UK Daily Mail: ‘I started calling my womb a commodity’: Surrogate mother on the pitfalls – and joys – of giving birth for other couples
By Annabel Fenwick Elliott
June 18, 2014
A mother-of-one has spoken out about her experiences—good and bad—of being a surrogate for gay and infertile couples.
Jessica Szalacinski, a 36-year-old language teacher based in Nashville, Tennessee, has been a surrogate twice; birthing a baby girl in 2009 and a boy in 2011, both for gay male couples – which were ‘joyous’ experiences.
She was forced to walk away from her third surrogacy arrangement, however, after the ‘rich, well-known’ couple, led her to feel like ‘a commodity’, Ms Szalacinski tells Jane Ridley at The New York Post.
‘I definitely come from breeding stock, and pregnancy is a relatively easy process for me,’ she says. ‘I entered into the whole thing with my eyes open. Nobody forced me to do anything.’
Ms Szalacinski, who has a 12-year-old son with her police officer husband, Eric, was first introduced to the concept when she saw a news report on the difficulties faced by gay couples wishing to adopt or foster children. Instead of ‘picketing’ for the cause, she decided to volunteer her womb for the purpose of surrogacy.
Initially, her son was enraged because he assumed his mother would be ‘having sex with two men’, and her husband thought she was ‘crazy’, but once everything was explained and carefully considered, all parties were on board.
Ms Szalacinski found David and Alex, a gay couple based in New York, through Surromomsonline.com, and instantly ‘clicked’ with them, bonding not only over the baby she would later birth for them – a result of David’s sperm and Alex’s sister’s egg – but also their shared interests.
‘[I] preferred a gay couple for selfish reasons,’ she reveals. ‘A heterosexual couple is coming to a surrogate already crestfallen because they’ve tried and failed.
‘Going forward, a lot of their sense will be wrapped up with those kind of emotions and possibly some envy and jealousy. But working with a gay couple is joyous.’
Ms Szalacinski was paid $20,000 for the process, and underwent a ‘full psychological’ evaluation and a home visit’, before giving birth to a healthy girl in Nashville, in 2009.
In the delivery room, the baby was whisked away as quickly as possible, before any ‘biological urge’ could present itself.
‘I did hear a cry,’ she says. ‘But it was like hearing the neighbor’s kid crying. I think it would have been harder for me if I hadn’t bonded with the dads.’
Ms Szalacinski agreed to be a surrogate for the second time, for Art and Matt, close friends of Alex and David, and gave birth to their son in 2011; another healthy and happy experience.
In more recent times, she entered into a third arrangement, this time with a ‘well known’ and ‘mega rich’ couple from the entertainment industry, who she can’t name for legal reasons – and who were due to pay her a ‘significantly higher’ fee than she had been offered previously.
Unlike with the first two couples, she found it impossible to ‘bond’ with these people, who treated the process like ‘a business transaction’; so much so that Ms Szalacinski started referring to herself as a ‘commodity.’
Not only were the couple initially insistent on having a boy – testing the embryos five days after fertilization for gender – but when they eventually settled on two female embryos, they asked Ms Szalacinski to ‘reduce’, or terminate, one of them if they both ‘took,’ because they didn’t want to raise twins.
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