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Session 230: Surrogacy & Egg Donation

The Therapy for Black Girls Podcast is a weekly conversation with Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, a licensed Psychologist in Atlanta, Georgia, about all things mental health, personal development, and all the small decisions we can make to become the best possible versions of ourselves.

Adding a baby to a family can happen many different ways. A few ways we’ve been hearing about more recently is through the use of egg donors and surrogates. Joining us today to share more about the process of becoming an egg donor or a surrogate is Eloise Drane. Eloise and I chatted about the process of becoming an egg donor or a surrogate, some of the challenges of finding egg donors and surrogates, and some of the common misconceptions related to surrogacy and egg donation.

Resources

Visit our Amazon Store for all the books mentioned on the podcast!

https://www.fertilityforcoloredgirls.org

https://cadefoundation.org

Where to Find Eloise

https://familyinceptions.com

Instagram: @eloisedrane @familyinceptions

Twitter: @familyinception

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Our Production Team

Executive Producers: Dennison Bradford & Maya Cole

Producer: Cindy Okereke

Assistant Producer: Ellice Ellis

Read Full Transcript

Session 230: Surrogacy & Egg Donation

Dr. Joy: Hey, y’all! Thanks so much for joining me for Session 230 of the Therapy for Black Girls podcast. We’ll get right into the episode after a word from our sponsors.

[SPONSORS’ MESSAGES]

Dr. Joy: Adding a baby to a family can happen many different ways. A few ways we’ve been hearing about more recently is through the use of egg donors and surrogates. Joining us today to share more about the process of becoming an egg donor or a surrogate is Eloise Drane.

After completing her MBA, Eloise founded Family Inceptions, a full-service surrogacy and egg donation agency here in Atlanta. She hosts Fertility Café, an educational podcast on modern family building, and is the creator of a digital course on independent surrogacy–Surrogacy Roadmap. Eloise’s passion and unparalleled empathy in this area blossomed from her own experience as an egg donor six times and a gestational surrogate three times. Eloise and I chatted about the process of becoming an egg donor or a surrogate, some of the challenges of finding egg donors and surrogates, and some of the common misconceptions related to surrogacy and egg donation. If there’s something that resonates with you while enjoying our conversation, please share it with us on social media using the hashtag #TBGinSession. Here’s our conversation.

Dr. Joy: Thank you so much for joining us today, Eloise.

Eloise: Thank you for having me here, I really appreciate it.

Dr. Joy: I’ve really been so interested in this topic and it definitely seems like something more and more people are talking about, and so we wanted to have this conversation with our community. Could you just start by telling us a little bit about what you do and what does the egg donation and surrogacy agency do?

Eloise: I am owner, founder of Family Inceptions, and we are a full-service surrogacy and egg donation agency where we match intended parents... Families that want to work with a surrogate or egg donor, we match them with egg donors and surrogates that come to us and obviously want to assist these families.

Dr. Joy: Okay, and how did you get interested in this work?

Eloise: Oh gosh! The catalyst for me quite honestly was I was a kidney donor first to a cousin of mine and when I went to visit him in California, I saw an ad for egg donation. I was like, oh, I could probably do that. At the time, I already had my three kids and I for sure thought that I was done. I was like, oh, yeah, that’s sounds like something I can do. But I was obviously fresh out of kidney surgery so I wasn’t doing anything at any point. And then probably about a year later, it came back up in my head. This was in 1999, so as you can imagine the information, Dr. Google wasn’t Dr. Google then.

I reached out to the agency thinking that they were going to tell me that I couldn’t donate because I wasn’t in California. What they told me was I would be a great candidate but that black women didn’t have fertility issues and so it would take a long time to find me a match if any. I was like, oh, okay. Because remember now, there wasn’t information out there that you can really search to see how factual the information they provided–which I can tell you right now was completely false but at the time I didn’t know that.

They eventually called me back about nine, 10 months later. I went on to do my first egg donation journey, it was actually a horrible experience. Well, I wouldn’t say horrible but it was definitely not what I was thinking it was going to be. I was by myself, I actually ended up hyper-stimulating where my body had over-produced eggs, which obviously was good for the family so that they had enough but my body was just like, “Whoa! What’s going on? You have all these eggs that you’re producing at the same time.”

