Archive for the ‘Gestational carrier’ tag
By Tracey Minella
October 8th, 2012 at 2:12 pm
Today, celebrate the day Columbus discovered America.
Imagine starting out on a journey on uncharted waters… a handful of nervous strangers in the same boat. As you’re leaving shore, almost everyone on the dock thinks you’re crazy, or at a minimum, doesn’t understand your need to go on this adventure. Time passes with no end in sight as you plod along fighting bouts of nausea and depression. Then, the journey gets really long. Your patience grows thin. Mutiny crosses your mind.
Hey, I didn’t sign up for this!
Come to think of it, you don’t need to imagine this scenario…you’re in the same boat. Well, a similar boat. Sure, you don’t have to worry about scurvy (thanks, pre-natals!) but navigating those IM needles is no picnic. Walk the plank or take Clomid? Tough call.
When you’re diagnosed with infertility, your life veers off the path you thought it’d take. And a new journey begins. It could be relatively quick and inexpensive or it could steal years from your life and be so emotionally, physically, and financially challenging that you just want to jump overboard.
But there are discoveries along the way, though we don’t always realize the lessons until looking back years later. Those experiences shape us into who we are meant to be, and show us what we are made of. They test relationships and build friendships. Some people face unspeakable losses and others unimaginable joy.
And, like Columbus, we don’t always end up where we thought we would at the outset.
But the journey does end for all of us, whether it’s with a biological baby… a baby through donor egg, donor sperm, donor embryos… a baby through surrogacy or a gestational carrier… a baby through adoption… or even a decision to live child-free.
And the place you land is a place of new beginnings.
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Was/Is your infertility journey longer than you thought? What have you discovered as a result of your infertility journey?
By Tracey Minella
February 24th, 2012 at 8:11 pm
Disgraced surrogacy attorney, Theresa Erickson, who pled guilty last August to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, was sentenced today in Federal Court in San Diego for her part in what many have described as an international baby-selling ring.
According to ABC News, Erickson was sentenced to five months in jail, nine months of home confinement, and a $70,000 fine. She faced a possible five years in prison. Read the full article: http://abcnews.go.com/US/san-diego-women-sentenced-baby-selling-case/story?id=15785854
We’ve followed this case since its inception. This case did for surrogacy what the octomom case did for IVF. It made the industry take a step backward in the public eye and gave politicians an excuse to butt in to reproductive rights issues.
So do you think justice was served?
Is five minutes months in jail and a nine month vacation in the backyard home confinement fair or woefully inadequate?
If you admittedly charged about a dozen desperate couples $100,000- $150,000 per baby, isn’t a $70,000 fine the equivalent of … oh, I don’t know… a slurpee? Even if that figure was your total profit, is it enough to simply return it without further penalty? Does that seem fair, or might further restitution be another way to go?
And what’s with the plea itself? Conspiracy to commit …wire fraud? Well, that sure sounds better than baby-selling one could argue. Others may liken it to people getting a DWI ticket while doing 120 in a 30 zone … and pleading to a seatbelt.
Is the worst part that an attorney admittedly broke a law designed to protect surrogates, intended parents, and babies… or that she did so for a large financial gain? Would you be more forgiving if she hadn’t made a profit? Or is the trust she breached simply unforgiveable? Do you think her tears were genuine or a crock of … ? Does remorse even matter?
Should she have been barred from making a profit on her story either through a book or movie deal? If she does make a deal, would you then support her by buying the book or seeing the movie?
If you don’t agree with the sentence she received, and YOU were the judge… what sentence would you have imposed and why?
By Tracey Minella
September 14th, 2011 at 9:10 am
I feel like Cinderella …without the Fairy Godmother.
So jealous of all the movers and shakers in the infertility world who got to attend the RESOLVE’s Night of Hope last night in New York City.
And so proud.
It was a night that RESOLVE, the National Infertility Organization celebrates all the people and organizations, which’ve made a profound positive impact in the infertility community. People who have dedicated their lives to helping people start their families in one way or another. Professionals from reproductive endocrinologists and their nurses to reproductive attorneys and everyone in between.
