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A warm-hearted mum-of-four has made the incredible and brave decision to become a ‘host’ surrogate for a friend she met at her Slimming World weight loss group – and she couldn’t be happier.
Sophie Bennett, from Saltash, had always wanted to be a mum growing up and has often felt for the women who have longed to have kids, but aren’t able to become a parent naturally.
Now the 34-year-old has taken the magnificent leap to do just that and is hoping to give birth to another couple’s baby next year.
“I love being a mum, it’s the best job in the world,” said Sophie, who wants to end the misconceptions around surrogacy.
A few months ago, Sophie found out that new friend Hayley Roberts – a fellow member of her Slimming World group – had been going through IVF and was hoping to find a surrogate who would carry her and her husband’s child, as Hayley is unable to herself.
Sophie has ‘always wanted’ to be a surrogate, she said, but wanted to ensure that when she did commit to an individual or couple that it was the “right time”.
After meeting with Hayley and her husband Gareth and undertaking extensive research, Sophie decided they were the couple for her.
The process of becoming a surrogate is a long one, Sophie says.
In the UK, parents are not allowed to advertise that they are looking for a surrogate, though they can share the challenges they face on their journey to parenthood..
On hearing Hayley and Gareth’s struggles at Slimming World, and reading their story on social media, Sophie decided to meet with the couple and see if she could help them by carrying their child.
After several weeks of meetings and decision-making, the trio signed a ‘contract’ last week.
Though it is not a legally-binding contract, the agreement sets out Sophie’s pregnancy and birth plans and confirms that she will carry Hayley and Gareth’s baby.
Sophie explained: “There are two types of surrogates: an egg or a host surrogate. I will be a ‘host’. I will carry Hayley and Gareth’s baby, but it won’t be my egg.
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“Hayley and Gareth have five frozen embryos from their IVF treatments, so I will just have one of those in my womb and carry it, as Hayley is unable to.”
One of the bigger misconceptions about surrogacy is that the surrogate, also known as a ‘surrogate mother,’ is giving up her child.
But this is simply not the case, Sophie says.
“It’s not my baby,” said Sohpie. “I’m just growing it for those nine months.”
Even if it were Sophie’s egg, it still wouldn’t be her child, she said.
“Even if your egg [is used], we are done having children, so we wouldn’t have another one,” she added.
Sophie’s children have been incredibly supportive of her decision but wanted to know why Hayley and Gareth have chosen to have a surrogate for their child, instead of looking at adoption.
Sophie says this is the case for many families who can have their own children (have an egg and sperm that can create a child) but just need someone to carry the child for them and give birth to it.
Sophie says another misconception concerns finances, with some people presuming women get paid to be a surrogate in the UK, like in the US.
However, in the UK the law says no surrogate can financially profit from a surrogacy, but surrogates are permitted to have their expenses covered, including maternity wear and loss of earnings.
They must also have a will and life insurance, paid for by the child’s parents-to-be.
What happens now?
Now Sophie has confirmed she will be Hayley and Gareth’s surrogate, she must undergo blood tests to ensure she is able to be a surrogate, and will also be put on a course of medication that will thicken the lining of her womb and prepare her body for pregnancy.
All being well, Sophie’s “transfer date” is planned for two weeks after her medication, and she will then begin carrying the baby to term.
“I’m really excited for the next stage,” she said.
To follow Hayley and Gareth’s journey to parenthood, via Sophie as surrogate, you can follow them on Instagram here.
Stay in the know
I’m interested in being a surrogate, where can I find out more information?
If someone is interested in being a surrogate, they should certainly do their research, Sophie says.
As well as the typical internet research, women should look at Facebook groups and Instagram accounts for true-life accounts of the surrogacy journey.
It’s also worth looking up hashtags, including ‘#surrogate’ and ‘#surrogacyjourney’ to see some posts you may not typically see on your timeline, she says.
You can also join national agencies, the main one being Surrogacy UK, for additional information and support (and to be matched with a prospective parent/couple, if you wish).
This content was originally published here.