Quite honestly, after my retrieval, an hour later, the nurse dropped me off back at the hotel, gave me a check and was like “Thanks, call a taxi to the airport,” and I never heard from them again. And I completely felt used and I was just like, oh, this is not what I was expecting. I had obviously the year before had given my cousin a kidney. And it was family, yes, but it was still an experience and a feeling that I had never experienced before and I thought that, doing the donation, I was going to feel that again and I didn’t. If anything, I felt frustrated and felt just used. After that, I was like okay, I’m never going to do that again.

Then probably about two or three years later is when again something popped into my head to become a donor once again. And I was just like, okay, black women don’t really need donors. I’m probably never going to get selected but I’ll go ahead and put my information. And there was this website at the time that you can put classified ads and I did and within two, three hours, I had so many emails from women looking for black donors and saying they couldn’t find black donors. And then it was a completely different experience from then on out.

Dr. Joy: Wow! It really sounds like you have a personal connection to really wanting to do this work and doing it well.

Eloise: Oh yes. In total, I’ve been a six-time egg donor and I’ve been a three-time surrogate personally, and then of course I run my own agency. And it was one of the reasons why I wanted to start my agency, from one, my experience as being a donor. Two, from them telling me that black women didn’t have fertility issues and then coming across all of these black women that were having fertility issues, and realizing at that point... Again, this is now 2002, 2003, the disparity back then, so you can only imagine what it is now.

Dr. Joy: Right. Can you say more about what it means to donate your eggs and what are like the requirements for someone to donate their eggs?

Eloise: Sure. In order to become an egg donor, someone needs to be between 21 and 29, you have to be healthy, can’t be on any kind of medications. Obviously, you can’t be a smoker or a drug user, you have to be healthy. And, yes, there is compensation right now, a first donor can probably receive about $8,000 and you can donate a maximum of six times in a lifetime. And donation definitely takes time.

Although you’re not going to be on medication for an extended period of time–you’re probably only on meds for about 12 days–but the process in getting to become a donor is a process. You have to go through medical screening, psychological evaluation, genetic screening, all of the things just to make sure that you are capable of actually producing the eggs and then going through the actual retrieval. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know how many eggs you’re going to produce, especially if you’re a first-time donor. But what I can tell you, there are a lot of black women that are looking for black egg donors and there is actually a shortage right now of black donors, as well as a shortage of black sperm donors.

Dr. Joy: Okay, so this may be something that people may want to consider. What kinds of things besides like the health considerations? Are there some psychological or emotional things that you would want to pay attention to if you’re considering this process?

Eloise: Absolutely. You have to remember what you’re giving up is DNA so you’re giving up tissue. You’re not necessarily giving up “a child” but at the same time you are giving up this DNA makeup that would become a child, hopefully one day. And you have to have the emotional bandwidth to be able to realize, down the road one day, this DNA that you’re giving up is going to become a human being and someday want to know their origin–want to know their story, want to know their makeup–and they have right to know that.

And even though you may... For instance, my first donation was anonymous but I don’t know one day if one of those children are ever going to come and seek me and, for me, I am totally fine with it. I’ve always been quite open with the fact that I’ve been a donor, that I’ve been a surrogate. I have children of my own and my children know that I’ve been a donor because for me it was never something that I was embarrassed about or ashamed about. If anything, it was something that I was proud to do because I know that I was helping somebody else to be able to fulfil their dream of having children. Maybe they couldn’t have children because they have cancer or they have sickle cell or they have some kind of other disease that they can’t produce eggs. But they want to be able to have a child, they want to be able to have a pregnancy, they want to go through that experience, and this is an option for them.

Dr. Joy: How would they get started? Would they find an agency like yours?

Eloise: They can find an agency like mine or, even if they’re working with a fertility clinic, many clinics have fertility egg banks within the fertility clinic. But I can tell you, when it comes unfortunately to black donors, it’s hard. It’s difficult to find them because they’re really hard to come by. A lot of people just don’t donate for a number of factors, and obviously all legit factors, but a lot of people don’t donate. There’s a lack of education of not really understanding the process and how it works and what’s required. There’s the history in this country of how black women have been treated more of breeders than they were of being human beings. And so all of those things come into play and it really is about educating people.

