When I heard that there is a new documentary about surrogacy titled Made in Boise, I wasn’t sure what to think or expect. As a long time supporter of surrogacy, I have come to brace myself for such critical comments as “surrogacy exploits women” or “it’s a way rich people can make babies.” Hence it was with caution and a “wait and see” approach that I ventured off this week to a screening of Made in Boise at a Boston Globe documentary film festival.
So here is the good news: Made in Boise presents a largely positive picture of surrogacy. The beautifully filmed and edited documentary follows four gestational carriers, all level headed, responsible, caring and compassionate women. Like the “GC’s” I have known, they are good communicators who genuinely like and care for their “IP’s.” Similarly, the IP’s—a gay couple, a single man and two heterosexual couples—all have compelling reasons for seeking surrogates and all interact with their GC’s with kindness and respect. And without giving too much of the story away, the collaborative efforts of GC’s and IP’s bring healthy and long awaited babies into the world.
Although I enjoyed the film and left the theatre pleased that surrogacy was presented in such a positive way, my reaction to Made in Boise was not all positive. Having worked in the field for many years, I know that surrogacy is complicated. In my experience, women who become GC’s think about it for many years and go through an arduous screening process before being matched with IP’s. Many lovely women do not move forward to become GC’s either because they don’t pass their medical or psychological screening or (less often), they decide along the way that it is not the right decision for them. The long path to surrogacy is not captured in Made in Boise—at least not for the GC’s. I did feel that the film did a good job of providing some background and context for why and how IP’s turn to surrogacy.
As I mentioned earlier, Made In Boise is well made and well filmed. I think that my problems with the film originate not in the filmmakers but in the agency that they feature. The agency director, a several time GC herself, comes across as rather glib and remarkably casual about signing women on to be GC’s. Yes, the GC’s featured seem to be kind, caring and responsible people, but there were things about their lives or their histories that I think would disqualify them for surrogacy in many programs.
For the most part, Made in Boise does a great job of introducing surrogacy to an audience that is largely unfamiliar with it. The film makers wisely recall the negative press that surrounded the Baby M case and present clear and convincing evidence that gestational surrogacy provides a great gift to families who long for children and to women with a deep desire to bring these deeply loved and long awaited children into the world.