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Elizabeth Banks: Surrogacy Is a ‘Big Leap’ of Faith

01/03/2012 at 02:00 PM ET
Courtesy Lucky

The future is looking bright for Elizabeth Banks.

Amidst her upcoming roles in Man On a Ledge, What to Expect When You’re Expecting and the highly-anticipated Hunger Games, the actress is also still finding her groove as a first-time mom to 9-month-old son Felix.

“I am the least looked-after I’ve been in quite some time,” Banks, 38, says in Lucky‘s February issue.

“Normally, for photo shoots, I get a full wax, some tanning, a facial. But this time I’ve done nothing.”

Instead, Banks prefers to spend any free time with her “little dude,” Felix — her and husband Max Handelman‘s blessing that arrived after unsuccessful attempts to become pregnant.

“Madly in love” after meeting their freshman year of college, Banks and Handelman eventually tied the knot and looked forward to a family.

But when their plan to have a baby hit a roadblock, the 30 Rock star and her husband turned to a gestational surrogate to fulfill their dream. “It was a womb issue for me. Embryos wouldn’t implant,” she admits.

And while the couple couldn’t be happier with the results, the initial decision to pursue surrogacy was anything but easy.

“It’s a big leap, inviting this person into your life to do this amazing, important thing for you,” Banks explains. “And it’s hard losing that kind of control. But our surrogate is so extraordinary, and she’s still in our lives. She’s like an auntie.”

With her hope to one day go from on screen to behind the scenes, Banks is also preparing herself for the time of her life with her “fierce and fearless” Felix.

“My plan is that when Felix is 15, we’ll go skydiving together,” she shares. “I want to be that mom. The one who takes her kid skydiving.”

– Anya Leon

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Showing 61 comments

JMO on

My friend was a surrogate and just gave birth. She had a difficult pregnancy but has no regrets. She said it was the best feeling in the world to give somebody something they had longed for for so long. I don’t think I could ever do it but I applaud those who do. It takes real special people :)

Karen on

Enjoy him! They grow up so fast. So glad you had a good experience with surrogates.

jen on

Wonderful story! But as a pro skydiver, I hate to break it to her but he will have to wait until 18 to jump!

Grace2 on

Yay!! I love reading about people who finally get their child after struggling to become parents. And I love it when parents are open about their struggles to get there. Congrats to her and her husband. Enjoy that precious gift. They grow so quickly!

On another note, CANNOT wait for Hunger Games!!!

Sage on

This is a wonderful story! My mom was a surrogate to a little boy who just turned 4 on January 1st. It is really sad when women can’t give birth to their own children, but it feels really good knowing that you did something so selfless for a family. I am only 20 and I am not married yet, but I hope to be able to do that for someone one day in the future.

Anonymous on

I’m glad that Elizabeth and her husband were finally able to get their bundle of joy! :)

Heidi on

I just find it a bit amusing that she’s already determined Felix to be fearless…parenting is full of surprises. My kids ARE fearless to the max but I’m as timid as a field mouse. She could have a mellow boy who prefers stargazing to skydiving! Doesn’t matter. She’ll adore him whomever he is, and I’m happy for her and her husband.

Shannon on

I think it’s awesome that Elizabeth Banks has been open about her experience with infertility and choosing a surrogate. So many people don’t want to discuss it, which is fine as it’s their right, but it’s inspiring to see someone be open about it. I really admire her for that. It takes a lot of courage to share something so personal.

Someone You Know on

I’ve always liked her and I’m beyond thrilled that she found happiness with her son.

A HUGE pile of blessings goes to the woman who chose to give Ms. Banks and her husband such an amazing gift.

Keli on

Aww I love her. Shes so funny. Congrats to her and her hubbs, im glad they got the family they deserved.

Is it just me, bc I go on sites on my phone, but I dont think that really looks like her. I see a bunch of magazines these days where they dont look real I guess you could say. And that sucks. I saw a mag a few weeks ago and I cant for the life of me remember who the heck it was but I had no clue who it was until I read the name. And then the pics in the mag were how she really looked.

