By not revealing any details about why they chose a surrogate, Parker, 44, and Broderick, 47, have left many of their well-wishing fans with questions.
For example, what is a surrogate? They are women, often with children of their own, who offer to carry the babies of couples who experience infertility. The most common variety, known as a gestational carrier, carries an embryo provided by the couple, and has no genetic relationship to the child in question (the womb-for-rent scenario). Other surrogates use sperm provided by the couple, but their own eggs.
In both cases, a legal contract usually stipulates the rights of each party, and fees typically range from $25,000 to $60,000. While the procedure remains relatively rare in the general population, it appears to be surprisingly common in Hollywood. Among the celebrity couples who have used a surrogate:
• Dennis Quaid, 55, and wife Kimberly, 37, became proud parents of twins Thomas and Zoe, who were born in November 2007. The twins were born via a gestational carrier – a woman who carries another couple’s baby conceived by the parents’ own egg and sperm. When their son and daughter were born, the Quaids said in a statement, “God has definitely blessed us.”
• Earlier that same year, Joan Lunden, now 58, and her husband, businessman Jeff Konigsberg, 48, welcomed their second set of twins, another girl and boy. A surrogate gave birth to Kimberly Elise and Jack Andrew in a Cincinnati hospital, where she had delivered the couple’s first set of twins nearly two years earlier. “I feel like I’m living on Noah’s Ark – they’re coming two by two,” Lunden said at the time. “You usually only hear about surrogacy when there’s a horror story [over custody]. Word needs to get out that it is a viable option if done safely and correctly with a good agency so everyone is protected,” she told PEOPLE in 2003.
One percent of patients using in vitro fertilization, or IVF, use gestational carriers, says Dr. Margareta D. Pisarska, Director of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. It is a very valiant thing to do, especially for couples who are unable to get pregnant or have a baby on their own and need the help of someone else.
IVF increases the chances of twin births over natural conception, Pisarska says. About 70 percent of the time, two embryos are introduced into the uterus yet only one child is born. In Hollywood, it appears surrogates often give birth to twins.
• Angela Bassett, now 50, and husband Courtney B. Vance, 49, revealed that they struggled for seven years to have children. But with the help of a surrogate mother, they welcomed twins daughter Bronwyn Golden and son Slater Josiah in 2006. The couple looked on as their children were born via C-section, a rep said at the time.
Even though twins are a common occurrence, it’s not always the case.
• Katey Sagal, then 53, and her husband Kurt Sutter welcomed their first child, daughter Esmé Louise Sutter, in January 2007. The baby was born via surrogate, her rep confirmed at the time. The couple’s new daughter joined older siblings Sarah and Jackson, Sagal’s children from a previous marriage.