California law supports surrogacy for gay and straight couples with fertility issues

Maybe storks don’t actually deliver babies, despite enduring myths about the elegant birds, but a steep-climbing stork takeoff may resemble that of a Marin startup that does deliver babies.

Roots Surrogacy could arrange arrival of nearly 50 newborns in the next nine months or so, more than double the number the company did in its first year.

The agency, founded two years ago by Brooke Kimbrough and joined by co-owner Cassie Wright last year, matches surrogate mothers with heterosexual couples struggling with fertility issues and with gay men who seek to be parents.

“We rarely get female couples” to apply for surrogacy services, Kimborough said. They can purchase sperm and one partner may be able to carry the baby. “They don’t need a uterus,” she said, unless there are medical reasons.

Jennifer Gamble, a surrogate mom currently about 11 weeks pregnant under contract with Roots Surrogacy, already has five children, including four biologically related to her and one adopted, now age 19. For Gamble, pregnancy goes easily and delivery has been smooth.

“I’m in the throes of it,” said Gamble, who lives with her husband and children near Sacramento. This is her fifth pregnancy. As a gestational surrogate she has no biological relationship to the baby. Both sperm and egg came from the intended parents.

“I have pretty easy pregnancies,” Gamble said. “I don’t have any medical risks associated with them. I have fairly easy labor.” Her first pregnancy was when she was age 20, and her oldest daughter is 18. She has a son, 11. Her youngest child is a 2-year-old.

Though she welcomes the $35,000 compensation to be a surrogate, “for me it’s not about the money,” Gamble said. “It was about helping these people. To know somebody has the feeling of wanting a family and is not able to do that, if I can help, I’m going to do it. It’s one of the best things in the world to be a parent,” she said.

“I have always had a heart for giving,” said Gamble, who is in her late thirties. “This is what I was meant to do,” she said of the surrogacy. The couple for whom she is a surrogate live in northern California.They are also in their thirties, and were unable to get pregnant.

$35,000 fee plus expenses

A surrogate for Roots Surrogacy earns $35,000 for the first pregnancy plus up to another $10,000 to include their expenses such as legal and medical fees, up to $1,000 in maternity clothes, $1,000 for housekeeping and $3,000 in other expenses. To become a surrogate for the company, a woman must: have already delivered at least one child; be between 22 and 38 years old; not receive government financial aid such as welfare; have a healthy weight; live in California, Nevada or Oregon; have support from family, friends and partner; not smoke, abuse alcohol or take illegal drugs; not use any medication for mental-health issues. Applicants must pass a criminal-background check and psychological evaluation including the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 test.

“We turn away a lot” of prospective surrogates, Kimbrough said. The agency screens every applicant’s pregnancy records to optimize the likelihood of a good outcome. “We do everything we can to create a partnership and a village working toward a common goal of a healthy baby raised by healthy individuals.”