Surrogacy is becoming more and more common, but it is often misunderstood. Did you know that Oregon is one of the most surrogacy-friendly states in the country, while it is still illegal in Washington state? The surrogacy landscape is changing fast as more and more people embrace it as a way to create a family.
To clear up some of these misconceptions, we sat down with Carey Flamer-Powell, who is the Founder and Director of All Families Surrogacy, a surrogacy agency located in Beaverton. As an experienced surrogate and now an agency director, Carey is a great resource for anyone curious about becoming a surrogate or having a child through surrogacy.
Tell us about your surrogacy journey and what made you decide to become a surrogate.
My wife and I had our daughter with the help of a sperm donor. Starting a family is something we never would have been able to experience without the help of a very kind, anonymous donor. After our daughter was born, I knew it was a gift I wanted to give to someone else. I looked into surrogacy and eventually delivered a healthy baby boy for a couple in Georgia. It was a amazing experience, and it prompted me to start my own agency to help others do the same.
Who can become a surrogate? What are the requirements?
This can vary between clinics and agencies, but our requirements are that you have to be between 21-40 and have given birth to at least one child of your own, with a healthy pregnancy and delivery history. We carefully screen all of our surrogates. Surrogacy is a huge responsibility, and we want to be sure our surrogates are both physically and emotionally ready.
Who are the parents you work with who are having babies through surrogacy?
We work primarily with LGBT intended parents, but we are happy to work with parents from all walks of life – hence, the agency name “All Families”. Most of our clients come from around the world, where surrogacy is not available and they are unable to have children of their own without some form of reproductive assistance. They come to the United States because we have ethical and established procedures surrounding surrogacy, and all parties are protected by our process.
What if the surrogate doesn’t want to give up the baby when it is born?
This is a commonly misunderstood part of surrogacy. All our surrogates are gestational carriers, meaning there is no genetic tie to the baby whatsoever. The embryo is created via IVF at a fertility clinic, using genetic material of either the intended parent(s) and/or a donor, and the surrogate simply carries the pregnancy. Surrogates are all moms who are done having babies of their own. While the surrogates naturally have a connection with the baby they carry as a surrogate, they are not the biological or legal parent of that child. Most surrogates describe it as giving the baby “back” to the parents, versus giving it “up,” as it was never the surrogate’s child to begin with.
What would you like people to know about surrogacy that they may not know already?
One of the most unexpected parts of the process is the incredible connection that can form between the surrogate, intended parents and even their extended families. In the process of creating a family, the surrogate often becomes another member of the family, and it is so amazing to see these bonds form across continents and cultures. I am still very close to the moms whose son I carried, and we plan to see each other at least once a year.
What should be the first steps for someone considering becoming a surrogate?
First, get information! We’re always happy to talk to women who are interested but not sure about the process or who have lots of questions. You can find our agency online, or you can come to one of our meet-ups to talk with other surrogates about their experience. If you feel ready to make the next step, applying is easy and can be done online in just a couple of minutes. We are also hosting a family friendly Halloween Bash Surrogacy Open House, where our staff and experienced surrogates will be on hand to answer your surrogacy questions. Details on that event and our general surrogate inquiry form are available on our website at allfamiliessurrogacy.com.
Carey Flamer-Powell is the Director and Founder of All Families Surrogacy, LLC. Carey is an out lesbian and experienced gestational carrier, and delivered a healthy baby boy for a wonderful lesbian couple. Carey’s passion for surrogacy began even before she became a gestational carrier. She and her wife, Michele, conceived their now 5 year old daughter through third party reproduction. Carey knew then that she wanted to help another individual or couple build their family one day. After many years of research and experiencing a wonderful surrogacy journey of her own, Carey founded AFS with the intention of making surrogacy accessible to every individual and couple. Having been a gestational carrier for an LGBT couple and being a member of the LGBT community herself, Carey has a particular passion for assisting LGBT individuals and couples build their family.