BIRTH MOTHER: The Story of America's First Legal Surrogate Mother by Elizabeth Kane

BIRTH MOTHER: The Story of America's First Legal Surrogate Mother

Email this review


Can a 37-year-old wife and mother from the Midwest find happiness in bearing a stranger's child and turning it over to him and his infertile wife? Kane (a pseudonym) thought so back in late 1979 after reading a news item about a Kentucky couple looking for a surrogate mother. ""I seemed to be filled with an almost insatiable hunger for this pregnancy."" Her husband was appalled, her three children bewildered; but she persevered. After insemination, Kane was swept by her doctor into a three-ring media circus that started with an appearance on The Phil Donahue Show. But while she was whirling around the country caroling the joys of surrogate motherhood, things were not going well at home. Her children were teased by schoolmates, and several friends were not allowed to play with them. Her husband was fired because he ""no longer fit the image of a company manager."" Meanwhile, during tests for genetic defects, Kane saw the baby on a sonogram: ""Tears slid down my face as I came to terms with the worst fear of all. . .my intense love for the tiny child inside me."" Many mood-swings later, she dutifully turned her newborn son over to its new parents, who, at her suggestion, watched the delivery. In an epilogue, Kane reveals that she now tells audiences: ""Stop treating us like we are a disposable uterus. You are tossing away our feelings with the placenta"" This tale of exploited gullibility is cannily structured into a series of scenes that suggest a TV special: Through a bedroom window, Kane spies a man tossing her husband's belongings out of his company car, thus learning of his firing; her daughter climbs into her bed and murmurs: ""It doesn't seem possible that we can spend nine months watching your baby grow. . .and then just give it away."" In sum: a ten-handkerchief read.

Pub Date: April 28th, 1988
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich