Wednesday, June 11, 2008

More Q & A

Lizinsumner asks: My only question - is there an "average total cost" that the IPs spend on the "average" surrogacy (knowing full well that there's no such thing as an "average" surrogacy, I'm sure)....I know people who have spent in excess of $30,000 for a single adoption; wondering if surrogacy costs more.....

Liz, I can honestly say that I have no idea what the average cost would be, although I imagine much higher than $30,000. However, I doubt there *is* an average cost, since so many variables take place. For example, how many IVF attempts does it take to get pregnant? When Blaine and I were doing IVF for ourselves many years ago, each attempt was approximately $12,000. No money-back-guarantee if it doesn’t work ….. Do the IP’s have medical insurance that will pay for part of the process, or is it all out-of-pocket, and how many are they willing to try? How far apart are the couple and the surrogate, and therefore how much is involved regarding travel expenses? I know couples and surrogates who live in the same town, therefore no travel is involved. I, however, had to fly numerous times for every couple, stay in hotels, rent cars, etc. Did the couple and the surrogate already know one another, or somehow find each other, or are they paying an agency for matching services? What if the surrogate is put on bedrest and the couple has to reimburse her for lost wages for months and months? Is it a “compassionate” surrogacy, meaning the surrogate is doing this for no compensation? Most surrogacies are not.

I’m sure there is a wide range of “average”, and like anything in the world of fertility treatment, it’s unfortunately not fiscally available to everyone who would benefit.

Anonymous asks: This is a very nosy question and I'll totally understand if you never answer it (I probably wouldn't) but, do surrogates still receive some sort of personal compensation for carrying a baby to term- aside from the covering of medical costs? You always hear stories about women being paid tens of thousands of dollars for doing this and I wondered if that's actually true or if it's just a tall tale. (Of course I don't mean this to be offensive- I don't mean to say women would be in this as a business for the money. I'm just genuinely curious.)

Also, I know your husband is military- I recently read an article claiming that infertile couples specifically seek out military wives now to become their potential surrogate because the military insurance covers 100% of the cost. Is this true?

Nosy, nosy, nosy aren't I?

Anonymous, I’ve discussed the compensation issue here. Hopefully that will answer that part of your question. As far as the recent Newsweek article, highlighting the large number of military wives who choose to be surrogates, I think many people have been mis-lead by the article.

“Military insurance covers 100% of the cost” ---- First of all, let me remind people that military insurance is not “free”. Blaine has premiums taken out of his paycheck just like anyone else in the working world does. So to imply that our healthcare is “free”, and that our medical/pregnancy treatment is “free”, is a misconception.

Also, to clarify, military insurance covers NONE of the cost for the fertility treatments to get the surrogate pregnant. Military insurance provides very little in the form of fertility treatment to being with, and they pay for none of it regarding IVF attempts for a surrogate pregnancy. All of it … the cost of medications, ultrasounds, blood work, the IVF itself, and then the monitoring that goes on immediately afterwards, is non-covered and must be paid by the Intended Parents.

Yes, once an active-duty military person, or military dependent, is pregnant, our insurance provides medical care for the pregnancy and delivery. However, so do most private health care companies, something that most people don’t seem to realize. Therefore, what makes the military insurance any different than Blue Cross/Blue Shield, or Aetna? Recently, both Tricare (the military insurance) and various private health care companies have been grumbling about surrogate pregnancies, and tentative steps are being made to stop the benefits, which I think is a real shame. That will do nothing more than require Intended Parents to take out private health care policies for their surrogate and pay the premiums out of their own pocket... like this isn't expensive enough already?

Personally, I think the reason military wives are so often willing to serve as surrogates has less to do with our insurance (many women in this country have medical insurance, but you don't see the vast majority of them lining up to be surrogates, either) and more because we have a tendency to be married to service-minded people, and see this as something we can do to help others …. Many in the military, and military periphery, simply have that mind-set of wanting to help. Also, (ok, this is where my opinion comes in, and nothing more) military wives are often kept from successful careers because we move every few years with our husbands to new military bases. It’s hard to climb the corporate ladder, or build up any kind of seniority, when you’re starting a new job every two years. This is just my personal opinion, but being a surrogate is something *I* can do, no matter where we are living (to a point) and it allows me to feel like I’m making a contribution.

Ryley asks: okay.. i have questions for you if you even want to do a question and answer day..

after having the babies.. when you went home from the hospital and laid on the couch or in your bed.. we're you ever sad for a second?
I know we've talked about the shrivled raisin heart thing.. :)
but did you ever miss having them in your tummy?

are any or all of your families open with their children? Like do they still send you pictures and letters and stuff?

do you talk to kids before you start another pregnancy? are they aware when you are doing it? and do they ever ask you to have another baby for your family? :)

okay.. i know weird questions.. but the internet is nosey! :)

Ryley, not too nosy, no. :)

First of all, was I ever sad after returning home from the hospital? Yes, but probably not for the reason people might expect. I wasn’t sad like a woman who had just lost a child, and I never suffered from any baby-blues. I was simply sad because it was over. Yes, I missed being pregnant, and yes, I missed the excitement and anticipation of knowing what was happening. But no, I never felt depressed about it. I read a quote somewhere: “Don’t be sad because it’s over …. Be happy that it happened.” I try very hard to apply that thought process to my surrogate pregnancies, and it always works!

