Today we venture into the third part of Emily's surrogacy blog. If you're new here, you can catchup here
In this post Emily will discuss her why. Why did she feel drawn to becoming a gestational surrogate and what it means for her family. She also talks briefly about the red tape of becoming a surrogate in specific states and the legal action she needed to take living in Virginia.
Questions and comments are always welcome. Please keep them positive and uplifting.
Originally written Aug 21, 2018
It's been almost a month since my last post sharing the news that we're starting this journey of surrogacy and so much has happened since then! The most relevant to the surrogacy is that our contract has been signed, sealed, and delivered. This means that all the stressful stuff that was in our control is now resolved and the rest is out of our hands.
I said in my last post that I would share my "why" about surrogacy and I will do that today! But first I want to explain a bit more about the reason we have a contract in the first place.
In the United States the laws around surrogacy vastly vary state-by-state, some places county-by-county, and can even be different for married same-sex couples vs for married heterosexual couples. (Meaning we still have so far to go in the fight for #marriageequality and #reproductiverights) That does not even touch on the laws internationally! I found a nice map of each state's laws on a surrogacy agency's website where they define states as "green light," "yellow light," "orange light," and "red light." The state in which the Intended Parents (IP's) and I live is Virginia, and is considered a "yellow light" state. This means "surrogacy is practiced, but there are potential legal hurdles."
During our contract process the IPs had their own attorney representing their needs and protecting them legally. Additionally, we had our own attorney representing our needs and protecting us legally. One of the things that exists in the Virginia law is that the IPs are not allowed to pay me to be their gestational surrogate, in the sense of a job. Rather, any money provided is meant as reimbursement for living expenses. So, a lot of what went into the contract were things considered reasonable reimbursement of expenses, including all pregnancy related expenses, maternity clothes, reimbursement for lost wages and childcare in the case of bedrest (which hopefully won't be necessary) and even a doula for us! There was also a lot of legalese to make sure that the IPs are walking out of the hospital with their baby and their names on the birth certificate when it's all done. And that's the goal! Happy baby and happy parents!
And also this experience gets to be a blessing for our own family and our happiness, too! That is also the goal and where our stories come together.
Many of you dear readers who know me personally have watched me over the years share joys and struggles of being a mother of my own (strong-willed, stubborn, challenging) dear children. The experience of becoming a mother has formed me. I am the clay in the potter's hands. It is part of my passion and purpose. It's sparked a career of which I'm immensely proud, dedicated, and honored to impact the lives of other families. Motherhood is and continues to be a defining moment in my story.
In the past year or so, I've considered how my role as wife, mother, business owner, and hopeful change-maker was in need of some new tools to tackle the challenges of this particular season in life. More specifically, I saw how my husband, Jack, and I continue to have a lot of the same road-blocks to co-creating the life we desire, while our attention is pulled in a thousand different directions. I felt that new tools could lead to prioritizing the values we share and hold dear.
Jack and I both agree that being parents and spending quality time with family is at the top of the list for this life. Recently, in my day planner I scribbled a quote by my dad, as he prepared for a lobster/ scuba diving trip to Key West, saying "don't let life get in the way of having a life." And that's absolutely what's happened for our family.
My family really values traveling and all it offers in new experiences, in history and culture, in being in and appreciating nature. However, due to the strain, of well, everything, those experiences have been few and far between. And when travel has happened, it's has many times been at the exclusion of Jack, as he has stayed back to work while the kids and I go visit family or friends.
Don't get me wrong, we've made some great memories together over the years! We are blessed and privileged with many opportunities to see family and friends in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, and even our move to and back from, Colorado. We've done and seen a lot but our story is not over!
When I first seriously considered surrogacy, I knew that the financial reimbursement could be a tool for my family. A tool to eliminate a decent portion of my student loans that continue to haunt me a decade and a half post-college. I'm grateful for my years in Tallahassee; especially for the people and all the learning done there. I'm also grateful to Jack for working hard with me to pay off that debt. But it's a living expense that gets in the way of having a life. Maybe my dad was paraphrasing Dolly Parton when she said "Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life."
While I firmly believe that life is a journey, not just a destination, I find this quote from Anthony Bourdain is an excellent analogy. Try replacing the word "Travel" with "Marriage" or "Motherhood" or "Life."
"Travel isn't always pretty. It isn't always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that's ok. The journey changes you- it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you... Hopefully, you leave something good behind."
Great Falls, Virginia -2015 It was 1000 degrees and we were hot, grumpy, and together