Close to a year ago, Ana Perez, 29, posted a question on her Facebook page: Hey, guys, if you had the opportunity to become a surrogate, would you? Though many of her friends went ahead and left their comments, one childhood friend stored the idea in the back of her head. Ana spent the following weeks researching the role of a surrogate, considering whether she wanted to do it or not. Then, one day, the childhood friend contacted Ana and asked to meet for coffee.
The two women talked about the process at Starbucks. Ana says that her friend, who was looking for a surrogate, told her about all the shots and medication that were involved. Having been cheated out of money by a woman claiming to be a surrogate, Ana’s friend had made it a point to know all there was about surrogacy. “Within hours of talking with her, I knew I could do this,” says Ana. The couple has given Ana permission to talk to Mamiverse about the experience, but prefer to remain anonymous for this story.
“It was actually on my bucket list,” admits Ana, a mother of a 7-year-old son, and a 5-year-old daughter. Ana believed it was the perfect time to have a baby again. She was healthy; her job as a social worker in San Antonio was going well; and she felt having a child would lift her spirits. Ana and her husband of seven years were in the process of getting a divorce. She says her decision to become a surrogate had nothing to do with the break up of her marriage.
TRADITIONAL SURROGATE OR GESTATIONAL CARRIER
Ana decided to become a gestational carrier. That means Ana’s childhood friend and her husband would provide their own fertilized egg that would be implanted into Ana’s uterus. Ana’s role as the “host uterus” is very different than a traditional surrogate who uses her eggs and donor sperm for the pregnancy.
A year ago, Ana was considering having a baby for a gay couple until she learned they needed her eggs to make it happen. “I didn’t want to use my own egg, because the thing is, if it’s my own, then biologically that’s my kid. You then have to relinquish your parental rights to give them the child. I would be giving up my own child for adoption and I just couldn’t do that.” Ana says she would have had a baby for the gay couple if they would have found an egg donor.
Nothing was going to hold back Ana from having a baby for her friends. Although she had a tubal legation (“tubes tide”) after having her second child, the doctors assured them that since Ana’s eggs weren’t being used to create the embryo there wasn’t a problem. These days, Ana makes every move of her experience very public on Facebook:
June 14 • So the rump shots sucked. The meds have been painful as well.
June 15 • So I’m just resting up as I was inseminated today.
June 17 • Today I feel mixed emotions.
June 27 • Here is my moment of truth…Am I pregnant or not?
June 27 • Finally after months of hormone patches on my stomach, daily butt shots and pills, I AM PREGNANT!
June 29 • I have to say this whole surrogacy thing is fascinating.
On July 16 (sent from the fertility clinic in San Antonio) • Here for the moment of truth…how many babies are there? We have a winner!
The doctors informed Ana and her friends that they were having twins.
BREAKING THE NEWS TO THE FAMILY
Ana has explained to her children that she’s having the babies for her friends. She’s not sure if they understand what’s going on, but she plans to continue talking to them about her surrogacy and addressing their questions. And even though she and her husband are going through a divorce, he goes with her to the doctor appointments. “He’s still my best friend and a great father. He supports what I’m doing, and wants to be there to help me out.”
When it was time to tell her parents who raised her Catholic, Ana wasn’t too worried. “My parents are very liberal. They were like, ‘we just don’t get it?’ But my parents know I will do whatever I want because I always have.’
SUPPORT: FINANCIAL, LEGAL, AND EMOTIONAL
Ana’s friends are not paying her to have the babies, but they are paying her medical expenses and the cost of her maternity clothes. What’s made this process easy Ana says, is knowing they will be good parents. Ana isn’t sure if she would have become a surrogate for a couple she didn’t know personally. Despite being friends, Ana and the couple had an agreement drawn up by a lawyer. She recommends having a contract that states what is expected from both the surrogate and the couple so no one is surprised by anything along the way.
PREPARING FOR THE BIRTH OF THE TWINS
Ana’s friends were overjoyed when they learned she was pregnant with twins. Especially when they learn how the twins’ parents have wanted a family for such a long time. After the babies are born, Ana hopes to just become a loving aunt in their lives.
For now she’s beaming with excitement and watching her body change. After only seven weeks she posts a photo of herself smiling and standing sideways, proudly showing off her pregnancy bump.
ANA’S TIPS ON BECOMING A SURROGATE
- Do plenty of research about traditional surrogacy and gestational carriers.
- Figure out if you can handle it financially and medically. Are you healthy? Will your employer understand and support you?
- Find out if any friends are in need having a baby. It may be an easier decision to have a baby for a couple you already know.
- Do not be motivated by money: this is not about making money, but fulfilling someone’s dream.
- Talk to a mental health expert to see if you can handle it emotionally.
- Talk to your spouse, parents, and family and seek their opinions as well.