AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – An Austin nurse spread gel on Nicole Benham’s pregnant belly and slowly moved a sonogram wand over it, describing the images on nearby monitors.
This scene, in which parents get their first glimpse of baby, is played out many times a day in medical offices across America, but this plot has a twist.
Benham is carrying twins, but they are not her babies. They belong to Sheila and Kevin McWilliams, a New Jersey couple who lost their firstborn and can’t have another child together.
They provided the eggs and sperm, and they will bear all costs, which average $75,000 to $100,000 and include fees to the surrogate, the matchmaking surrogacy company and lawyers for both parties, experts said.
Despite such costs, U.S. surrogate births have jumped 250 percent in eight years, and experts expect them to continue rising because of advances in reproductive technology, increasing numbers of same-sex marriages and growing acceptance of surrogacy.
In the vast majority of surrogate births today, the intended parents provide the egg and sperm, minimizing the risk of custody battles. Data suggest that there are fewer multiple births, and, perhaps surprisingly, more surrogates bearing babies for others more than once.
Conservative Texas is more surrogate-friendly than many other states, especially when the intended parents are a married man and woman.
Though the state’s law doesn’t outright forbid surrogacy for gay couples, it allows only one partner’s name on the birth certificate. The unnamed partner can face a long adoption process, but that hasn’t stopped some gay men from seeking surrogates here, surrogacy company representatives said.