Roberta Speyer: This is Roberta Speyer reporting for OBGYN.net at the ASRM meeting 2005 in Montreal. I am talking to Sharon LaMothe from Surrogacy Consultants of Florida. There is a pretty interesting concept in the field of IVF for couples seeking fertility options, which is surrogacy, which I think is often times misunderstood. Sharon, you have been in this field, you have been a surrogate yourself, could you explain it to the woman in positions that might be reading this article on OBGYN.net?
Sharon LaMothe: Well, basically, just to get a little background about myself, I have been a surrogate twice, a gestational carrier, meaning no biological relation to the child. I have given birth to two sets of twins, one in the year 2000 and one just recently in 2005. Basically, what we do here at Surrogacy Consultants of Florida is that we match the intended couple, or infertile couple if you will, with a woman that will be willing to carry a baby for them. If a physician does send us their patient, we will match them. The surrogate will then travel to the clinic of the intended parents’ choice, and they will then do the IVF procedure there. Then the surrogate will travel back to her home, most likely in Florida, where they have great surrogacy statutes in place, and she will give birth there.
That means that in Florida the law is that both intended parents will be put on the birth certificate at birth. There is no adoption, there is no waiting period, and the surrogate cannot change her mind.
Roberta Speyer: So, is that one of the reasons you placed your business in Florida, because of the law in Florida? Often times we have seen movies or heard horror stories where the surrogate wants to keep the baby. This has not been your experience in your years as a surrogate?
Sharon LaMothe: No it has not. I have been working in the surrogacy world since 1998. After the birth in 2000 I started working with an attorney who did adoption and surrogacy, and finding that in law offices all they really do is match. They do not do relationship management. I think that is a huge part of making the surrogate feel comfortable, making sure she gets the right psychological evaluation, and that she gets support all the way through the pregnancy. You do have to realize that, at least the surrogates that come to us, they have children of their own, and their husbands do not want to raise somebody else’s child. They can have their own children. So there is no reason for them to want to keep someone else’s child.
Roberta Speyer: So, the motivation is, I assume there is a financial component for the surrogate. The fact that they feel a great deal of satisfaction, a humanitarian ability to give ultimately something that they themselves have, children, and they know how much that means. But how does that work from a financial standpoint? If someone is thinking about a surrogacy, tell us a little bit about what they should be thinking about as an overall cost. I know it varies depending on locations of people, where they have to fly to, how many retrieval cycles, or whatever is going on. But give us a little overview, and then if you would, just close with how people can contact you, tell us your URL and your phone number.
Sharon LaMothe: Financially, we quote people between $50,000 and $70,000 from soup to nuts basically. That includes our surrogates agreeing to three IVF procedures because often it does not work the first time. It really depends; we do not go by statistics because the intended parents use the clinic of their choice. Therefore whatever the statistics are in that clinic, and the quality of eggs, and all that, that determines how quickly someone will get pregnant, or if the IVF procedures will work. So we have three IVF procedures, we have the legal aspect of it, we have the psychological aspect of it, you have the pharmaceutical aspect of it, you have of course the agency fees, and then you have the surrogate fees. And just a quick run down, if we have time, with the surrogate fees; a first time surrogate with health insurance that will take care of the prenatal care and labor and delivery, is usually between $18,000 and $20,000. She only gets $500 at the start of her injectable medications of Lupron and $500 at transfer. After that, if she does not get pregnant, she does not get any more of that money. She may get reimbursed for travel expenses or that kind of thing, but she does not get any more of the money.
The money has been put in escrow, and once she is pregnant, and it’s by ultrasound, a heartbeat, it has been broken down into ten-month increments. It is not a payment, because you cannot pay someone to use their body, but it is to take care of them while they are pregnant with someone else’s baby. So it is called, in Florida, reasonable living expenses, and that, you know, takes care of their food, their clothing, everything for them.
To get a hold of us, I have a business partner, Sita Rayburn, so you can contact either of us. My number is 727-458-8333, and Sita Rayburn who is also been a two-time gestational carrier, is 941-812-6325, and you can contact us through our website, www.surrogacy-consultants-fl.com.
Roberta Speyer: Thank you very much Sharon. It is a very interesting facet of reproductive medicine, and I am very glad you shared that with us.
Sharon LaMothe: Well, thank you very much.