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 HomeExchange.com. 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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