WHEN YOU'RE CARRYING
someone else's baby, you do a lot of explaining. For two Pennsylvania couples, gestational surrogacy made for steady - and sometimes peculiar - conversations.
"I think everyone is pretty positive when they talk to your face," says Carla, a 27-year-old gestational carrier in Lebanon, Pennsylvania (population 25,000). "Behind your back, probably, some negative things come out."
Carla's parents and friends were supportive, if not a bit awed. "The main reaction was, how can you do this? How can you give away your baby?" Carla says. She would answer, "It's not my baby."
Carla delivered a baby boy in 1997 for an Australian couple. She and her husband, Corey, are both medical technicians. They live in a comfortable, two-story home in a newer section of town. They have two young daughters. In some ways, explaining to the children was easier. The oldest, a four-year-old, was told from the start that the baby belonged to another couple, already had a name, and would be going far away when he was born.
"It's very natural for children, they don't know any different. My daughter thinks this is what moms do. They help other moms whose bellies are broken," Carla says.
Adults took a little more convincing. "We explained it a million times," Corey says. Corey's parents were initially skeptical about the arrangement, but became more sympathetic when they met the Australians, who lived with Corey and Carla in the weeks before the birth.
About an hour away in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (population 55,000), Justy and Mike have often wondered what neighbors think when they see Justy pregnant, then see her later without a newborn. Lancaster County - best know for its Amish community - is a place with notably traditional values.
"I don't know what people at the grocery store think," Justy says.
Justy has been a gestational surrogate twice. Her husband Mike, an irrepressible joker, gets plenty of mileage out of the situation.
Mike holds baby Sumner during a visit to Catherine and David's house.
"We'll be out with acquaintances we haven't seen for awhile, and they make a comment about Justy being pregnant. They congratulate me, and I immediately say, "Well, it's not mine." And then quickly I say, "It's not hers, either," Mike says with a smirk.
Mike relishes the line. He calls it "a good ice-breaker."
The couple has two kids, a ninth- and a seventh-grader. Both children consented to the plan before Justy contracted to carry her first baby. Her surrogacy even became a subject in her son's science class.
"In fact, when I had the twins it was over the weekend," Justy recalled with a grin. "So when my son went to school on Monday morning, and the teacher asked how everyone's weekend went, he said, 'My mom had twins.' And she said, 'Oh what did she name them?' He said, 'I don't know - they weren't hers.'"
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