BY DEBORAH MOON
While a Portland native’s new book on surrogacy ocuses on astudy in Israel, the country withthe world’s frst and most exten-sive surrogacy regulations, the hu-man experience o dealing withthat strange situation is common toother surrogates around the world.Elly Teman’s “Birthing aMother: The Surrogate Body and the Pregnant Sel,” publishedMarch 4 by University o Calior-nia Press, is based on the author’sPhD dissertation research at He-brew University in Jerusalem. Athird-generation Portland native, Teman attended Hillel Academy and Congregation Shaarie Torah, where her grandparents Ruth andRobert Erlich are still members.Her great-grandmother TillieNepom arrived in Portland in 1913at the age o 13, just months olderthan Teman was when she movedto Israel with her parents Rhisaand Nissan Teman at age 12½.Israel’s “Embryo CarryingAgreements Law” had just legal-ized gestational surrogacy when Teman began her graduate studies.She said she immediately thoughtit would be a great anthropologi-cal case study. She began her PhDstudies in 1998, just ater the frstsurrogate birth in Israel, which“went wrong” and drew intensescrutiny o “what not to do in sur-rogacy,” she said. The resultinguror created even more intenseregulation o surrogacy in Israel.A cultural anthropologist, Teman decided to look at thestrange situation o a couple hav-ing another woman carry theirbaby and how the surrogate deals with “being pregnant while notexpecting a baby.”“The human experience o making sense o this predicamentis common to other surrogates inother places,” she said.Teman said all couples consid-ering surrogacy ear that the sur-rogate mother will bond with thebaby, such as in the amed Baby M case in which the surrogatemother ought a court battle toretain custody o the baby.“When you read this book andlisten to the words o women act-ing as surrogates, they are makinginormed, rational decisions,” said Teman, noting that in Israel the women are gestational surrogates who conceive through invitro ertil-ization rather than the artifcial in-semination that made Baby M thegenetic daughter o the surrogate.“They see how high the stakesare or the technology to work andthey see how much the couple hasriding on it to become parents,”she said. “From the beginning,surrogates talk about dividingthemselves … reerring to theirbelly area as ‘not me.’ They haveto mark their limits to remember where their boundaries are.”In Israel, a small country wherethe arthest surrogates could liverom the couple is our hours, sur-rogates oten orm strong bonds with the couple or whom they are carrying a child, Teman said.She added that sharing a lan-guage and culture also help unitethem. (Israeli law requires thehost and genetic mother to be thesame religion).“They (surrogate mothers)don’t want to be choked and tak-en over, but they do want to sharethe experience with the ‘intendedmother’ (as the genetic mother isknown in Israeli law),” she said. The intended mother re-quently accompanies the sur-rogate to all doctor’s appointe-ments, takes home the ultrasoundpictures and does the things they think pregnant women do. Themother is usually with the surro-gate during the birth process.Teman said that “they transitioninto being a mother through theprocess.” She said some o the wom-en she studied actually had a pseudopregnancy, gaining weight and eel-ing contractions. Two women, withno hormone injections, spontane-ously developed breast milk.In Israel, the laws aid the pro-cess, calling the surrogate the“carrying mother” and the biolog-ical mother the “intended moth-er.” Culturally, the dierence iseven stronger with the surrogatecommonly being reerred to as an“Innkeeper, who is hosting thisamily coming into being.”Israeli law, originally written toensure children were halachically Jewish, has expanded over the years to protect the surrogate’smental and physical health, as well as the intended parents’rights. A state committee mustapprove every surrogate arrange-ment. The committee screens thesurrogate and the couple psycho-logically and medically screensthe surrogate. The committeeensures the contract is valid andthat it provides or contingenciessuch as what happens i the baby has a birth deect or who will theguardians be i the parents die be-ore the birth.Conversely in the UnitedStates, regulations vary rom stateto state and even between dier-ent surrogate agencies in the samestate.In Israel, Teman said surro-gates are much more open aboutbeing paid or their eort. All Is-raeli surrogates are single women,many single mothers who use themoney to raise their own children.“It doesn’t mean it’s not amitzvah just because they are us-ing the money to get ahead,” Te-man said the surrogates reason.Teman is now a research el-low at the Penn Center or theIntegration o Genetic Health-care Technologies at the Univer-sityh o Pennsylvania, where sheis studying how ultra-Orthodox women make decisions on prena-tal genetic tests.
Ex-Portlander’s surrogacy book draws on Israel study