By Robin Hinson
It’s not every day that I get to wake up, hop on a plane to visit a wonderful woman and her family to hear about why she wants to be a surrogate for a same-sex couple. It is, however, safe to say that these kinds of days are not only some of my best days as a case manager, but also some of the best days of my life.
This particularly spectacular day starts in a hotel bed. This will be in-home visit number 41, and this hotel bed definitely rates in the top 5. I happily get up, grab a quick cup of coffee, hop in my Kia Soul rental, and head north on I-91 toward Sam’s* house in northwestern Massachusetts.
With a high of 83 degrees in early October, the trees on either side of the highway are still bright shades of green. But with every mile I drive north, the leaves gradually start to change to yellows, oranges, then deep reds, until I’m surrounded by the most amazing fall foliage you can possibly imagine.
About an hour later, I pull up to an impressive, not four, but six-column colonial home, adorned with white trim and two pristine, plump pumpkins out front. The lawn and landscaping is perfectly tended to. “Well isn’t this fancy?” I think to myself, wondering what kind of people must live here. As I pull into the long driveway, I notice a rainbow LGBTQ flag flying in the wind on the side of the house. It confirmed my good feeling that this was going to be an awesome in-home visit.
Sam and her husband Kyle come outside from their back entrance and warmly say hello, with their two sweet dogs trailing behind. They are dressed in a relaxed, unpretentious style with big smiles on their faces. With two large patio tables and a grill out back, I could almost see the lively get-togethers they must throw on a regular basis. I immediately feel at ease and am excited to get a glimpse into the life of a woman who wants to make someone’s dreams of having a family come true.
Sam and Kyle’s home, built in 1847(!), is absolutely lovely. The kitchen has stunning wood cabinets with tasteful ceramic in-lays. One family room faces the enormous backyard with tall windows and dark wooden beams overhead. The dining room table in the next room is practically set and ready for an elegant Thanksgiving dinner. Both antique and modern furniture are scattered about the second family room and living room, which are carefully painted with modern, tasteful colors that are probably called “Medici green” and “ivory keys.” The most appealing charm though is, hands-down, the hardwood floors. I could almost imagine hearing the giggles and laughs as their kids slide across the long hallways in their socks. Except it is all peace and quiet because their children are at school, save for one of Kyle’s 3 sons, who is in Guatemala for a six-month volunteer program.
The three of us sit down and I thoroughly go over Sam’s gestational surrogate application, as I would for any in-home visit. We talk about essentially everything that goes into a surrogacy journey, including her motivations for wanting to be a surrogate, how many embryos she is comfortable transferring, her thoughts about deferring to the intended parents on issues such as termination for Down Syndrome and selective reduction in the event of triplets, her ideal relationship with the intended parents, the family’s health insurance coverage, her travel preferences, just to name a few. You can read a surrogate candidate’s application over and over again, review her reference call transcripts, and even have several phone conversations with the candidate (which Samara from our matching team had already done on several occasions with Sam), but only once you see her home, and talk face-to-face can you truly get a sense of who this person is and why she wants to change someone’s life.
Sam would be thrilled to change the lives for a gay couple and, in fact, she prefers being matched to a same-sex couple. She explains, “Guys of course don’t have a uterus, and it is already so unfair that they have to go through so much to become parents. That is my driving force for why I want to be a surrogate!” Sam’s enthusiasm is, quite frankly, effusive and downright infectious. She goes on to say that between Kyle’s four kids and her two kids from her previous marriage, they both decided they don’t want another baby. She says it did take them some time to come to their decision, but they took the time they needed to know for sure that they were ready to take on this journey.
Surrogacy is nothing new to Sam, though. As a labor and delivery nurse, she has seen many women, both patients and friends, go through surrogacy journeys. Apparently, surrogacy is pretty ubiquitous in their small town. “Even my son’s math teacher is a surrogate right now!” Sam says.
Getting a spouse’s input, and seeing their whole-hearted approval, is one of the most important things I do at an in-home visit, as this is usually the first time we get to meet a potential surrogate’s partner. It is as clear as this fall day that Kyle is 100% supportive. He lovingly listens as Sam explains her motivations to me. He says, “For a lot of people, this is the only way for them to have a biological child. It’s totally natural for Sam to want to do this.”
As I’m sitting in their living room, I can see and feel the love that these two people have for each other. Their genuine intentions are clear – This couple feels blessed with their family and truly wants to help a gay couple who is without children.
The ultimate question I need to ask myself at each in-home visit is:
Would I trust this person to carry my own child?
Based on my time with Sam, my answer is absolutely yes!
Once we were through, Sam and Kyle walked me outside. We took a few photos. We chit-chatted about their upcoming vacation to Seattle before saying our goodbyes. Then, I headed south toward Northampton to enjoy a little bit of the fall day before my flight back home.
I grabbed lunch, caught up on some emails, checked out Smith College’s Botanical Gardens, and walked around the five-story Thornes Marketplace, which has fun, quirky shops like “Forget Me Not Florist.” As I walked around town, I was completely moved to see pro LGBTQ+ signs everywhere. It is too rare during my in-home trips, which span the country, to see such open, loving, and supportive environments like this for all people and all families. Rainbow street crossings, rainbow flags, Hate-Free Zone posters, Human Rights Campaign bumper stickers on cars…
It was a little magical and an amazing way to spend the rest of my afternoon. Massachusetts really has it on lock on two accounts, with its gorgeous fall colors and a community filled with loving people, people like Sam and Kyle, who also believe that family comes first.
*Names have been changed to protect privacy.