And then one of the other things too is everybody worries about their fertility. How is it going to affect their fertility? Can I say that there’s guarantee that there’s never going to be a problem? Nope, can’t say that. But what I can say is I personally donated a total of six times, twice for the same family that wanted to do a sibling journey. I’ve donated six times. After my last donation, I went on to have my son who is now 15 and then I went on to be a surrogate three times and delivered a total of four babies for other people. My fertility was fine after my donations but every situation is different and you need to just be educated and informed.

Even though I’m saying all this information right now, I would still tell everybody go do your due diligence. Go research yourself, go look at all of the information before you jump into it. And don't just jump into it because you heard, oh, you can make $8,000. Yes you can, but it's a process and you're putting your body through injecting hormones and having doctor's appointments and all kinds of stuff that you have to do, so it is also a commitment that you're going to have to do. It's not a walk in the park where you decide and you hear this podcast and say, okay, that's something I can do. No, no, no. This is a process and it's something you have to think through because it's a lifetime decision. It's not a one and out just because I give my eggs and I don't think about it and I don't worry about it, but those eggs could one day become a human being.

Dr. Joy: Can you say a little bit more about like why the requirements are so tight for egg donation?

Eloise: Nobody wants eggs to be donated and then there be issues with the embryos. And again, as I mentioned, right now we're talking about DNA but long term this could potentially become a human being. And what is the genetic makeup of what this human being is going to be? We don't want to be providing hereditary things that could pass down from this child that would come about. So one of the things that they test, especially in black people, is sickle cell. And if the donor is a carrier and the intended father is a carrier, it's probably going to be where this child could potentially be a carrier also, or be where he or she is gonna have sickle cell. It's things like that that they try to mitigate upfront to minimize any potential risk once this child is born.

The other thing about the psychological aspect is to make sure that you truly are doing it for the right reasons. Yes, you can do it for the monetary gain but you also have to really have a heart and a passion to want to do it because, again, there's going to be a time commitment. There's going to be things that you're going to have to do, like I said, taking injections. They're going to need to make sure that you are really committed and that you're going to follow through and do what you say you're going to do. They also want to make sure that your overall health is good as well. They don't want to work with somebody where they start giving you medication and then there's a problem and now it's caused more problems for you. So there's a number of different things that they need to consider before they say, yes, you're a good candidate.

Dr. Joy: I want to switch gears a little bit to talk about the surrogacy process and it sounds like you have both personal connections to this and professional connections. Can you say a little bit about the process of becoming a surrogate? Because in some ways it may be similar but very different, of course, then egg donation.

Eloise: It is, yes. Surrogacy, the process is definitely similar in that it's something you have to think about. It is something that you need to process through. And where egg donation it's kind of if you do it and you don't ever want anybody to know, they probably may never know. But when it comes to surrogacy, that's a different story. And then it's a different story because here you are carrying a pregnancy for nine months and then to give this child back to his or her parents. In surrogacy, yes, obviously there is again monetary gain, a substantial amount of monetary gain, but we're talking about nine months of pregnancy including labor and delivery.

ASRM, which is the governing body of our industry (it stands for Assisted Society for Reproductive Medicine), they put out guidelines that for somebody to become a surrogate, they need to be between 21 and 45, they have to have a healthy body mass index of I think it’s 31 or 32, they have to have a support system in place, they can't be on any kind of psychiatric medications, can't be bipolar or taking anti-anxiety medication or depression medications and so on. And they had to have a full-term healthy pregnancy with the child that they are currently raising or have raised and they can't have any more than three C-sections. So when it comes to surrogacy, there's a lot more stipulations there. And I can tell you, probably for every 300 applications that we receive on a monthly basis for surrogates, maybe one or two actually qualify enough to proceed forward.

Dr. Joy: More from my conversation with Eloise after the break.

[BREAK]

Dr. Joy: Eloise, I'm a little shocked, though maybe not surprised, about the rule outs related to medications, related to mental illness kinds of concerns. Can you say more about why that is?

Eloise: Sure. One, especially with pregnancy, they don't know the long-term effects of the medications. And so if somebody is taking Prozac for instance, and you're taking it because you need a mood stabilizer to help you through whatever you're going through at that time, well, surrogacy is stressful enough as it is. And these medications for these mood stabilizers, again, they don't know the long-term effects where a child is being developed in utero and how that's going to work.

