The Colorless Womb: Though I Couldn’t Find a Black Surrogate, Ultimately, Love Makes the Best Match

I had always yearned for a child. But after multiple miscarriages and walking away from an abusive marriage, I’d resigned myself to the fact that becoming a mom was not God’s plan for me. Or was it?

I believe we’re blessed with the desires of our hearts, but when it came to children, I was now older, single, and broken.

But I kept following my heart and took an unexpected journey—along the confusing, painful, disappointing, but ultimately surprising and loving path of surrogacy.     

After my marriage had ended, I left Jamestown, North Carolina to start a new life in Atlanta, Georgia. After so much loss, and starting to enjoy the newness of living single, I resolved that becoming a mom, was highly unlikely. So much so, that living a life of being childless, not by choice, didn’t seem so bad. Traveling, enjoying friends, and climbing the corporate ladder felt better by the day.

Then I met the man of my dreams.  It was a whirlwind relationship. It moved fast. At our age you know what you want. Also, at our age, that want is typically not children. My husband is a number of years older than me. If I’d passed the desire to become a mom, I was quite sure that a man with two beautiful daughters was right there with me. (But I was wrong.) 

As a child, I watched my dad and mom work hard, raise a family, and arm us with values that would take us through life. Being the oldest of six children, I had the privilege of welcoming each addition to our family.

“It’s a girl,” the nurse would say. The scowl on my dad’s face after hearing this for the fourth time was priceless. No doubt by then, he was hoping for a boy.

It seemed as if my mom was back on her feet in no time. The beauty of birthing a baby, such a natural process — my mom made it look easy. 

The saying goes: Like mother, like daughter. However, though I bear a strong resemblance to my mother on the outside, on the inside we couldn’t be more different. I had wanted to experience the joy of motherhood and always believed I would.

But what happens when there is a disconnect between your desire and your reality? When your heart says yes but your body says no?

For years, I could not and would not dare openly admit I was barren.  To look at me I was perfectly healthy, I’d never had a gynecological issue, not even cramps. It wasn’t until those first early pregnancy losses that I knew I might have a serious problem.  In my case, getting pregnant was the easy part, it was sustaining the pregnancy that proved futile.  Usually within the first eight weeks, I’d go from happy to cautious to tears.

In total, I’ve suffered ten pregnancy losses. The brokenness and a sense of failure were eating at my insides. I kept these feelings tucked away. After getting married the first time, when asked about my desire to have children, I deflected to my go-to line, “I’m just not ready.” Sure, I read about Sarah, Hannah, and Rachel in the Bible, but to say that I was a part of such a sorority was unthinkable. 

A positive early pregnancy test followed by no heartbeat—that was often my narrative. It was easy to keep those losses a secret. With a little lipstick, eyedrops, and a fake smile, you can hide anything. But my nonchalant attitude toward starting a family became more difficult to hide. I was showing.

A positive early pregnancy test followed by no heartbeat—that was often my narrative. It was easy to keep those losses a secret. With a little lipstick, eyedrops, and a fake smile, you can hide anything. But my nonchalant attitude toward starting a family became more difficult to hide. I was showing

In fact, I was halfway down the field carrying the ball toward the end zone with the crowd cheering me on, I mean, I was finally entering my sixth month of pregnancy, but an unforeseen problem knocked me down, and I dropped the ball. The loss was nothing like I’d ever imagined. The pain cut deep, and prayer became imperative. But I got back up, only to fumble the ball again, this time in the fifth month.

My secret was out. It was suddenly obvious that it wasn’t that I did not want, but that I could not have a baby. 

So, it was time to be cut from the team—in this case, my marriage. I felt like my ex-husband blamed me for our problems, including our childless marriage.  What else could I do at this point except learn to be content with my current state?

I could learn to accept that the one thing that I wanted more than anything was not within my reach.  Although the road was tough, prayer really does change things, but also having a great support system. In my case, my parents, siblings, sorority sisters and friends let me know they were there.  I also sought the help of a professional, I knew that if I wanted to overcome my feelings of inadequacy, I needed to be totally and completely honest, and while friends and family are ideal, it was nice to talk to someone who was completely objective.

