May 28, 2024

Paying the bills with surrogacy fees

The dark side of American surrogacy.

Surrogacy may be the “new normal” on American television  — glamorous, funny and quirky. But novelist Susan Straight paints a very different picture in an op-ed in the New York Times, “Making Babies, Just to Make Ends Meet”. She profiles “C”, a 39-year-old woman in her block of flats who has been a surrogate mother three times.

C has been married three times, the first time at 16. Her first husband was murdered; her second is in jail; her third can barely pay for  the gas to drive his motorcyle to work. She has five children of her own.

Her three client-couples were a white man and a his Middle Eastern wife (she was paid US$30,000), a gay couple ($50,000), and a wealthy couple in their late 50s with four teenage boys who wanted a girl (this is a work in progress — $35,000 on delivery).

Is it easy money? No, says Ms Straight:

‘I’ve given birth to three girls. I cannot imagine carrying a child for a stranger. When people say, “That’s so much money!” I say, “This is not a job where you take a break, lie down and rest, go on vacation for a week. She’s pregnant 24-7. Oh, and there’s the part where she could die.”’

Surrogacy may not be an easy way to make a buck, but for poor women without an education, it might seem like the only way. As surrogacy becomes more popular with infertile American couples and overseas couples from countries where it is illegal, we could be reading more stories like this. 

Michael Cook
Creative commons