I dont give a damn if a celeb has a wrinkle or a pimple, makes them just like the rest of us.

traci on

is it just me, or does that photo not really look like Elizabeth Banks? Too much editing these days. Shes incredibly beautiful with out editing, so why do it?

on another note, she sounds like a wonderful mother:) and always seems so happy:)

suzy diamond on

They’ve touched up this photo SO MUCH (can’t imagine why!!!) that I did not recognize Elizabeth Banks! Doesn’t look like her at all.

Tara on

don’t be so over-dramatic, it still looks like her!

Lori on

While the decision to use a surrogate or adopt is a personal one, I wish more people would adopt. What is so special about your DNA that you have to pay a lot of money (up to $100,000) for someone to carry your child when there are countless children out there in need of families?

Don’t get me wrong… I hope they are happy and I realize sometimes it is the best option for a person or couple, I just don’t understand why surrogacy seems to be the answer for so many people.

Kaye on

If it didn’t say it was Elizabeth Banks then I would not have realised it was her. The over-touching-up is really unecessary.

jen on

I was about to comment on how wonderful it is to see such positive comments about this story and then I got to Lori’s.

As someone who has struggled with infertility for almost 3 years now, I cringe at some of the comments that people feel compelled to say.

It’s not as easy as “just adopting” and that statement isn’t fair to the beautiful but messy process that adoption is.

Plus, why is it that people who struggle to do what 90% of the population who try are able to do are supposed to adopt? Do you question “fertile” peoples’ decision to have biological children instead of adopting? What’s so special about THEIR DNA?

ASH on

@ Lori- I just don’t get how someone could ask such a question?!

Isn’t it pretty much human nature that most/all people who want children would want them biologically? What’s wrong with wanting your own biological child, regardless of how that child is born into the world?

Who knows… maybe Ms. Banks and her husband will decide to adopt now after having gone the surrogate route. And if they choose to do surrogacy again… great for them as that would be their choice!

Why does someone always have to question someone’s decision regarding how they bring a child into the world? Be happy for them!

TJ on

So she “normally” does all that prep for a photo shoot but for this one, she didn’t have the time…hmmm, like it even matters? They’ve photo-shopped this so much it barely even looks like her!

Marko on

Having seen the pain of infertility, I’m so happy for Elizabeth and Max.

Surrogacy is absolutely right for some people…not right for others. Each person/couple has to make the the decision which they believe is right for them in their hearts and in their minds, and this includes (one hopes) the surrogate.

My best to all four of them – Mom, Dad, “Auntie,” and Felix.

boohoobytch on

I understand Lori’s question and she’s got a point but people are sooooo wrapped up in the kid being THEIRS, like adopted babies are icky…very selfish, self obsessed society…I don’t want kids period

Pandabear on

my comment has nothing to do with surrogacy, but that horrible dress. It’s THE ugliest mismatched patterns put together garment I have ever seen. And I like ecclectic. Whoever styled her for the magazine was obviously drunk, blind, or both.

jane on

I agree, Lori. So many children in THIS country, not even in foreign countries need loving homes. I guess people want the full experience of babies, but adopting an older child is a wonderful thing.

Ella on

Lori, how many children have you personally adopted?

Sarah K. on

Ash, agreed. I am very very pro-adoption, but there is a hormonal urge to have a biological child. It’s just basic instinct. I can’t fault or judge anyone for wanting at least one biological child. That’s just how humans function.

Jen T on

Adoption = loss

This is always the case. Even infant closed adoption, semi-Open, older child, or shared adoption. To be the parent of an adopted child means you have to help them grieve their loss and be the bridge to an intergenerational family. Ask any adopted child and they will tell you there is loss. (Of heritage, guilt, identity, genetics, history etc.)

So, while there are plenty of children out there who are in need of a good home, go look to see how complicated and messy it gets before you judge someone for wanting the most natural way way to bring your own baby into the world.

