BROOKFIELD, Conn. — Brookfield mom Joy Greenstein wanted to make a difference that would last a lifetime for someone -- and she is doing this by carrying a baby for another couple.
“It has always intrigued me — the whole idea of being able to help someone in this way. I think this is the greatest gift a person' can give someone,” said Greenstein, 37, who is due to give birth on April 19.
She is a gestational carrier. This means that she is not biologically related to the child she is carrying. The egg and sperm came from the birth parents through the process of in vitro fertilization.
The Center For Surrogacy & Egg Donation in Massachusetts matched Greenstein with the couple she is helping. They live in the Boston area.
Many steps were involved in the process to surrogacy — from completing detailed questionnaires and being interviewed to getting medical examinations and undergoing a psychological evaluation, said Greenstein, who is an elementary school reading teacher.
Last August, in the second round of IVF, she got pregnant.
And since then, and throughout the entire pregnancy, Greenstein said she has detached herself emotionally from the baby.
“When it first started kicking, I kept telling myself that I am doing this for the couple. I've trained my thought process from the very beginning," said Greenstein, who has two children of her own — Vanessa, 9, and Mason, 7 — with her husband, Matthew.
The couple had tried to become pregnant for eight years and suffered many miscarriages. Using a gestational carrier was their final resort, according to Greenstein.
“We talk a few times a week. I send her pictures of my belly and she comes to every doctor’s appointment," Greenstein said of her relationship with the couple.
Initially, Greenstein's son had a tough time adjusting to the fact that the baby wouldn't be joining their family. “It was challenging at first for Mason. He asked if he can name the baby and play with the baby."
By far, the craziest part of her pregnancy is what people say when she tells them that she is carrying someone else’s baby.
"95 percent say they would never be able to give the baby up. The other 5 percent say 'I couldn’t do that to my body,'" she said.
She plans to use the money she is earning as a gestational carrier for her children’s college educations.
Although it’s legal to be a gestational carrier in Connecticut, in New York, it’s not supported. "I work in New York. New York State will fine me $40,000 if I give birth there. They will say the baby is mine and they don't support what I'm doing," she said.
As a legal a formality, Greenstein and her husband are attending a pre-birth hearing at Danbury Superior Court next week.
“The judge will say, 'Do you understand that you are not the baby's legal guardian — the couple whose sperm and egg that made the baby is. They are the ones who will be given the baby’s birth certificate,'" she said.
Greenstein can't wait for the moment when the baby is handed over to the parents. "I'm really excited. I'm looking forward to seeing their reaction," she said.
She wishes that more women would consider becoming gestational carriers.
"It makes me sad that many people won't do it. What is nine months of your life worth for a lifetime of happiness for someone else?"
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