One of the things Aaron and I quickly learned is that the State in which you live, in our case, Washington (Although we've been known to also exist in the state of bliss, confusion, chaos and other exciting places)matters a lot. As of right now there are no Federal laws regarding surrogacy. Thus some states are more "surro-friendly" than others. Some states have no laws at all, which can be a real challenge. In our case Washington has laws, but not exactly favorable ones for us.
In Washington one can use an "uncompensated" gestational surrogate. What that means is that usually a friend or relative agrees to carry the child for the couple, however, no money can be exchanged for actually carrying the child. You can pay for every other expense possible: medical care, housekeeping, lost wages, maternity clothes, groceries, childcare if needed for other children after birth, gas money, travel expenses, life insurance, legal fees, psychological counseling, even gym membership, etc. etc. etc. (to quote The King and I) Any expense as long as it's justifiable in a pregnancy. There just can't be a fee for simply agreeing to carry a child. Unfortunately, Aaron has no sisters, and my sister doesn't qualify because a person must have carried a child before she can be a surrogate, and we don't have anyone else to carry the child. Thus we have to look to a compensated surrogacy arrangement. Basically in that arrangement all of the above expenses are covered, plus a fee to carry the child, which is pretty expensive. There's also an agency fee involved for having an agency find your surrogate and then help both you and the surrogate through the process (all of the screenings, handling the money in escrow, etc. etc. etc.). In the end however, I think all the fees will be worth it. I shall look my darling newborn in the face, wipe a tear from the corner of my eye, and say in a gentle, soft voice, "Pumpkin, I love you so much, however I hope you didn't have your heart set on Harvard, or any other out of state school for that matter. The University of Washington or Washington State are both great institutions and all of your potential out of state tuition money was spent on getting you to this point...of course, there's always athletic scholarships, however with our gene pool...well, the U is a great option." ;> Seriously though, Aaron and I know that it will be worth it, and we will make it work.
So, since we're looking at a compensated surrogacy arrangement, we unfortunately have to look to a neighboring state. Oregon is what is known as a "surro-friendly" state. That means that it's laws about compensated surrogacy are well established and there are reputable agencies and attorneys we can work with. I'm really happy that there is an option, but 3+ hours away seems so far. I'd always dreamed of being pregnant. Sure, I wasn't looking forward to the morning sickness, or not being able to see my shoes, or things like that, but I wanted the experience. I wanted to share that experience with my child, to be able to tell them stories about what it was like when I was pregnant with them. Unfortunately, while in many surrogacy arrangements IPs do attend all of the doctor's/midwife's visits and whatnot, with our surrogate being at a minimum 3 hours away that's going to prevent us from being as involved in the pregnancy as we both want. I wanted to watch our surrogate's belly grow. I wanted to bring over healthy snack and some not so healthy but oh so good Ben and Jerry's. I wanted to see all the ultrasounds live and hear what the doctor has to say, but I guess that's not the be. Sometimes this story just feels like one loss after another. But again I hang my hat on resilience.