“I think your readers would like to get a better picture of what your home life is like,” the reporter from “Science Fiction Quarterly” said as she pushed her aquamarine glasses back up on her nose.
Toby knew what was coming next. He knew people talked about it behind his back. He had overheard parts of abruptly cutoff conversations when he would approach a group of colleagues at a convention.
“I understand that you have a somewhat unconventional family arrangement…” she said, her voice trailing off, seeming to hope that Toby would take this as a prompt to spill his guts.
After a few seconds of silence, Toby sighed. Might as well get it over with. His publisher had told him to be extra nice to this reporter because they needed a good review from her magazine for his new book.
“Yes, I have a daughter, and I had her by use of an egg donor and a surrogate that I paid to carry her to term. The surrogate that carried my daughter is not her genetic mother, and neither is my wife. It’s called gestational surrogacy, and the technology has been around since the 1980’s. I have no idea who the biological mother is.”
“Is that…legal? I mean, I knew about IVF and that people could use surrogates, but can you pay them like that?” the reporter asked.
“The laws regarding the use of surrogates to carry a child to term vary around the world. In some countries, gestational surrogacy is completely banned. In other countries, so-called ‘altruistic surrogacy’, in which the surrogate receives no financial compensation, is legal. In still others, even surrogacy for commercial gain is legal, and such a contract would be enforceable.
In the United States, the procedure’s legality, and the legal status of children born to such arrangements, is left up to individual state legislatures. Most ban ‘commercial’ gestational surrogacy, but a few states will even uphold a surrogacy contract where money changes hands,” Toby said.
“But, is that legal in Texas? Don’t you live in Texas?” the reporter asked –almost like she was embarrassed to mention the gun-toting red state.
“I rented an apartment in Arkansas for nine months,” Toby said. “In 1989, a then-unknown Governor signed into law an act legalizing not only ‘altruistic’ gestational surrogacy, but also surrogacy for financial compensation. The courts of Arkansas recognize the biological mother and father, rather than the surrogate mother, as the parents of the child. Additionally, if a man were to pay a woman for an ovum, as I did, that was then fertilized with some of his own sperm using IVF techniques, then hire a surrogate to carry the fetus to term, he could have a child where he is the only legal parent. That’s what I did, and that’s pretty much all there is to it.”
“But you have a wife that isn’t your daughter’s mother, and you’ve been married to her since before your daughter was born? How does that work?” the reporter asked.
Toby smiled, then said: “We’ve made it work.”