8:24pmSarah — how do you feel about the procedure today

8:24pmEmma — okay. I would have to say that I feel much more weirded out than I have felt in the past about this whole thing

8:25pmSarah — why?

8:27pmEmma — I think it’s because I view it, since its someone else’s egg, like she was impregnated by aliens or something out of a really freaky sci-fi movie/book. Just the thought of it sort of creeps me out. It’s like there’s something completely foreign in my mother’s body.

8:27pm Sarah —  i feel the same way i was just concerned that she was nervous, im afraid that she wants to back out now. too late now….

8:31pmEmma  — same. I have no idea what I would be feeling in her position. Scared maybe? Well, being me, and not our brave mom, I would be focusing on the negative aspects like the complications and things that could go wrong.

8:31pmSarah — exactly

8:34pmSarah  — I’m still shocked that she went through with this

8:35pmEmma  — Same. I totally thought she wouldn’t have gone through with it. Like I thought that after thinking it through, she would have backed out.

8:40pmEmma  — I think our lives are going to be pretty different if mom does become pregnant and the transfer takes.

8:41pmSarah  — yes yes it will

8:42pmEmma  — How so, do you think?

8:43pmSarah —  its going to be realy awkward to see mom pregnant, especailly when its not ours.

8:57pmEmma It definitely will be.


I’m not sure what Michelle was really expecting when it came to the intended parents. Who did she picture? A young couple struggling to conceive a child for years and finally taking another route? Perhaps an older couple who had beat back a challenge such as cancer but were left infertile.

They could have white, black, asian, latino or a mix thereof. I know that didn’t matter to Michelle. Perhaps they would be local. Or someone from another state where surrogacy laws are more restrictive.

I’m guessing she didn’t forsee a couple like M and B. And once she did, things only got better.  Here’s Michelle:

It interesting now to recall my first reaction to finding out that the couple wasnt a man and wife, but a wife and wife:

It was a possibility I had been made aware of from the Melissa Brissman Agency early in the process. So I had known may happen and my head was understanding of the possibility. But in my heart I hoped it would not happen.

Why? It’s not a simple explanation. It was nothing against a same sex couple — not in the least. It was more about what I could do. Think of it this way: A same sex couple doesn’t enter into their relationship with the expectaion or even the hope of creating their own children. Of course they can adapt and have the same opportunities of a family unit, but it is not a pure biological connection.

But a man and wife…at least many of them…become joined with the expectation of creating a family together, their own flesh and blood extended.

I imagined myself working with a man and wife who had experienced years of frustration and sadness, trying so hard to conceive. And being in the position of preserving their chance for children of their own.

I suppose I was being naive thinking that this was the most usual call for surrogates, especially in this day and age. 

And then, very soon after I had been accepted into this program I got a call from the Brissman agency informing me that they found a couple for me. I was stunned, because this had happened so soon.  I guess I thought that this process would take months not days.

The agency was so insistant that this couple was most deserving because they had worked with them not once but twice before and knew them very well.

And then of course they told me about B and M. I had to go forward and read the two page letter of introduction…..

This couple has a beautiful family, were hard working professionals who deserved this last chance to be parents once again.

Right then and there I thought: Who was I to be placing my own judgement on the why’s and the what-for’s upon their decision. And more importantly, who was I to judge who should and shouldn’t have the chance to have another child. 

So the agency asked: Did I want to go forward with a phone interview with B and M?

Yes, of course…..if only to see how we would hit it off. And to keep an open mind.

We did and slowly moved forward. We exchanged emails, letters and phone calls. Openly talking through everything that we would go through together as a team. We just took this day by day, very slowly, crossing every t and dotting every i. Just to be sure.

Well now… I couldn’t imagine doing this for anyone else but B and M. And not just because of the two lovely people they are.

No, it has everything to do with feeling pressure. After learning — and experiencing so much — I didn’t realize the kind of expectations that would be placed on me. Imagine if I was carrying the only two embryos that could be produced by this desperate couple that I described above. What if, God forbids, something goes wrong? I would be absolutely devastated and feel so responsible.

Now it’s not to mean I don’t feel responsibility for carrying B and M’s baby(s). But as I’ve learned, they’ve already experienced the joy of having children themselves. If the worst happens and something happens with this pregnancy, of course we would all be sad. But I wouldn’t feel as if I’ve ruined their hopes and dreams for children.


There are two more people I need to introduce before we go much farther. That’s the IPs — Intended Parents. They’re the reason we’ve arrived at this place and time: early September, just days away from Michelle begin her contractual duties of hosting a new life.

I’d like to tell you their names, where they live, what they do, all about their families, and much more. But I can’t — at least not yet. Because in the contract we’ve signed, there’s a specific clause the prohibits us from divulging this information. We can tell our families, friends, etc. But not to the press, and I’m taking that to include a public blog. It’s a standard term in these contracts, and we’ll abide by it if needed.

But I hope that won’t have to be the case. As soon as Michelle is confirmed as pregnant — in a few weeks if all goes well —  I’m going to ask their permission to use their identities, their names…all of it. Because their story adds a whole other dimension to this still evolving tale.

It was pretty early in the process that we were tenatively matched with this couple. Things progressed quickly after Michelle made first contact with the surrogacy attorney. They had her fill out reams of paperwork, and then interviewed her over the phone. Obviously she passed through the first few rounds of the application process because it was within the first three weeks that the agency called Michelle back. They told her they had found a couple who might be right for her.

