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Updated: Jan 26, 2021

Year 2021

Jan. 26, 2021 We revived an email response from the BC Ombudsperson intake worker mentioning the the Ombudsperson will not stand in solidarity with the rights, safety, dignity, safety and health of surrogate women in BC and Canada.

Jan. 16, 2021 We sent an email to all Canadian Premiers for the purpose of education and advocacy as well as to take a stand for the equality, dignity, safety, and health of surrogate women.

Jan. 02, 2021 An email was sent to Fertility Law BC, a group of fertility lawyers to explain the concerns with exploitation, and discrimination held within surrogacy. We asked that they take a stand with us.

Jan. 07, 2021 We received response from the AHRA letting us know that they are not interested in our concerns of exploitation of surrogate women, or suggestions on a research project that could better help improve the regulations of safety, health, dignity and equality of surrogate women. They also informed us that the the use of being pitched continued contact in order to induce trust of a surrogate woman before signing consent is not their problem. We cc'd our response to the AHRA, to politicians, several organizations and individuals. To view our response please visit our International Surrogacy page on our website . This same day we heard back from the office of Jenny Kwan MP, who will forward our email to Jenny and suggested that we stay in contact with our local representatives. We have further asked for Jenny to state her opinion on our concerns and respond to our earlier email in October of 2020, of whether she will take a stand with us.

Year 2020

Oct. 11th 2020, after a few months of perseverance, we finally were able to establish ourselves as an online presence. The following entries will be a continuous work in progress for logging and documentation of the steps being taken in the direction of legal changes in Canada for surrogate women.

Oct. 12th, 2020: A formal letter introducing who we are and what we do at FMSSF was sent to 13 officials, including the Prime Minister, MP's, local politicians, cabinet ministers.

Oct. 13th, 2020: We receive response from the Office of the Hon. Maryam Monsef, MP, who is forwarding our letter to the Office of the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development for review. Recent contact was made with a journalist who takes interest in reproductive laws, technology, surrogacy matters and policy debates in Canada. Recent consultation steps were made to learn more on development of a documentary for featuring policy changes in Canada.

Oct. 14, 2020: A formal letter introducing who we are and what we do at FMSSF, advocating for policy change was sent to 13 more officials, including Senators, and MP's.

Oct. 17, 2020: We received our first private donation from a very kind-hearted person. Proceeds will be forwarded towards helping our clients. Thank you!

Oct. 20, 2020: An email letter was sent as first contact to the Canadian Women's Foundation, and the office of Commission of Human Rights. FMSSF is currently taking steps towards our plans of applying for registration as a charity.

Oct. 21, 2020: We received response from the Office of Prime Minister Trudeau that our letter on behalf of FMSSF was received, carefully reviewed and forwarded to the Honourable Patricia A. Hajdu, Minister of Health, for her information and consideration.

Oct. 25, 2020: We sent a follow up letter to The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister Of Women and Gender Equality.

Oct. 26, 2020: A letter was sent including outreach program flyers to the BC Women and Children's Hospital and St. Paul's Hospital Maternity.

Oct. 27, 2020: A letter was sent to the BC Minister of Mental Health

Oct. 28, 2020: A letter was sent to the BC Attorney General

Oct. 29, 2020: Vancouver Island Health has agreed to forward our flyers for educating the health care providers of surrogacy abuse and making available our client outreach services for any surrogate birth mothers in need. A formal letter was sent on behalf of FMSSF to the Minister of Labour explaining the discriminatory and exploitive practices within the surrogacy industry.

Nov. 6, 2020 The Department of Women and Gender Equality responded to FMSSF letting us know that their office has determined that exploitation of surrogate women is not a women’s equality concern of the department‘s focus and that they transferred our email to the Minister of Health.

Nov. 23, 2020. We received helpful correspondence from the Justice Services Branch, Ministry of Attorney General.

Nov. 26, 2020 We received correspondence from the Office of Prime Minister of Canada. The following is their response: ".. I would like to acknowledge receipt of your correspondence addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau regarding surrogacy. Please be assured that your comments, offered on behalf of the First Mothers Surrogacy Support Foundation, have been carefully reviewed. I have taken the liberty of forwarding your email to the Honourable Patricia A. Hajdu, Minister of Health, who, I am certain, will appreciate being made aware of your continuing interest in this issue. Thank you for taking the time to write. M. Bredeson Executive Correspondence Officer for the Prime Minister's Office Agent de correspondance de la haute direction pour le Cabinet du Premier ministre."

