The debate on surrogacy refuses to subside. I came across Yosef Makaitan’s article one week after the Supreme Court of Israel cowardly remained undecided to appeal for “equality for all” with regards to gaining access to surrogacy. Once again, the same old demagogic arguments have been presented by Makaitan, simply requoting fragments of articles by self-declared ultra-feminists under the guise of humanitarians and women’s rights advocates. Makaitan wishes to clarify that surrogacy should be forbidden entirely. In his opinion, surrogacy is an immoral act and “an arrangement for oppression and an abuse of political and economic interests”. He also likened the process to “organ trafficking”! He summarizes his article with the statement that “surrogacy shall forever stain the walls of the house with the oppression of women and children. We will not be able to look in to the eyes of the children born via surrogacy and tell them with a clear conscience how they came into this world”.
I beg to differ, and my conscience is very clear. Both of my beautiful daughters were born via surrogacy. Their incredible surrogate has a name. Her name is Aria and we have been in contact with her since we met her. She has changed our lives for the better and we are forever grateful to her. Aria has stated on many occasions that she never once felt oppressed or exploited throughout her journey. On the one hand she had an opportunity to help us realise our dreams of becoming parents and on the other, she was now able to afford a deposit for a house and significantly improve the quality of life for her and her family.
Since embarking on my own surrogacy journey, I have been privileged to meet hundreds of Intended Parents and surrogates and I can confidently say that whilst no surrogacy journey is ever the same, it’s a win/win situation for all involved. To place judgement on surrogates and to imply they lack identity is insulting, misogynistic and hypocritical. Makaitan and other opponents here fall in to the very trap they warn of, dismissing the brave and noble CHOICE of a surrogate to help others.
Surrogacy is undeniably complex and can be both physically and emotionally challenging for a surrogate. Surrogates have their own very personal reasons for choosing to carry a baby for someone else. Some are purely motivated by the goodness of their hearts, and the financial compensation is seen as simply a bonus, whilst others are initially motivated for economical purposes, however throughout the journey a very strong emotional bond develops between the surrogate and her Intended Parents thus making the experience in the end much more than a simple transaction.
In any case, these powerful women make well informed decisions before committing to becoming surrogates. They undergo a meticulous and multi-layered medical and psychological screening process and have 24/7 around the clock service and support throughout the entire journey. Therefore, to describe the process as a campaign of torment against women who are coerced into becoming surrogates, and to compare surrogacy to organ trafficking is downright hurtful. It is hurtful not only to all the wonderful women who have had the privilege of performing such an incredible and selfless act, but it’s also hurtful to the children born via surrogacy, who are without question, born to the most loving and caring families.
Makaitan and his supporters also argue that surrogacy is an “instrument designed to control and oppress weak populations, while realizing the dreams and padding the wallets of strong ones”. Once again, I beg to differ. Most Intended Parents are middle class citizens who mortgage their houses, take out other types of loans or rely on family members to contribute to the financial obligations involved with a surrogacy journey. Makaitan adds that surrogacy is a “pact between the narrow interests of a small political group and the commercial interests of agencies and other intermediaries”. This attempt at challenging the legitimacy of surrogacy agencies is derived from at best, his complete misunderstanding of the surrogacy process in general, and at worst, his total envy of the success of the surrogacy industry in recent years and the multitude of benefits for all parties involved.
Intended Parents are not “buying” a child for USD$100K, rather they are paying for a variety of services that are required to complete a surrogacy journey. These are costly services that include IVF (sperm deposit, egg retrieval, embryo creation, embryo transfer), blood tests, medications, compensation to the surrogate, attorneys, insurance experts, transportation of genetic material, international flights and accommodation, citizenship by descent and passport applications and yes the agency is paid for offering complete and comprehensive guidance from start to finish and beyond.
I am extremely proud to be a part of the Tammuz Family team. We work around the clock, literally, ensuring that our Intended Parents have unrestricted access to our dedicated team of professionals. We invest hundreds of thousands of dollars creating surrogacy plans and are constantly navigating through turbulent landscape with regards to legal and regulatory changes. We personally mentor our Intended Parents by conducting ‘parenting’ workshops hosted by industry experts and professionals. In the past decade we have facilitated hundreds of surrogacy journeys for Intended Parents from countries all over the world. We are making a difference on an international scale, therefore attempting to portray surrogacy as oppressive only brings harm to all those involved, especially those born via this sacred path.
I shall conclude with the children, since this column has been written for them. To date, in Israel, there are now thousands of babies born via surrogacy. My girls, and all other surrogate children, shall perhaps one day read all of these skewed newspaper columns and studies, and be exposed to all the demagogic, hypocritical and unfounded claims, and ask me how they came into the world. And with a clear conscience, I shall look them in the eyes with the biggest smile on my face and tell them that they were conceived with so much love and with the help of the most extraordinary woman to ever walk the earth. The most extraordinary woman who we will cherish and adore forever. A most extraordinary woman who gave them life. And no queer feminist should decide otherwise!