Darla Moore was 21 when she first considered surrogacy. She got chatting to a woman, while doing jury duty, who told her about her own experience.
"I don't know how the subject came up but I think we were talking about children or something," she explains over the phone in light California tones.
"She just told me about the delivery and I really thought it was such an amazing experience. I was really intrigued about the idea."
At the time she felt too young -- she had just one child of her own and wanted more at some point -- but a seed of interest took hold in her mind.
Darla grew up in Northern California, where she now lives with her husband and their four children. She is blonde and pretty; she married her high-school sweetheart (though they broke up for five years at one point). After she had her second child, she told her husband about the surrogacy idea. "He thought it was the craziest idea in the world," she says. "I put it on the back burner and thought, yeah, maybe he's right." After her third child, she raised the matter again. "He was like, 'Are you still thinking about this?'" And after her fourth child, it really hit her -- "the realisation that we were done having children, but I wasn't done, I wasn't done being pregnant. But we didn't want any more children." He acquiesced.
"For me I think it's because I love being pregnant," she says. "I guess it's just feeling the baby grow and -- I know this sounds weird -- I like labour. I guess it's just because of the experience. It's so beautiful bringing a baby into the world, even though, yeah, it does hurt. But you forget about it afterwards and you have this beautiful baby, and yes, I know the baby isn't coming home with me. I guess what I'd always envisaged is, you're going to witness this family and their baby, and they're going to cry and they're going to be so in love, and that's something you want for someone else. You want to help them."
After two attempts that didn't work out, Stephanie Scott, of Simple Surrogacy, introduced her to Alvaro and Patrick, and they had a lengthy conference call. "We really did hit it off," Darla recalls. "We just had a lot in common ... They are so ready to be parents. I just got that feeling."
Her husband accepts the situation. "I'm very lucky. Of course we have our squabbles here and there but he so loves me," she says. "He's very supportive with everything." She has been preparing her kids for months. "They are aware that the baby will not be staying with us, and I tried to make that as clear as possible from day one."
She says surrogacy is not about money, pointing out: "With what you do sacrifice, there should be some kind of monetary support." And within the surrogate community, she has made friends who have helped her get through her earlier difficulties. "I really met a great group of women." She adds, "Our intentions are good, and we have a big heart."