Nov. 28, 2020 We began reaching out to all income earner groups associated with the surrogacy industry in Canada. We recognize that in doing so these groups will potentially not have any interest in what we do as it contrasts with how they earn their fees and who pays them during their participation within a surrogacy event. Our email is to educate on the realities of potential harm, due to lack of regulations that protect the health and well-being of surrogate women who can potentially be taken advantage of for their altruism. We suggested that they may take a stand with us as advocates of surrogate birth mothers, and gave them the information that we rely on donations that can help assist our outreach program to help women who were harmed and are also struggling with financial destitution directly related to being a surrogate for others.

Dec. 5, 2020 An email was sent to the contact for Review of Parentage Family Law Act of BC, to provide information about our NFPO and what we do and to request for surrogate concerns to be included in their current review process. We sent an email to the AHRA, with suggestions for review and follow up requirements, and to advocate for research into the numbers of women who were induced into surrogacy under false pretence of continued contact and experienced cut contact after legal paper work for transfer of parentage was completed.

Dec. 11, 2020 We heard response from the INMHA, affiliation to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. According to the respondent, there seems to have been no research within Canada on the impact on mental health of surrogate women who felt exploited by the process or who had agreed to surrogate under conditions of having some form of continued contact and then later experience contact cut after the birth.

Dec. 19, 2020 An email was sent to the Minister of Women and Gender Equality, asking for their office to reconsider that exploitation and abuse of surrogate women is an issue that must also be included in their focus.

Dec. 22, 2020 We received correspondence from the Minister of Justice's office who wrote that they are forwarding our concerns to the Minister of Health.

Dec. 29, 2020 We emailed the Canadian Minister of Labour Honourable Filomena Tassi, with our concerns over exploitation of surrogate women through laws that are structure through a profit from altruism model. We asked her if she she agrees that the term altruism is being used to disguise and mislead for the purpose of labour exploitation.


Updated: Mar 3, 2021

In the spring of last year there was an apparent uproar on Facebook (FB) over a recent CBC article on a surrogacy problem in Canada.

I had left FB almost a year ago and so was only made aware of the article through my counsellor and another surrogate woman I am in touch with. My counsellor emailed me the link while mentioning to specifically read the comments; although initially I was apprehensive to read anything concerning surrogacy and public opinion. My fellow surrogate friend mentioned, "can you imagine how the surrogate the article is talking about feels right now? Apparently, many surrogate women tried to talk to the journalist who wrote it to give the other side, but he never bothered to respond". After reading the article I mentally re-titled it as "Intended Parents feel entitled to exploit, but now demand to know why the grocery budget for their surrogate was so high." I further imagined sitting down with the IP's and the surrogates written about in the article, to ask some honest questions and mull over some truths.

Although I have never experienced being managed through a surrogacy agency myself, I do have some insider knowledge, having been a surrogate woman myself, to weigh in on 'what the real oversight in Canadian surrogacy regulations is'. Right off the bat, a possible theory that comes to mind is that because of criminalization of any monetary compensation to surrogate women for their time, grocery budgets can be a potential way to generate a legitimate 'sense' of reciprocity. Allowing for a high grocery allowance, could possibly be a way of working around the laws so that intended parents don't have to leave their surrogate feeling completely exploited. Some intended parents might welcome a way that they can legally find a way to reciprocate the spirit of generosity.

The IP's in the article apparently were so shocked to know that their surrogate would have such a large grocery monthly costs statement in comparison to their own groceries. One intended parent came across as though quite upset that a lottery ticket somehow accidentally got slipped into the expenses. The task of keeping track of every receipt and maintaining the monthly expenses is a bit of a part time job in itself for surrogate birth mothers, and at the end of the day, most likely not every expense can fit into the previously arranged agreement. There is a strictness of the law for a surrogate to account for every penny pending threat of criminal charges, that it seems highly doubtful anyone would intend to slip in a lottery ticket. If I had the chance, one of the questions I would ask the IP's in the CBC article is then, ''why wouldn't you want to give your surrogate a large grocery budget, especially knowing you are knowingly exploiting her so that you can hopefully become parents? Or do you feel so strongly that a surrogate mother should have nothing beyond out of pocket expenses paid that you'd rather publicly shame and humiliate her over an accidentally submitted lottery ticket receipt?''

