Womb for Rent
Why more and more infertile women are turning to others to bear their babies
As Ilene Glickman approached her 40th birthday, she decided it was time to have the third child she'd always wanted. Already the parents of Cheryl, 12, and Andrew, 9, she and her husband, Steven, a dentist, didn't feel that their family was complete. Ilene, an owner of a children's clothing company in Boca Raton, FL, got pregnant three times -- and miscarried three times because the lining of her uterus did not grow thick enough to sustain a pregnancy. Finally, she underwent several in vitro fertilization (IVF) attempts that failed but yielded seven embryos that she was then able to have frozen.
"Steve and I looked at each other and said, 'This is craziness,'" she remembers. "I had my embryos, but I couldn't carry them. I was devastated. But I wasn't about to give up."
Ilene figured her only chance to have a third biological child was to hire another woman, a surrogate, to carry it for her. She looked up surrogacy on the Internet and started to call agencies and lawyers all over the country, taking copious notes. She spent months investigating websites on the topic. Finally, over the Internet, she connected with a 23-year-old woman in California willing to carry a child for her. After six months of procedural screenings -- psychological, legal, and medical -- it turned out that the woman had the same uterine-lining problem Ilene had.
Exhausted and depressed but still determined to expand her family, Ilene, now 45, put another ad on a surrogacy website. Among the five replies she received, one stood out: a young woman who sounded kind and compassionate, almost too good to be true.
Ilene e-mailed her immediately and throughout the next 24 hours got to know her online. She learned that the potential surrogate's name was Carrie Russell, she was 24, and she was a deeply spiritual person who believed that when one door closes, another opens: Although she'd lost an ovary at 17, Russell was able to conceive her daughter, now 6, but then developed endometriosis. After seven surgeries to correct it, she had her son, now 4. "It was a miracle," says Russell, who lives in Toledo. "I wanted to give something back." What could be more important, she thought, than giving life? Ilene knew she'd found the person who would bear her third child.