Infertility authors and bloggers submitted their best stuff for a chance to win awards. But the real reward of writing for this audience comes in the regular feedback we get on a daily basis and the hope that …through our words…we can connect with and make a difference in the lives of others on this path. Cheesy but true. (Hey, awards do rock, though.)
This year I lived it vicariously through friends and colleagues like reproductive attorney, Amy Demma, and her Facebook posts. (That’s Amy on the right in the picture!) Amy has great passion for her work and specializes in all matters relevant to donor and surrogacy law. And like me… and many of us in this field… Amy was a patient at one time.
And I have it on good authority that Amy was “Feeling Groovy” last night at the big shindig…
You may remember that Amy’s industry took a hit recently with a baby-selling ring scandal involving another high-profile surrogacy attorney who wasn’t fit to shine Amy’s shoes.
So, it’s especially important to have nights like last night…celebrations…remembering, recognizing and honoring the unsung heroes in the field. You can follow Amy on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#!/amy.demma.law . Check her out if you want to hear and see more about the Night of Hope. Tell her I sent you.
And thanks for reading my blogs. It’s a great honor to be able to be along for your journey. If there is anything you ever want to see covered here, just ask me.
By Tracey Minella
August 11th, 2011 at 11:35 am
Yesterday was a sad day for the fields of Reproductive Law and Reproductive Medicine as word spread of the apparent fall of one of the most prominent reproductive law attorneys of our day.
According to the Los Angeles Times, California attorney, Theresa M. Erickson, along with two other attorneys, was reportedly involved in a “baby-selling ring”, which in a nutshell allegedly sent young women to the Ukraine to have embryo transfers (using embryos created from donor sperm and donor eggs) and then return pregnant to the US, where attorneys improperly offered the unborn babies to desperate infertile couples for fees in excess of $100,000.00, falsely claiming that the original (fictitious) intended parents backed out of their deal with the pregnant woman. The carriers allegedly received payment of approximately $40,000 per pregnancy. Falsified documents were then filed with the court. Read the Los Angeles Times article here: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/08/san-diego-attorney-pleads-guilty-in-baby-selling-ring.html
This was a woman who had done much good for the field of Reproductive Law. Everywhere “Reproductive Law” was mentioned, she was there. With her striking good looks and wide internet presence, she was tough to miss.
It’s hard not to get caught up in her fan base, especially when hearing she was an egg donor herself in her youth. Truth is when our paths first virtually crossed this year, I was a little jealous of her. She made me regret not specializing in Reproductive Law myself after law school. It would have been the perfect area for me.
The jealousy ended yesterday. One of us will certainly remain able to practice law, reproductive or otherwise. The other, after allegedly pleading guilty to wire fraud and facing a possible five year maximum prison term, will most likely not. And in my opinion, should not.
I don’t know what she was thinking. I just know there’s no way to justify it. I wanted to believe she was a fierce crusader whose passion for the cause and desire to make parents of people who couldn’t do so without her input, maybe caused her to, well, overstep. Still wrong, of course. But maybe if her heart was in the right place… Maybe somehow forgiveable… But, no.
It’s not for me to try to put some justifiable spin on her actions. And if the reports are true…and she pled guilty…then there is none. The idea that desperate infertile couples …the wealthy ones or those who may have mortgaged their lives away to come up with these alleged $100,000 + baby “ransoms”… could have been taken advantage of by their own attorney sickens me. It sickens me as an attorney and as an IVF mom. With astronomical sums like that involved, how can anyone think it was not all about the money? It was not passion gone awry.
So once again, reproductive medicine takes a hit in the news. Octomoms, Embryo Mix-ups and now alleged baby-selling rings. And it will pass, like the others. But losers like these set back the Reproductive Medicine movement by their selfish actions. No one will know how many potential gestational carriers, surrogates, and desperate intended parents have been scared away due to this news…due to these indefensible actions.
