Fame Doesn’t Protect You from Ignorance in Surrogacy

Dawn Davenport


Fame Doesn't Protect You from Ignorance

Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban

I knew better than to look.  I really did.  As I was typing in the search terms, I told myself: Don’t do it!  But did I listen? Nope.  It’s kind of like the way your tongue is almost drawn against its will to explore the sore in your mouth.  Your tongue knows that going there will not help anything and will cause pain.  But go it does.

Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, both 43, announced the birth of their daughter Faith Margaret via gestational surrogacy yesterday.  Amazingly and impressively, they kept her birth private for almost a month.  Faith joins big sisters Sunday Rose, 2 ½, and Isabella, 19, and big brother Connor, 16.  Sunday was born to Kidman and Urban, and Isabella and Connor were adopted during her marriage to Tom Cruise.  Kidman and Urban seem to be involved loving parents, so mazel tov and more power to them.

I knew better than to look too far online.  The celebrity magazine articles were by and large positive and a little chagrined at having been kept in the dark. (Kudos, by the way, to People Magazine for mentioning Kidman’s older children, rather than acting as if Kidman only has two children.)  In addition to these informative articles, there were a few less stellar articles suggesting that celebrities turned to surrogacy out of vanity.  And oh my, some of the online comments!   Robert Burns quote was dead on about man’s [and woman’s] inhumanity to man [and woman].

There were, of course, plenty of warm celebratory comments, like this one from Cindy: Congratulation, Keith and Nicole, on your new addition to your beautiful family !!!!!! God bless you and your family!!!

But there are also many comments which expressed such ignorance and lack of compassion.

JJDon’tPlay2: Just pay someone to pump a baby out for you. I guess they feel like “I’m not walking around like that for 9 months. We’ll pay someone else to do it”.  Lifestyles of the Rich and Stupid.

Lebinz: I can picture a future in which there will be a completely different class of “surrogate” children vs. children born directly from their parents.

FB: They aren’t too busy, they all just wait too long and become infertile. Having babies in their mid to late 40’s isn’t as easy as everyone thinks. Eggs die. So they wait, and are selfish wanting their career & don’t want to give that up, then realize their baby making time is nearly over so they try, and fail, many times to get PG. They have the money so they go to surrogates or IVF to get what they want.

Linda M: what’s wrong with these celebs having babies themselves. TOO BUSY? I just don’t understand how it’s so easy for them to either adopt without issues and have babies delivered to them by others.

Another Facebbok User: I know it is very nice and I am very happy for them. But I have a question: what is it with those actresses – mainly – that they have babies through surrogates? They do not want to damage their figure???

Sad Truth: A surrogate… my god. The world has come to a place where people are nothing but vessels for the folly of others.

I’m not all that surprised by the meanness of some of the comments.  I’ve been online long enough to know that the anonymity of the internet seems to bring out this meanness.  What amazes me is the ignorance of some of the comments.  I shouldn’t be surprised, but somehow, I always am.

I don’t know the details of Kidman’s fertility history.  She has said she struggled for years to conceive.  The rest is not my business.  I can assume that she and Urban turned to surrogacy for the same reasons most people choose surrogacy-they wanted a child and pregnancy was alluding them.

There are any number of reasons why a heterosexual couple would choose surrogacy.  The woman may have had trouble carrying a pregnancy to term or may have a health condition that would make pregnancy dangerous to her or to the baby.  And yes, if we are being honest, no doubt some women choose to use a surrogate because they don’t want to be pregnant.  (Camille Grammer, wife of Kelsey Grammer, said they used a surrogate to carry their twins because she had irritable bowel syndrome.  I’m no doctor, but I was surprised to hear that this annoying, but relatively mild and common gastrointestinal condition would impede a pregnancy, but hey, I don’t know the specifics of her case either.)  From what I see, however, these women are few and far between.  Most women, including famous women, crave the experience of pregnancy and breastfeeding. (It may be possible to breastfeed a child born to you through a gestational carrier. We’ll be doing a Creating a Family show on Adoptive and Surrogacy Breastfeeding on Feb. 9, 2011.)

Contrary to what is being reported, there is not a rash of celebrities having babies through surrogacy.  We hear about them because they are celebrities, and we hear about everything they do from shopping at K Mart to giving birth, or not.  Surrogacy is gaining in popularity with all people, which includes celebrities (although I’ve seen a few pictures of botoxed or surgically enhanced faces that look less than human).  The media coverage of these celebrity births is largely responsible for this increase.  Surrogacy costs big bucks (often upwards of $100,000) and celebrities are some of the few people who can afford this option.

Yes, part of the reason that many celebrities have to resort to surrogacy is that they waited to have children while they focused on their careers during their prime child bearing years.  It is a common myth that “old” age (man, that hurts me to say about a 43 year old!) is the primary cause of infertility, but it is true that it is one cause and that many of the celebrities that have used a surrogate are over 40.  This may not have been the case with Kidman who may have had fertility issues during her first marriage to Tom Cruise, but it is the case with others.  However, if you are going to play the blame game, you would also have to blame the thousands of woman doctors, lawyers, college professors, and engineers, who also focused on moving up the work ladder rather than finding Mr. Right and having kids.  Maybe they were misled by the media that their fertility would wait until they were ready, maybe they were willfully ignorant, or maybe they were just plain unlucky.  But rather than blame them, why not celebrate with them that they have this option and look for ways to make this option more affordable for others who don’t have a spare $100K lying around.

Fame does not isolate you from the pain of infertility or pregnancy loss.  I’m sure that Kidman shed her share of tears and paid her pain dues.  I don’t know why she didn’t turn to adoption again, but that is within her rights.  We fortunately live in a country where we can decide for ourselves our best path to parenthood, so long as it doesn’t hurt the child.  I, for one, am very happy that Faith Margaret is safely home in her parent’s arms.