I made plans for the second act of my life, but our plans are not always God’s plan.  The faith and belief of my new husband, caused a new-found desire to bring a child into my life. I wasn’t ready to give up! At this stage in my life, I realized I was much stronger than I’d given myself credit for. But what to do now? 

Having a doctor for a husband meant exploring every avenue medically available. Even the unconventional. Surrogacy? I initially hated the idea. I’d never known or heard of anyone, other than a celebrity, who had used a surrogate.

In my mind, surrogacy was for the rich and famous, and I was neither. I was torn. It took prayer, arguments, more prayer and more arguments. How badly did I desire a child?  Was my desire great enough to trust my precious embryos to the womb of someone who wasn’t me?

In my mind, surrogacy was for the rich and famous, and I was neither. I was torn. It took prayer, arguments, more prayer and more arguments.

How badly did I desire a child? Did my desire for a child outweigh my pride? Was my desire great enough to trust my precious embryos to the womb of someone who wasn’t me?

After about two months of soul searching—yes, it was!

I knew I needed to find a strong woman who could bear my infirmity. As a black woman, I naturally gravitated toward using a surrogate who was also black. I believed I could experience the pregnancy vicariously, and it would be much easier with a woman who looked like me.

On our first attempt at surrogacy, I wasn’t prepared to hear those familiar words, “I’m so sorry…”

We then thought the second attempt and the second surrogate would be the ticket, as we had invested so much more time and energy. When it, too, didn’t work, that made the pain even more intense.

We moved on to the person we believed would be our best and final surrogate. Strike three! 

This process took close to three years, and though there are women who literally advertise online their willingness to become your surrogate, the majority were not black women.

I had been looking only to women who were Black like me to fulfill my journey. Although they would share no biology with my child, I also thought that our “sistah” bond would bring a sense of familiarity to our journey.

But the last woman standing in my quest to become a mom didn’t think like me, live like me, and certainly didn’t look like me.  I’m black, she’s white, and her name is Heidi. 

I believe meeting Heidi was fate, orchestrated by the attorney who’d started us down this surrogacy journey. The one who was privy to every disappointment, all the hurt, and certainly all the money that had seemingly gone out the window. It was she who brought two couples together on a summer evening in Buckhead, GA.

I know blessings can come in unexpected forms. I believe it’s God’s way of showing us He’s in charge. But I hadn’t prepared for this. But even with all of our differences, Heidi was open to the possibility. I would have to decide if my desire to become a mom would be hope deferred, or if I would ultimately join forces with a woman who could fulfill the desire of my heart. 

I’ve always believed that who we are goes much farther than the color of our skin. That the soul of a man or woman in my case, represents who we are.

We owe no one nothing but to love them, and that love was shown in all its splendor by a woman who selflessly carried my child.

During this journey, I faced racial and societal pressures of parenthood.

I had several run-ins about the “consequences” of using someone outside of my race to carry my child, supposedly the stigma and the shame that my child would feel later in life. I called “bull” on all of it. 

I experienced more than a few dumb comments about my decision to use a white surrogate. Somebody asked me if my son was going to be of mixed race. Another person asked me if my son was going to have her blood.

I experienced more than a few dumb comments about my decision to use a white surrogate. Somebody asked me if my son was going to be of mixed race. Another person asked me if my son was going to have her blood. 

Heidi’s race was a nonissue. Our bodies can be cocoons, but our external selves don’t define a child within us. Who we are and what we are is much deeper than skin color. I would raise my son, just as I was raised, to love all people regardless of the color of their skin. 

My faith wavered, and I wanted to give up, but with every battle and every setback, I now know it was a setup for something better.  

In the end, I received one of life’s greatest rewards—I became a mom!

Tomorrow is not promised, so today, for all that I am and all that I hope to be, Lord, I say thank you.


Contributor

Kimberly Gowdy

Kimberly Gowdy is author of The Colorless Womb, in which she tackles surrogacy, infertility, and racial and societal pressures of parenthood and love. She is the founder of Mommy Older Baby Younger (MOBY), which represents women who become moms on or after age 35. She is also an award-winning insurance professional, but her proudest accomplishment is being wife to husband, Dr. David Gowdy, and super-mom to their son.


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