In recent years, surrogacy has become a more popular way to have children. With stars like Kim Kardashian & Kanye West, Gabrielle Union & Dwyane Wade, Andy Cohen, and Anderson Cooper all having children through surrogacy, the media is talking about surrogacy more frequently. There are constantly articles in People Magazine, Insider, USA Today highlighting the celebrities who use surrogates to have children. As medicine continues to advance, and more men and women are having fertility issues, having a child through surrogacy is becoming a more common practice.
Surrogacy continues to be an excellent avenue for parents from Boston to San Francisco who are unable to conceive naturally, but it is not always portrayed that way in the mainstream media. In recent years, the media has begun to highlight some of the positive elements of surrogacy on popular TV shows and movies, but there is still a lot that the media gets wrong about surrogacy.
Below are a few examples of times that the media has missed the mark when talking about surrogacy and how it works.
1. Forgetting about the happy families created through surrogacy.
Intended parents, surrogates, and the wonderful children brought into this world because of their love are real people. While thousands of families have welcomed children into their families through surrogacy and are thrilled with the results, the media tends to focus more on the occasional unhappy journey or journey that doesn’t go as planned. Articles talking about the dangers of surrogacy are not only misleading but hurtful to the individuals who are proud of their amazing families.
2. Sensationalizing tragedy instead of making a positive impact.
Journalists have a responsibility to report an accurate reality. It breaks our hearts every time we read a case about a family stuck in a foreign country unable to come home with their family. It breaks our hearts when we hear that a surrogate wants to keep a child who is not hers to keep.
These heartbreaking stories could be used as opportunities to educate people about surrogacy and the importance of research. We encourage every single one of our surrogates, egg donors, and intended parents to research all of their options and all of the agencies available before making a decision. Research is a critical step in the process of beginning a surrogacy journey, and the media often overlooks this. They focus on the stories where little research was done prior to signing an agreement, and sadly many of those journeys don’t end as well.
Imagine if every article about a tragic story in surrogacy explained how thousands of families have gone through successful, beautiful surrogacy journeys. Perhaps changes would come about, such as a call for insurance companies to cover aspects of surrogacy. That would bring access to so many couples who can’t have children of their own, and can’t take on the cost.
3. Failing to discuss the real motivations of surrogates.
Many articles skip over the beauty and the selflessness behind becoming a gestational carrier.
The amazing women who come to Circle Surrogacy wanting to help another family are astounding. While the media generally focuses on compensation, there are many steps between thinking about becoming a surrogate and matching with intended parents to become a gestational carrier. The women who make this selfless, generous choice are often inspired by personal experiences where they’ve seen people close to them struggle with fertility. Other women have a strong desire to help the LGBT community.
While many women do extensive research before applying, we pride ourselves on providing carriers with as much information as possible so that they can make the best decision.
We have countless stories of gestational carriers who describe being a surrogate as one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives.
Regularly we feature stories about our exceptional surrogates. In a recent post, current surrogate Ashley said, “Becoming a surrogate has been a wonderful learning experience and has been good for my family as well. I feel that I’m teaching my children to be good and kind individuals and to give to those who need your help. As my surrogacy journey comes to a close in the next few months, I truly believe this has been a wonderful and life-changing experience.”
More of these heartwarming stories exist than the bad ones. We pride ourselves at Circle Surrogacy for having some of the best surrogates available who have chosen to become surrogates because of their desire to help and give someone the incredible gift that they have already experienced. Unfortunately, the media doesn’t focus too heavily on the positive aspects and the real motivators for why women become surrogates.
4. Failing to mention the importance of screening surrogates.
Working with an agency is valuable in part because of the extensive surrogate screening process. Several factors are considered before accepting surrogates into agency programs. Every agency is different. At Circle, each applicant’s mental health, physical health, support system, background, and financial situation are reviewed before moving forward. Additionally, our screening team evaluates each applicant’s motivation for becoming a surrogate.
Moreover, IVF clinics set strict requirements for gestational carriers to protect the carrier’s health and well-being. Stories create a distorted reality when they report on complications during pregnancy without mentioning that the gestational carrier wouldn’t have passed basic agency requirements.
5. Reporting on traditional surrogacy as if it’s the standard.
Traditional surrogacy, an arrangement in which the surrogate becomes pregnant through artificial insemination and thus contributes her own genetic material, was the standard over a decade ago. Today very few agencies will arrange traditional surrogacies. The majority of today’s surrogacy arrangements involve gestational carriers, meaning the surrogate has no genetic relation to the child
Articles reporting on traditional surrogacy rarely make the distinction, and rarely inform readers how out of the ordinary this type of arrangement is now. Traditional surrogacy is also portrayed more often in the media. Shows like Handmaid’s Tale show the horrors of what forced traditional surrogacy looks like. For many, this is their first exposure to surrogacy, and it creates a negative perception of what surrogacy is, giving an inaccurate picture of the industry as a whole. Other shows that have a more lighthearted tone like Superstore also highlight traditional surrogacy between friends, which is not a common occurrence in the surrogacy industry.
6. Reporting on independent surrogacies as if they are the standard.
While independent surrogacy arrangements can go well, many surrogates and intended parents choose to work with an agency instead because they want to be sure that they are protecting themselves as well as the rights of the surrogate at every step of the way. Intended parents often choose to work with surrogacy agencies to protect themselves legally and emotionally from the complex process of matching, embryo transfer, pregnancy, birth, and of course, taking home your child. Using a surrogacy agency is far more common for a surrogacy journey than going independent. Yet press coverage of surrogacy relies heavily on independent surrogacy stories, which gives the false impression that finding a surrogate through online advertising or word-of-mouth is the norm.
If intended parents have done their research and spoken with agencies, they know that independent arrangements are risky and can lead to legal and emotional issues that are most times difficult to resolve. Often when intended parents look for a surrogate independently, they want to save money since surrogacy can cost between $100k and $150k. While we understand the cost is high, the risks and potential costs of independent surrogacy are much greater. We also have more options for supplementing the initial costs of surrogacy, such as financing plans, grants, and sponsorship opportunities that are only accessible to those working with a surrogacy agency for their journey.
7. Using harmful language.
Many headlines use hurtful terminology like “womb for rent” or refer to gestational carriers as “breeders.” This distasteful language is disrespectful and inconsiderate to the community of families closely tied to surrogacy. Surrogates are women who are selfless and generous, who want to help other families in need of assistance to have children. These reports assume that women are somehow being misinformed about the surrogacy process, or that they only want to make money. While in fact, agencies will not accept women with financial uncertainty. Plus, women who apply to become surrogates heavily research the process beforehand.
If you have any questions about the surrogacy process, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.