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Pregnant For A Cause: The Surrogacy Experience

A graphic of three people on a red background. The person in the front is holding a baby. Text on the right side reads "Pregnant For A Cause: The Surrogacy Experience."
Maris Ava Cruz
Surrogacy has become increasingly popular for families unable to conceive.

Embodied looks into the structural components of surrogacy in the U.S. and the relationships forged in the process from the perspective of an intended parent and a surrogate.

Carrying and birthing your own baby is one way to start a family. But that’s not possible for every couple, and this is where the work of surrogates comes in. Hundreds of babies are born by surrogacy each year in the U.S. As the surrogacy industry has grown, so have efforts to demystify the process.

Host Anita Rao talks with three-time surrogate Eloise Drane, who is also the founder of the egg donation and surrogacy agencyFamily Inceptions. Family Inceptions is one of the only Black-owned surrogacy agencies in the country. And Brian McGunagle shares his experience with Rao about how he and his husband went through the surrogacy process to have their now-toddler son.

Also joining the conversation is Heather Jacobson, a professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Arlington. She is the author of “Labor of Love: Gestational Surrogacy and the Work of Making Babies” and talks about the national and international surrogacy market.

Update: Brian and his husband are expecting their second son in March.

 (Just a Few) Surrogacy FAQs

Is the baby that a surrogate carries for its intended parents related to the surrogate?

It depends, but most often, no! Traditional surrogacy uses the surrogate's own egg and donor sperm (that is medically inseminated). But gestational surrogacy is most common today, where a fertilized egg is implanted into the surrogate’s uterus via in vitro fertilization.

Can anyone become a surrogate?

The process for becoming a surrogate is actually a stringent one. Surrogates must have had a successful pregnancy of their own, and they undergo medical and psychological screenings. Agencies also look for surrogates to have financial stability and solid support systems.

Are there federal surrogacy laws governing the process and arrangements?

No. Surrogacy law is left up to the states - which is why surrogacy is illegal or restricted in some states and made streamlined in others.

Please note: This episode originally aired July 9, 2021.

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Kaia Findlay is the lead producer of Embodied, WUNC's weekly podcast and radio show about sex, relationships and health. Kaia first joined the WUNC team in 2020 as a producer for The State of Things.
Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist, host, creator, and executive editor of "Embodied," a weekly radio show and podcast about sex, relationships & health.