It’s a mitzvah (…?)

“Mommy, that’s a mitzvah!”

That was my three-and-half-year-old daughter’s reaction when I told her I was becoming a surrogate.

“Am I going to get another baby brother?”

“No, honey. I am going to grow the baby for someone else.”

Blank stare.

“You know that only women can grow babies, right” She nods. “Gil and Tomer are two daddies, two men, so neither of them can grow a baby—they need help. So I’m going to grow their baby for them.”

A few seconds of silence. Then Ramona’s face splits into an enormous grin, and she says, “Mommy, that’s a mitzvah!”

And it is. It is a mitzvah. I think. Actually, I have been struggling with this during the entire process. I’ve slowly been telling people about my upcoming journey—my family, my in-laws, my boss, the HR director at work, my close friends—and pretty much without fail, everyone’s response has been some version of, “Wow, that is so amazing of you! What a gift you are giving!” And I smile uncomfortably in return and promptly change the subject. Because while I understand that I am giving these beautiful people a gift—the chance to create their family on their own terms, something most heterosexual couples (not struggling with infertility) get to do without a second thought—I am not being completely altruistic.

I am getting paid. To grow a baby.

Sure, it’s technically a settlement for pain, suffering, and lost wages. And yes, I am putting my body (and my family) through another pregnancy. Yes, I am assuming all of the risks involved with IVF, which can lead to more complicated pregnancies, including multiples. Yes, I could hemorrhage or lose my uterus or develop high blood pressure or preeclampsia or HG or post partum depression. I will have more stretch marks, more baby weight to lose, more nausea, more heartburn and leg cramps and gas and ligament pain and fatigue and, oh yeah almost forgot, another round of labor and delivery.

All of this for someone else’s baby. So perhaps I deserve to get paid. But it still feels a little yucky.

Could I refuse the payment? Perhaps. Will I? Hell, no.

If I were a scholar, I could go on to discuss the ethics of surrogacy and in doing a good deed for money. Would the rabbis consider this a mitzvah? I have no idea. So I’ll leave the question to you, dear readers. Is it still a good deed if you’re getting paid?


Really, this is not a rhetorical question.


5 thoughts on “It’s a mitzvah (…?)

  1. jodis958 says:

    ’tis a mitzvah you do, behbio–and it is how you are and how you are constructed that makes you examine and re-examine, thoughtfully, seriously, and question. it’s the mensch of you, & you must. Know, though, what you’re doing is both incredible and really, at its core, selfless (tho it is the entirety of you and your world)! It is amazing. Utterly amazing. Utterly giving… not unlike the work of a Shabbos Goy… & as for payment–think of it as a love pinch. What you’re giving–is there a currency anywhere that could equal this process? Love you, love walking with you through the journey and your entries. How powerful, funny, universal is your voice in the baring of your spirit, humor, troubles, heart.


  2. Valerie says:

    Wow this is an amazing journey and gift you are about to do for someone. When you begin to say about all the things you can & may or may not happen my heart was pounding. ❤


  3. Yosefa says:

    Met Gill and Tomer today in Tel Aviv and Gil sent me the link to your amazing Blog. Definitely a Mitzvah the highest level of Tzdaka (the word in Hebrew for Charity but sounds better in Hebrew since the word comes from Tzeded – justice, and not from caritas a Latin word that I think means price) well so the highest level our of eight written by Maimonides ” The greatest level, above which there is no greater, is to support a person is by entering into a partnership with him” I am not a Rabbi of any kind but in my understanding this is what you did you entered a partnership and in partnership there is money involved.

    In any case to see the very happy faces of Gil and Tomer and Gil being proud of your writing skills and sending this to me just says it all – you are doing a wonderful thing and if you’ll get to change the ugly carpet or to save up for your children’s higher education, it will be a win win.

    (sorry to admit but to my kids dismay we met them in a fancy restaurant with out our kids who really miss Tomer’s cooking)

    Liked by 1 person


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