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Somehow, the news that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West would be expanding their family with the help of a surrogate — who delivered their daughter on Jan. 15 — was the least juicy Kardashian/Jenner pregnancy drama of the past six months. Though Khloe Kardashian has officially gone public with her pregnancy, Kylie Jenner has yet to confirm that she is or is not with child. (Kendall Jenner, however, has confirmed that she is not with child, only with bagel(s).)
Given the high-profile nature of a Kimye baby, it’s safe to say that their surrogacy experience was not typical. As evidenced by other celeb parents who have used surrogates in the past, including Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka and Jimmy Fallon and wife Nancy Juvonen, there are extra precautions put in place — and perhaps a few extra perks — to ensure the baby is delivered safe and sound.
We spoke to Stephanie Caballero, Esq., a San Diego-based lawyer with 15 years of experience representing parents who use surrogates, about how the process unfolds. Here are nine things we learned:
1. The surrogate doesn’t always find out immediately that they’re carrying a famous person’s baby.
And sometimes, the surrogate doesn’t find out at all that they are carrying a Hollywood spawn. Caballero recalled a specific situation in which the parents did not disclose their identities to their surrogate at any point, and even had a representative pick up the baby from the hospital as a safety precaution. She referenced a scary ordeal in which Parker and Broderick’s surrogate was harassed and threatened after her identity was revealed by the paparazzi as a motive for the extra safeguard.
In most cases, however, the parents will use pseudonyms when interacting with their surrogate until the end of the first trimester or the beginning of the second trimester. In Kardashian’s case, she has already stated that she has a relationship with her surrogate, and Caballero speculates that she has likely paid for a small security team.
“I don’t want people to find my surrogate,” said Kardashian on Keeping Up With the Kardashians. “Like, I don’t want them to harass her. Like, she doesn’t know how to handle stuff like that, this isn’t her world.”
2. Surrogates for celebrities are not paid more.
While specific agencies in Los Angeles, San Diego and on the East Coast are more commonly used by Hollywood clientele, there is no special surrogate pool exclusively for famous people. Caballero notes that a surrogate typically receives between $35,000-$45,000 per year for their services.
3. But they might receive some lavish gifts.
In addition to services and treatments that parents might pay for throughout the pregnancy, such as pregnancy massages, a nutritionist or a fitness trainer, many will also go a step further to show their gratitude by giving an extravagant gift. “One of my clients bought their surrogate a house,” said Caballero of a more extreme gift. “I’m sure [Kim and Kanye] will be generous, but I don’t expect them to buy her a mansion,” she added. “They might do a little college fund for her children, or treat her to a vacation.” Caballero noted, however, that gifts are specifically not mentioned in any contract. “We don’t want someone to choose you because you’re dangling a carrot,” she said.
4. The relationship between surrogate and the parents is completely dependent on the individuals.
“One surrogate told me, ‘I don’t need a best friend,’ so you have to match her with people who don’t want a best friends,” said Caballero. Others, of course, become incredibly close. “There was some backlash about Kim not having her surrogate at her baby shower, but of the surrogates I’ve spoken to, half said ‘I was [at the shower],’ and half said ‘I was not.’ It depends on the people involved.”
5. A parent can only be so involved with their surrogate’s health.
Though the contracts are often thoroughly detailed, there’s only so much that a parent can control from afar. “I’ve had parents contact me, like, ‘My surrogate is on a dune buggy in the desert!'” said Caballero, noting Facebook as the source of the evidence. “Some parents do have specifics — they want them to put music on, and put headphones on, things like that,” she added.
6. Parents can be present at the delivery — but they don’t have to be.
As mentioned before, some parents choose to send a representative to retrieve their child at the hospital. More involved parents, however, can be in the delivery room if they live near their surrogate, and usually look on from “over the shoulder.” Caballero speculates that if Kardashian’s surrogate delivers at Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center — which is renowned for protecting celebrities’ privacy — then both parents will probably be in the room.
7. Parents and surrogates sometimes keep in touch, but the relationship typically fizzles out.
Depending on the contract, some surrogates will ship breast milk to the baby for a few months. However, most parents and surrogates return their attention to their own families and lose touch, save for a holiday photo or two.
8. It’s not uncommon for parents to want to use the same surrogate twice.
“There’s a trust factor,” said Caballero about some couples who ask to use the same surrogate for multiple children. She added, however, that just because things went well the first time, there’s no guarantee of smooth sailing the second time around.
9. Celebrities’ reasons for using surrogates are just like anyone else’s.
Kardashian has spoken openly about the medical diagnoses and previous pregnancy complications that led her to the decision to use a surrogate. Other celebrities cite reasons including infertility and failed IVF treatments as well as difficulties adopting due to marital status or age as the reason they chose the surrogate route. For gay couples, an egg donor as well as a gestational surrogate allow them the opportunity to have biological children.
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