Becoming a surrogate mother is a big decision, and many considering this decision want to know what it is like to be a surrogate. In this blog series we hope to shed some light on the surrogacy process through the experiences of our past and current surrogates, Charity, Jaime and Nicole. To read previous post from Charity, click here.
Compensation. Or, as my husband calls it, “the big pink elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about”.
Let’s face it. Most surrogates don’t become a surrogate for the compensation. Surrogates become surrogates for a lot of other reasons: We love being pregnant, we want to help or simply because we feel called to it. However, the compensation does help. It helps our family. Maybe it will help with a down payment on a house, pay off a stack of bills or simply help us take our families on that once-in-a-lifetime vacation.
But how does a surrogate decide what her compensation should be? If you’re anything like me, as you think about the compensation amount you start to feel bad. Here are these parents whose only desire is to have a child. You likely know that they are spending a lot of money for this journey and now you have to decide how much they will compensate you.
While money never drives us, it is a factor and that factor often looks better, bigger. So if someone is willing to pay you $25,000 why should you tell them no? Picking a compensation amount is challenging, but for me it boiled down to what felt right. I had to look deep down in my heart of hearts and I had to pick a number I knew I could live with.
What you don’t know about me is I have very thin skin. By that I mean that if I feel I have wronged someone it eats at me, to the point that I will make myself sick. Even if it wasn’t “really” wrong, if I feel it’s wrong, it’s wrong. I’m the one who has to live with it.
I have been doing surrogacy for nearly 13 years. The very first child I ever had turned 11 this summer (now I’m just aging myself for all of you!). When I was told to pick my compensation the very first time I had no idea what I should do. I was given a range of numbers, you know, what people typically charge. I remember feeling floored that someone wanted to give me that much money to carry a baby. Hmm…..that much money to do something that is so simple for me. At first, I felt like I was taking advantage of someone. Then my mind started running full speed ahead. WOW!! The list of what my family could do with that money was endless. After I was able to slow down a bit I started to put everything in perspective: What the parents have been through already, the money they are spending on everything from medical procedures, traveling, doctors and my compensation.
On that same note, I looked at everything I was about to go through. During my pregnancies there are days that morning sickness gets the best of me, to the point of not moving. The thought of making dinner is more than I can handle. With that extra money I would be able to order in, or let the family go out. There also are the days when cravings are so powerful I’m willing to drive 20 miles to get my favorite salad – or ice cream J. Let’s face it, even though getting pregnant is easy for me, it doesn’t mean pregnancy is always easy. The commitment to taking care of ourselves, or not being 100 percent available to our family or our partners can be challenging.
The other factor that came into play in deciding my compensation amount was fees. Once these fees were explained to me I understood that I was going to bring home more than my designated compensations amount. By the time reimbursements are added in for the embryo transfer fee, mileage to appointments and all the other possible fees (even maternity clothing is covered), I was going to get more than what I asked for.
What did I do? I went with the average. At the time of my very first surrogacy the average was $13,000. Why did I average? For me it was simple, I was already blessed. I have an amazing husband. A healthy child. A home. A job. A family. I wanted a couple to become a FAMILY. For me, I wanted to help in two different ways: I wanted to carry their child and I wanted to make sure they had money to raise that child.
My advice to women who are considering surrogacy and their compensation amount is to take some time to look inside yourself and your situation. If you look deep enough the answer to “What should be my compensation amount?” will become clear.