Many couples who struggle with infertility say they would go to the ends of the earth to have a child. Some use surrogate mothers in the United States, but the high cost and legal complications keep that option out of reach for many families. So some Americans are going global —to countries like India– to make it happen.
In her new book The Baby Chase: How Surrogacy is Transforming the American Family, Leslie Morgan Steiner chronicles the journey of Rhonda Wile, an Arizona nurse who became a mother through international surrogacy. Her three children were born to surrogate mothers in India. Wile and Steiner sat down with Tell Me More host Michel Martin.
Convincing grossed out husband
Wile: My husband was very much against it in the beginning. He really knew less than I did and thought it was, in simple terms, he thought it was gross....As we talked, you could see it in him, he got more and more excited, he got more understanding. I said to him "this is our dream, we want to have a family, and everything we've come into we've hit a roadblock. So let's just be open minded." And that's all that I wanted.
Criticism that surrogacy exploits women
Steiner: Surrogacy is a shocking idea for almost everyone the first time they think of it. Several states and many countries have banned it...but I didn't come across any exploitation of women. I think hypothetically it is possible. But clinics and clients screen very carefully for surrogates who are mentally healthy, physically healthy, have already had children and completely understand the complexity of what they're getting in for. So I think there are a lot of checks and balances in the process.
Going to India with an open mind
Wile: Being that India is a third-world country, it's certainly not what we're accustomed to here in the Western society. But for me, going with an open mind and looking at the whole situation, we had decided we would look at it first and see. ... The more we got involved — when we actually got to meet our surrogate, hold her, and meet her family, and [see] the smile on her face, meet the doctors — the idea of exploitation just totally went out the window for us.