A SUPER-SUCCESSFUL SURROGATE STORY: When everything falls into place
Gina is a married mom of four from a college town in Ohio. Her kids range in age from three to 16. She and her husband, who works for a local welding-wire company, have been together for 21 years.
“Being a surrogate is something I’ve always just wanted to do, for as long as I can remember,” Gina says echoing what many women say who help others build their families by serving as a surrogate. “I was always very open with my husband and family about my desire to do this, and they couldn’t have been more supportive. The whole surrogacy experience ended up being fantastic for all of us.”
Gina’s surrogacy story started in 2014 when she began exploring surrogacy online and happened upon Meryl Rosenberg’s ARTparenting website.
“I found Meryl’s approach so friendly and straightforward that it was easy for me to make the decision to work with her,” Gina says. “Meryl is personal, personable, low key, and just 100% supportive. She and her staff were wonderful throughout, and they were always there when any of us needed them.”
So it was, after a deliberative process involving careful screening on both sides — Gina found herself matched with a gay male couple from Israel.
“I first met the intended fathers via Skype,” Gina recalls, “talking to me from their home just outside Tel Aviv. It was a love-match right from the start — they’re a very warm couple, very kind and considerate, and we just got along great from the beginning. In fact, our first Skype session was three hours long!
Gina was happy to work with a gay couple, and the fact that they were from Israel she found fascinating. She also liked that the two men were virtually the same ages as Gina and her husband, and had been together exactly the same amount of time.
So was it an issue that Gina was not Jewish? “No, the intended parents knew from the start that I wasn’t Jewish,” Gina answers. “They'd initially wanted to go with an egg donor who was Jewish, but that didn’t work out — so both the egg donor and the surrogate ended up being non-Jewish.”
Gina knew from the outset that the couple wanted twins — something she was comfortable with (read our post on the risks associated with twins and surrogacy).
“Having had four children of my own,” Gina says, “I’m aware that every pregnancy is individual, and carries its own risks, and that yes, twins are automatically a higher-risk proposition that a ‘singleton.’ But I’m one of those lucky women who love being pregnant, and so I was totally up for it. Happily, it worked out great. The births weren’t premature, as some twin births are — in fact, I had to be induced, they were so happy in there. The newborns ended up being 7 lbs. 9 oz, and 7 lbs. even — a healthy boy and a healthy girl — who, by the way, look nothing alike!”
Gina points out that the intended parents each fertilized one of the two implanted embryos — so that each twin is a biological child of one of the parents.
Were there any hurdles or issues in being a surrogate for an international couple? “None that I can think of,” Gina says. “We were in constant touch by Skype, and our communication was honest and open every step of the way. I would have been okay either way — if they had preferred just to message me occasionally, and keep it strictly professional, that would have been fine too. But they seemed to like to stay in close touch. We got to really know each other, and in fact, we became so close as families that both my oldest daughter and my husband were in the delivery room in May 2017 when the babies were born — along with the intended parents, of course!”
Gina says that the couple arrived from Israel in January 2017, for “the first big ultrasound,” and stayed for three days. They returned to Israel until the 3rd of May, when they came back to the US and then stayed a month and a half waiting for the delivery of the twins on May 23, and then preparation for their return back to Israel — dealing with necessary paperwork, taking care of US passports and social security cards (the twins are dual US-Israeli citizens), and wrapping things up with attorneys.
“Bottom line,” Gina says, “the guys are over-the-moon happy with the way it turned out, and so am I. We Skype once or twice a month; working with them has kind of opened up the world for us. They’ve invited us to Israel, and they’re even encouraging my eldest daughter to consider being an exchange student in Israel, which I think would be a wonderful experience for her.”
Gina reports that the parents are talking about doing it again — but not twins this time. They’d love to continue to build their family, and Gina says she’d love to continue her “surrogacy story” and help them do it.
“I had wrestled with some infertility issues of my own very early in my marriage,” she recalls, “before my first was born. So I’m naturally sympathetic to folks trying to have children via surrogacy.* So they’ve kind of ‘reserved’ me as their surrogate for another round — I can’t wait!”
*Read our blog post on the subject of surrogates who have dealt with fertility issues.