All three of the families I’ve done this for are wonderful, and extremely generous with sending photos and updates of the kids. I’ve gone for visits, and we send birthday gifts, and talk on the phone, and e-mail, etc. In fact, the third couple I carried for just sent pictures of Nicolas’ on his second birthday --- wow, does time fly! I don’t live close enough to see any of them often, so I’m grateful we keep in touch in other ways. Personally, I would never agree to be a surrogate for a couple who wanted to keep it a secret, and I don’t think many do.

I made scrapbooks for all three families, and I loved the last time I went to visit the twins, we sat in the floor and the boys and I looked at the book together, and they could make the connection between the photos, and the real-live-me that was sitting there. How special is that? Do I think I'll still be in contact with these families in ten years? Twenty years? Invited to the childrens' weddings to stand in the back and sniffle and weep my way through the ceremony? Um, I don't know. While that would be nice, and I'm certainly open to it, it's not necessary. I've been able to stay relatively close for a few years with each of them, and as people's lives get busier, mine included, I understand this sort of contact will enevitably become less. But for now, it's perfect.

The first three times that I did this I didn’t tell my children because they were so young it wasn’t really necessary. This most recent time, however, they were aware I was going to be gone overnight, and noticed the needles and Sharps container in my bathroom, so obviously they knew *something* was going on. Although they are comfortable with the process, I wish I could have kept it from them because the two miscarriages were hard for them to understand. First there was a baby, then there wasn’t …. Why? And yes, Kendrie asks on pretty much a daily basis when am I going to have another baby for our family? Because she doesn’t want to be the youngest so she needs a little brother or sister. I hate to tell her, but the Vasectomy Ship sailed about eight years ago.

Lisa in Texas asks: I have a question that probably sounds like a made-for-TV movie, but what would happen if the IP's divorce or God-forbid die during the pregnancy? Also, what if you found out the baby had something wrong, like Tay-Sachs, spinabifida, or some other life-threatening disorder, who makes the decision about continuing the pregnancy? What if your life were in danger if a pregnancy continued?

Lisa, as far as the baby having a medical issue, those are all situations that need to be discussed thoroughly before any surrogate and couple agree to work together, and then should be addressed clearly in the legal contract. Some surrogates refuse to consider a termination for any reason at all …. So it’s important they be matched with a couple who feels the same way. If not a termination, what about reducing a triplet or quadruplet pregnancy (not that those happen often, thank goodness) down to twins? Some couples would want to, for the health of the babies, and the health of the surrogate. Other couples would not. Again, that’s why it matters so, so much that everyone be on the same page, and that those decisions be made in agreement beforehand and stated in the contract.

Ultimately, no one can FORCE a surrogate to have a reduction or termination, nor can they FORBID her from having one. But my personal opinion is that the decision should be carefully weighed by all involved; that the couple and the surrogate and the surrogates’ husband be in complete agreement …. And that the doctor’s recommendation should weigh most heavily of all.

It also states clearly in the contract what provisions have been made, regarding legal guardianship of the baby, in the event both Intended Parents were to die during the pregnancy.

The divorce situation is a bit stickier, although it still states clearly in the contract that the babies are the legal, financial, and physical responsibility of the Intended Parents, no matter what. I know one surrogate whose Intended Parents divorced during her pregnancy …. Definitely unfortunate, although they were both present at the delivery and must have, I assumed, worked out some kind of custody agreement in their divorce proceedings. Another situation occurred when a couple used donor egg and the father’s sperm, and the surrogate got pregnant with twins. During the pregnancy the couple divorced. The dad said he didn’t want the babies, and the Intended Mom said since they weren’t her biological children, she didn’t want them either. And there sat the pregnant surrogate. Although legally still the responsibility of the Intended Parents, would you really want to place babies with people who don’t want them?? In that situation, the agency they were using helped the surrogate choose adoptive parents for the babies. A happy ending, yes, but stressful for everyone involved. And what if that surrogate had been matched independently with her couple and not had the legal and emotional support of her agency? Thankfully, these types of situations are few and far between --- but since they *can* happen, it’s important that everything be spelled out crystal clear in the contract beforehand.

So, anything else anyone wants to ask? Surrogacy related, or what I had for dinner last night, or most embarrassing moment? Anything?


Anonymous said...

I wish I was fast on the uptake with embarrassing questions, but I'm not so you're safe from me.

While reading your responses to Ryley's questions, I am struck again by how similar that part of surrogacy is to being a fosterparent....the albums, the visits, the feelings, the connections.

Thanks for sharing this with us. I'm fascinated and awestruck by the whole process and the generosity of spirit that comes with being a surrogate.


DivaDunn said...

OK - my only question is - How do you manage to go through all of this, raise three children, run the house, update a Blog daily, AND manage to respond to questions?

You completely amaze me!

I get a cold and I farm my ONE child off on my mother, hire someone to clean the house and dont check my email for a week!

