Vickye’s Surrogacy Experience

Vickye Ashton and surrogacy families
Vickye Ashton (center) and families she helped form

On May 29, 2019, Vickye testified before the New York Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on S2071, the Child-Parent Security Act. A transcript of the testimony is below.

People ask me all the time why I became a surrogate.  All I can say is, it was serendipity.  I loved being pregnant, but my husband and I had two children and didn’t want any more.  I just happened to run into someone who was a surrogate for a gay couple, and it was like a giant light bulb going off over my head.  Both of my own pregnancies were easy and textbook, and I had a desire to be a part of the solution to gay men becoming dads.  This is what I was meant to do. 

I met with an agency that helped me to understand the process, the commitment, and yes, the risk.  I understood that there was a risk, but my overwhelming desire to help someone in need by giving them family is a reward that tops it all. I can’t imagine a world where I didn’t have my children.  Somewhere out in the world another family or couple deserves to be just as happy as I am. They deserve to experience firsts. They deserve unconditional love.  They deserve their own family.

Throughout the entire process, I had full control over my body. I made decisions about my own body and my own health. I felt protected and secure. It was a partnership from day one. But I am lucky to live in a state (CA) that provides this level of protection. Sadly, New York is not one of those states, but I am in full support of efforts to ensure that surrogacy is legal and provides a comprehensive set of protections for the surrogate, the intended parents, and the child.

I have been a surrogate for two different NY families, giving each family a set of girl-boy twins.  And all of my dads (And yes, that is what I’ve always called them.  Those aren’t my children, but those are my dads) are some of the most kind, giving, and down to earth people I know.  Just by being themselves, they made me want to move the world to bring them their children.  I have always felt like the luckiest surrogate in the world to have matched with these families. 

The first time I saw my dads with their babies is forever imprinted on me. I can still remember each dad holding one baby and bringing them to me to share in their joy. And every time I’ve seen them since, I’ve felt so privileged to be able to see those babies grow into such kind, amazing, and talented people. You could argue that I got really lucky, but truthfully, the lucky part for me was living in a state that protected me and made sure that I had this choice.

It’s incomprehensible to me that a woman who wants to serve as a gestational surrogate and help a family bring a baby into the world, and who meets the rigorous screening process of a surrogacy agency to ensure suitability, would be prevented by state law from doing so.  Whose interest is that serving? Certainly not that of prospective surrogates, nor of intended parents.  I am an adult, capable of making my own decisions regarding my body.  I was screened and accepted by an agency and doctor, interviewed and accepted by the intended parents, and was informed six ways to Sunday on the risks before we proceeded.  The agency, the intended parents, and I all came together to work on the contract, outlining what we all agreed (and didn’t agree) to.  I was not forced, coerced, or made to feel like I had to agree to anything I didn’t want to agree to.  I was protected by CA state law, and I always knew it.

The New York State Child-Parent Security Act (CPSA) in my view, and the view of many of my fellow surrogates that I have come to know, goes above and beyond in providing the necessary protections that create successful surrogacy partnerships. This legislation is grounded in the opinion of the 2017 New York State Task Force on Life and the Law, which declared that New Yorkers must “have the legally supported capacity to enter into compensated surrogacy arrangements in their home state with the most supportive legal protections that identify, secure, and protect the surrogate, the intended parents, and the child born through surrogacy.”

As such, protections provided by the CPSA include that the surrogate and intended parents sign a detailed contract spelling out all aspects of the arrangement between the two parties, including decisions regarding her health and that of the fetus or embryo she is carrying; and that each party be represented by their own legal counsels; among others. 

But most importantly, the Child Parent Security Act will allow intended parents the opportunity to experience as much of their pregnancy as possible.  My dads had to experience their pregnancy from almost 3,000 miles away. While I did everything I could to try and mitigate that distance, there were inevitably things they missed and had to hear from me secondhand.

My sincere hope is that the Child-Parent Security Act will become law so that more New Yorkers are able to create healthy, lasting, successful relationships that bring children into loving homes.

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