In November 2018, Gabrielle Union and her husband Dwayne Wade welcomed their first child together, Kaavia James Union Wade, who was born via surrogate. In an Instagram caption announcing the birth, Union called Kaavia a "miracle baby," and a new interview with Women's Health sheds light on why.
After years of failed IVF treatments, and eight or nine miscarriages, Union was finally diagnosed with a condition called adenomyosis, which causes endometrial tissue to grow on the wall of the uterus, Women's Health reports. "There’s nothing more that I wanted than to cook my own baby," she told Women's Health. The complications associated with adenomyosis, and the fact that she had three embryos left, solidified her decision to use a surrogate. But still, "the idea of [surrogacy] felt like surrendering to failure," she said.
Union said she had concerns about how people would react to her hiring a surrogate. "People want to see the bump, hear that you got hemorrhoids — they want to know you’re like them," Union told Women's Health. "I was like, 'This is going to seem like the most Hollywood sh*t ever. Will I be embraced as a mom?' It’s terrifying."
While more celebrities and high-profile individuals are opening up about their experience using surrogates, it's important to note that surrogacy is not easy, nor is it a cop-out. "Gestational surrogacy" means that a person carries and delivers a baby for another person or couple. Many people who use surrogates — Kim Kardashian West, for example — have medical conditions that make it impossible to carry a baby, or they are in a same-sex relationship. Only 1% of all assisted reproductive technology procedures involve gestational surrogacy, and that likely has to do with the cost. In the U.S., surrogacy can cost upwards of $100,000, including in-vitro fertilization.
The process of finding a surrogate can be challenging in itself. "Some people care about the race, religion, or food habits of their surrogate," Union told Women's Health. "I was like, 'I want a reader.'" Most people use agencies with surrogates who have received medical and psychological screenings, or reach out to a friend or family member. There are also legal implications to sort through, that vary from state to state. "You can’t just take a surrogate and put an egg and sperm [in their uterus]," Kristin Bendikson, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the USC Keck School of Medicine told Refinery29.
The bottom line, as Union said, is that using a surrogate is not a failure. And if Kaavia's adorable and hilarious Instagram page is any indication, looks like fans are embracing Union as a new mom already.