The choice to become a surrogate is often complicated by a conflicted feeling, mostly due to the financial compensation associated with the process. Motherhood is typically not paid for, and the motivations of surrogate tend to come under scrutiny. But most surrogates will tell you they are more interested in the emotional rewards than the financial one.
Surrogacy is considered a high-risk emotional experience. We are talking about carrying a living being for someone else, sometimes a stranger, with all the physical and psychological demands of a pregnancy.
Knowing this, qualified infertility centers put potential surrogates through a rigorous psychological screening process to ensure the mental health of their candidates. But it is precisely this high emotion that motivates the majority of surrogates to go through the process, sometimes again and again.
“Being a surrogate is powerful. You are carrying someone’s dreams,” says Amy, twice a surrogate. “There is no other feeling in the world than being pregnant. I loved every minute carrying my own two kids, but my husband and I have decided not to have any more of our own.” Amy was looking to re-live that feeling of unbelievable joy at the birth of a child. Naturally, she turned to surrogacy. She says she felt different carrying her own children than when she was a surrogate. “You care for this growing life inside you, but from the beginning, I knew it was not mine.” Amy remembers how happy she was the first time she saw her own kids. “Somehow, it is even more amazing when you see the faces of the parents you are carrying for who might not have had that moment without me.”
If the emotional reward is so fulfilling, why do it for money? According to Amy and many like her, she did not want to risk a financial burden on her family by becoming pregnant. “I ended up needing a few weeks of bed rest and missed out on work. That would have been tough on us.”
In an interview on the subject for NPR, Elaine Gordon, a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles who counsels couples on family-building, including surrogacy, and on the issue of payment, gets right to the issue: “I think people automatically feel that if money is involved then there is no altruism involved, and that’s not necessarily true,” she says. “We are all compensated for the work we do, and we still want to do good work even though we are compensated.”
While surrogates acknowledge that the financial compensation is great, most say the feeling of helping someone create a family is a reward that lasts much longer.