Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Monday, July 18, 2016

Canada's Bargain Surrogacies

"The attachment is different. It's like when a friend is pregnant and you're excited for them, except in this case I'm the pregnant one ... I've actually forgotten I was pregnant in a way from time to time."
"I think it's because I'm not excited for myself, I'm excited for them so if I'm not thinking of them at that moment, I forget."
"I've had a few 'oh yeah' moments."
Chantelle McCallum, Victoria B.C. single mother

"When I gathered up the courage to tell my husband ... he was on board right away. He went through three years of not being able to have children, too [with in vitro fertilization]."
It wasn't just a thing to do with me, it had to do with him [as well]."
"It was a horrifying experience month after month not being able to do something all these other people are doing so easily [natural conception]. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to be a surrogate. No woman should have to go through that."
Paula Capa, Toronto, Ontario, mother of twins
Caryn and David Crabb, from Australia, began the process of surrogacy in Australia to no avail, as surrogates are hard to find there. Paula Capa, from Kitchener, Ont., will be their surrogate.
Caryn and David Crabb, from Australia, began the process of surrogacy in Australia to no avail, as surrogates are hard to find there. Paula Capa, from Kitchener, Ont., will be their surrogate.
"I separate emotions differently. Because I know this isn't my child, I'm not rubbing my belly 24/7 like I was with my own. I definitely don't look at the child as if it's mine. I look at it as if I'm babysitting the child for nine months. If I eliminate those feelings I don't get attached."
"Knowing it's not mine, I've already created that safeguard."
"Yes, a surrogate does put her body and health on the line for complete strangers. But it shouldn't be like a cattle call."
"I get the joy of seeing someone else's happiness. ... Acts of kindness do come back in some manner."
"Sure, material things make us happy. But emotions -- joys and happiness --they can't be bought. And if you don't get to experience those feelings, why do we live?"
Trudy Lalone, surrogate from Peterborough, Ontario

It is illegal in Canada to be paid for agreeing to be clinically impregnated with sperm and eggs of people you have contracted with to carry a baby on their behalf from conception to birth. There are certain expenses like medication, food and transportation considered to be part of the pregnancy which can be billed to the client, but no payment for profit may be forthcoming. In contrast, in the United States, it is legal to charge for surrogacy, with the going rate in the tens of thousands.

Yet despite that Canadian women of child-bearing age are not legally able to charge for renting out their body for a nine-month period, most often to complete strangers, and often enough to strangers from foreign countries, it seems there is a growing roster of hundreds of women willing to become part of this unusual service industry. For couples unable to conceive living abroad, it's like winning the lottery when a Canadian woman agrees to carry and allow her body to nurture their baby.

Expenses involved in the process, for one thing, are kept to an absolute minimum. There is no charge that the surrogate Canadian mother may extract from clients. And when same-sex couples are involved there is also no fuss. Moreover, all medical-hospital expenses are fully covered by Canada's universal health care. The surrogate is, after all, Canadian and as such is fully entitled to the same care as any other Canadian. And the baby, born on Canadian soil, is automatically 'Canadian'.

There have been unfortunate, unforeseen occasions when a baby has been born with congenital defects, complications of birth or simply that the foetus hasn't developed normally and the result is misfortune. When that has happened it hasn't been unusual for the contracting would-be parents to walk away from the situation, despite a contract having been signed between the surrogate and the 'parents'. Leaving the surrogate to pick up the pieces, having given birth to an imperfect baby, the fears of any prospective parents realized.

Chantelle McCallum has two young children of her own, aged 6 and 4 Their mother has explained to them that she will be carrying a child that will not be related to them, and after the child's birth it will disappear from all their lives. "I explained that the doctor was putting a baby seed in my tummy so I could grow it for my friends", explained the 27-year-old, pregnant for a same-sex couple from Barcelona, Spain. "They were both like, 'OK, cool'. Their only question was why does everyone want to have babies?"

Children so young and so perspicacious. Why indeed does everyone want to have babies? Particularly since there are more than enough children of all ages yearning for a home because their own parents for whatever reason have been unable to give them the love and emotional and practical support they need to become fully-functioning adults, a credit to any society? Simply not as appealing, perhaps, lacking the allure of fresh little humans we call babies. Is it not altruistic in part to adopt a child needing a home?

Chantelle McCallum's children spend alternate weeks with their father. Her mother, the children's grandmother, helps her with her two small children during this time of pregnancy while she continues to work full-time hours as a community support worker in Victoria. Paula Cappa has been involved in a number of surrogacies; she carried twin girls for a Toronto couple when her own twin boys were only two.

And Trudy Lalone is temporarily living with her parents with her four young children. She works night shifts to enable her to look after her children, taking them to school, picking them up, preparing their dinner, then leaving them with her mother. "Compared to my previous surrogacy, I find more of a bond in this one, more of a friendship", said Lalone who, a year after her twins were born pursued her first surrogacy, one where her husband accompanied her to medical appointments and was in the delivery room to see someone else's child born to his wife.

She is carrying a child for a same-sex couple from Florida. "Because I'm constantly on the go with how much I do in my life, I don't notice being tired", she said. As for her children: "They didn't look at the child like it was their siblings [previous surrogacy]. It was the baby that mommy carried for someone else. Kids are so carefree. It doesn't cause grief to them the way it would with an adult." Hers is no longer an intact family, she and her husband have separated.
Paul, right, an emergency room doctor, and his partner Steve, a consultant, are Americans who sought out a Canadian surrogate — and found Trudy LaLone, from Peterborough.
Paul, right, an emergency room doctor, and his partner Steve, a consultant, are Americans who sought out a Canadian surrogate — and found Trudy LaLone, from Peterborough.  (Chris So)

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