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The Baby Chase

From the New York Times bestselling author of Crazy Love comes a riveting new narrative about surrogate pregnancy from both sides of the equation—the parents and the gestational carrier.

Once considered a desperate, even morally suspect option, surrogacy is now sweeping headlines, transforming the lives of celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker, Nicole Kidman and Elton John, and changing the face of the American family. But how much do we really know about it? And is it really as easy and accessible – emotionally, financially, legally and physically – as magazines make it out to be? We often hear about successful outcomes, but little about the journey – about the precious hope that starts it all, the ups and downs of finding a surrogate, the heartache and obstacles, the risks and expenses at every step, or the unbelievable joy when years of determination pay off. In The Baby Chase, acclaimed writer Leslie Morgan Steiner weaves three stories together — of a nurse, a firefighter, and the Indian gestational carriers and doctors who helped them — to provide one intensely personal look at what makes surrogacy so controversial, fascinating, and in some cases, the only ray of hope for today's infertile parents-to-be.

Rhonda Wile and her husband Gerry struggled for years with infertility. With perseverance that shocked everyone around them, they tried every procedure and option available – unsuccessfully – until they finally decided to hire a surrogate. While surrogacy was being touted as a miracle for hopeful parents, for Rhonda and Gerry, it seemed an impossible and unaffordable dream. Until they came across the beaming smile of a beautiful Indian woman on the internet… and, within a few short months, embarked on a journey that would take them deep into the emerging world of Indian carriers, international medical tourism, and the global surrogacy community.

Moving, page-turning, and meticulously researched, this complex human story is paired with an examination of the issues—religious, legal, medical and emotional—that shapes surrogacy as a solution both imperfect and life-changing.

From Publisher's Weekly:

Steiner’s (Crazy Love) look at surrogacy is less of a journalistic inquiry into this “most radical infertility solution” than a compassionate plea for broader acceptance of “collaborative pregnancy” and “shared motherhood.” Steiner recounts the evolution of the $10 billion infertility business through the narrative of a Canadian-American couple, Rhonda and Gerry Wile, who turn to the “nascent industry” of gestational surrogacy in India, where it is not only legal to hire a woman to bear your baby, but much cheaper than in the U.S. Steiner mentions, but lightly glosses over, the many ethical, legal, and societal complications of surrogate birth in favor of stressing her emotional appeals. She describes infertility as a “crushing, soul-sucking” condition that cripples its victims with lifelong physical and psychological damage. Her portrayal of the Wiles’s struggles reveals the deeply embedded cultural reverence for the power of genetics and the need for public understanding —and perhaps oversight—of this “unmapped emotional, legal, and ethical terrain.” Overall, Steiner succeeds in both aims closest to her heart: to raise awareness about infertility and to share the fulfillment of the Wiles’s dream to have “a baby that felt like theirs."

From Kirkus Reviews:

Steiner (Crazy Love, 2009) overlays the story of Rhonda and Gerry Wile—an Arizona nurse and firefighter whose search for children led them to surrogate pregnancy—on an emotionally heightened, journalistic overview of infertility and the options available to prospective parents.

With the help of Surrogacy India, a commercial surrogacy agency, and a mother from a Mumbai slum, the Wiles became parents after discovering they could not have children on their own. Steiner alternates between the basics of their meeting, marriage and journey toward parenthood overseas with reproductive facts, explanations of traditional surrogacy (in which another woman’s egg and uterus are employed), in vitro fertilization and its early history, and gestational surrogacy (in which one woman’s egg is implanted in another’s womb). Noting barren women of the Bible as examples, as well as celebrities who have used IVF and surrogacy, Steiner appeals to a popular demographic to craft a personable account of the hope surrogacy can offer. This well-intended effort is hindered by dramatic comparisons, such as the turmoil of infertility being likened to the pain felt by parents whose children have been kidnapped. In descriptions of Rhonda, purple prose intrudes, as when Steiner addresses her contemplation of her desire for children, scanning the horizon “like a crime victim trying to recall an assailant’s features for the precinct sketch artist,” or when she learns of a neighbor's pregnancy and responds "like a rabid coyote baring its teeth.” Still, the author effectively touches on the complications of surrogacy—including its economic, legal, ethical, psychological, and societal ramifications—in clear, informative ways. She also offers insights on some of the controversies, from religious perspectives to the lack of coverage for surrogacy by many insurance companies.

A brisk account of one family's determination and of a burgeoning, international solution.

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