Alexandra Bass in 1843 Magazine:
One Saturday night a few months ago, a friend of mine who works in the tech industry announced the good news that she and her husband were expecting a baby. This September, they will engage in that quintessential parenting ritual: a mad dash to the hospital and the return home with their newborn. Their birth experience, however, will have a modern twist. My friend is not having the baby herself. Their new arrival will come courtesy of a female stranger whom they screened, paid and entrusted to incubate their embryo. Only after their surrogate goes into labour will they make their way to the hospital, flying from the Bay Area to southern California, where their surrogate lives and will deliver their child.
This was not their first choice. My friend, who is in her 40s, went through repeated rounds of egg extraction through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) and quietly suffered miscarriages, until their clinic suggested they might consider surrogacy. At first I thought the story was a rarity. But not long after that a close friend from college, who also works in tech, told me that if she ever has a child, she also plans to use a surrogate. Then her male roommate chimed in to say that if he doesn’t get married by a certain age, he will find one too. And with that, I made a mental note, as any off-duty journalist does on a weekend. Three makes a trend.
As a native of the always avant-garde Bay Area, I am used to having frank conversations on topics that might be unmentionable elsewhere. But I admit that even I was surprised by how quickly surrogacy has come to be seen as a viable path to procreation. Surrogacy is not new. The first legal, compensated surrogacy arrangements began in America in the 1980s but remained stigmatised and uncommon. According to the Centre for Disease Control, in 2015 surrogacy accounted for only 3% of babies conceived in America through IVF.