The State of Surrogacy

Last week I revealed that Jeff and I were off to meet our new surrogate, Britany, in person for the first time. It was a very successful visit and we all got the medical and psychological approvals we were hoping for in order to move forward!

After sharing this news so many people asked me if our “pea” was now in Britany’s “pod.” It struck me that I have never shared exactly how long of a process the surrogacy journey can be and how things are extra complicated because we live in New York.   

I love being a New Yorker and I love NYC. But living in the city can definitely be a bit of a grind and even more so when you have a kid. So, when you are working on baby #2 and you're doing so via gestational surrogacy things can get a little hairy!

In the state of New York surrogacy is illegal. Meaning, you cannot compensate someone to carry a child for you. With our first child, my friend Stephanie offered to carry for us. I knew we were lucky at the time, but I had no idea just how lucky I was until now. Stephanie was an altruistic carrier, so we were able to do the embryo transfer right at NYU Fertility Center in NYC. We were also very lucky that she lived in Massachusetts, because surrogacy is legal there. Our surrogacy contract with Stephanie was based on Massachusetts law which has established precedents for gestational surrogacy and the steps to gain parentage - including a pre-birth order declaring Jeffrey and I biological and legal parents. Relatively speaking, our first surrogacy journey was SO easy!

For Baby #2, in order to work with a surrogacy agency and a compensated gestational carrier (surrogate), neither can reside in New York. (Keep in mind that this goes for several other states across the U.S where surrogacy is not legal.) So, first we had to find an agency that we liked in a state where surrogacy is legal. We chose Connecticut since it is relatively close and we liked the agency the best of the three we interviewed.

Next, we had to choose a fertility center where the medical workup and eventual embryo transfer would take place. We chose Greenwich Fertility, a partner of NYU Fertility Center, and are still working with them today.

Having signed with a surrogacy agency we had to wait to receive profiles of gestational carriers that were considered a good “fit” for us. The very first GC profile we saw we loved and we quickly matched with Emily. She lived in a surrogacy friendly state - Missouri - with her husband and 4 children. So as not to confuse anyone, let’s be clear... we live in New York State, our surrogacy agency and our fertility center are in Connecticut and our Gestational Carrier lives in Missouri. This was about a year and a half ago, and at the time, we were not sharing as openly as we are now. So, very few people knew what was going on. It took us about a month to review and sign our 37 PAGE CONTRACT some time in August and we tentatively scheduled our embryo transfer for early October.   

So now with the match finalized, we had to hussle to get our embryos up to Greenwich Hospital (remember, we had created these by way of IVF at NYU Fertility Center two years prior and had them cryogenically frozen and stored there).  Again, because surrogacy is not legal in New York, the process of transferring our frozen embryo into the Gestational Carrier (this is what is called a frozen embryo transfer or FET) also has to happen in a surrogacy friendly state.  We literally had to transport our frozen embryos up to Connecticut and we chose to do this ourselves as opposed to hiring a courier service (we weren’t taking any chances!).  Here is a photo of me with a cryogenic tank on my back that we rented to transport our two PGS perfect baby embryos:

I drove them from NYC to Greenwich Hospital/Greenwich Fertility Center in Connecticut. That was a wild day! First we had to reserve and rent the tanks (yes, they were heavy!). I brought the tanks to NYU Fertility Center where the embryologists safely transferred our frozen embryos into the tanks. Next was an hour and a half drive up to Connecticut with our ultra special cargo. All the while my parents were babysitting Garrison and at the time had no idea what I was up to that day. Getting pregnant the old fashioned way would have been so much easier! Or at the very least surrogacy being legal in NY would have also made things a lot easier!

So with the embryos ready to go, Emily had already started taking estrogen to thicken her uterine lining in preparation for the transfer. On October 2, the frozen embryo transfer took place. 10 days later she told us we were pregnant but sadly she miscarried at week nine, the third miscarriage I have experienced.

It took us an entire year to rematch with a new gestational carrier whom we just met in person for the first time last Wednesday.

And so we began the process again. We took Garrison (now 2 and a half) to Long Island so he could be with YiaYia and Pappou for a couple of days. We headed to JFK Airport to pick up Britney and Andy who flew in from Idaho (another surrogacy “friendly” state).  We drove them up to Connecticut where they were staying. That night we had dinner and got over the very ackward moments of “I know we are just meeting but hey do you want to carry my baby for me???”

The next morning we met them for a very long day at the fertility center which included Britney's physical exams. The afternoon was filled with psychological evaluations for the four of us. The meeting was moderated by a lovely psychologist. It was exhausting but incredibly helpful and absolutely necessary. We needed to make sure we were all on the same page about some fundamental issues and the doctor made sure that we were all in our right minds! We all passed with flying colors. Now we are just negotiating some of the legalese and assuming all goes well we will sign our contract soon and get ready for our transfer in late January 2017.

So it’s far from easy and it would be SO MUCH EASIER if surrogacy was legal in the state we call our home. Either way, New York is our home and hopefully in a year from now it will be home to Garrison's baby brother or sister.

Surrogacy is not for everyone. It takes trust, courage, faith and the ability to completely let go. If you can manage that and get past all of the steps involved before the journey even begins, it is an absolutely beautiful, miraculous, rewarding, loving and magical ride!