The other night I was on line at the Apple store on 5th Avenue and 59th Street. I had just gotten off the interminable waiting list for the new iPhone 4 (the home button on my old iPhone broke a couple of weeks ago) and I had exactly 24 hours to pick up the phone before being booted right back on to it. The line snaked around the store and was also incredibly slow, causing a customer four or five people behind me to become seriously disgruntled. The guy directly behind me and I started laughing about the whole situation. In our chat, I mentioned my family and he inquired about how we had conceived Max. He explained that he and his partner were about to sign with an agency to conceive a baby via surrogacy in India because they thought they couldn’t afford to do surrogacy here.
Naturally my eyes lit up at the opportunity to talk about surrogacy, even though standing in the middle of the Apple store was the last place where I thought I would be discussing it! Of course I advocated that he seriously consider independent traditional surrogacy, the route Stewart and I took. There are many amazing reasons for gay men to start their families through surrogacy generally, and through traditional surrogacy specifically, that are beyond the subject of this post. I will certainly be exploring those in the future, but this guy at the Apple store didn’t need that talk; he was already sold on surrogacy. His issue was cost, so that’s what we discussed.
You can do surrogacy here in this country, I told him, and it doesn’t have to break the bank (relatively speaking). Yes, if you plan on using an agency and conceiving a child via gestational surrogacy (in which you create an embryo through the use of an egg donor that is implanted into, and carried by, a different woman who has no biological connection to it) that could very well cost you a small fortune – that is, after adding up the fees for the agency, the egg donor, the carrier, one or more embryo transfers at a fertility clinic, the medical insurance for the carrier, the bank escrow fees, your lawyer, the carrier’s lawyer, and on and on. However, if you conceive a child through traditional surrogacy (where the egg donor is the same woman as the carrier) and do it independently, without agency involvement, you do not have to spend nearly as much (e.g. no fees for agency, egg donor, transfer, escrow, etc.). I have spoken with several people who felt that they couldn’t do surrogacy because of the costs, and once they found out that it can be done for much less than they thought it could, they were interested again.