Hopefully, it will serve as a wake up call to prospective parents who need the services of gestational carriers or surrogates to not only hire a reputable reproductive law attorney, but to have the courage to question “deals” that either seem too good to be true or too expensive to be legitimate, even if coming from an attorney. Truly reputable ones will be happy to explain away your fears or encourage a second opinion. Maybe that “little voice” will prevail over the understandable desperation.
So why does this story bother me so much? Is it the lawyer and abuse of trust thing? The apparently cold, calculated, greed-fueled actions of a former egg donor? Or is it the familiarity factor that makes it so hard to process this news? You see, I personally think the Octomom is an idiot. This, however, was a woman I respected, envied even. She was a Facebook friend who contributed on our page. It just feels like a more personal betrayal, though I know it is not. Clearly, if the reports are true, she thought only of herself.
Power and ego topple influential people daily. Fortunately, the innocent parents involved here will keep their children. And restitution should enable them to actually afford to feed and educate them now. The public will be more aware. At least for now.
People love to hate lawyers. And in the face of these allegations, it’s hard to make a case against that today. The law holds lawyers to a higher moral standard than the rest of the public and when they breach that trust, they not only face the civil and criminal penalties the general public would face, but also often lose their licenses to practice law. So they lose their livelihoods, too.
I wonder what will become of these attorneys.
Will they lose their licenses to practice? Should they? When this all blows over will they be remorseful? Does that matter? Will they try to make up for it by using their knowledge, talents, and contacts…in a non-legal capacity… for the good of reproductive medicine? Should they be given that chance? Or should they stay far, far away?
Sadly, with the public’s memory, she will probably run for mayor. And win. Or get a reality show.
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What do you think? If you had the power, what would you do?
By Tracey A. Minella
May 25th, 2011 at 12:00 am
Relax Oprah lovers. I’m not saying this larger than life woman did not leave a major imprint (and footprint) on society over the last 25 years. She’s been arguably the most influential and successful American woman on the planet. Her incredible generosity has helped people the world over.
But she hasn’t championed the cause of infertile women during the last quarter century… and she could have. There was so much power and influence and charitable dollars at hand, but the consensus seems to be that the pain of the infertile woman was not high on her agenda.
First, she covered the topic pretty infrequently on her national show over the course of twenty five years. And when she did, I think she often disappointed the infertile women in her audience. What a shame that she squandered the opportunity to spotlight infertility in a productive way to huge audiences of women who would likely have done anything Oprah asked of them…from writing legislators, to considering being egg donors, surrogates or gestational carriers, to well…reading a book on how to be a supportive and sensitive friend to infertile couples.
She’s been called insensitive for glossing over Jenna’s post-IVF miscarriage in “Thirty Something in America”. And simply naming an episode “Wombs for Rent” shows a lack of respect to surrogates and gestational carriers. It’s cold.
People remember in a mostly negative way the show about surrogates/ gestational carriers in India, and how Martha Stewart was financing her daughter’s IVF attempts to the tune of $28,000/month. Wow, who couldn’t relate to that? I mean, don’t we all have parents footing our IVF mega bills? Really, Oprah? You probably had every infertile woman in America tuning in for words of wisdom and support, and valuable information on infertility. Who do you think benefited from that segment?
A show on sperm donation failed to include representatives from sperm banks or attorneys representing anonymous donors’ rights. Instead, it presented a one-sided position which heavily favored the right of the offspring to know the donor’s identity over the rights of the donor and recipient for donor anonymity in accordance with the agreement under which the specimen was obtained. The interests of all parties…offspring, donor and recipient…should have been fully examined and given equal importance. But that doesn’t always make for good ratings. I guess its okay to frighten off potential donors by worrying them that the anonymity under which they donate may disappear. Wonder how low the sperm bank supplies plunged after that show?
And I thought her show with Suzy Orman and the Octomom was more like Jerry or Montel. People on internet forums openly and harshly criticized Oprah for what’s been described as bullying a woman of questionable mental capacity. Those who missed it can only imagine how bad it was if the woman most of America thought was vile came out as sympathetic! Some viewers claimed they’d never watch her again after that show. Not that Oprah would miss them.
