Carrying another couple's baby
By Veronica Whitney, Vail Daily, CO, May 7,
Depending on how fast a couple can get pregnant, using
a so-called "gestational carrier" can be as expensive
as adoption, said Kim Willoughby, an attorney from Denver
who specializes in alternative reproductive law.
"People are getting very comfortable
with the idea of alternative reproductive methods,"
said Willoughby, who helped Laura Lee Verlinde of
Gypsum become a gestational carrier, which means she
carried the biological baby of another couple.
"This isn't inexpensive," Willoughby said.
"It's a matter of how long the fertilization
Laura Lee Verlinde, with her husband, Ray, and her two
children, Grant, 9, and Adam, 12, in front of their
house in Gypsum, acted as a “gestational carrier”
for a couple from New York. Preston Utley/Vail Daily
Melissa Brisman, an attorney from New Jersey, who also
helped the couple whose baby Verlinde carried, said using
a carrier allows couples to have their own child.
"It's an emotional journey that takes a year and a
half, but for many people this is a much better alternative
than adoption," said Brisman, who had her three children
with a gestational carrier. "They have better control
over the prenatal care and there's less likelihood that
the birth mother will keep the baby. The downside? It can
A carrier can cost between $30,000 and $60,000 - including
legal and medical fees, and the surrogate mother's costs
- while adoption costs around $30,000.
Willoughby said she deals with such pregnancies each month,
and they're all different.
"There's a lot of things that go into a contract between
a couple and a gestational carrier. There's no standard
contract," she said. "There's a lot of negotiations
in terms of how much the surrogate will get paid if a pregnancy
is achieved or if it isn't."
A carrier is usually paid between $10,000 to $20,000 to
bring a pregnancy to term, Willoughby said. Contracts can
also include money for clothing, food, daycare, cleaning
service, and travel costs.
"Sometimes people include in the contract what the
surrogate mother can eat, drink, when she can travel or
have sex," Willoughby said.
Carriers can be found through an agency and online, Willoughby
said. "An agency is expensive but they do some weeding
out," she said.
Lawyers also helps prepare birth certificates. "In
the second trimester we get a court order that says the
intended parents are the legal parents of the child. Once
the baby is born, the intended parents' names are put on
the birth certificate," Willoughby said.
In all, having a baby using a carrier is very successful,
Brisman said. "Of my clients, between 50 and 70 percent
have a child," she said.
Willoughby said she doesn't see cases in which the carrier
doesn't give up the baby. Nor has she met a surrogate mother
who gives birth only for the money.
"These are women who enjoy being pregnant," she
said. "Sometimes they want more money for day care
and cleaning, and compensation if they're out of work. They're
not asking for extravagant things.
"They want to make sure they're not losing out because
they're pregnant," she added. "These women are
putting their lives in the line."