People have been building their families via gestational surrogacy for decades, however over the last five years or so, surrogacy has grown as an increasingly viable option for singles and couples to have a baby.
In fact, more celebrities are turning to gestational surrogates to grow their families: Fredrik Eklund (of Million Dollar Listing New York fame) and his husband Derek Kaplan welcomed twins last year; Neil Patrick Harris and his husband David Burtka also have twins born via surrogacy; and, of course, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West welcomed their third child in January via gestational surrogate.
So with so many celebrities turning to surrogacy to build their families, why is it that Hollywood can't seem to get surrogacy right?
Here are three myths about surrogacy perpetuated by television and movies:
Hollywood Myth #1: You will be matched with a surrogate who has never been pregnant
In the movie Baby Mama, Tina Fey's character is a single woman who faces infertility challenges but desires to be mother, so she turns to an agency to hire a surrogate to carry a baby for her. She's matched with Amy Poehler, a young woman who has never before given birth. Hilarity – based on fiction – ensues.
Reality: One requirement to be a surrogate is that the woman has had a successful term pregnancy. This is a requirement set forth by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), an organization that ensures ethical standards are upheld through the practice and advancement of reproductive medicines. Agencies, such as Circle, adhere to these guidelines when accepting surrogates into a surrogacy program.
The reason for this is that if a surrogate has never been pregnant or carried a child to term before, she may have limited knowledge of her own fertility. This information is important to intended parents who are ready to emotionally and financially invest in a surrogacy journey. Agencies thoroughly screen their surrogate applicants, and an IVF doctor reviews her medical records and past pregnancies.
Hollywood Myth #2: Your surrogate will lie about her age, and use her own eggs!
The return of the hit TV show "Roseanne" brings the Conner family back, with oldest daughter Becky announcing that she's going to be a surrogate for a couple who can't conceive. Only hitch: she's lied to make herself 10 years younger (33 vs. 43) and will be using her own eggs.
Reality: Only in Traditional Surrogacy are the surrogate's eggs used, resulting in the surrogate having a genetic connection to the baby. Most agencies today, including Circle, practice only Gestational Surrogacy, meaning: the surrogate has no genetic relationship to the child(ren).
Hollywood Myth #3: Surrogates have dark pasts filled with criminal activity, psychological challenges and multiple personalities.
Watch almost any Lifetime movie about surrogacy and you'll see any one of these surrogacy scenarios come to life in two hours of drama-filled suspense.
Reality: Agencies thoroughly screen each and every woman who applies to be a surrogate. Women fill out questionnaires, speak with an experienced outreach team member, provide medical records, and undergo background checks and psychological screenings. This is done to ensure a healthy, happy and successful journey for everyone involved.
A surrogacy journey is an emotional experience for everyone involved: intended parents and their families, and the surrogate and her family and support system. It truly is one of life's most rewarding and monumental journeys.
If you're thinking about embarking on a surrogacy journey to grow your family, turn to movies and TV for the entertainment, but rely on the professionals to guide and support you on your journey.