Becoming a surrogate mother
Kriesel to give birth for another family
By Holly Neumann
Amanda Kriesel always looked forward to being a mother.
“I had a great mom and watched my sister Heather (Boyle) be a great mom,” Kriesel said. “I know these days a lot of people feel that you should establish yourself as a career women and not strive to be ‘just a mom,’ but that is who I am and what I wanted to do, being a wife and mother.”
Living in Iola with her husband Lucas and her two biological sons two sons, Kriesel decided to become a surrogate mother.
“It has just always been something I said was going to do,” she said. “I remember telling my husband I wanted to do this before we even started our own family.”
She went on to say that she wanted to help someone else meet their dreams of becoming a parent, just as her dreams had been met.
“I had a friend that has gone through this journey and she was able to help me into the process,” Kriesel said. “And I am working with Shirley Zager from an agency from Gurnee, Illinois area called Parenting Partners.”
According to Kriesel, Zager has also supported her efforts.
“She is an educator, writer, speaker, legislative activist and advocate,” she said. “She has done a great job educating me even more along the process.”
The road to becoming a surrogate is not an easy one.
“There is a certain level of trust you have to have,” Zager said. “You are trusting a complete stranger to grow your baby for you. It is a huge commitment of time and energy.”
“You really have to be willing to be an open book,” Kriesel added. “You need to be in good health, live a safe and healthy lifestyle, while having been able to successfully carry your own child.”
Both Kriesel and her husband filled out forms to help the program coordinators match the surrogate mother with the intended family.
Once a match was found, the process starts with the fertility clinic and medical appointments, health screenings and blood tests.
Fertility medication helped ensure that Kriesel’s body would not reject the embryos and ultrasounds were used to monitor the best time to implant.
“Our one stipulation as a couple was that we needed to work with a person who could not get pregnant verses just did not want to carry a baby,” she said. “We were matched with a family that was unable to have a child and it has been a true miracle to watch this process move forward.”
A legal team is also involved in the process.
“I have a contract with the family,” she said. “This is a very long process, but necessary one. There are things to protect the health and rights of the surrogate, the embryo, as well as the intended parents.”
The contract also includes stipulations regarding insurance, payments, court orders, genetic testing, terminations and selective reductions if needed.
“One of the biggest discussions my husband and I had to have is how many babies we were willing to carry,” she said. “With any pregnancy embryos can split and create multiples, so there needed to be an agreement and this was done with the consultations of a medical provider.”
Compromises are also made along the way.
“I had to set aside my personal opinions to meet the needs of the intended parents,” she said. “For example, I did not do any genetic testing offered around five months of pregnancy with either of my boys, but I have agreed to do it for this family.”
She added that at all cost, the life of the carrier is protected.
“I had to have medical insurance and life insurance in case something would ever happen to me to ensure that my family will be okay,” she said.
Also included in the contract is a stipulation regarding the rights to the embryo if both of the intended parents lost their lives.
“They do a really good job trying to think of everything to protect all the parties,” she said.
Kriesel is currently 18 weeks pregnant.
“I am what is called a gestational carrier/surrogate which means I am carrying a baby that is not at all genetically related to me,” she said. “In this case embryos were already created and frozen and would be transferred into my uterus.”
The transfer occurred at Institute for Human Reproduction, fertility clinic in Chicago.
“The whole transfer procedure was painless and took less than 10 minutes,” she said. “We were able to watch the whole transfer through the technology of an ultrasound. I had two embryos implanted.”
Kriesel was pregnant with twins for about seven weeks when one baby was lost due to a miscarriage.
“Extra precautions were taken to ensure I did not lose the other baby,” she said. “The next few weeks were very stressful for both families.”
She is currently working with an international couple.
“While going through the matching process we were given portfolios on the intended families and they were given ours,” she said. “This included the family story we had to complete as well as a medical records and family photos.”
Though she has not yet met the couple in person, they have talked through Skype and emails.
“Every time something happens, such as doctor’s appointments, we are in communication almost instantly, so I can keep them up to date,” she said.
Kriesel believes that the hardest part will be saying good-bye to the whole family.
“I have mentally been preparing myself for the fact that this is not my baby,” she said. “I still think it will be like saying goodbye to your good friends and their family that is moving away. I know we will stay in touch after the baby is born, because that is something that we both agreed upon in the contract.”
She has also found support in this venture from her family and friends.
“I talk pretty openly about doing this and most people’s response to me it that it does not surprise them one bit,” Kriesel said. “I know I may not do anything extraordinary or amazing in my life, but if I can do something to make someone else’s life better or more fulfilling, I will do that.”