Amy Smart surprised Instagram followers on New Year’s Eve 2016 when she shared the blissful ending to her five-year struggle against infertility, revealing in a pair of candid posts that she and husband Carter Oosterhouse had quietly sought out a surrogate to carry the child they welcomed into the world the day after this past Christmas.
The “Just Friends” actress introduced her daughter, Flora, to fans on Dec. 31 with a heartfelt, grateful caption honoring the “kind, loving surrogate for carrying [the baby].” Prior to their baby’s Dec. 26 arrival, the couple had kept publicly mum that they were expecting their first child, let alone that she and her husband had chosen to start their family through surrogacy. Smart’s openness via social media contrasts starkly against a lingering societal stigma of shame attached to both female infertility and surrogate pregnancy.
Both traditional and gestational surrogacy involves a fertile woman carrying another individual or couple’s embryo and subsequently giving birth, but the actual fertilization processes set them apart. Traditional surrogacy involves the surrogate both donating an egg to impregnate via intrauterine insemination (IUI) with the biological father’s sperm and subsequently carrying the embryo, making the surrogate also the child’s biological mother. In gestational surrogacy, the biological parents create an embryo via in vitro fertilization (IVF) with their respective egg and sperm, which the surrogate then carries and births. Doctors can then implant the embryo in the surrogate’s uterus after three to five days’ development in a laboratory setting.
Traditional surrogacy offers the advantage of lower associated costs because the process includes no donation fee and turnaround time of weeks instead of several months for another attempt if one or more initial efforts prove unsuccessful. Also, suitable surrogates typically do not need to take additional fertility medication for the pregnancy to take. On the other hand, while gestational surrogacy can be cost-prohibitive due to the procedures of collecting eggs and sperm from the biological parents, it appeals to many women who produce perfectly healthy eggs but cannot become pregnant or have a history of one or more miscarriages. That is owed in no small part to the immense importance to many parents of the fact that the surrogate will have no biological relation to the child.
Among celebrities, Smart joins what some might consider a surprisingly long list of famous parents who have embraced their surrogacy as an occasion for demolishing taboos that haunt infertility among women from all walks of life. Acclaimed actor Neil Patrick Harris and partner David Burtka welcomed twins Gideon Scott and Harper Grace in 2010. Former “American Idol” judge Kara DioGuardi and husband Mike McCuddy struggled through multiple failed IVF attempts before the February 2013 birth of their son, Greyson James Carroll McCuddy. Last year, 42-year-old beauty icon Tyra Banks announced the birth of her first son, York Banks Asla, by telling her own Instagram fans, “As we thank the angel of a woman that carried our miracle baby boy for us, we pray for everyone who struggles to reach this joyous milestone.”
“Saturday Night Live” alum and host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show” Jimmy Fallon, who has fathered daughters Winnie and Frances by surrogate with his wife Juvonen, once said during on appearance on “The Today Show” of his experience, “I know people have tried much longer [than we have], but if there’s anyone out there who is trying and they’re just losing hope . . . just hang in there. Try every avenue. Try anything you can do, ’cause you’ll get there. You’ll end up with a family, and it is so worth it. It’s the most ‘worth it’ thing.”