Maybe Oprah couldn’t help letting down the infertile women. She’s chosen to live child-free, which is fine, of course. She just doesn’t “get” us and our selfless, burning maternal needs. Which is too bad for us, because if she’d been so inclined, she could have really made a difference.
Imagine if she did a show with top REs from all over America, and every audience member was an infertile woman. And then imagine at the end, when they reached under their seats, there’d be a gift certificate for a free IVF cycle. Maybe I missed that episode?
What a difference a free IVF cycle would make in a woman’s life. Better than cars and trips to the Outback, that’s for sure. East Coast Fertility is holding a series of contests right now, in which one woman will win the grand prize of a free Micro-IVF cycle. Imagine doing this on an Oprah-sized scale?
Oprah, if you’re listening, it’s not too late to change the lives of infertile women. You can make this right. We can help.
With your financial support, we’d be happy to set up a scholarship, grant program, or other such fund to benefit infertile women. Just have your people call our people…if we had people.
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How do you think Oprah’s show influenced the interests of infertile women? Did she help them or hurt them or have no effect? Maybe I missed something really great that she did for the infertile population and someone can tell me and I’ll reconsider my opinion of her as a great and charitable woman who fell short in a key area?
By Tracey Minella
February 25th, 2011 at 12:00 am
No, I don’t have secret insider info on who’s taking home the Oscar for Best Actress this Sunday night. But I bet many women suffering from infertility are rooting for her.
Over the past two decades, she has had her private journey made public due to her celebrity. She has suffered miscarriages and finally become a mom to four children through a combo of adoption, her own pregnancy, and, just announced this week… a pregnancy carried by a gestational carrier. Her first two children, with ex-husband Tom Cruise, were adopted and are teens now. Her second two children are with her current husband, Keith Urban.
She recently told several news outlets, including Fox News, all about her fertility “roller coaster” and that becoming a mother helped her portray a woman who loses her child in Rabbit Hole, the movie for which she is up for a Best Actress Academy Award.
You gotta love a woman who managed to marry both the hottest guy in Hollywood and the hottest guy in Nashville. One who, not too far into her second marriage and her forties, finally conceived (along with about a half dozen other women) reportedly after swimming in Australian waterfalls which folklore claims have fertility power.
Was I the only one who thought of making a pilgrimage there? If you told me I only had to wade in a river on the other side of the world in order to conceive, I’d have grabbed the passport, ditched the needles, and eased my pin-cushion butt into Shrek’s swamp ages ago. But I digress…
Whether the waterfall wasn’t tried again or merely wasn’t a fountain of youth, Kidman and Urban were unable to conceive on their own again. So they used a gestational carrier to carry their second biological child for them. Another little miracle, genetically theirs, at age 43.
But Kidman’s connection to infertility is not merely personal. It also spills over to her professional life on the screen.
I first fell in love with Nicole when I saw her in the 1993 movie, Malice, with Alec Baldwin and Bill Pullman. We’d gone to the movies one night to try to forget about our latest IVF failure for just two hours. We didn’t plan it in advance and hadn’t known anything more than that Malice was a thriller. To our surprise, there was Nicole on the big screen doing injectable fertility drugs…my drugs! Are you friggin serious? Can’t we even get away from this at the movies? It was a cinematic first. And it made me feel less alone. And for the final clincher…her character’s name was Tracey! (Of course, she’s a lunatic, but that’s beside the point.)
So, why not do something different this weekend? Instead of trying to catch one of the nominated movies you haven’t seen, why not rent Malice? It may make you root for Nicole Kidman to win the Oscar…if not for her role in Rabbit Hole, then for her inspirational 20 year “career” as an infertile woman who would not be denied her diverse and beautiful family.
What do you think about Nicole Kidman’s recent baby via a gestational carrier, or how she built her blended family? And, if you do see (or remember) Malice, please let me know what you thought about it!