There are some other important questions I'd like to ask over the subject of concerns of money. I would ask them if they plan on spending money on child day care, or a nanny at some point during their child's life? I'd ask the intended mother in the article if she realizes that children from conception to at least to their early 20's will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in clothing, food, education, gifts and more? I would mention to the ip's in the article that there are monetary expenses incurred for many surrogates, for things not covered in the agreement, or that they will never know about. Costs such as required dental treatments due to IVF and pregnancy hormones can end up unexpectedly costing the surrogate mother thousands of dollars.

The apparent transparency here is that surrogacy agencies are a money-making business, they recruit for the thousands of IP's who have their ''marketable wants'', and so that the IP's will not have to rely on the adoption pathway. Perhaps the surrogacy agencies also need to make their surrogate's happy for word of mouth advertisements, as well as return business to keep their ability to increase the availability of surrogates for more wanting IP's? The real concern behind transparency of surrogacy expenses is that the intended parents in the article are all too often the embodiment of an unspoken misogynistic attitude towards surrogate women in general. An attitude that seems to equal that surrogate women are strictly there for the purpose of providing their use of their body, time and life-force and deserve nothing extra in return.

I personally can relate to the other side of the grocery expenses challenge. I recall attempting to haggle back and forth over several emails and days while asking the IP's I surrogated for to have a $10 a day grocery allowance rather than a $60 dollar a week amount initially agreed on. Even when my reasonable increase request was finally allowed, I was soon after sent an article featuring a surrogate mother who doesn't ask for grocery amounts. I imagine the surrogate woman in that article was not a single mother and most likely had a partner at home who was helping to support her. At the end of the day, I spent times over the allowable grocery budget, however I didn't want to have to go through the demeaning process all over again to be treated as though I were the one taking advantage of the intended parents. Similarly, on another occasion it was brought to my attention that I had charged $10 in gas rather than $5, shortly after leaving a three-hour pregnancy gestational diabetes test appointment. It was an honest mistake on my part, most likely due to weeks of sleep deprivation and physical challenges with the pregnancy. Then again later on, after an emergency c-section birth and fifty pound weight gain, I also had been shamed by the IP's for asking for the costs required for me to have enough comfortable post pregnancy clothing to wear for daily and back to work wear. Meanwhile the ip's owned three, million dollar homes and went on six-weeks long exotic vacations.

I can't imagine what it would have felt like to discover that the IP's I surrogated for had an article written for the public interest about how they were possibly taken advantage of through the altruistic gift I gave them. All IP's will no doubt be aware of the hundreds of hours of appointment times, communications and management that a surrogate mother is required to contribute as a gift. The IP's will also be aware of the fact that surrogate women often take hundreds of doses of hormones and injections to allow for a pregnancy to happen and that these hormones have an impact on the physical and psychological health of the surrogate mother. The CBC News article was written by a journalist who was willing to frame the concern in such a way that blatantly erased the reality that exploitation of surrogate women is the real heart of the matter here. Instead he focused entirely on the intended parents were possibly taken advantage of over having to compensate for high grocery amounts and a lottery ticket. Meanwhile, it is a rumour, and a surrogacy industry secret that many IP's go out of their way to find creative ways to give back to their surrogate multi-fold in sincere gratitude. Not every IP is comfortable exploiting women and those that aren't bring the spirit of generosity to the table. However, many surrogate women experience being used and disrespected for their altruistic gift.

Lastly, I would ask the IP's in the article if they ever were concerned over the amount they were required to pay for private life insurance in the event their surrogate died because of the pregnancy they were asking for. Did they find the costs associated with this fair or too high? In Canada, all surrogacy contracts must include that the IP's pay for life insurance because there are higher risks involved with surrogacy pregnancy and women can still die from conditions like pre-eclampsia and as well as while in childbirth. Although infertility is unimaginably painful for many, not being able to empathize with their surrogate can perhaps be the very reason why some IP's might complain about the lack of transparency with some expenses.

Eventually, I did end up reading the comments of the article as my counsellor had suggested. From what I read, the way the public reacted for the most part was unsympathetically towards the IP's in the article. Some people suggested that adoption instead of surrogacy is the answer, while others pointed to the concerns as being an obvious issue with capitalism. The woman in the photo holding her baby in the article is really not a victim for gaining a child through another woman's sacrifices, despite having to pay for a high end grocery budget. The truth is that the surrogate birth mother of the child put her life on the line, health at risk and gave from her heart just so that the woman in the article could have the chance to experience her dream of being a mom.

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