Two sisters from Androscoggin County are making the dream of motherhood a reality for women across the country.
Julie and Rita Vye are gestational surrogates – carrying a client’s fertilized egg rather than being inseminated themselves.
Julie, a single mother of three, first became interested in surrogacy in 2018 when she saw a friend from high school post on Facebook detailing her own experience. After reaching out to the friend for more information, she sent a request to Circle Surrogacy LLC, a Boston-based surrogacy and egg donation agency.
“It kind of caught my attention because I have three kids and love being pregnant, but obviously I didn’t want another because I’m taking care of my kids on my own,” Julie said. , 36 years. “So I just asked her about it and then she basically gave me information. So I filled out an application and went from there.”
Rita, who has a 9-year-old daughter herself, got interested in 2019 after Julie was the birth mother of a New Jersey client.
“Well, I was there the whole process with my sister, and I was there the whole trip and, at the end of the day, when she gave birth and the baby was given to the mother, it was was such a powerful thing to experience. I said it was something that I would really love to do in my life, so I decided to sign up and here I am now, “said Rita, 33.
The two sisters are currently pregnant for the second time as surrogate mothers: Julie is pregnant with triplets, which was not originally planned. The embryo transfer was performed at a Los Angeles hospital after two unsuccessful attempts. Two embryos were transferred and one separated, resulting in a monochorial diamniotic pregnancy (MCDA), where a set of twins share a placenta and only one fetus has its own.
It was an unexpected miracle for his client, a woman from Fairfax, Va., Whose husband died when they began the application process. As a testament to her memory and their common desire to start a family, she proceeded to surrogacy.
Rita is pregnant with a boy, the second child she bore for a woman in Switzerland. The first child, a little girl, was born in June 2020.
The two sisters are surrogate mothers for single women: Julie having deliberately chosen to do so. “I feel like most people, when looking to do something like this, want to know it’s for a family or a two-person relationship, I guess you could say. I feel like no one thinks about singles, which is why I chose to do it for a single woman, ”Julie said.
Although surrogates are paid, the service they provide goes well beyond monetary gain. Just knowing that I can help someone, says Rita, is worth it.
The act of surrogacy itself is an emotional burden, and while bonding with the child can happen, the sisters understand that the babies they carry are just not theirs.
“I think (you) approach it all early on with the mindset that it’s not your baby, you’re doing it to make someone else’s dream come true, so that makes it great. easier, ”says Julie. “Also, once you give birth it’s like when you see the bond between mother and baby, I can’t even describe the feeling… it’s just immense happiness to know that you did that. . I guess you can tell it’s a little indescribable I guess.
The Circle agency (which the two sisters use) works like a dating app: surrogates create a profile with their information, preferences and requirements and the agency makes it available to potential parents for them to find. the right person for them. The agency also suggests matches between surrogate mothers and potential parents based on perceived similarities.
The agency also acts as a liaison with regard to payment. The parents pay the agency and the agency creates an escrow account from which all expenses necessary during the process will be covered. The Circle agency then pays surrogate mothers directly.
Base fees for Circle-affiliated surrogates start at around $ 40,000, which is the minimum, and can reach $ 60,000 in the state of Maine, including additional benefits. Payment varies depending on the condition and whether or not the surrogate has health insurance.
Legal documents establishing custody of the baby precede birth, with what is called a “pre-birth order”. In Maine, the mother’s name (who is technically the birth mother because the fetus is born from her egg) is already on the birth certificate, unlike some states, such as New York or Massachusetts, where birth contracts surrogacy is not always confirmed by a court of law.
Maine is one of 10 states considered “friends of surrogacy” according to Surrogate.com, including California, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. These states most often grant and maintain pre-birth orders: factors such as marital status, sexual orientation, and genetic relationship to the child generally do not affect their issuance in these states.
Originally from Auburn, the two sisters decided that their second time would be the last. Julie, a resident of Leeds, has been to the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital, which specializes in MCDA pregnancies, on several occasions amid problems with one of the twins. “One of the babies in the shared placenta is not growing as much as the other,” said Julie, who is due in April. “They found problems with the umbilical cord. They call it selective intrauterine growth restriction (sIUGR). There’s been a lot of back and forth and monitoring that they have to do, basically. ”
This, added to the obvious physical limitations, has not allowed her to be as involved in the daily lives of her children as she would like, which she plans to make up for once the babies are delivered.
“(My children) are completely understanding; I can’t wait to be able to spend time with my kids, do fun things and enjoy time with them. I usually try to do something special with them even after I have had the first baby. I appreciate that my kids are so supportive and understanding, but I feel like now is the time for me to focus on them and not be pregnant anymore.
However, surrogacy enabled Julie to improve her family’s situation, something she had absolutely been keen on from the start, eventually buying a house in Leeds.
“I love being pregnant,” said Rita, who is due in May. “But, after the first time, I didn’t intend to do it again. I just wanted to do it for the experience but when mum asked me to do it again I didn’t feel like I had to do it but felt I should because she would be (part) on a long time waiting list. “
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