Mom’s provide support and love for their children; they also inspire and motivate them and young girls often dream of growing up and being ‘just like Mommy’. After almost 40 years of creating families through surrogacy, it seemed inevitable that CSP would eventually work with women whose moms had also been surrogates. We recently had the pleasure of talking with Kenedi, currently pregnant with her second surrogate baby, and her mom, Ellen, who has 3 children of her own and was a surrogate 3 times for 3 different families. Kenedi was 5 when her mom first became a surrogate and says she is “Extremely confident in the fact that if my mom was not a surrogate, I wouldn’t have grown up with the proper mind set and heart needed to be a surrogate.”
Ellen was adopted as an infant and grew up questioning who in her family she looked like. After having her own children Ellen remembers being fascinated looking at her “mini-me’s” and seeing her nose, her cheekbones, her eyes reflected in them. “It was then that I knew I wanted to help bring the joy of parenthood, including being able to see a piece of you in your child, to others.” First Ellen offered to help some family members struggling with fertility but eventually she started researching agencies and applied to one which only helped gay men & women. She remembers attending a support group run by the surrogates, “There was no mediator or agency presence, just women talking”. After the meeting Ellen went home to discuss her plans with her husband who initially was not on board! “Being a surrogate was so important to me that we contemplated separating. Fortunately, he came to understand why I needed to do this and became my biggest cheerleader and supporter. My need to be a surrogate was even deeper than I realized and I believe the process actually strengthened our relationship.”
Ellen went on to help create 3 families with a single birth, a twin birth and a triplet birth! Kenedi was very understanding of her Mom’s surrogate pregnancies after accepting the initial explanation that the babies would not be coming home to her house as they were helping to create another family. Ellen recalls being out for dinner when she was carrying the triplets, “The waitress asked Kenedi if she was excited to have a baby brother or sister. Without missing a beat Kenedi said ‘Oh, there’s 3 babies in there and they’re not ours. My mommy is helping 2 daddies’ – the reactions we got were priceless!” It was at this point that Ellen realized just how supportive her kids were of her decisions, “We always taught diversity and acceptance in our home and doing surrogacy for gay men only reinforced that. It allowed my children to embrace the “weirdness” that others labelled what we were doing and also enabled them to verbally defend, support, champion and educate others.”
Clearly Ellen’s decision to help gay men struck a chord with Kenedi, “My Mother only worked with same-sex couples and that definitely had an influence on my approach to choosing a couple. Men can’t have a biological baby by themselves but they deserve to have a child of their own if that is something they wish”. Ellen believes it was only natural for Kenedi to follow in her footsteps with her own surrogacy journeys. While CSP has support groups for those currently in our program, there is something very special about your mom being able to relate to, and support you through such a special and unique experience. Kenedi says there is no doubt surrogacy made her and her mom closer, “She gave me my shots on both journeys, she was in the room when I delivered my first surrogate baby and will be there for the second one. She is my biggest supporter and honestly, I couldn’t have done any of this without her. She is the only person in my life that can relate to me and that is huge for surrogacy”.
Both women have had very different experiences with each of their surrogacy journeys and the various agencies they have worked with. Their relationships with each of the parents they have helped are equally diverse and we hope to share more of their stories with you in the future. Ellen thinks that one of the major differences in her own journeys versus Kenedi’s is “The involvement and support of CSP”. One thing is very clear, surrogacy has had a huge impact on this entire family and those they have helped, proving that one act of kindness really can have an enormous ripple effect, reaching many as it grows.