Surrogate Spotlight: Mariah
1) Please summarize your surrogacy journey thus far.
I was matched with my IPs in August 2017, contracts were signed in January 2018, and we had a meds calendar and transfer date in late January. We transferred two embryos (a boy and a girl) in March 2018 and both took right away! The babies grew amazingly and we had a problem free pregnancy. As we neared the end of the pregnancy, I started having lots of contractions. The IPs cancelled their two-week road trip up the coast and flew directly to Portland a full month early! I told them this was a great welcome to being parents...the twins were just letting them know who was in control now! The twins were born happy and healthy at 35 weeks in November 2018 and the new family I helped to create all went home to Israel on Christmas Day. I am currently in the process of writing a book about my surrogacy journey and plan to continue with a second (hopefully a sibling) journey!
2) Where are you in your surrogacy journey?
My first surrotwins were born November 2018. I am currently waiting for approval for my second journey to start.
3) Tell us a little about yourself and why you decided to become a surrogate.
I am mother to three beautiful children, and a lifelong educator. I have been a sexual wellness advocate for adult women since 2010. I also have my Masters in Teaching and have been a preschool teacher and a gymnastics coach for kids. I volunteer in the elementary schools whenever I get a chance, and I LOVE being around and working with kids. I have a big family, and have always felt sad for those who don't get to experience the joy and craziness that comes with a big family.
Also, having children who are now growing old enough and beginning to recognize different family units and relationships, I really want to focus on making sure they understand that most important is LOVE. Love takes on so many different forms, and family is part of that love. It doesn't matter what our family looks like, or how it came to be...the only thing that matters is that at the heart of it, there is LOVE and lots of it! As surrogates, we help spread that love a little further by helping to create the families that are so desired by some, but may be impossible to create for one reason or another. A little piece of our love is transferred to each of the families we help create, and that love blooms and flourishes through our connections in the surrogacy community.
I remember being a little girl, not more than 7 or 8 years old and telling people that when I was done having babies, I would have babies for other people who couldn't have them. I don't know where that thought entered my head from (call it what you will - a download, divine intervention, my calling), but it was there from a very early age. I didn't know anything about surrogates, or that it was even called surrogacy. I just knew I had a life dream to help make families that would one day come true.
4) What do you enjoy most about being a surrogate?
Helping create a family where there wouldn't be one otherwise is hands down the best part of being a surrogate. Being a part of something so beautiful, especially for a family that may not have any other options.
5) How has the decision to become a surrogate changed you?
Honestly, I don't know that it has changed me much since I knew from such a young age that this was something I wanted to do. I LOVE being a part of the surrogacy community, and being able to spend time around others who love to help create families. I feel so blessed to have been able to fulfill a lifelong dream of mine and to help someone create the family of their dreams in the process!
6) What is the communication and relationship like with your IPs?
Our relationship is probably best described as that with a close-knit extended family. We text often. We exchange photos and videos of our families. We like to update each other on big happenings in life. We are even hoping to do a sibling journey!
7) How was your experience working with AFS?
Everything was so organic! An event popped up on my FB timeline and it was for the AFS Annual Halloween Party. It was open to the public, so I went with all three kids and a super supportive husband in tow. As soon as I walked in, I knew I was "home" and had found the place that would help me fulfill this dream of mine. From that moment, I knew that these were people I could trust. I knew that I would be in good hands throughout the process and that they knew what they were doing. I always felt at ease working with all the staff at AFS and my questions and concerns (there were many throughout the past three years!!) have always been answered quickly and confidently!
8) What advice would you give to women considering surrogacy?
It is an amazing gift to be able to give a family the gift of life, but you have to be mentally prepared. The most important thing for me was to keep my mindset in check. I was helping to create a family, but they weren't my babies. I was simply the vehicle for their family to be created and I was so happy to be able to give them that gift.
9) What would you tell surrogates considering AFS as their agency?
AFS makes you feel like a part of their family from the very first moment you are introduced to their agency. All the staff are always ready to answer any question or concern you may have. They are all confident in their answers, and if they happen to not know, they find out quickly and get back to you. You can take comfort in the fact that this is their lifeblood and what fuels their souls, which means that they put their whole hearts into making sure it is done correctly, every time. They do a phenomenal job matching people based on paperwork (which is NOT easy), which makes our job as surrogates so much easier because the chemistry between a surrogate and IPs is so important.