Susan Green learned two weeks ago that she is pregnant with the child of a man she has never met.
"I'm ecstatic beyond belief," says the 26-year-old Baltimore County homemaker who plans to hand the baby over to its father and his infertile wife for a $10,000 fee when she delivers in September. This contract childbirth was arranged by Washington's National Center for Surrogate Parenting, which has instructed her to use the "Susan Green" pseudonym so she will remain anonymous to the child's future parents.
"It's really exciting to be able to give the gift of life to someone who couldn't otherwise have their own child," asserts the former dental assistant who quit her job when pregnant with her own son, now 15-months. "And I've got the best of both worlds. I'll be earning money while I get to stay home with my son."
She also views her surrogate experience as a chance to pursue hobbies like crocheting, gardening, teaching her son to read and designing and building furniture. "We live in a tiny house. Actually it's a garage converted into a two-bedroom home, and I like fixing it up."
Green says she's wanted to be a surrogate ever since she heard about it on the TV program "20/20" in October of 1981. "I remember saying to my husband," recalls Green, who was pregnant at the time, " 'I'd like to do that,' because we've got a close relative who's having lots of problems trying to have a baby. I know the heartbreak."
When she heard that a surrogate parenting organization was opening in Baltimore last March (the original location of NCSP), "The time seemed ripe. I had a very easy, healthy pregnancy and I enjoyed it. My husband and I don't want any more kids, and he said he'd support me all the way. My family and friends were all really excited, too. A lot of people have said they don't think they could do it, but they think it's great that I can."
This pregnancy is "similar but a little different" from her first. "I'm rubbing my stomach and talking to it, since I don't want to draw a wall up between me and this child just because I'm not keeping it. But I'm not picking out names or getting a room ready or worrying about what it's going to look like. Making that clean break is important for my mental health."
The hardest part of the experience, so far, she says, was abstaining from intercourse during the five months it took her to get pregnant by artificial insemination.
Green's husband "Fred," a 30-year-old lab technician, concedes that "there are a lot of men who might say, 'I don't want my wife carrying anyone's baby but my own.' But I don't feel that way. I just can't believe she'd really want to do something like this. The magnitude of it is beyond me. But I'm happy for her. It's something she really wants to do."
Although he is "not going around advertising the fact my wife's a surrogate," Green says friends he has told "look at me like I'm crazy, but keep any negative feelings to themselves."
His own "slight flash of doubt" concerns "the emotional part. Later on in the pregnancy if she gets thoughts about keeping the baby I want to be there to encourage her to realize it's not hers. Mainly, I want to get my wife through this and make sure everybody's happy."
When she delivers, Green will not be assisted by her husband but by NCSP's director Harriett Blankfeld, who also will join her in prepared childbirth classes. If all goes well, Green says she would consider being a surrogate for the same family if they want a sibling.