Interview by} John Russo
Q: What made you become interested in the world of surrogacy?
A: One of my dear friends had a baby through surrogacy in the 1990’s. I went through that process with him, saw how amazing it was and when asked to get involved in the process on a large scale, jumped at the opportunity. I am a licensed psychologist, had a private practice back then and thought I’d just be dabbling in helping people in the surrogacy process. It quickly became much more than that and has become my life’s work.
Q: Our nation got introduced to surrogacy thru a famous court case in 1987, The Baby M case. Do you think that ruling opened the flood gates for the surrogacy?
A: How has that case shaped the perception of how people view surrogacy today? I don’t know if that case opened the floodgates but it did color people’s perspectives for a while in the early years. There were many things that went wrong with the Baby M case all of which are no longer a risk in the way that we do surrogacy now. In the early years I did have to do a lot of educating as to how current surrogacy was different from the Baby M case, but that is no longer the case and most folks do not think of that as the origin of surrogacy.
Q: There is still that little shred doubt that the legal system may fail perspective parents in the process. In the current legal system is the surrogacy process fool proof?
A: Meaning can cases like Baby M happen again? The legal situation is different in different states and as long as one is having their baby in a state that has safe and clear law or precedent the process is legally safe. There are two aspects to the law that are important: how the state views surrogacy (do they honor the surrogacy contract) and how the state establishes the parental rights. When everything is front loaded such that the surrogate lives in a state where surrogacy is safe and legal and where the parental rights are clear to establish, the process is legally safe. If parents undertake surrogacy without planning ahead legally (or without an agency that safeguards the legal status) that is when they can run into trouble, but this is 100% avoidable with planning, due diligence and using experts.
Q: How did Growing Generations become a reality? Give us a brief perspective on the evolutionary process of the company.
A: In 1990s there was very limited if any access for gay men to have a baby with the help of a surrogate. Growing Generations was started to fill that need and began by helping a set of gay men become dads. It snowballed from there and so many gay men wanted to have babies that the company grew and grew. A few years in heterosexual couples came to us for help and of course we helped anyone that needed us. Now we serve a diverse population of intended parents from all over the world and every family type.
Q: Growing generations creates miracles by giving people who may not be able to conceive on their own the joy of having a child. So in a sense you & your company are miracle workers. How do you live up to the pressures of such an incredible title?
A: I take my job and my role very seriously but I also know that the real miraculous part of this process is totally out of my hands. At Growing Generations, we do our very best to manage all the moving parts with respect and the highest regard for ethics and safety, we care deeply about our intended parents, surrogates, egg donors, and each other but we know that the magic is something that no one can control. We can only set the stage, put the pieces together, manage them and then watch it unfold. It is truly a privilege to be part of it and it never gets old.
Q: What are the most important things people should consider before going down the road of surrogacy?
A: Having a baby through third party assisted reproduction is a collaboration, a team effort. So all of the things that make collaborations work will be necessary with this process. Trust, communication, flexibility, patience, teamwork, etc. This can be a very hard process for people who have trouble letting go of control. They will still end up with a baby, they just might not enjoy the process.
Q: When religion comes into play and people say this process isn’t natural. How do you respond to their judgements and concerns?
A: To be honest, I don’t respond. One of the biggest problems with religion in my opinion is that people forget that religion is personal, that faith mean one believes in something WITHOUT knowing if it’s THE ONE AND ONLY TRUTH. Therefore, I tend not to argue with anyone who forgets this and thinks their truth is THE truth. Having said that, one of the hallmarks of Growing Generations, from the start, is that we don’t judge people, we allow them to have their own values and beliefs. We know that what we are doing—helping people become parents, is beautiful, wonderful, ethical, and amazing. We recognize that not everyone agrees and we are okay with that.
Q: How does your company differ from other companies who are also creating families thru surrogacy?
A: We are not the only excellent Surrogacy Agency but we are definitely among the top. We want intended parents to have a baby but we also want them to have a treasured experience along the way. We work very hard to provide seamless, stellar service. We care that the process is safe, that risks are minimized and that everyone is respected and valued.
Q: Is there one recurring irrational fear people have when entering into this process? How do you and your team help navigate and reassure people to ease their minds.
A: People are sometimes afraid the surrogate will want to keep the baby—this is the furthest thing from the truth. Surrogates do not see themselves as giving someone a baby, they see themselves as giving the family THEIR baby. She is part of a team and the gift she is giving is the gift or parenthood, family. She is not making a baby (the intended parents are doing that), she is making a family, a mom, a dad, two of each, grandparents, etc. The parents make the baby through IVF, tag her in at the embryo transfer, she carries and grows the baby and then tags them back in at the delivery. The look of joy on the parents faces when they meet their baby for the first time is the gold at the end of the rainbow for a surrogate.
- To learn more about Kim’s work go to growinggenerations.com