Kudos to Elizabeth for being able to talk about how they’ve built their family!

Lilly on

So she had to play pregnant on “30 Rock” while going through not being able to conceive? I wonder if that was hard for her to do? I thought she was really pregnant in real life, too. Regardless, I’m really happy for her that she got to have her child one way or the other. Congrats!

Paula on

Well, Lori, if you think people who can’t get pregnant should adopt, why not extend the same to people who can have babies??? Women who can’t get pregnant have the same wish as women who can, I see no reason to treat them differently…

Tammy on

This is in response to Lori’s comment about adopting over surrogacy. SOME people are simply NOT accepted by Adoption Agencies.

For example…when I got married, at age 23…my Husband was 39…at the time…we were not eligible for Adoption because we had not been married long enough…at the time you had to have been married for 5 years…by the time we were married long enough…my Husband was deemed ‘too old’. If we had had the money…I would have chosen Surrogacy…thankfully…and thanks to God…we found a Doctor that was willing to work with our budget & Health Insurance limitations and I was able to get pregnant with Fertility Drugs…and we now have 4 beautiful children…yes, my husband is 61 with 4 children under the age of 13…and I am only 45…but we are stable…and somewhat healthy.

So, Lori…in the future…PLEASE think about what you type and respond BEFORE typing it. Elizabeth Banks did what SHE & her Husband felt was right for them. Adoption came up in conversations I am sure…and they chose not to…for thier own reasons that is NONE OF OUR BUSINESS!

Spen on

Yes, why is it the infertiles job to adopt the unwanted children of the world? How about asking why so many people are having kids when there are sooo many children to adopt.

Also, spoken like a person who has no idea what a process adoption is…if it weren’t thousands of dollars there wouldn’t be such as issue.

Abbie on

I don’t understand why people criticise how people have children. Whether own their own, surrogate, adoption in the US or outside of the US. It is no ones business, nor is their oppinion the right one. This is about all women supporting eachother as mothers or on the process of trying to be mothers.

J on

How many have you Ella?

Shelley on

Well said, Spen!!!

Congratulations Elizabeth. Thank you for sharing your story!

W-Blog on

My true concern is that we don’t know enough about potential negative effects (psychological and physical) of surrogacy on a child!

e.g. months before birth the unborn child recognizes its mother voice, smell, etc. . Separation from everything you know after 9 months might be more traumatic than we think.

W-Blog on

What do you think: whom did Felix consider as his mother when he was born? Surrogacy sounds at first like a great thing – but what do we really know about its effects on the child??? Can we be sure that it might not involve a traumatic loss for the child right after birth with unpredictable longterm effects on its psyche.

Maddie on

It’s not just Lori who says this, but it always upsets me when people ask “Why do they just adopt?”

If you are adopting domestically, there are actually more people who want a newborn baby then there are babies. And sadly, there are lots of older children, even still younger babies that do need adopted from foster care, but that’s not what most people look for to adopt. But that’s another story.

And also, I believe it was Jen who said that adopted children feel loss and grief their whole life. This is true. I was adopted as I newborn and I still go through the motions of grief everyday, although I’m an adult now. There are some people who just aren’t prepared to help a child through that, and quite frankly those people should not adopt.

But on a positive note, I wish all the best to Elizabeth and her husband and Felix.

Tiffany on

Good grief. Lori and all of you complaining- I was a surrogate. It’s a beautiful thing to do for a family. Because of my problem with the pregnancy, I can no longer have my own children. My husband has no biological children of his own and to us, it makes no difference if we use IVF and a surrogate or adopt a child. We’d rather adopt, but in all fairness, I want a child of the same race, and we want a baby, an infant.

That’s why a lot of people turn to surrogacy, not just to pass on their DNA, but because infant adoption is MUCH harder than adopting an older child, especially in this country. And someone else made a good point, others who have no business reproducing take it for granted when people who may have incredible genes may not be able to do it naturally. It’s not always about DNA.

