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May 01, 2009
Aftonbladet, Sweden’s largest national newspaper, featured an interview with Henrik and Andres, a local gay couple, and Susan Norton, a Circle surrogate who carried their twins. The article states that the couple are part of a growing trend of Swedes who turn to surrogacy agencies in the USA. A side-bar features an interview with a Circle representative about the program Circle offers, the various costs associated and the way Circle screens surrogate to insure they are highly motivated. Surrogacy is prohibited in Sweden, but it is legal for Swedish citizens to have children through surrogacy abroad and bring them back after the birth.
The interview took place subsequent an informational seminar Circle held in Stockholm, and since then the number of Swedes who have been working with Circle Surrogacy to start a family has nearly doubled. Below are translations of parts of the article and a link to the entire interview with Susan in Swedish.
Excerpts from an article on Aftonebladet, May 2009
Reporter: Jill Sjölund
Henrik and Anders were close to giving up. Adoption agencies had said no. Nobody wanted to give them a child.
That was before they came into contact with the American laboratory technician Susan, 37. For less than 200 000 crowns she gave birth to their twins. "She completed us. Gave us a family," says Anders.
They lived 7,300 miles apart and were complete strangers. Nonetheless, Susan decided to carry their children.
Anders and Henry are two of a growing number of Swedes who've turned to surrogate mothers in the United States. "This is the best thing we have ever done. We want the word to get out, let people know that this possibility does exist," says Anders.
They had longed a child for over ten years. They had tried all Swedish adoption agencies, but no one wanted to help a homosexual couple. A friend told me about surrogate motherhood. I knew right away this was the solution.
Since it is illegal in Sweden to give birth to others for payment, Henrik and Anders were forced to turn abroad. Via RFSL they came in contact with the U.S. agency Circle Surrogacy.
"My husband was not happy initially"
The agency helped them find an egg donor and Susan - the woman in Missouri who wanted to become their carrier.
Susan had two children of her own. Her husband had three more. They did not want to have a larger family, but Susan wanted to become pregnant again.
"I love being pregnant. I love the feeling of having a child within me, the feeling of life. It's the best thing I know. If it could happen, I would be pregnant for the rest of my life," she says.
In 2006 Susan gave birth to her first surrogate children - twins to a couple in Boston. "My husband was not so happy about my decisions at the time. He did not understand why I wanted to do it. We had a good life, a simple life. Now things would be complicated."
But when he saw how happy the childless couple was due to Susan, he changed his attitude completely.
In February 2007, Henrik and Anders talked with Susan on the phone for the first time.
"Its all true. We matched perfectly. We each had the same score, she was engaged, serious, nice and she knew what she was doing. She had given birth to her children and done this before," says Anders.
"I felt incredible relief and joy."
After intensive telephone and email contact was initiated Henrik and Anders became more and more convinced that Susan was the right person for them. In June they traveled to the United States, made sperm to fertilize the donated eggs and had them placed in Susan's womb. The first attempt fails but not the second.
"It was Susan who told us that she was pregnant. I felt incredible relief and joy. You can not describe it," said Henry.
Over the next nine months Susan bore two children in her womb that were not her own. For nearly four months she would be bedridden due to the risk of complications.
"It was absolutely indescribable. The best experience I've ever had. I remember Kalle's big bright eyes and Ivar's big mouth. I immediately felt a bond with them, it felt so obvious that these were our children," says Henrik.
But for Susan, the next days would be difficult.
"During the entire pregnancy, I had persuaded myself that the children were not mine. Still it was tough to let them go. I had so many emotions and hormones in the body," she says. "Sometimes I was sad without knowing why. I had been at the heart of a great adventure and suddenly it was over. The children were gone. It felt lonely."
Henrik and Anders got individual custody of the twins since Susan relinquished custody to the court. After six weeks, they could fly home to Sweden with their sons.
"It was hard to say goodbye to Susan. We had such a close relationship and of course she had feelings for the children. She cried when we left," says Anders. "But it was very nice to come home. When we passed customs, I could finally exhale. Everything had gone well."
"It was not for the money."
Anders and Henrik paid around one million crowns through Circle Surrogacy for their children. Much of the money went towards health care and legal assistance. Approximately SEK 200 000 went to Susan.
"If you give up your freedom for nine months and let other people control what you eat and drink I think it is right to get paid for it. But I did not do it for money. I earn more from my regular job," says Susan.
"I did it because I wanted to help others create a family. My children give me so much joy, I want others to also experience it. I have changed Henry and Anders lives. It's the best thing I've ever done.
Anders and Henrik have continued to keep close contact with Susan. In their homes, they have pictures of both her and the egg donor. When the twins grow up, they want them to meet with their two "mothers".
"It is very important for us to be open to our children and to tell them where they come from. And Susan mean a lot to us. She completed us. She gave us a family," says Anders.
Surrogate agency travels to Stockholm to find new clients. "Interest is growing all the time," says Ron Poole-Dayan of Circle Surrogacy.
Circle Surrogacy is one of the major surrogate agencies of the United States. To date, eight Swedish couples have used the company's services. But that figure is set to increase markedly. Six more U.S. surrogates are already pregnant with the children of Swedish couples. This week representatives from the office are in Sweden to find even more clients.
"Interest has doubled since last year, even though it costs a lot and despite the financial crisis. More and more people outside the U.S. are becoming aware that this possibility exists," says Ron Poole-Dayan.
In total, the prospective parents pay between 600 000 and 1.1 million - the price variance takes into account whether one is using one's own sperm and eggs and how many procedures are required before successful pregnancy. "Much of the money goes to cover legal and medical costs," says Ron Poole Dayan. Surrogate mothers are paid around 200 000 SEK to carry a child.
"Some say this is like prostitution, that you are buying another human being. But we want this to be a respectful process full of good reasons, "says Ron Poole Dayan. "Therefore, as a rule our surrogate mothers must not have a low income and do this because they need the money."