is to say that people who can procreate like normal human beings do not understand the emotional or financial struggle that those of us who are attempting to create a child with multiple doctors and professional in the room with us. There is nothing cheap or easy about using a GC. And right now, even if we remove the financial considerations from the equation, I just know I don’t have the strength and the mental stamina required to do invest myself in the GC route to creating our family. We am not saying never, but right now as we start the adoption process we are absolutely saying not right now.
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