Dr. Joy: Is there any kind of like psychological evaluation that's a part of this process?

Eloise: Oh, yes. Both on the donor side and the surrogate side, they do have to complete a psychological evaluation. And then in addition to that, they either would take an MMPI or a PAI test, which is a personality test that they utilize, in addition to that psychological evaluation with a psychologist. And then the psychologist will give them a “pass or fail,” so this person should move forward or this person should not.

Dr. Joy: Got it, okay. Are there additional requirements or can you talk a little bit more about what is required, maybe let's say once you have passed these evaluations? Like what does that process look like when you continue as a surrogate?

Eloise: Once you've passed like the preliminary to see, okay, potentially you do qualify, you would need to complete an online application. And then you have to sign a release where all of your prenatal and delivery records for each of your pregnancies are requested, as well as your medical records. It's not where you're just completing an application and telling people, yeah, this is how everything is. No, everything has to be proved. And then once that's done, a medical professional will review all your records, make sure that everything is good to go. You have to complete a background check, you and anybody 18 or over in your home has to have also a background check to make sure that there's no concerns within your background.

And then you have to, again, complete your psychological evaluation. They also do a home visit–right now everything is pretty much virtual with those home visits–and the home visits are just to make sure you don't live in deplorable conditions. And then once you have completed all that, they also require you then to also have an updated pap as well as an updated physical, just to make sure your body is really healthy enough to proceed forward. Once all of that is ready to go, then that's when you could get matched with a family. As a surrogate, you get to choose who you work with. You get to dictate who it is that you want to work with. Where are they located? What kind of relationship you want to have with them, how detailed a relationship you want to have with them. Even, you get to dictate whether they can be in the delivery room or not.

I know there's a lot of naysayers when it comes to surrogacy, that we are exploiting women, and I think that is the furthest from the truth. I feel with surrogacy, number one, you're choosing to make this decision. Of your own accord, not because anybody is forcing you to do it. I think the second thing is I feel it's an empowerment because when I was a surrogate, what I showed my children was how to be selfless and that I was willing to sacrifice for the next person. And I’m a believer, my faith is everything to me, and I definitely feel that this was a catalyst and an opening, quite honestly, from God Himself. And just how things have happened in my life, more and more along the way, it just proved to me like this is what I was purposed here for.

Dr. Joy: You’ve already talked a little bit about the emotional weight of this kind of a process. Can you say more about the idea of carrying a baby for all that time and then giving them to their parents? It feels like it would be quite an emotional toll, and so can you say a little bit about like how you support yourself during that time and what kind of toll it can take on you?

Eloise: This is why when you first apply to become a surrogate, we do ask about who your support is because you need to have your own personal support. And then when you work with an agency, they should also be support, the parents should also be support. And then you also have access to mental health professionals throughout the entire process. For me–and I can personally speak on when I carried the three different surrogacy pregnancies–my first journey, I carried twins, my second one was a boy and the third one was a girl.

And quite honestly, I didn't really get attached to the babies at all. What I got more attached to, if you will, was the relationship that I had with the parents. I wanted parents that were local, I wanted parents that were going to be involved, that wanted to attend the doctor's appointments, that wanted to be present with the pregnancy. And I had an opportunity to learn who they were and what they were about, and their stories and why they had to go down this road. And for me, especially at the end after I delivered, I missed the relationship more with the parents than I really did with the pregnancy.

Because with the pregnancy, I knew going into it, this wasn't going to be my child. Did I love and care for that child? Of course. I still love and care for those children but they're not my children. And I have my own children who are now grown and all of that, but I did not have the same attachment with those surrogacy babies than I did with my own. And you also have to remember with surrogacy there's two types of surrogacies. There's traditional surrogacy and then there's gestational surrogacy. Traditional surrogacy is where the surrogate is also using her eggs and carrying the pregnancy. Gestational surrogacy is where you have no genetic link to that child whatsoever. That embryo is created outside of the body and then transferred into your uterus.

My first couple was a white couple that I carried for, and so I'm a black woman but I carried this white couple’s baby. And when these babies came out, they looked like their parents, they didn't look like me. My second couple happened to be from the Caribbean and then my third couple was another white couple. But each time, again, these babies didn't look like me, they had no genetic ties to me whatsoever, no DNA makeup of me, I literally was the carrier. And I was grateful that I was able to help this family because what I look at as what I've done is I've changed a family's legacy and that's what I helped create. I helped create another family's legacy and it's a huge responsibility but it's an amazing journey to undertake.

