There are many reasons that people choose surrogacy to grow their families. For those who are unable to have children on their own, gestational surrogacy helps them grow their families. This includes same-sex couples who are unable to conceive naturally, couples who struggle with infertility, singles who do not have a partner to conceive with naturally, and those who have pre-existing conditions or history of cancer that have prevented them from naturally conceiving on their own.
At Circle Surrogacy offices in Boston, San Francisco, and New York, we work with many intended parents who have a history of cancer and chose surrogacy as their method for growing their families. For over two decades, Circle Surrogacy’s variety of programs for intended parents have made the joy of parenthood possible for those looking to become parents through surrogacy after cancer.
We often receive questions about becoming a parent through surrogacy after cancer. Circle team member Jen Rachman, Parent Outreach Associate, is a cancer survivor and parent through surrogacy, shares her story.
Going Through Surrogacy After Cancer
Jen Rachman, Parent Outreach Associate
At age 26, I was on my own, self-sufficient, secure and independent. I was already a few years into building my career as an adolescent therapist; a job that well suited me. I had my own apartment, and was about to move in with my boyfriend of several years. I took care of myself physically and emotionally. Life was perfect, until the routine trip to the gynecologist that wound up saving my life.
When you hear the words, “you have cancer,” there is truly no way to be prepared to absorb all that comes with it. My now unstable life became filled with terms like prognosis, oncologist, surgery, treatment and chemo. My doctors overwhelmed me with choices about what course of action to take. Suddenly, my secure sense of self became unraveled and presented me with a new identity – cancer patient.
My oncologists’ (who are wonderful) main goal was to rid me of cancer as quickly as possible. The recommended course of action when diagnosed with ovarian cancer is to have a complete hysterectomy. Being only 26, the idea of parenthood wasn’t even on my radar yet. But suddenly the idea of losing my ability to bear children was becoming a reality. Not willing to relinquish the option of one day having children, I stressed to my doctors how important it was for them to make every attempt at preserving my fertility.
Over the course of 7 months, I endured three surgeries, and six rounds of chemotherapy. The treatment took my hair, put my body in menopause, left me feeling twice my age. The doctors weren’t able to save my ovaries. I recovered and slowly acclimated to my new normal – survivor.
As I moved further away from my date of diagnosis and it became less scary to invest in the idea of leading a longer, healthy life, my thoughts about future began to change. My then boyfriend and I were married in 2005, and after several years were comfortable exploring the idea of having a family. I had come to accept the loss of my fertility and began exploring the options. I reached out to my oncologist and those at Stupid Cancer about surrogacy and adoption. I met a few survivors who also had been gathering information about family building.
It quickly became apparent that there was a lack of information about surrogacy. My husband and I came to the conclusion that we preferred the idea of using a surrogate to build our family.
Jen speaks with cancer survivors regularly who are exploring surrogacy as a pathway to parenthood. Below are some common questions about parenthood after a cancer diagnosis.
Can you start looking for a surrogate if you haven’t completed cancer treatment?
At Circle Surrogacy, the health of the intended parent is a high priority. For this reason, we do not allow intended parents to start their surrogacy process until they have completed active treatment (such as chemotherapy or radiation). This way, the intended parent can focus on her/his health. Managing your own health while going through the surrogacy process would be quite a bit to handle at once.
That being said, we are always happy to speak with those interested in pursuing surrogacy, but who are still in treatment and not yet ready to begin the process. We can connect you to our qualified staff (including LCSW and cancer survivors who are parents through the program!) to gather information and learn more about surrogacy and the process for when you are ready. (You can just email [email protected], and we’ll connect you right away!)
Does Circle Surrogacy have any specific resources for people who are looking to have children through surrogacy after cancer?
At Circle Surrogacy, we have a unique perspective on becoming a parent through surrogacy after cancer because we have members of our Circle team who have been through the process themselves. Our experienced team is made up of former surrogates, egg donors, and parents through our program. We have multiple parents through surrogacy after cancer and surrogates and egg donors who have worked with parents who have a history of cancer. This unique perspective allows our team to relate more closely to the experience of cancer survivors. Led by a team of people who have had their own firsthand experiences with surrogacy, we set out to educate, lead and guide you through your journey, working tirelessly to help you achieve success and fulfill your dream.
Are there special programs or grants available if you are looking into surrogacy after cancer? Is it state-dependent? I’ve been struggling to find any financial assistance for this, but I am told it does exist.
Great question. Surrogacy can be expensive, and there are a few ways to help make it more affordable. Some intended parents take out loans, some get help from family and friends, etc. Every situation is different. Regarding grants, specifically, there are some out there that help cancer survivors financially in different aspects of their lives. One that comes to mind is The Samfund. (Circle Surrogacy has supported this organization in the recent past.) Also, some individuals start a Go Fund Me or Kickstarter if that is something that you’d be interested in exploring. Circle offers additional information about how to afford surrogacy in this blog post.
What are your thoughts about those people who are gonna try to have a family with their cancer survivor partner?
Circle Surrogacy was founded on the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to become a parent. It’s at the core of everything we do. Because of this, it has lead the agency to have a diverse group of parents through our program, including same-sex parents, HIV positive parents, single parents, parents who faced medical challenges, and cancer survivors.
Speaking to cancer survivors specifically, Circle is proud to help survivors experience the joys of parenthood, especially after experiencing loss and facing challenges. Circle Surrogacy works with many cancer survivors, who may begin a journey only after they’ve completed treatment. In fact, Circle employs two cancer survivors on staff who are parents through our program. They can speak firsthand how rewarding it is to embark on a surrogacy journey, looking forward to the joy of a baby after experiencing treatment and surgery for cancer. Livestrong offers some helpful information about various parenthood options for cancer survivors.
What are the next steps for someone interested in speaking to someone at Circle Surrogacy about becoming a parent through surrogacy after cancer?
For more information about our personalized family planning services and resources at Circle Surrogacy and Egg Donation, contact us today. If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a parent after cancer, you can do so on our website!