Gina Kinson is married to Ian and has three children Ellie (22), Alex (18) and Samuel (13). She works in precision engineering and runs a Sit n Iron service in her spare time. She loves to read and paint especially body art and as a family, they love to go camping. Gina is also a surrogate.
Hi Gina, thank you so much for agreeing to speak with me. Surrogacy isn’t a subject that is often spoken about or understood. How did you first hear about it and what inspired you to become a surrogate?
I had a friend at school who had twins via surrogacy in the US and wrote a book about his journey as a guide for others to follow….I congratulated him and mentioned that I would have loved to have been able to give that gift to a couple as I have been so lucky to have had my children enjoy being a mum. Richard introduced me to an online support group and I quickly became part of a fantastic world of love and friendship. I had no idea who I wanted to help but I knew I wanted to make a family and if possible stay in their lives as forever friends.
Image credit – @hannahdougalphotography
Can you talk me through the process of becoming a surrogate? How do you meet and agree to surrogacy with the other party? Does the process take a lot of time getting to know each other?
So you can go into Surrogacy two ways through an agency or independently….they are very similar its just with independent you have to do lot of the leg work yourselves eg STI checks, DBS checks and sorting out your own agreements etc In the Independent Surrogacy groups online there is a wealth of knowledge, lots of experienced IPS and Surrogates and plenty of templates for agreements and expense spreadsheets to follow. Once you’ve joined a group or a few of them you make an introduction and post a few pictures then get involved in a conversation and chat to other IPS and Surrogates. Its a bit like dating, you get to know others and if you like someone then you can chat further with regards to ‘matching and becoming a team’ Its recommended to spend at least a few months getting to know someone and talking through all your agreements and options before ‘matching’ and starting your journey.
Is there a legal aspect to being a surrogate? Obviously, as you are growing a baby for another family how do you protect yourself and the unborn child? Do you need to form an agreement through a solicitor?
From a legal point of view as a Surrogate whether traditional (use your own eggs) or gestational (using IPs eggs or donor egg via IVF) are the legal parent and have to go on the birth certificate until the Parental Rights are transferred through a Parental Order. Agreements are put in place and Wills and Insurances are sorted to protect both surrogate and baby should anything untoward happen. At the moment the agreements are not legally binding however courts take them into consideration as they show willing and are a document of intention. Solicitors do not have to be involved in the process at present as it is pretty straightforward although a few teams use them for advice and clarity.
How does being a surrogate make you feel? Do you get a sense of accomplishment from helping other families?
Many people ask whether it is difficult to give the baby up but there really are no maternal feelings towards them and its heartwarming to see them back in the arms of their parents. Watching the moment when they become a family is for a surrogate the absolute pinnacle of a journey. During the pregnancy, it’s lovely to feel baby, the kicks and the wriggles and I can smile and feel a sense of warmth, care and a nurturing feeling as they grow. Afterwards, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment and pride and its amazing to be able to stay in touch and watch the little family grow and know you’ve had a part in that.
How many times have you been a surrogate and can you see yourself continuing to be a surrogate for some time?
I’ve been a surrogate twice and was lucky enough to be able to carry two little girls for the same family. I met Fran and Mark in 2014 and we matched and started our journey in early 2015. It took 3 transfers to finally conceive Evelyn who was born in July 2016 and only 1 transfer with their last embryo to conceive Grace who was born 2.5yrs later at the beginning of 2019.
With Grace’s pregnancy I was very ill with hyperemesis so I’m unsure whether I’ll do another journey, therefore, I’m taking a year out to think about it before making a final decision. It is so hard on the family too I have to consider everyone and whether they want to move forward as well.
Image credit: @hannahdougalphotography
I suspect you are a pro at giving birth by now, but does the thought of labour and birth worry you at all? Do you get to choose how you give birth to the baby regarding the type of birth (water, home, assisted) and pain relief or is this guided by the parents? Are the parents present at the birth?
I was lucky enough to have had 3 very easy vaginal births before embarking on surrogacy and I actually enjoyed labour and found it an empowering experience. Evelyns birth was pretty straightforward and both parents were there to see their little girl come into the world….in fact Mark took quite an active role cutting the cord and passing the baby to his wife. We spent the next 24 hrs together chatting, feeding, cuddling and generally basking in the afterbirth glow…..it was important to just rest and let things settle before going our separate ways. After Grace I pumped and gave my breastmilk to Fran so she could use it alongside the formula milk, we only lived an hour away so it was easy to pop over and see them, any excuse for a cuddle!!
After the birth of the baby, and you have given the child to the parents, do you continue to have a relationship with the family? How do you feel when you hand over the child?
It is quite surreal after birth as you almost feel like you’re intruding on their birth even though it’s vital that you’re there. The baby is a beautiful product of love, trust and lots of hard work but never are there any maternal feelings… I love the smell of a newborn and our relationship is so good Fran was able to be relaxed enough to have a sleep and allow me to cuddle and feed each of the girls without the fear of bonding or changing my mind. They have asked myself and Ian to be godparents and we feel honoured to be able to play a role in their lives. To us the girls are special, they are not ours but as with other close friends and relatives, we adore their children and enjoy the time we spend with them.
At Mummy Social, we are firm believers in having great friendships and family support, how have your friends and family helped you with your surrogacies?
I am very lucky to have a wonderful husband and children to support me along with my parents and a few close friends. However, the biggest support comes from other surrogates and IPS in the surrogacy world that have given me such an amazing amount of time, love and understanding… I feel its only right I give back. Therefore I have taken on an admin role of a support group and together we have grown an online presence including a website, Instagram and FB. I also have involvement in the Law Changes coming up and continue with my radio interviews, school presentations and general sharing of surrogacy stories and information. My aim is to raise awareness of independent surrogacy and maintain good practice with the community. I was recently nominated as National Surrogacy Awareness Champion of 2019.