Their names were B— and M——-. I can’t list them exactly of course. But to clue you in on why this journey took such a sudden turn to the left, I’ll give them some code names. Let’s now refer to them as:

Beyonce. and Madonna. 

That’s right, two women. A gay couple. The L word.

But most importantly: Two Mommies-to-be.

In the words of the now departed Paul Harvey:

And you know…..the rest of the story….

Which is yet another reason why this is the story that just had to be told!


Let’s get this out of the way right now.

It’s not about the money. That’s not why Michelle is doing this.

Yes, she’s getting paid. And pretty darn well. I’m not going to reveal exactly how much because, by the terms of the contract we signed, I’m not allowed to disclose that. But the average gestational carrier receives between $18,000 and $25,000 plus expenses. They get another 5 grand if they carry twins, and even more if — god forbid — it’s triplets. And if this not their first ‘project’, they earn a substantial amount more.

But we know we’re going to get the questions and the comments. In fact, we already have.

Many in Michelle’s family think it’s for the money. That doesn’t surprise me much because frankly it’s how those folks think. It’s not a unanimous viewpoint certainly, but if they conducted a family vote I think that’s how it would go down.

But my family? Well that’s a bit of a surprise. My own sister-in-law, who’s been somewhat estranged from us, called for the first time in years after learning about it from my brother. She grilled Michelle about the situation and then pronounced herself satisfied to learn that I’m not forcing her to do it for the money. (What???)

And you’ve already read what my kids are worried about. They think their classmates will think that somehow we’re victims of the bad economy, that we’re poor, we’re going to lose our house or that we need the cash to survive.

The truth is: We don’t need it. The money is going to go straight into an account for that special trip to Italy, or that grand landscaping project that we keep meaning to do. Not a rainy day fund. But a little something to make a sunny day just a little brighter.

I make pretty good coin as a VP of Marketing for a good company in south Jersey. Michelle will be making more than me pretty soon if her Fabric Goddess home decor business continues its meteroic trajectory.

If you want some more proof, you can click here on our listing at Our house. We’ve listed our house, trying to trade homes with a family in Europe next summer or fall. So you can see we’re not exactly living in some falling down shack.

And yet it’s an issue. I have to admit I’ve been slightly weirded out by the money aspect of it. She’s getting paid to use her body. Some people might ask: How is that different than a prostitute? Well, for one there ain’t a lot of pleasure happening here. Between all the injections and drugs today, the invasive procedures to come and that little thing called labor and giving birth….well, this is a selfless act of sacrifice. Made a little easier by monthly checks.

But the fruit of her labor makes all the difference. Growing and nurturing a life. Providing the ultimate gift to a couple who desperately want to add to their family.

If I didn’t fully understand the real reasons why Michelle is led to do this, I would have discouraged her from going through with it. No, that’s not right. I would have vetoed it. But her intentions are as honorable as can be. True and innocent. She’s been blessed with a young body and soul that can host a miracle.

Maybe I would feel better if we just donated the money. Give to a charity. To a random homeless person.

But something tells me that nine months from now, as Michelle is screaming her head off while producing a living, breathing bundle of joy, she’ll be happy knowing her trip to Tuscany is a little closer.

It comes down to this: Why is Michelle doing it? Because she can.

signingbonus 020

Like most every boy growing up, I had grand dreams of becoming a profesisonal athlete. I lived for reading the sports pages, watching any and all sporting events on TV. (Rembember boys and girls, this was the pre internet and cable age when the Game of the Week really was the ONLY game shown). And to me, the ultimate form of recognition that a professional athlete had reached the pinnacle of his sport was: the signing bonus.

Think of it: The team owner thought so much of him to simply hand him a huge wad of cash before he had so much as donned the uniform.  It’s blind faith! For the newly enriched athlete, it’s a powerful statement of belief in him, in his abilities.

This was back in the day when “Broadway” Joe Namath received a signing bonus from the New York Jets. For just showing up at a news conferrence with that dazzling grin he received the whoppping sum of $100,000! (Ha. Today, Alex Rodrieiguz of the Yankees gets paid that amount about a half-inning of work.) 

My dream of standing in front of the media with that big check quickly dissolved. It didn’t take long to firmly established I couldn’t catch a baseball, was too skinny/slow to be of any help on a football field, and getting technical fouls was not a highly sought after basketball skill.

Fast forward to a few months ago, when we were talking over the phone to a lawyer about the contract covering Michelle’s project. Frankly this was really a waste of time; we had little to discuss or want to change in the paperworks. And after doing a lot of research on it, these agreements now are very standard and established. This teleconference with this Philadelphia Main Line lawyer was a mere formality.

But one of the few changes he proposed: to bring forward a portion of the payments to ensure the IPs would actually follow through.  Mind you this was never going to be an issue in our minds. B and M were firmly committed to this project. We had no doubts. But, it was something this attorney had inserted into the documents. (Maybe he just wanted to make some meaningless change in the contract to justify his participation).

So he suggested that one payment is paid out as soon as the contract was signed.

“It’s just a gesture of good faith by the intended parents,” said the lawyer.

“A signing bonus!” I practically shouted into the phone. “It’s a signing bonus!”

So what if it didn’t come from my efforts and exploits on the basketball court. Hell, so what if I wasn’t even addressed to me.

I’m finally in a time and place to be part of a signing bonus!

(FYI, the amount that was actuall paid is equal to the amount that A-Rod made spitting a sunflower seed)

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