In an interview for Shondaland, new mom Gabrielle Union opens up about what she was looking for in a surrogate — and why race wasn't involved

By Jen Juneau
May 16, 2019 12:05 PM

Gabrielle Union had a few characteristics she was looking for in a surrogate for her first child (who turned out to be daughter Kaavia James, now 6 months), but a specific race was not one of them.

“Race wasn’t an issue for me, but for others, if you have a same-race surrogate, there’s a fear of someone running off with your baby,” the L.A.’s Finest star, 46, said in a recent interview for Shondaland where she opened up how she and husband Dwyane Wade decided to use a surrogate after suffering multiple miscarriages and failed IVF cycles.

“People have all kinds of fears and things that they want,” Union says. “Some want [the surrogate to follow] a specific religion; or to allow TV, or no TV; or they send audio files for the surrogate to play your voice so it can be heard along with the household voices.”

“For us, we wanted: She has her own kids, a husband, she’s done this before, she knew what she was doing,” she adds. “There was no need for us to micromanage.”

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RELATED: Gabrielle Union Says Daughter Kaavia’s Surrogate “Didn’t Know” She Was Working with Her and Dwyane Wade at First

Race may not have played a part in the couple’s decision over who would carry their child, but many people still think a gestational surrogate’s race influences the race of the baby — including Union’s own father.

“I thought this was pretty common knowledge, but my own dad keeps asking about this, and if he’s still confused, maybe others are as well. And that is: A gestational carrier [like ours] has no genetic tie to the baby,” she explains. “You are implanting an embryo that has zero shared DNA with your surrogate.”

“There are other forms of surrogacy: Someone you might know could carry her own egg and the man’s sperm; some babies are conceived with donor sperm and donor egg. Each journey is different,” Union continues. “Kaavia was jaundiced when she was born, and my dad was like, ‘Your surrogate must’ve been light-skinned!’ I was like ‘What? Dad, there’s no genetic — she’s just jaundiced. She will change color when she’s healthy.’ ”

RELATED VIDEO: How New Mom Gabrielle Union Got Through Daughter Kaavia’s “Phase of Not Napping”

Once Union and Wade, 37, settled on the perfect surrogate for their baby, the day came when they met her. And while the parents-to-be “knew all about her,” their gestational carrier didn’t realize whom she would be working with until she walked in the door.

Gabrielle Union/Instagram

“[At first], she didn’t know that it was us, although I knew all about her,” says the Being Mary Jane star. “So when we met, she walked in and was like, ‘Oh!’ I didn’t know what that meant, and she was like, ‘I have your book on hold at four different libraries.’ I said, ‘I think I can get you a copy!’ “

“I’d been doing a lot of library appearances with the book, and I love librarians, and here’s this woman who also frequents her local library,” Union recalls. “In that first meeting, we talked about the books we love, the stacks of books we want to get through. Little Fires Everywhere, so many more. That, for me, was the sign.”

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