May 26, 2024

The rich are different from you and me: they hire surrogates

New York Times journalist Alex Kuczynski turns her life into newspaper copy
Alex Kuczynski's surrogate chills out

"They were careless people," wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald. "They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made." Ah, the rich! They are as different today as they were in The Great Gatsby. But surrogate motherhood makes them more different still, as readers of the New York Times Magazine learned recently from Alex Kuczynski, who reports on the lifestyle of the rich and the very rich for the Times.

Anyhow, Alex wanteda baby but she was exhausted by years of infertility and miscarriage. Her husband already had six children from two previous marriages, but she had none of her own. So she rented a womb and chronicled the experience. “I hate the phrase ‘meant to be,’ loaded with its small, smug assumptions, its apathy and fake stoicism. I believe that where things can be fixed, they should be fixed. In our case, reproductive technology could make it relatively easy for us to have our biological child.” It cost her US$25,000, peanuts, really – for the wife of a billionaire.

Ms Kuczynski iswell-known to New Yorkers and did not receive a lot of sympathy fromher readers. “If surrogacy ever becomes a widely practiced markettransaction, it will probably make pregnancy into just another dirtytask for the working class, with wages driven down and wealthycouples hiring the work out because it’s such a hassle to bepregnant,” writes Thomas Frank in the WallStreet Journal.

Ms Kuczynski didn’twant to engage a poor woman, lest quibbles over money spoil therelationship. The woman she found was college-educated and, just likeher, voted for Obama. A kindred spirit. Butas Frank points out, “Ofthe story’s nearly 8,000 words, there are only three quotations fromthe surrogate mother. Ms. Kuczynski does not describe this remarkablewoman’s clothes or, really, tell us her thoughts about much ofanything. About Ms. Kuczynski’s own feelings and fears and cravingswe get paragraph after maudlin paragraph. The one who does the laboris almost completely silent.”