Kim lives in Utah with her husband and 5 children, 2 of whom were adopted. She delivered a surro baby in July 2020.
Q: As someone who has worked closely with IPs seeking a gestational carrier and IPs seeking to adopt, what do you think is the main difference between these two paths (i.e., seeking to expand via adoption vs. surrogacy)? Do you ever think that IPs looking for a surrogate should consider adoption more seriously? Or vice versa?
A: I think every path is so individual and every family must decide what is best for them. There are pros and cons to each path and hardships regardless. I will never fault someone for choosing to use a surrogate to grow their family or alternatively, a couple choosing to adopt versus using a surrogate. The truth is, there are far more couples hoping to adopt than there are infants available for adoption, so if a family has the option to look at 3rd party reproduction, I think that’s wonderful.
Q: How has your experience in adoption shaped your view on surrogacy? Did it make you want to be a gestational carrier even more? Less? Were there any internal struggles?
A: My path to surrogacy was completely independent from my professional work as an adoption caseworker. I view it as it’s own journey and I wasn’t led to the path because of my work in the adoption field. However, that said, I think when I started to strongly consider it, it was an easy yes for me to move forward because I have always had a heart for those who struggle with infertility. I hurt deeply for those that struggle to build their families, so it was easy for me to move forward because I felt it was a way I could help.
Q: Has your experience as a gestational carrier affected how you view adoption?
A: I will say that one surprising element for me that I didn’t really think about ahead of time is the empathy I would gain for my clients on both ends of the spectrum. I work with a lot of adoptive couples, most of whom have gone through infertility treatments. Though I would say my experience has nowhere near the depth of what most have been through, I do feel I scratched the surface of beginning to understand what couples facing infertility go through just going through the IVF process.
We had a failed transfer and it was devastating. Our second transfer luckily took. But to think that people do this over and over and face the shots, meds, blood work, etc repeatedly and may not still have a successful transfer just deepens my feelings of empathy for them. I also feel that I am in a better position to counsel birth parents who have placed a baby for adoption. Again my experience is nowhere near theirs, because I went into it knowing that the baby was someone else’s and that she was going home with her family at the end, but I still faced some feelings of grief afterward that surprised me and helped me know how to better counsel with the birth parents who I have the privilege of knowing in my work.
Q: You are an active member of the LDS Church. LDS Church discourages surrogate motherhood. Knowing this, you still decided to pursue surrogacy because you know you were called by God to do it. Could you talk about how you knew that you were destined to be a surrogate (or at least try)?
A: While it is true that my church discourages traditional surrogacy, they do not have a position on gestational carriers. That said, I did have a lot of people within my circle questioning how I worked through my decision to carry in relation to my activity in my church. The answer is that I am a deeply spiritual person and I had several significant deeply spiritual experiences that told me that this was something I needed to do. I didn’t counsel with my ecclesiastical leaders at any point, because I felt that my decision was guided by God and I did not feel I needed their input. It has not affected my standing in my religion and none of my leaders have ever expressed anything but support for me. For someone in my religion who would be considering the same thing, I would encourage them to make the decision a matter of prayer and follow what they feel is best.
Kim’s Advice to Surrogates
“My advice is to choose a path that feels best for you. I choose to go independent and I am so happy I made that decision. I know it is not right for everyone, but it allowed me to make individual choices that I thought were best. I wanted to carry for a couple who is local to me and to develop a relationship with them. Being so close, we have developed a dear friendship in the process and we continue to see each other frequently. I know this is not right for everyone, but it was for me. I would say to be as kind and gentle in the process on both ends. There are a lot of feelings, emotions, and hardships on both sides and it works best if each party is aware of each other and what they need in the process. My IPs and I established open communication from the beginning and that pattern served us well in navigating the bumps in the road that inevitably come.”