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Many Surrogate Mothers Have Good Experience And No Regrets

January 26, 1987

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ Erin Brotman says she loves to be pregnant.

The 24-year-old bank worker loves it so much that after giving birth to her daughter three years ago, Mrs. Brotman wanted to become pregnant again even though she and her husband weren’t ready for another child.

So she became a surrogate mother. The experience was so fulfilling, she’s decided to have another child for the couple for whom she was artificially inseminated and bore a healthy 6-pound, 8-ounce girl on July 14.

In the meantime, Mrs. Brotman is pregnant with a child she plans to keep.

″Everyone looks at me like I’m weird,″ she said last week in an interview from her Ontario, Calif., home. ″I can’t really describe it. I like to be pregnant. It doesn’t slow me down. I go through my normal routine. I even feel better, physically, when I’m pregnant.″

Surrogate motherhood has gotten publicity recently because of a case in New Jersey state court in which a woman decided not to give up the baby she had agreed to bear for a childless couple for $10,000.

But officials who arrange surrogate motherhood contracts say it is Mrs. Brotman’s experience that is typical among the approximately 500 women who during the past decade have agreed to bear babies for a fee.

Mrs. Brotman said she developed a close relationship with the couple who hired her for $12,000. Her husband, young daughter, family and co-workers were all supportive. And she said she had no problems giving the child up to the biological father, a physician, and the adoptive mother, an interior designer.

Mrs. Brotman fondly recalled the day the baby was born, with the infertile couple and Mrs. Brotman’s husband in the delivery room.

″The emotion in the delivery room was greater than anything I’ve felt,″ she said. ″I can’t even describe it. The emotion and the feeling of accomplishment. And then to see them as parents was just something I can’t even describe.″

The experience was different for Mary Beth Whitehead of Brick Township, the surrogate mother in the New Jersey court case. The 29-year-old housewife said she decided in the delivery room not to give up the baby, now 10 months old.

Superior Court Judge Harvey R. Sorkow heard two weeks of arguments this month on whether the contract between Mrs. Whitehead and William and Elizabeth Stern is valid. Next month, the trial in Hackensack will focus on who should have custody of the child, and Sorkow will rule on both questions.

″Mary Beth Whitehead is the exception,″ said Beth Scholten, who like Mrs. Brotman worked through the Center For Surrogate Parenting in Beverly Hills, Calif. ″We’re not all like her. There have been about three dozen surrogate mothers at our center and not one case turned out like Mary Beth Whitehead’s.″

She added: ″We all feel very comfortable with what we’ve done and we don’t have any regrets.″

Dr. Hilary Hanafin, who interviews women for the center, said a number of factors can make a woman want to become a surrogate.

″She’s usually the type of woman who feels that being a mother and having children is very important to society and one’s life,″ Ms. Hanafin said. ″Therefore, she feels a great deal of empathy for couples who can’t have kids.″

Some women become surrogates to deal with unresolved feelings, such as the pain felt after having an abortion or giving up of a child for adoption, but most enter into a surrogate arrangement out of a desire to accomplish something, Ms. Hanafin said.

″They’re typically bright women, but often not able to fulfill career goals or more grand things,″ she said. ″Being a surrogate mother is an opportunity to do something very special with their lives.″

Mrs. Scholten, who works in an insurance company’s collections department, decided to become a surrogate after a friend had trouble conceiving. She underwent physical and psychological examinations before being approved by the surrogate center, which says it rejects nine of every 10 applicants.

In December 1984, she and her husband met with the couple who eventually hired her. A year later, she gave birth to a boy.

″The only loss I felt was the fact that the whole thing was over,″ Mrs. Scholten said. ″I knew I would be missing their friendship and phone calls. It was such a neat experience.″

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