The surrogate mom who decided to only carry children for gay men
One Californian mom explains why she regards surrogacy, and helping gay men to become dads, as her own form of ‘Uterine Activism’
| BY DAVID HUDSON
Kelly Enders-Tharp clearly enjoys being pregnant. More significantly, she loves helping to create families. After giving birth to three of her own children (Ruby in 2001, Preston in 2003 and son Sawyer in 2006), she made the decision to help others become parents.
She has now acted as a gestational surrogate on three occasions, having delivered two sets of twins (sisters in 2008 and a boy and girl in 2010) and a singleton (boy in 2012) for three different families through the agency, Growing Generations. On each occasion, the children were carried for same-sex male couples.
Kelly [pictured bottom left in the photo above] was married to a man between 2000-2011, but after that marriage ended, she became involved with her current partner, Erin, who has a son of her own. The two women married in 2014.
Kelly’s three kids and Erin’s son stay with them for just over 50% of the time. The couple share custody with the children’s other parents.
Born and raised in Twentynine Palms, California, Kelly now lives outside of Sacramento and teaches in the city’s Psychology Department at American River College. In her free time, she blogs about ethical surrogacy at Just the Stork and for The Next Family.
She talked to GayStarNews about being a surrogate and why she wanted to specifically help same-sex couples to become parents.
When did you first think about acting as a surrogate?
Kelly: I learned about the idea of surrogacy in high school and thought it was amazing. Later, in college, I had several gay friends and was reminded of surrogacy when we discussed what their options would be, when they were ready for kids.
I always knew I would be a surrogate since I first learned of the concept. I just never realized I would do it more than once and that surrogacy would make such a huge impact on my life. It is part of who I am.
Is there a specific reason why you wanted to be a surrogate for gay couples?
When I took my first step to be a surrogate, I knew I wanted to help a gay couple. I hopped on Google and entered, ‘Surrogacy for gay men’ and Growing Generations, the agency I ended up doing my surrogacies through, popped up.
I thought, at the time, that there must not be very many women applying to be surrogates and of those, how many were open to helping gay men?
I consider my surrogacy for gay men my own ‘Uterine Activism’. I feel strongly and passionately about equality and figure that if I don't have tons of money to donate to the cause, I at least have a uterus and blog that can send a powerful message. I belong to HR [Human Rights Campaign], make donations to organizations fighting for LGBT Rights, including marriage equality, and posed for the NOH8 Campaign with my pregnant belly during my second surrogacy journey.
I do all these things to let society and my own kids know that I support gay families. My uterus is an ally.
Even when my uterus is retired, I will continue to "fight the fight" because no one has the right to tell my friends, the fathers' of my surro-babies or – many years from now – my own children, that they can't marry whoever they love and have children.
Do you have any relationship with the children after you have given birth?
Yes. Although, it's really more of a relationship with the Intended Parents: that's who I got to know through the whole process. My family and I love getting pictures via text and email. I'm a friend with some of the parents on Facebook and they allow me to take part on their private Instagram accounts too.
My family really appreciates our continued relationships with all my Intended Parents and their children. Getting pictures from them makes my day!
I love seeing the parents and their children and my kids love seeing the families I helped create. They were a part of the process too, so they really enjoy seeing the babies grow up.
You come across, in your writing, as this being a very positive and confident choice, but do you ever waver over your decision to be a surrogate?
Never. I can easily say that my experience as a surrogate was absolutely amazing. I really believe that in the future, when I look back on all my accomplishments, it will easily be one of the best things I ever did. I was able to help give a wonderful gift so that two people could experience what I know so well: the incredible love and joy that can only be experienced by having kids.
Is it hard to hand over the child? Not at all. Those five children were not mine, why would I want to keep them? They have loving fathers who wanted them more than anything. I signed on to be a surrogate to help others have children.
When people ask me about "giving up" the baby, I always reply, ‘it wasn't mine to give up.’ Think of it as extreme babysitting. I wouldn't watch a friend's child for nine months while they were away and expect to keep their child. Same idea applies here.
You've helped three gay couples to become parents. Any plans to do it again?
If any of my previous parents wanted to do a sibling journey, I'd love to help them if I could. I know I can't be a surrogate for gay men everywhere but I can continue to openly discuss surrogacy in the hope that other altruistic women will come forward and want to help others create their families.- See more at: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/surrogate-mom-who-decided-only-carry-children-gay-men080814#sthash.K40J1prF.dpuf