Being able to start a family is something that many people take for granted. But for others, it’s a dream they can’t achieve without help – and in a growing number of cases, that help is surrogacy.
If a couple cannot have a baby because they have fertility issues, are of the same sex, or are single men, surrogacy may be the only option, if other pathways like IVF have failed or are not possible.
Surrogacy made such a big difference in the lives of Michael and Wes Johnson-Ellis, whose two young children were carried by a surrogate mother, that they launched the TwoDadsUK website (twodadsuk.com) to help normalize homosexual families and de-stigmatize surrogacy. And now, they’ve launched a new nonprofit surrogacy organization, My Surrogacy Journey (mysurrogacyjourney.com) to help other people, whether straight or LGBTQ +, build families through motherhood. of substitution.
Here Michael discusses their own surrogacy journeyâ¦
Michael and Wes are the proud fathers of Talulah, four, and Duke, 18 months, both of whom were carried by the same surrogate after the couple embarked on their own independent surrogacy journey.
âWe took the path to independence, which meant we had to dive deeper into communities, learn more, educate ourselves about the law and the best clinics, and understand independent surrogacy groups where you could. meet and chat with surrogate mothers, âsays Michael.
After enormous research, the couple met the woman who was eventually to bear their two children, were matched with an egg donor – an anonymous woman – and embryos were created at a fertility clinic in Manchester using the michael’s sperm.
âOurs were donor eggs, so our surrogate didn’t use her own eggs,â says Michael. âShe had actually been sterilized, but she wanted to carry and was adamant about making a sibling trip for us. I am the biological father of our daughter and my husband is the biological father of our son.
The couple’s surrogate, Caroline, said: âI felt that as a woman who easily gets pregnant and is generally fit and healthy during pregnancy, I had a gift to give to a couple who were never pregnant. otherwise would not have the chance to be parents. I wanted to create a child for a couple without children, but it turned out to be much more than that. I created a family and in doing so I changed the lives of two people, but I also helped change the path of surrogacy in this country.
Michael says he and Wes have always wanted to educate people about surrogacy, and after creating TwoDadsUK in 2017, they felt they could do more.
During their own surrogacy trip, they met fertility nurse Francesca Steyn, who ended up donating the eggs that helped create the couple’s son, Duke.
Steyn is also co-founder of My Surrogacy Journey and says, âSurrogacy is growing at a rapid rate, and every year more and more surrogacy cases are taking place around the world. This is extremely successful, as you often have no fertility issues and good egg and sperm quality. Data from the United States shows a success rate of around 75%. “
But what about the popular belief that some surrogate mothers will want to keep the baby they have carried, even if it is not biologically theirs?
“In my experience, surrogate mothers never have a problem transmitting the child to the parents – the future parents. [IPs], says Steyn. “I don’t know of any instances where the surrogate has changed her mind, and we make sure that NPs and surrogates have legal advice to make sure they are aware of all legalities.”
And Michael adds: âWe think the number of cases where the surrogate has wanted to keep a child is very low. It’s also important to turn the tide, as surrogate mothers sometimes have the same fear – and if the future parents don’t want the child, and if they separate, will the surrogate potentially end up with it? a child she doesn’t want? I think it’s just as rare, but it’s interesting to look at both sides of the coin.
Surrogacy is an expense paid – although the law makes it clear that this is not a business deal – and Surrogacy UK (surrogacyuk.org) estimates that they can range from around Â£ 7,000 to Â£ 15. Â£ 000, depending on the surrogate’s circumstances and covering things like loss of income, childcare, maternity clothes, travel expenses etc. It is also estimated that the total cost of surrogacy for PIs, including surrogacy expenses, may be around Â£ 20,000 for single surrogacy (where the surrogate’s own eggs are used) and Â£ 30,000 for host surrogacy (where donor eggs are used and an embryo is implanted by IVF).
It’s an expensive endeavor, but it’s worth it, says Michael. âReal surrogates don’t do this to make money, it’s done for the absolute gift of a surrogate, to create this family and see it. Surrogates play an incredible role in building a family and in the majority of cases they feel a sense of accomplishment and pride for what they have done, for seeing how a family thrives.
The Johnson-Ellis family see their surrogate two or three times a year, but they don’t take care of raising the children. âThat’s not what surrogates do,â Michael points out, âbut she’s incredibly visible and we have full disclosure to our children of how they came into the world. surrogate mothers.
âThere will always be people who won’t agree with surrogacy and you have to respect their point of view,â says Michael cautiously, âbut I think it’s really important to understand that motherhood is substitution in the UK is based on friendship and trust. Sometimes the negativity is because people don’t fully understand it.
âSurrogacy gave us the family we always dreamed of and a life we âânever really thought existed for two gay men. Helping donors and surrogates has made it possible for us to make our dream of being parents come true, and whatever our sexuality, these are people wanting to be parents, and it’s everyone’s right.
âSurrogacy has completely transformed not only our lives, but our families as well – it has given our family members a reason to continue. The joy our children bring to their extended families is the beauty of surrogacy – it creates these huge ripples and touches so many people, just because we are allowed to be parents. “