Anonymous said...

How's Blaine?
Is Kellen still in the closet (literally, not sexually!)?
Are you going to get another dog?

Diane in Cincinnati

Grandma J said...

It amazes me how open you are to sharing such intimate parts of your life, and answer sensitive questions. I'm sure the money questions will surface again.

How's your kitty? I'm curious about how a lifelong dog person adapts to having a cat. :))

trish said...

Thanks for the Q& A Kristie! I had wondered about the ossue of divorce/death of IPs and also about "selective reduction". I recently read where a couple (in England I think) are suing the surrogate because she refused to reduce twins to a single baby. This got me wondering about the detail of the contracts.

I am really enjoying my education on surrogacy from your point of view. I hope the questions don't get too bad!

Stacie from MN said...

I'm the nosey type who wants to know the why's. Like if your marriage was already rocky, as I assume it must be if you get divorced during the 9 months of the surrogates pregnancy, why would you have gone forward with surrogacy at all? Was a spouse caught cheating or something worse? I realize you cannot answer that since it didn't happen to you, nor is it any of my business, I'm just that kind of nosey.

I also can't imagine wanting a child so much you went to a surrogate, and then not wanting it just because it wasn't biologically yours. My 3 youngest children are not biologically mine, and I really do not like their biological parents at all (to put it mildly), and yet I love those kids with all my heart because no matter what their genes are, they are MY children! It is definately for the best those particular children were adopted by someone else, but I still just don't get people like that.

The Running Girl said...

Wow! Great questions and interesting responses. I would have never thought of some of those situations. This has been very educational for me to read through your story.

Daisy Duke said...

I contacted you awhile back about a paper I wrote about surrogacy for a law school course (Genetics & the Law) and the paper is done. It isn't anything spectacular but it touches on Baby M (and why that just isn't the norm) and it might answer a lot of "legal" questions people have...if you are interested let me know and I can email it to you.

lizinsumner said...

Kristie - thanks for your answers, I appreciate it! It sounds to me like surrogacy is even more expensive than adoption, either foreign or domestic....and, I hadn't even thought about any money that might have already been spent on fertility treatments, etc., prior to someone choosing surrogacy. Also, I think you're 100% right about your opinions on higher rates of surrogates in military families. And also - the USAF is now taking money out of pay for medical insurance premiums??? Holy smokes - I don't think that they were doing that back in 1980 - but, maybe my memory is just bad! As for feeling sad after birth - I guess I don't understand why people expect that reaction from ANY surrogate - when they have absolutely no biological connection to the child, especially. But, maybe you've already covered this and I missed it - are ALL surrogacies accomplished with the surrogate's eggs never being used? Because waaaaay back in the dark years, there was the "Baby M" thing, and I think it was a surrogacy situation but that the surrogate's own egg was used.....but, can't remember for sure any rate, the only sad part is that it all has to be so expensive - fertility treatment, adoption, surrogacy.....I guess people of lesser means are just plain not allowed these opportunities and that seems unfair....but much of life is like that so why should this be any different, right?

Anonymous said...

I never really even thought about compensation. Of course you deserve it, and I am sure much more than you got. You did provide them with a future! I am just surprised someone would bring it up. What difference does it make? I am surprised you even gave it a second thought. (not to mention write a whole blog about it) I wish you had just stated it is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. We don't ask each other if we are compensated or how much we get paid an hour. That is so unfair.

I was however curious about the divorce/death thing. But I see that got answered.

Thanks for your story. How sad is it when I check your blog first thing each morning and have the nerve to be upset when there is no update?

I will check in the morning for more of the story. Please do not let any questions stop you from finishing the story.

momto2boys said...

Okay, here's a silly but possibly important question...since I've been following your blog during your Caringbridge days I know about your Sonic obsession. So have you found a new Sonic in OK? Have you replaced your styrofoam cup infatuation. See I told you it was silly in comparison with surrogate questions.

Anonymous said...

Will we ever hear about the suspension?

Renee said...

Question: What fun plans do you have for this weekend? He! He!

Anonymous said...

Just want you to know I am so enjoying the surrogacy story. I've learned so much and find it fascinating!

Mindy from Georgia

Caqthy in MI said...

I was just thinking to ask if you keep in touch and if you get pictures and updates from the parents and here was my answer today because someone else asked the question.

jojo said...

What DID you have for dinner last night?

Thanks for sharing your surrogacy story, it has really opened up my mind about the whold process.


Karen said...

I am really enjoying reading about your surrogate journey. Thank you very much for sharing it with all of us. I have learned a lot. If I were younger, I think I would also enjoy being a surrogate for someone else that can't have babies on their own. However, at 46, I am beyond doing something so noble as carrying and birthing someone else's child for them. Thanks again

Bestill said...

Kristie, I didn't know how else to contact you so I am doing it through here. I have a friend whose 3 yo daughter was just diagnosed with ALL on the 8th and she's feeling very overwhelmed. She's having the fears of neglecting the other kids, etc... I was wondering if you could contact her please and show her where to get support or just say hi. Here is her daughter's page