Dr. Fox welcomes Adina and Simon Brief, who had their third child with the help of a gestational carrier. Adina and Simon tell their story, including why they chose a gestational carrier (or surrogate), their advice for other parents, and explaining the process to friends and family.
“Gestational Carriers: Building a Family with the Help of Another” – with Adina and Simon Brief
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In this episode, Adina and Simon Brief tell their story of having a baby with a gestational carrier, commonly known as a surrogate. Adina explains that she gave birth to their second child through a scheduled C-section. Unfortunately, she was suffering from placenta accreta, a condition in which the placenta is attached to the uterus. In Adina’s case, the placenta was 80% attached, and due to excessive bleeding and other complications, she had to have a partial hysterectomy.
Adina and Simon explain that they always wanted a big family, and Adina’s doctor assured her that there “are many ways to have another baby” while she was still recovering from the birth. They began looking into gestational carrier options when their baby was just three months old.
Despite knowing that they wanted to have another baby, Adina and Simon had some initial reservations about gestational carrier options. These ranged from practical worries—ensuring their baby or carrier would be healthy, finding the right carrier for them and managing their relationship—to more personal ones, such as their two children’s responses and social stigma. Thankfully, they quickly found that there was little stigma surrounding the issue, and that many friends and family members had experienced or were familiar with fertility issues. They describe being relieved to receive support from friends, family, and their rabbi.
Once they had determined they did want to pursue a gestational carrier, Adina and Simon connected with a fertility treatment center to learn more. Dr. Fox explains that the process of using a gestational carrier is one of the most straightforward fertility treatments available because it’s essentially IVF but the embryo is transferred to the carrier.
Adina and Simon met with a social worker to confirm that they understood the process and were ready to move forward. They then began the process of looking for a carrier. Adina explains that they were looking for someone who was stable and trustworthy and that the agency they were working with had parents and carriers each creates a profile, which was then matched by the agency director. In addition to a personal match with the carrier, it’s also important to find a carrier who lives in a state where gestational carrying is legal and “favorable for the intended parent.” In New Jersey and New York, they explain, it’s illegal to pay someone to carry a baby. In some states where it is legal, there are complications such as the carrier being listed on the birth certificate.
Adina and Simon explain that they had a close relationship with their carrier and her husband and that they felt mutual respect and enjoyed spending time together outside of their medical appointments or other necessary meetings. When it was time for the scheduled C-section, their carrier’s husband ensured that all four of them could be in the room. Adina describes feeling nervous but positive throughout the birth, explaining that “everyone was feeling good, so I wanted to keep that positive attitude.” Simon describes the birth as “a redemptive moment.”
Simon and Adina say that they explained the situation to their children primarily by reading them children’s books about gestational carriers. She recounts telling them “families are built in different ways, and isn’t that so cool?” and says they were quickly onboard and understood the situation.
For other families considering gestational carrier options, Simon and Adina recommend taking the situation one step at a time and reaching out to family and friends for support. Adina adds “babies are absolutely worth it, and whatever it takes, there’s no greater joy.”