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Confessions Of A Talk Show Surrogate

 



Doing the Ricki Lake Show was definitely an experience! I basically wound up with a free trip to New York...expenses paid...except for the phone bill! The couple they wanted me to talk with got cold feet and didn't show. But my other surrogate friend, Rosalind, and her husband opened the show with the couple that did show up. That went very well but the rest of the guests....let's put it this way....Rosalind said it best..."you know, we are the only normal people here."

Ricki was very supportive and she did come to me and apologize twice and tell me we would definitely be invited back since she now knows more about surrogacy! We were treated like the show's doctor and the professionals that appear instead of like the standard guests. They picked me up at the airport in a stretch limo -- it was soo long that I had to squint to see the driver and it had an L shaped couch-like seat in it. But it was actually scary in all its grandeur..being there all alone - especially looking out the windows & seeing the street people of the city. I had not visited New York for many years and had forgotten. It prompted an immediate fear and desire just to go right back to Florida..

The hotel was a standard shoe-box...what you might pay $22-25 a night for in Florida. There in N.Y. it was $170! It was the Carlton Hotel - not a shabby deal but a historical building still -- with decorated cast radiator heat to prove it! The show paid for our hotel and meals and provided for our flights and transportation between airport, hotel and studio. There was not much time to see the sights; the Statue of Liberty and ferry close at 3 pm, so that was out. The Empire State Building was visible from the hotel and looked beautiful at night. I stayed close to the hotel -- even with the arrival of Rosalind and her husband, as well as my sister, who drove up with her husband to visit with me after 4 years. We got to catch up on each others kids and lives and the family stuff in the brief time she was there.

The discussion with Rosalind and the "normal" couple went very well and a lot of good positive information on surrogacy was brought out. I was very proud of her and the way she answered everything. The next guest was a gay man who had no idea where to turn but wanted a child. They brought out a surprise guest that he had e-mailed with...that went ok but in reality it was a real flubber. The next guest was a surrogate to be from Kentucky who was not getting the support of her husband and literally threatened to leave him if he didn't agree to support her decision to be a surrogate! She obviously needed counseling and shouldn't break up her own family to help someone else have a kid. She is not all there! We talked with her and her husband after the show. The next guest was a lesbian couple who wanted one partner's brother to donate sperm for them to have a child. In that case, there were two surprise guests..the brother and the mother. The brother was 18 but had the mentality of a 15 year old. The mother was just in shock. The final guest was a stand-in for someone who didn't show up that evening. Ricki did apologize for that one, too. He was a 25 year old gay man that looked and acted like a woman, a woman who wanted a child without a partner. His guest was a woman he had known only for 3 months, who had 6 kids of her own. His idea of getting a child was to ask her to have sex with him and then carry the child. That one was disgusting and revolted the panel and the audience. It turns out the show will air sometime in late May, 1998. They don't give out copies until after it airs. But, as I said, for our part, it worked out well and was very positive.

It was worth the experience that it was, considering that there is a serious side and an entertainment side to most of these type of shows. There are some important points regarding contract signing prior to going on the show --and other points that surrogates appearing on these shows should be aware of...and now that we have been through it...certain things and ways of dealing with the types of people that the show has on also. We now know we could have arranged for certain guests not to be there...but the timing was sooo short in this case that it was difficult. We know now that we could have been instrumental in literally choosing the guests had our initial contact been earlier. We may, in fact, have the same pull if invited back--now that our own fears and anxieties have been experienced.

To those who think "how could you,?" I would like to say...please understand that most active surrogates obviously do not go on national television. I currently do not have intended parents and am not involved in a contract--neither was Rosalind. We value the privacy of the issue for both sides as well as the child to be! For us, we are trying to get positive information to as many people as possible. The Ricki Lake Show is shown internationally and though it caters to both the serious as well as the "entertaining" segments...in the long run, the positives will be remembered by those it makes a difference to. I was not featured on the show but sat in the audience--next to the sperm donor. I have no idea if you will be able to see me. I will let you know when I see it for myself. We were all given autographed pictures of Ricki and a T- shirt, too. Guess we have to take the good with the bad, aye?

Here is additional advice regarding surrogates who have been asked to appear on these talk shows...(I heard about a surrogate who was hounded to appear). That is, that before these shows beg a surrogate to be on the show, they need to consider if she is already has a contract or is in negotiations.Most contracts include a clause prohibiting media exposure relating to the surrogacy. Being under contract does not mean you can't participate on one of these shows. It means that you can't refer to the individuals, agencies, clinics and doctors involved--and obviously not the parents, not specifics about your situation. You must respect their privacy, as in the contract and only discuss general surrogacy issues. Clearly understand that you do not have to answer questions asked of you if you do not like the tenor or can rephrase it. After all, you are being asked because you have the expertise,not them. For instance, instead of addressing what is wrong with a certain surrogacy situation, rephrase the question like this: "The situation may have been able to be avoided if...." Think hard about answers to questions regarding "baby-selling" and "fees" received for services rendered. Avoid the short direct answer to those questions and state the real reasons women decide to be surrogates and what they involve....all the time incurred in pre-work for a gestational (IVF) pregnancy, extra assistance required at home during last months for child care, housekeeping, etc. This is not a business decision that is made. This wonderful advice was provided by my attorney prior to my going to the show--and was very inspirational and confidence-building for me during a very nervious time--and shows I made every attempt to cover the legalities prior to opening my mouth. Rosalind answered the financial questions extremely well. And I would like to add also that I did consult the couples I was speaking to prior to the show--to let them know my intentions and make sure they understood. I would not have wanted a surprise like that if I were them!

Many people watching will take the positive out and all I can say is that we tried. That is my story.


 

2007 OPTS - The Organization of Parents Through Surrogacy