Melanie Smith lives in the small Canadian Rocky Mountain town of Valemount, nestled in the peaks between Alberta and British Columbia. She is currently carrying a child for a gay couple from France (who now live in Montreal).
Despite the normal requirement for surrogates to have had their own uncomplicated pregnancies in the past, this is Smith’s first time carrying a child. However, she is no stranger to donating her genetic material; she donated her eggs in her 20s, and has a biological son living in Vancouver.
It was her biological son’s family who got in contact with her recently, hoping to put her in touch with a couple looking for a surrogate
Smith was intrigued. “I wanted to meet them and make sure we got along. Once I knew they’d be good parents I thought ‘Yeah, I’ll have a baby for you!’”
In this case, Smith is not the egg donor; the egg was donated by a different woman. The first donor fell through, and the IVF required two transfers for success. Despite the long distance between Valemount and Montreal (2525 miles, to be precise), the parents have made the long journey to attend key appointments, including ultrasounds. This is the couple’s first child, and they are, “getting so excited.”
Smith has no desire to have her own children, but she takes comfort and joy in helping others who want a child to have one
“I’ve never had that desire to be a mom and raise a family. To go through this just for myself has never been a priority, but I see so many families out there that need help. And in my mind, my pieces all work; so why not help somebody with it?”
Surrogacy in Canada is legal, but it must be ‘altruistic’
This means that surrogates cannot receive any compensation, other than for their surrogacy expenses. For this reason, surrogates in Canada are usually family members helping one another.
Smith says, “It’s sort of odd thing for a stranger to just step in and say “Hey I’ll have a kid for you!” But it is something that’s needed. There’s just so many people struggling and any little bit helps.”
The baby’s parents will be there for the birth of their baby, and Smith will provide breast milk for the first ten days. She has no specific plans to be a surrogate for another couple, but she says that since her pregnancy has been good, she “might just do it again.”