Steiner (Crazy Love, 2009) overlays the story of Rhonda and Gerry Wile—an Arizona nurse and firefighter whose search for children led them to surrogate pregnancy—on an emotionally heightened, journalistic overview of infertility and the options available to prospective parents.
With the help of Surrogacy India, a commercial surrogacy agency, and a mother from a Mumbai slum, the Wiles became parents after discovering they could not have children on their own. Steiner alternates between the basics of their meeting, marriage and journey toward parenthood overseas with reproductive facts, explanations of traditional surrogacy (in which another woman’s egg and uterus are employed), in vitro fertilization and its early history, and gestational surrogacy (in which one woman’s egg is implanted in another’s womb). Noting barren women of the Bible as examples, as well as celebrities who have used IVF and surrogacy, Steiner appeals to a popular demographic to craft a personable account of the hope surrogacy can offer. This well-intended effort is hindered by dramatic comparisons, such as the turmoil of infertility being likened to the pain felt by parents whose children have been kidnapped. In descriptions of Rhonda, purple prose intrudes, as when Steiner addresses her contemplation of her desire for children, scanning the horizon “like a crime victim trying to recall an assailant’s features for the precinct sketch artist,” or when she learns of a neighbor's pregnancy and responds "like a rabid coyote baring its teeth.” Still, the author effectively touches on the complications of surrogacy—including its economic, legal, ethical, psychological, and societal ramifications—in clear, informative ways. She also offers insights on some of the controversies, from religious perspectives to the lack of coverage for surrogacy by many insurance companies.
A brisk account of one family's determination and of a burgeoning, international solution.