Why Do People Become Surrogate Mothers?

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No one gets into the surrogate parenting business for the money. For one thing, the agencies won’t allow it. According to a surrogacy explainer in The Atlantic today, the Center for Surrogate Parenting (“one of the oldest, most respected surrogacy agencies in the world”) won’t accept surrogate mothers who are poor because they are at a greater risk for health problems and coercion, and are less likely to have medical insurance. Leslie Morgan Steiner, author of The Baby Chase, says the average surrogate mother is married, Christian, middle class, with some college education, working part-time and with biological children of her own. They are often the daughters of surrogates themselves, prefer to surrogate for gay parents (to avoid the “understandable jealousy/inferiority issues that can plague infertile intended mothers”), and, if their agencies are to be believed, truly in it to help other people. Sherrie Smith, of CSP, told the magazine:

“It would be easier to get a job at McDonald’s. The money doesn't begin to compensate them for what they do. A surrogate pregnancy means working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without a break, for nine months. Pregnancy is risky; pregnancy taxes your body tremendously. Our surrogates come to us because they love children, they want to help people who cannot have them, and they like the feeling of creating a family for other people.”

But if one were to get into it for the money, hypothetically speaking, one would probably be interested to know that surrogates do not pay taxes on the payments from intended parents, “which are technically for pain and suffering incurred, not for carrying a baby,” and run $20,000 to $30,000 a pregnancy, not counting good karma.