April 30, 2009 — -- Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick's announcement Tuesday that they are expecting twins this summer wasn't exactly the announcement many had expected.
Only recently, the couple had been dogged by rumors that they were divorcing -- something Broderick's rep Simon Halls told ABCNews.com was "ludicrous and untrue."
Included in the surprise announcement was the news that Parker, who had given birth to the couple's first child, son James Wilkie, now 6, would not be carrying the twins, rather, a surrogate would.
"Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick are happily anticipating the birth of their twin daughters later this summer with the generous help of a surrogate. The entire family is overjoyed," their reps said in a statement widely reported in the press.
While many questions remain unanswered about why Parker, 44, and Broderick, 47, have gone the surrogacy route, they are certainly not alone. The couple joins a long line of other celebrities who have chosen this increasingly common path to having children and aren't afraid to talk about it.
As a result, some of the stigma that once accompanied surrogacy seems to be diminishing.
"We don't see where people are afraid anymore. It used to be, 'Oh no, we're not going to tell anybody,'" said Joanne Bubrick, program director for the Center for Surrogate Parenting's Los Angeles office. "They are proud now."
Bubrick says celebrities, such as Kelsey Grammer and his wife Camille, former "Good Morning America" host Joan Lunden and actresses Angela Bassett and Deidre Hall -- all former Center for Surrogate Parenting clients -- have helped "legitimize" surrogacy by talking about their struggles to have children before turning to a surrogate.
Shirley Zager, director of the Organization of Parents Through Surrogacy, a national support group, told New York Times writer Alex Kuczynski, who wrote last year about her experience using a surrogate, that there have probably been about 28,000 surrogate births since 1976.
These births don't come cheap. Kuczynski was quoted a figure of $30,000 to $60,000 for all the costs associated with the surrogate. On top of that, she had to pay an additional $10,000 for egg retrieval and fertilization and embryo transfer to the surrogate. In her case, the money for the surrogate went into an escrow account and was paid in monthly installments.
Hall, the "Days of Our Lives" star, was one of the first to go public with using a surrogate in 1992. She appeared in People magazine and produced and starred in a television movie based on her 20-year battle with infertility that finally ended with two successful births via a surrogate.
Whose Eggs Do Celebrities Use?
But with growing public awareness and acceptance come the intrusive questions aimed at these celebrity moms: Why can't she conceive? Is she using her eggs or a donor's? Is she using a surrogate to maintain her figure or her career?
Dr. Richard Paulson, a Los Angeles infertility specialist, said just because Parker has carried a previous pregnancy to term doesn't mean she wouldn't be in need of a surrogate.
"It's not an uncommon story -- somebody has a pregnancy, maybe it's complicated, and it's not a good idea to have another one," Paulson told ABCNews.com.
Or possibly, in Parker and Broderick's case, they tried but couldn't. Entertainment Weekly's Web site, EW.com, quoted a friend saying, "They had a lot of unsuccessful tries. They came to the conclusion that this was going to be the best alternative for expanding their family."
There's also the matter of Parker's age. Right around the mid 40s, "pregnancy with a woman's own eggs becomes very rare," said Paulson, who heads the division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the University of Southern California's school of medicine. "Most, if not all, may be using an egg donor."
It's the question many wonder about -- whose eggs are they?
Larry King posed the question to model Cheryl Tiegs when he interviewed her and her then-husband Rod Stryker in 2000 about the birth of their twin boys Jaden and Theo via a surrogate.
Tiegs, who was 52 at the time, said she used her own eggs.
"When we were trying to get pregnant, I produced one perfect egg, and then when we did the one with the surrogate, I had three eggs. So I don't see why that's such an impossibility, when my system is in -- still in good working order," Tiegs told King. "It's not easy. I had to have a lot of shots. But I don't see why -- it certainly is possible."
Many questioned Tiegs' claim.
"A twin pregnancy using 50-year-old eggs is a medically unprecedented event," Paulson said. "It's not impossible, but very improbable."
Medical Conditions Can Prompt Surrogacies
"I want to respect people's privacy," Paulson added. "Even if it's not medically impossible, why not grant them the element of doubt they wish to have. Do we want to have that kind of thing revealed to the children before they have had a chance to hear about it from their mother?"
"It's very personal, it's something that the family needs to discuss among themselves," Bubrick said about mothers who use egg donors. "They still have created their child. The true genesis of the child is in the hearts and minds of the couple. It is their child."
In 2003, Lunden, at the age of 54, had her first set of twins via a surrogate -- the second set arrived two years later -- but she refused to answer questions about her biological connection to them. (She also has three older daughters by a previous marriage.)
Actors and husband and wife Courtney B. Vance and Angela Bassett have said their twins, delivered by a surrogate in January 2006, are biologically theirs. They told Oprah Winfrey they went through seven years of failed fertility treatments, including IVF, before turning to the Center for Surrogate Parenting.
Age isn't the only factor standing in the way of some women having children. Some women either have a problem with their uterus or don't have one, or they have a medical condition that makes pregnancy inadvisable.
In the case of the Grammers, doctors discovered Camille had a form of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which could present serious health risks if she attempted to give birth. So the Grammers turned to a surrogate twice to have their daughter Mason and son Jude.
"It's very sad when you hear stories of cancer, medical conditions, miscarriages, women born without a uterus," Bubrick said. "We have a lot of couples who have been hurt along the way. This is their last hope."