Knowing the work I do involving surrogacy, a good friend recently sent me a viral TikTok video of a surrogate mother named Christian Fountain. In the video, Christian, describes her post-partum experience with the intended parents (IPs) after carrying and delivering twins for them. In the post, Christian writes, “becomes a surrogate and delivers healthy twins…asks to see/hold babies after they’re born…gets treated like a stranger.” Fountain goes on to state that she continues to pump breast milk for the twin babies even though she hasn’t heard from the IPs in almost a month.
To be honest, her post doesn’t surprise me. We’ve heard this story many times before. IPs promise contact after the birth of their baby or babies and either by blatant deception or fickleness they go back on this promise, much to the chagrin of the surrogate mother. It’s no wonder a new study by yours truly found that surrogate mothers were more likely to experience post-partum depression after a surrogate pregnancy than with their own biological pregnancy.
Some of the surrogate mothers we interviewed talked about their own postpartum experience and involvement with the IPs. Here are a few of the things they told us:
- “Recovery was much harder due to how the relationship with how the IPs discarded and abused me.”
- “The IPs were very nice to me, but they were very demanding.”
- “I am in contact with the IP and children from my first two surrogacies, but I have no contact with the IP and children from my last surrogacy, and that makes me sad.”
- “After my delivery, it was interesting how I felt my hormones coursing through my body, but not having a baby. There was a physiological response to not having the baby. But I knew intellectually that she wasn’t mine. I pumped for them. I had a strong need to feed and take care of her.”
Again, the TikTok story doesn’t surprise me. What flabbergasted me were the commodifying and downright mean comments the story yielded from strangers around the globe. Let me give you a sample:
“I think someone misunderstood the assignment.”
“They really don’t owe you nothing after the babies are born. The whole thing is a contract agreement.”
“They owe you nothing you your service was done and you were paid.”
“Your job is done.”
I shared this with a colleague and she aptly stated, “A waitress gets more appreciation for delivering a coffee.”
Another comment from the original video really tugged at my heart strings: “That is exactly why I am fighting with the thoughts of using a surrogate. I don’t want to see or hear from her after my kids are born.”
Wow. At the very least, don’t children have a right to know their story? We take babies away from the only home they’ve known without any regard for them or the woman that carried them. As another commenter stated, “People are forgetting the trauma newborns feel being separated from the birthing person. It’s studied and documented.”
The whole post makes me sad for society. Aren’t we worth more than our body parts? Shouldn’t we protect our bodies and our children from commodification?
- Kallie Fell, MS, BSN, RN, started her professional career as a scientist in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center utilizing a Master of Science degree in Animal Sciences with an emphasis on Reproductive Physiology and Molecular Biology from Purdue University. While assisting in the investigation of endometriosis and pre-term birth, Kallie simultaneously pursued a degree in nursing with hopes of working with women as a perinatal nurse. After meeting Jennifer at a conference, Kallie became interested in the work of the Center for Bioethics and Culture and started volunteering with the organization. It is obvious that Kallie is passionate about women’s health. She continues to work, as she has for the past 6 years, as a perinatal nurse and has worked with the CBC since 2018, first as a volunteer writer, then as our staff Research Associate, and now as the Executive Director. In 2021, Kallie co-directed the CBC’s newest documentary, Trans Mission: What’s the Rush to Reassign Gender? Kallie also hosts the popular podcast Venus Rising and is the Program Director for the Paul Ramsey Institute.