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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
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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 agency Family 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.

Interview Highlights

Eloise Drane on bodily autonomy in surrogacy:

You also have to remember: Although this person is carrying a child for you, she's still a human being. She's still somebody else's mother, she potentially is somebody's wife. She's somebody's daughter. She is another human being that absolutely is doing this for you, but you still have to respect her as a human being and as an individual herself with her own autonomy for her body.

Brian McGunagle on fatherhood as a gay man and his family’s exploration of surrogacy:

Ever since I was a child, I always knew I wanted to be a father. And also [in the process of] coming to terms with being gay, ne of those things you have to really struggle with is the ability to become a father, and what does that look like? And so, you know, we did have a hard conversation about: What is it? You know, what did we want our family to look like? And, you know, decided that surrogacy felt like the approach that we wanted to take so that we could have a child that would be biologically related to ourselves, and if we're blessed enough to have a second, to each other.

Heather Jacobson on inclusive dialogue within the surrogacy industry:

I think it's really important that wherever the industry goes, that we have input from stakeholders. One of the problems that often concerns me is that the voices of surrogates and the experiences of surrogates are often not part of those dialogues. And I think that's really important. It's one of the reasons why I really wanted to talk with surrogates themselves. And I think it's really, really important not to go in with assumptions about why people might become a surrogate, but to really listen to surrogates and to hear what they have to say. And then to use their experiences to help shape, you know, what we might move forward with in terms of regulation, or dealing with, you know, ethical dilemmas.

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