They’re calling it “Social Surrogacy,” this new practice of affluent parents delegating the tasks of pregnancy and childbirth to another person. Social Surrogacy is for women who could carry a child, but choose not to because of perceived risks to their productivity or physical image.
The price? Social surrogacy represents at least a $100,000 investment. And yet, I’m convinced that this cost is grossly understated. The physical costs of pregnancy and childbirth are only the beginning of the toll paid by parents, like the ante required to get into the parenting game.
Following on the heels of childbirth come sleepless nights and hours of walking a fussy baby. Parents will make late night calls to the doctor when a fever spikes and devote tireless attention when a toddler perilously explores her universe without judgment. They’ll spend countless hours bent over a trike and then a bike, teaching a child to ride.
These experiences occur in the first few years of parenthood and leave adults bone-tired as they fall into bed at night. But the demands don’t stop there. Tossing and turning with concerns about your child’s social or educational situation accompany much of childhood. And then adolescence, with its experimental self-discovery, challenges parents with worry and frequent confrontations with the very children they love.
When teens start driving, parents’ sleep becomes a thing of the past. By the time kids leave for college or career, their parents’ bodies have aged from the work and sheer stress of raising children.
Parents who choose to have others carry their babies may be able to avoid the discomfort and image challenges of pregnancy and childbirth. But if they love their kids (and I have no doubt that they will), they will not be able to avoid the stress and worry. These silent companions of every parent’s life will age them in a greater way than pregnancy and childbirth ever would.
I have no judgment of parents who choose this option, but I do have a word of caution. If you choose surrogacy in order to protect yourself from the “cost” of raising children, you may be sadly disappointed. This “savings” may be more illusion than reality.