Surrogacy is something that seems to stay with, and have a profound effect on, many of those that are involved in it. Luckily for CSP, one of those people is two-time surrogate mother and Surrogate Mother Case Manager, Carole Jackson.
Carole first started looking into surrogacy in the mid-nineties. Her own children were growing up, her family was complete and she was feeling the need to do something ‘big’ to help others. Having loved being pregnant with her own children, she began looking into surrogacy after she saw an advertisement for CSP on TV. After some initial research into agencies Carole decided to contact CSP as they seemed to be the most professional and caring; “CSP really cares about their surrogate mothers; I can attest to this having been a surrogate mother and also from working with surrogate mothers for close to 20 years now”.
Carole met all of CSP’s requirements, completed the screening process and was matched with her first intended parents in 1995. “My own children helped me choose my first Intended Parents. They had one child already and their profile talked about how they didn’t want their son to grow up as an only child. After my kids input on who we should help, we met with our chosen Intended Parents and counselor and it suddenly became real.” Carole was a traditional surrogate for her first journey; meaning her own eggs were used (more recently all of CSP’s surrogate mothers are Gestational Carriers; there is no genetic link between them and the baby they carry). At the time Carole was working as a health and fitness instructor at the YMCA; it took just one Intrauterine Insemination procedure at the fertility clinic before she became pregnant.
Disappointingly, the intended parents did not make it to Carole’s first surrogate birth: “This first journey was very easy physically; emotionally it was a bit more challenging as it never grew into a very close relationship. I gave birth to a healthy, happy baby boy who is now 22 years old. I have never had any communication or contact with him but in my heart, I know he is loved. I worked with my counselor to process this disappointment and ultimately was able to focus on the great job I did with what I came to surrogacy to do: help complete someone’s family.”
Carole knew right away that she wanted to do a second journey for 2 reasons: “firstly, the overwhelming impact of doing something so ‘big’ for someone can be a bit addicting and I loved being pregnant; secondly, I had met many surrogate mothers who shared such a special relationship with their Intended Parents and I really wanted to experience that myself. I knew there were no guarantees, but I knew I wanted a different experience-whatever that might be.”
Carole was a gestational carrier for her second journey. She became pregnant after the first embryo transfer but had some complications with a subchronic hemorrhage which preceded weeks of bedrest and a pre-term delivery. “My second journey was quite different from my first, this time was emotionally very rewarding but physically challenging.” Carole delivered twin girls who were both small but healthy, they spent a couple of weeks in NICU and thrived quickly. “The rewards continue to bless us as me and my family have a beautiful continuing relationship with the family.” The twins are now 19 years old and refer to Carole as ‘Aunt Carole’. “I wrote a journal to them while I was pregnant and throughout the journal I referred to all the reasons I chose to help their parents and how special it has been watching them get more and more excited to have the family they dreamed of and how loved they will be. We still text and call each other often and try to visit once a year.”
By her second journey, the passion for surrogacy was in Carole’s blood: “I was fascinated by all aspects of the field; when CSP got in touch after I delivered the twins I was delighted when they asked if I would be a friend support to surrogate mothers who have questions or concerns.” A few months later a full-time position for a Surrogate Mother Coordinator came up and Carole jumped at the opportunity. “Surrogacy still fills my heart on a daily basis. Having been a surrogate myself, and having two very different journeys, I understand the challenges and rewards that come with surrogacy and feel my own experiences enable me to be the best support and guidance for the amazing women in CSP’s program.” After 23 years in the field Carole still gets excited when she has an intake interview with someone she feels will be a great surrogate: “I look forward to seeing her begin her journey.”
Since her first involvement with surrogacy Carole says “it is exciting to see how many advances there have been in IVF since those early days.” And after more than 38 years of creating families, Carole believes “CSP has acquired an immense amount of experience, enabling their intended parents and surrogate mothers to have the best journey possible for each family.”
“My own family has grown with surrogacy: my son practices surrogacy law, advising surrogate mothers as he raises his own children; my daughter has referred many friends to CSP and it wouldn’t surprise me if she became a surrogate herself after she has her own family.”
“CSP staff are committed to our clients, the majority of the team have been with the company for many years. We truly are a family, caring for each other outside of the business while working together towards the common goal of creating families. I feel blessed to be in this field, but even more blessed to be on the CSP team.”
Carole is just one of many CSP staff members who had personal experience of surrogacy before they started working in the field. While we hope for every surrogacy journey to be straight-forward and trouble-free, we know that difficulties can arise as they did with Carole’s first journey. Thankfully the knowledge of our staff, and the many years of experience we have, mean we have encountered almost every possible issue that could arise and know how best to resolve them.