Dr. Joy: Can you say a little bit about how maybe personally and maybe in the clients that you've worked with, how surrogacy impacts the carrier's family. What were those conversations with like your kids and other family members around being a surrogate for another family?

Eloise: As I mentioned, when I was even an egg donor, I've been very upfront with my children. I have five kids. Four that I gave birth to and one was gifted to me, she's actually my stepdaughter but she's mine, so five. And when I did my first journey, my oldest son was 13, 14, so they could definitely understand what it was that I was doing. However, my youngest one who is now 15, at the time when I did my first journey, he was I think like three so he really didn't understand that whole process. All he saw was I want to snuggle with mummy and I can't because there's this big belly in the way and I want to move it out of the way and so on. My other kids, they were like “as long as ain’t nobody’s babies coming into this house, I’m good.”

But once, like with my youngest son, when I did my second journey, at that point, he was five or six and he did understand more. And how I broke it down to him was this family... and obviously they met my children, they came over to my house, so my family knew them. And when my youngest son met the intended parents, we would tell them: “So and so's belly is broken but they want to have a baby to love and to cherish like mummy and daddy does you. So mommy is going to help them because my belly is not broken. We're going to help them so that they can have a baby. But this baby is not going to be with us and this baby is not ours and this baby is not going to look like us and this baby is not going to be your sibling. This is just us helping this other family because they want to also have a baby.”

And he understood that concept so well that we could be in the grocery store and this one time this lady stopped us or we were like in the same aisle and she was like, oh, when are you...? You know, what are you having? When are you due? And I just said, oh, I'm having a boy. I didn't really go much into detail. No, but he did! He was like, “Oh, that's so and so's baby. Her belly is broken and mommy's belly is not broken. So as soon as the baby comes out, though, it's going back to so and so's house because that's not our baby and we don't want the baby in our house. They want the baby in their house and they're preparing.” And I'm like, okay, yeah.

Dr. Joy: Clearly, he understood the message.

Eloise: Yes, yes, yes, exactly. And there's a lot of information out there and books and all kinds of stuff now that really help to educate even your own children about this process and how it works. I think society is where babies are made by a mom and dad in the bedroom privacy and it's just like, yeah, but that's not the case anymore. Unfortunately. There is a lot more families going through fertility issues. They may not share it because a lot of people feel that it's a private thing and they don't want to share it. A lot of people don't know what they're going through and, rightfully so, it is their business to deal with.

But unfortunately, fertility issues are becoming a very prevalent thing in this country. And not just in this country; worldwide. And then especially when it comes to minorities and people of color and so on and so forth, unfortunately, there is a huge health disparity. Especially when it comes to fertility and fertility care because insurance companies most often don't cover anything. I am in Atlanta and we, unfortunately, have one of the worst insurance company providers in this country. Especially when it comes to fertility care, Georgia is like rated number 49 or something, it's just ridiculous.

Dr. Joy: You're saying that health insurance doesn't really pay for any of this process?

Eloise: None of it.

Dr. Joy: Wow! I mean, because as I was listening to you, I'm thinking about like, this sounds very costly. And so for a family who wants to embark upon the surrogacy process, how do they financially prepare for this? Are there resources or other things that can help with this process?

Eloise: Unfortunately, there are places where you can go get grants and scholarships but it's very minimal. Number one, you're applying along with hundreds of other people that are trying to apply to get it. And even when you do, it might give you maybe $10,000, or even $20,000, but it really isn't that significant. And when you're talking about surrogacy, easily, it costs about $120,000 to $200,000 to do surrogacy now in the US. Yeah, so a lot of people would have to take out fertility loans. I've known people that have taken money out of their 401(k), they've taken out home equity lines. And there are people that think outside the box, they do fundraisers.

I have a fertility podcast and I had a guest on that mentioned about instead of having a baby shower, have a fertility shower. Your family and friends, share with them what you're going through so that instead of them giving you money for a birthday gift or holiday or whatever, no, no, put that in my fertility fund because we're trying to have a baby and we can't. And that's the biggest thing. A lot of people don't know that so many people in their circle are going through fertility issues, it's just something we don't share.

