Woman's pregnant belly

Surrogacy was a new concept when I decided to try it in 2001. Credit: Mensatic

In 2001, I could have never imagined that I would one day open my own surrogacy agency. At that time I was a single mother struggling to make it through nursing school. I loved helping people, and to be honest, I needed a way to earn extra income for my family. One day I saw an interview on TV with a surrogate and was instantly intrigued. Surrogacy was still a relatively new practice back then, and I had never heard about it before.

Something about surrogacy called to me. Here was a way I could earn good money while still going to school, and I could help out a family in need. As the idea of surrogacy grew bigger and bigger in my mind, I logged into my AOL account on the first computer I ever owned and spent hours on the web researching surrogacy.

I remember lying awake at night after my children were in bed, my mind buzzing with questions. Could I really carry another couple’s child? Did I want to go through pregnancy again for someone else? What if something happened during the pregnancy and I lost the baby? What would it be like to have to give the child to his or her true parents after the birth?

Finally, after all the research and difficult nights, I made the decision. I wanted to help a family in need. I wanted to be a surrogate.

Jumping Into Surrogacy

In my home state of Delaware, surrogacy was almost unheard of and there were no agencies to hold your hand or help match you with the right couple. My first challenge was to actually find a couple looking for a surrogate. I did this by placing an ad on a surrogacy website.

Talk about tension! I wasn’t sure who was going to see that ad, or if anyone would want me to be a surrogate for their child. It was almost like posting an online dating profile and waiting for someone to notice you.

Within a couple of days, I was contacted by a lovely couple from Pennsylvania. They wanted a child very badly, but the wife’s medical condition prevented her from sustaining a healthy pregnancy. Having done my research, I didn’t cut any corners. We all submitted to psychological evaluations and had a contract drawn up by an attorney.

Wow, I can’t even describe how nervous I felt when the day finally came for the IVF transfer. I knew how much the couple wanted this baby and how much money they were spending for this IVF procedure…and it all depended on how my body and uterus performed.

The days after were torture, wondering if it had worked, if there was a teeny, tiny life starting inside of my body.

When it came time for the earliest pregnancy test possible, the results were positive. I felt such a rush of relief and joy for this husband and wife who were quickly feeling like my family.

Overall, the pregnancy went very smoothly. The couple were amazing. They came to every single appointment, and I often brought my family over to their house for weekends. It was a challenge explaining the situation to my children. In particular, my ten-year-old daughter had trouble understanding that the baby growing inside me wasn’t a brother or sister for her.

Before the pregnancy, I wondered how I would feel about a baby that wasn’t my own. Would I resent it during bouts of morning sickness and puffy ankles, or would I develop too strong of an attachment? I was happily surprised to find that I did grow to love my “niece” as I thought of her, but I never felt possessive. I considered myself an “aunt” watching over this precious little girl on behalf of her parents. It felt natural to care for her and make good, healthy decisions for both of us.

On January 25th, 2002 I gave birth to a healthy and beautiful baby girl named Chloe. I was able to watch my two close friends hold their daughter for the first time. It was a magical experience. I had originally been drawn to surrogacy because it was a way to financially support my family, but the experience profoundly changed my life. I had created a miracle for another couple, and it felt so, so good!

The Surrogacy Sequel – The International Version

Fast forward ten years to 2012. I was now happily married, and our family was pulling up our roots and moving to California. The move was a big change for us, and an expensive one – as anyone who has ever moved can testify!

When we got settled, I started a new nursing job, but I still felt anxious about the financial setback the move had caused. The idea of surrogacy popped back into my mind where it had lain dormant for over a decade. Things were different now, however. I couldn’t just make the decision and move forward. I now had a hubby who needed to be on board.

That proved to be more of a challenge than I anticipated. In the intervening years since my last surrogacy, I’d had a bad pregnancy scare. An improperly administered epidural resulted in me waking up on a ventilator after my child was born. My husband understandably never wanted to go through something like that again, and neither did I!

Still, the idea of surrogacy wouldn’t leave me alone, and slowly I was able to plant the seed in his mind and win him over. The final straw that broke his reserve was a promise that some of the money we made would finance a new motorcycle.

I say “we,” because surrogacy is truly a team effort. Even though I would be the one carrying the baby, my husband would need to support me throughout the entire experience. If he wouldn’t have been 100% on board, I would have never been able to do it.

My second surrogacy experience was very different from the first in two important ways. The surrogacy industry had advanced a lot in ten years, and California is one of the most surrogacy-friendly states in the country. Rather than go it alone, I decided to work through a surrogacy agency. I appreciated that the surrogacy agency handled all the paperwork and worked hard to match me with the right couple.

The second big difference is that I was matched with an international couple. I had been so close to the first couple during my original surrogacy experience, and I wondered if the same relationship would be possible with this new couple who lived across an ocean.

Before I signed on to be a surrogate for this couple, we had a Skype chat to introduce each other. This was really important to me, because I knew how much we would be connected in the coming months if the pregnancy was successful.

Again, I had the fortune to be matched with an amazing and wonderful couple from Spain who wanted very badly to be parents. After the call, my husband and I made the decision to move forward. The couple approved of us, and the process began.

Same nerves and jitters when it came time for the IVF transfer. Same endless wait to find out the results. Same joy and enthusiasm when we discovered that I was pregnant on the first try. When it comes to surrogacy, my uterus is 2-0!

Unlike the first surrogacy situation, the international couple was not able to attend all of my appointments, but I still grew very close with them. We spoke many times during the pregnancy, and they even flew from Spain to visit us and stayed with my family for six weeks during my pregnancy.

On August 15th, 2013, I gave birth to healthy, adorable girl and again felt that amazing rush of joy and higher purpose. I was literally able to make a couple’s dream come true!

An Idea Was Born

In 2001 when I started this amazing journey, I would have never considered myself an entrepreneur or imagined that I would have the confidence and gall to start my own business. But being a surrogate changed me in a profound way. I wanted to feel that special joy of helping a deserving couple again and again.

I realized that I could by opening up my own surrogacy agency. Through my research and personal experiences with surrogacy, I had amassed a large amount of information and knew the ins and outs of how an agency worked. I also made lots of great connections and have a ton of drive. I thought to myself, if I could put myself through nursing school while raising two children on my own…and while pregnant….I can do this too!

So, for the last year I have spent a lot of time putting all the pieces together to make this agency happen. It has been a wonderful and challenging process, and I’m so proud to announce that I am now actively looking for willing surrogates and future parents to connect. (If you know anyone, give them a holler.)

There are days where I feel utterly confident and excited about the business, and other days where the nerves get the best of me, but even on the hardest days, I think back to how great it felt to be a surrogate, to give a couple the gift of a child, and I know that this is my path!