Kimberly Haugh knows she was a “gift” to her parents – in the literal sense. It was a present she wanted to pay forward someday.
It was 29 years ago Haugh was born via a surrogate, then a relatively new – and highly controversial – practice. And it was just over a year ago that the Lake Elsinore resident and mother of three became a surrogate herself, giving birth to a child for a gay couple in Norway.
“Since I can remember I knew I wanted to give another family the gift my parents were given,” Haugh said.
Though it’s certainly rare, it’s unknown if Haugh is the first surrogate baby to become a surrogate mother. There is no central reporting agency to document surrogate births in the United States.
Most surrogate agencies keep birth records, however, and there is little question the practice has grown.
“Thirty years ago, our agency had about five surrogate births per year,” said Hilary Hanafin, Ph.D, the Chief Managing Psychologist for the Center for Surrogate Parenting Inc., the agency with which Haugh worked. “In the last few years we average over 80 births per year.”
As the number of people utilizing surrogate mothers has swelled over the years, laws and protocols have been put into place to protect both the surrogate mothers and future parents.
“As long as case law and legislation is followed and all parties are consenting, the intended parents are the legal parents at birth,” Hanafin said. “There are no post birth adoptions necessary.”
That’s a far cry from when Haugh’s parents went through the process in the 1970s and ’80s, when surrogacy arrangements were informal and lacked legal protection. Her parents paid all of the surrogate’s expenses and hoped for the best.
“When Kimberly came into our lives, surrogate mothers had a year to change their minds and take the baby back, making the wait agonizing,” said Carol Haugh, Kimberly’s mother.
In 2011, after having three kids of her own, Haugh decided the time was right. After going through a lengthy screening process with the Center for Surrogate Parenting Inc., Kimberly began her search for a couple, eventually finding the pair in Norway.
A fertility clinic used a donor egg during the in-vitro process, then implanted the embryo into Haugh.
“Knowing I was giving this gift to a loving couple was very exciting,” Haugh said. “I did not become attached to the life growing inside of me knowing the baby wasn’t mine to keep.”
When the healthy baby girl was born on Oct. 23, 2012, she was handed over to the new dad in the delivery room for “skin to skin” bonding.
Haugh’s husband has been supportive of the whole process.
After healing from birthing the baby, Haugh and her family resumed their normal lives.
“We are open with our kids about how I came into this world and what I did for another couple,” Haugh said. “We want to make sure we live our lives as normally as possible.”
Currently Haugh is on her second surrogate journey and is working with an infertile couple from England. The first two attempts failed.
“I feel like I let both myself and the couple down,” she said. “I am hoping the third try is successful.”
The Press Enterprise, November 6, 2013