Another organization that people may want to check out is Fertility for Colored Girls. This is an organization that was founded by a black woman who's a minister and she just started chapters all over the US for black women that are going through fertility issues, and just coming together to help each other out. They also do scholarships through that program. There's another one called Cade Foundation and they do scholarships as well. So there's things out there; you just have to be willing to really sit down and do the research.

Dr. Joy: Got it. More from my conversation with Eloise after the break.

[BREAK]

Dr. Joy: Let's talk a little bit about some of the challenges that may come up when you are looking for a surrogate. You've already talked about if you're like a black family or a family of color, it may be really difficult to find a surrogate who matches you culturally.

Eloise: Yeah, definitely matches you culturally. But remember too, with gestational surrogacy, even if the woman was white, your child is still going to come out looking like you because you're the one giving the genetic material. She's just caring for you. But you want someone that you're comfortable with, you want someone that you can have a rapport with. The worst thing is having somebody carrying your child and you can't even have a decent conversation with her. That is just not okay.

You want someone that you know is going to take care of herself, that's going to take care of the pregnancy, you want to know that she has support in place. Because worst thing is that she ends up having to go on bed rest and somebody else has to step in and take care of her children, so you want someone that definitely has support. And you want somebody that is doing it for the right reasons. Yes, it is definitely okay to want to do it for monetary gain. However, that should not be your first motivation because when it is where you're laid up in the hospital because you're on bed rest and... Not a total stranger, but somebody else is helping with your kids because you can't take care of them, it all has to be worth it for you.

Dr. Joy: Can you say a little bit more about the hesitancy that some couples have when it comes to using a surrogate? I definitely feel like this is something that we're hearing more, especially I think from celebrities. Gabrielle Union, of course, has recently been very open about her process and I think we are hearing people talk more about it. But can you say more about some of the hesitancy people might have with this process?

Oh, of course. I mean, just to wrap your head around the fact that somebody else is going to grow and nurture your child and you have no say as to what this person eats, what this person does, where this person goes. Who is she around? What does she do? How does she take care of herself? You get to choose who you work with, of course, but you still have to put all your faith and trust in another human being. And then of course the cost, it is a significant amount of money. Before, it used to be where people used to think that surrogacy was only for the rich and the wealthy or celebrities but that definitely is not the case.

I can tell you, I work with a lot of just run of the mill, I go to work nine-to-five, I've just saved up, I desperately want a child, I can't have a child because I've had cancer or because I have a heart condition or I'm a same sex couple, whatever it is. But you want to be able to have a child, you don't want to do adoption. And I know a lot of people say, well, there are so many babies out there, why not adopt? Adoption is not that simple, first of all. Second of all, when you're talking about adoption, it can get actually quite pricey to do adoption and you have to wait around until you are picked for adoption, especially if you want a newborn.

Then people will say there's plenty of children already here that are in the foster care system. What people don't know about the foster care system, foster care isn't the set up for adoption. Foster care was set up so that they can reunite those families together, not to have it set up where somebody can come in and adopt that child. It's not as simple as just saying “there are so many children out there, just adopt.”

So there's a number of different things that one has to wrap their head around when it comes to letting go of surrogacy. Even the mourning process of the fact that you can't carry your own child and you have to trust somebody else. Whether you know them, whether it's a sibling or a friend or a cousin or a total stranger, it's still where you have to mourn the fact that you can't carry your child and you have to depend on someone else to be able to bring you your child for you.

Dr. Joy: You've already kind of talked about some of this, but are there other misconceptions about this process that you think are important for people to know about?

Eloise: Definitely the exploitation, for sure. I think that's probably the biggest issue, the naysayers of exploitation. And, again, unfortunately the cost is a humongous factor. And just the trust factor on both sides. You know, the surrogates need to know that they can trust the parents and the parents need to know that they can trust the surrogate.

Dr. Joy: Got it. You mentioned earlier that the hardest part for you in terms of being a surrogate was like the bond you made with the families, and then after you deliver the baby and give them the baby, then that relationship kind of goes away. Is there a process by which sometimes surrogates continue to kind of be a part of the family or still are involved in the child's life?