Image credit: Modasplendida

18/01/2011 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Blog, Infertility, Infertility Blog | 21 Comments

21 Responses to Fame Doesn’t Protect You from Ignorance in Surrogacy

  1. Avatar Dee says:

    My belief is she couldn’t conceive. I do think she wanted to use her egg and his sperm so somewhere down the line the baby couldn’t be taken away from them.I don’t know the story with her older children but it seems to be a problem there.

  2. Avatar The Donor Network Alliance says:

    As a medical professional and agency and website owner, Celebs are people too. Having taken care of many chicago TV personalities as a nurse, they have the same needs, issues every other patient has. We have FB, and Twitter to tell everyone what we’re doing every minute of the day, it’s kind of refreshing Nicole and Keith were able to keep this their personal business. We don’t know if surrogacy was their first choice but thank goodness there are kind, giving women to help parents. The Donor Network Alliance

  3. Avatar Dawn says:

    Kim: That was simply beautiful. Thank you.

  4. Avatar Joanna Madine says:

    I think I’m safe in assuming that the people who make comments like that have probably never had fertility struggles of their own…and are obviously pretty uneducated on the topic.

  5. Avatar Tracy O'Mara Whitney says:

    I posted a comment. I couldn’t help myself 🙂

  6. Avatar Kathryn Bruner James says:

    Looking forward to the Creating a Family show on Adoptive and Surrogacy Breastfeeding in February. As a potential adoptive parent, this topic is very appealing to me!

  7. Avatar LearnToTolerate says:

    I read some of those comments. Wow, there are some mean, ignorant people in this world.

    Also, lots of “career” women would have gladly married at a younger age, but they could not meet a suitable man for marriage. Not everyone is lucky enough to marry their high school sweetheart and live happily ever after.

  8. Avatar Dirk says:

    Why would anyone have anything bad to say about a family being formed. some of us can’t do it the old fashioned way. Surrogacy is our only options, which we pay out the nose for. why can’t people understand that.

  9. Avatar Stephie says:

    This was a great article. I personally am happy that the world has found a way for those who cannot for whatever reason have children themselves be able to have them. I have never cared enough about celebs lives to care how they have their children. It is a shame that there are people out there that feel they have a right to judge others…

    I myself had to go with adoption and am very happy with that choice…

  10. Avatar Ann says:

    Yaaayy for them! I like them as a couple, very talented and they seem very loving and supportive towards their children and each other. Thanks for the news!


  11. Avatar Kelly says:

    Okay, I’ve just gotta say it: please stop addressing the “adopted” angle! Nicole Kidman now has FOUR children. Period. The facts of their births do not matter. These are her children, NOT “two adopted children, one biological child and one born via surrogacy.” They’re a family, she’s the mom. Enough.

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Kelly, you raise a good point and one I’ve preached on over and over. See my blog on Two Simple Rules for the Media When Talking about Adoption and Third Party Reproduction. . I thought long and hard when writing this essay about whether it was even important to address how Isabella, Connor, and Sunday joined the family. Ultimately, I think it is relevant to this story–perhaps not to you, but it does shed light on understanding some of the subsequent comments. So, I made sure to follow my own rules. I completely understand where you are coming from and I appreciate that you might have handled it differently.

  12. Avatar KIm says:

    Having suffered many years of infertility and a variety of treatments, I know one thing… how emotionally difficult it is and how ignorant and uncompassionate so many women/people can be.

    I am happy for Nicole and Keith and applaud their decision. I don’t know their personal situation, but, I know that no one takes surrogacy lightly. They do it for a reason.

    A child is a blessing. If the child is wanted and loved who cares on how it is brought into this world.

    I ask all of you ignorant women whom have NO IDEA how difficult infertility really is to pause for just a second and ask how you can support all of your women friends and role models. Open your heart and forgive yourself for the many times you have shunned others for the difficult decisions or struggles they have endured. Be compassionate and thankful for any child who comes into this world wanted and loved.

  13. Personally I find it more interesting that if they’re going to base themselves in Sydney, Australia and have another child through a surrogate they could be jailed for 2 years. Surrogacy is a wonderful way to build a family – pity it’s almost impossible and mostly illegal in Australia.

  14. Avatar Leah says:

    Nicely done. I only wish some of those who made such ignorant comments were privy to this blog.

  15. Avatar Jennifer says:

    It does annoy me that most magazines, etc, seem to ignore the fact that she has 2 adopted children. As if those children don’t count somehow…

  16. The cruelty and ignorance of public comments on internet news stories about adoption, surrogacy, or anything of this nature never fail to shock me. It just makes me want to tell these people to get a hobby!

  17. Avatar Holly says:

    I’m guessing that Nicole Kidman used an egg donor both times. I am happy for them.

  18. So. I know I’m a raving KU fan, so I’m certain that my indignation is slightly illogical… but really folks. To the naysayers and grouchy-pants who have so much to say with so little real information or experience (with this family or their own fertility journey for that matter): GET A LIFE and let them enjoy their family. There are far more awful, truly immoral and harmful things that celebs do on a daily basis. Building your family HOWEVER you want to do it is NOT one of them!

    Having gotten that off my chest, let me also say (more sanely and logically!): Great post, Dawn! I am always astounded that folks “go to the mean” so quickly and so easily – especially when it’s a case they clearly know nothing about. May I read things like this and be pricked in my conscience against do the same thing myself.

  19. Avatar Christy says:

    Thanks for another great article. We have relatives who recently welcomed home their beautiful twins through surrogacy. They wanted kids for years and there’s lots of private info as to why this didn’t work out and I am beyond thrilled that they are finally able to be parents!!! What a dream come true!

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