Eloise: Oh God, yeah. Even though after delivery it goes away in the sense that you were in a relationship, probably talking to them once a week, you will probably see them with the doctor's appointments and have that rapport. But when they have that baby, well, they don't have time for all that either and then you move on with your life. But, yes, you absolutely can continue on with relationships with the parents.

I definitely have relationships with a couple of my parents that I carried for. Not my first couple, but my second and third couple, we still have a relationship to this day. And I have plenty of clients and plenty of surrogates that they definitely still have a relationship, they've attended birthday parties and baby showers and just various get togethers or whatever. The relationship is what you make of it. And the thing about surrogacy, there's no right or wrong way. It's what are you comfortable with?

Dr. Joy: You’ve already given us a couple of resources. Are there other resources that you think would be helpful for anybody maybe considering either becoming an egg donor or a surrogate or wanting to start the surrogacy process?

Eloise: I would definitely have them go to our website, which is FamilyInceptions.com. One of the things that we do is have an educational-based website. There's so much information out there for somebody–on egg donation, what it is to become an egg donor, the things that they need to consider, same thing for surrogacy. As well as for the intended parents and just the things that they need to be aware of, the questions they need to ask. Sometimes you don't know what you don't know.

The other thing that we created as well is called Surrogacy Roadmap. Because there are a lot of families that want to work with a surrogate but can't necessarily afford to work with an agency, and are trying different ways to help cut cost. And so we developed Surrogacy Roadmap, which is an online course, to walk people through how to do it on their own. Kind of like a DIY program so that you are still doing it properly, you're doing things that will make sure that obviously at the end, you have a healthy baby, that it's all legal. You don't have any worries about somebody trying to keep your child at the end or somebody trying to not give you back the child.

And just, real quickly, there are more cases of intended parents not coming for their babies than there are surrogates not giving the babies up. So that's another misconception out there. Everybody asks like, what if she doesn't want to give us the baby? That woman can have her own babies, she does not need to have yours. So you just have to remember there's more cases of that. Luckily, thank God, we've been in business for 13 years, we have never once had anybody say that they didn't want to come get their babies or that they didn't want to give up the baby.

Dr. Joy: I'm glad you brought that up. At what point... Is it in the very beginning where like legal documents and things are signed talking about, okay, after you have this baby like you're gonna give it over? And then what is the recourse for intended parents who don't come and get their baby?

Eloise: Oh, yeah. Before you take a pill, legal contracts have to be in place. And the parents have to pay for all of it, although the surrogate does have separate legal counsel that represents her. She gets to choose who her counsel is but the parents have to pay for all of that. And within the contract–and these are detailed contracts, they're not five or 10 pages long. I've seen contracts that are 100 pages long. There's a lot of information that has to be agreed upon upfront. And, God forbid, somebody never came and got their child, it's in the contract who the guardian is going to be. And if it was that, let's say, intended parents died during the process, that guardian would step up. And if it was that the intended parents just decided that they didn't want to have the child, then that child would actually go up for adoption.

Dr. Joy: Got it. Okay. Anything else that you feel like is important for people to know about any of this?

Eloise: The thing is, you definitely just have to take your time, do your research. And when in doubt, seek out information. There is a lot of information out there for surrogacy, for egg donation, for embryo donation, sperm donation, for dealing with infertility. There is a lot of information out there, you just have to be willing to go and seek it out. And you have to be willing to not give up. If it is truly the desire of your heart that this is definitely something that you want to do, I feel like where there is a will there's a way. And you just have to keep at it and eventually it will come to fruition.

Dr. Joy: Thank you so much, Eloise. I really appreciate all this information you shared with us today.

Eloise: Absolutely, it was my pleasure. Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

Dr. Joy: I'm so glad Eloise was able to share her expertise with us today. To learn more about her and her work or to check out the resources she shared, visit the show notes at TherapyFor BlackGirls.com/230. And don't forget to text two of your girls and tell them to check out the episode as well. If you're looking for a therapist in your area, be sure to check out our therapist directory at TherapyForBlackGirls.com/directory.

And if you want to continue digging into this topic or just be in community with other sisters, come on over and join us in the Sister Circle. It's our cozy corner of the internet designed just for black women. You can join us at Community.TherapyForBlackGirls.com. Thank y’all so much for joining me again this week. I look forward to continuing this conversation with you all real soon. Take good care.