And for the record, I like her dress and I can tell that’s her.

PS on

“Normally, for photo shoots, I get a full wax, some tanning, a facial. But this time I’ve done nothing.”

… and lo and behold, she still looks fine.

Reese on

Lori, have you adopted? If not, you have no authority to question others. It’s not the sole responsibility of infertile individuals to adopt children. Also, do you have any grasp on how difficult the adoption process really is? People wait years before even possibly getting matched and I’ve known more than one family who’s had to endure adoptions that have fallen through. With two siblings who are adopted, I know exactly how rewarding the process can be but it’s not for everyone and it’s not as simple as you so ignorantly seem to think.

Mia on

How refreshing that they’ve been together for 20 years — a rarity to meet that young + stay together.

JMO on

Paula, well said.

I think everyone has a desire to have a biological child. Adoption is not for everyone. It’s also a difficult process maybe more difficult then surrogacy.

Yes some people do pay alot of money for a surrogate but some also pay just as much or more to adopt! What’s the difference?

My friend didn’t get anywhere CLOSE to $100k to be a surrogate! Let’s put it this way she’s got two daughters of her own and the money she got won’t even put one of them through a 4 year college!!!! I guess it all depends on where you live and WHO you are. The person she was a surrogate for had thought about adopting but bc this person was single and gay the process would not have been very easy!

Anonymous on

W-Blog- You raise a good question. But then why don’t we apply the same logic to infant adoptions? Might they also suffer a “traumatic loss” right after birth when they get taken from the only mother they’ve known for the past nine months? But no one ever says that maybe we should think twice about adoption. Why is that?

kimmie on

We tried to “just adopt” and after $35,000 later and still no baby in sight, I was laid off and went back to school for two years, to improve our lives but the time we are finally matched. Right at that point we couldn’t afford to pay another home study but the agency gave us such a hard time and threats that we had to cancel, swallow the financial loss and we’re now looking into surrogacy as well.

So this is how easy is to “just adopt”.

Jillian on

Tammy, thanks for sharing your story. I am happy you were able to have a wonderful family after years of trying. I, too, know the struggle. There are so many judgemental and hypocritical people here that think age or how a child is born is important, but all that matters is that the child is loved and cared for!

Jillian on

W-blog, I believe Felix, like any other child in this situation considers Elizabeth his mother. Anyone can have a child, but not anyone can be a mother…….

Anon, I think people don’t question that with adoption because it is more accepted. It makes no sense to me either way. I don’t see how a baby could be affected…..either way.

Shalay on

Why don’t we see comments saying, “Why don’t they just adopt?” on articles about pregnant female celebrities? I honestly don’t see the difference. If people who can’t conceive naturally have to be subjected to criticism regarding the way they choose to become parents, what makes anyone else immune?

Lori, you’re entitled to your opinion. And I’m entitled to my opinion that you’re ignorant.

kimmie on

Shalay very well said. Exactly, why people try to get pregnant in the first place, why they don’t just adopt then, if that’s apparently the most prefered way according to some….

ecl on

I agree that people should be allowed to bring a child in to their life in the manner that they want. That said, it’s not exactly comparable to say that all people who conceive should just adopt. After all, surrogacy and ivf carry hefty price tags, same as adoption, while having sex does not. Most people can’t afford anything, but a biological child. Still, I take your point.

Mia on

It seems like it was just a carrier/womb surrogate – the child is biologically her + her husband’s child.

Shona on

I am going to hire a surrogate as I have no desire to get pregnant or give birth to a child so I have absolutely no idea why you would get sympathy for not birthing a child yet I will do as Elizabeth did and use my eggs and hubby’s sperm.

caryl on

We have been trying for a few and @ 40 we have cleared several hurdles. I am hoping IVF will work, but its nice to know that there are options if it doesn’t. My husband is a beautiful man and he’s been thru this with me every step of the way and baby or not, he makes me feel so loved. I hope that we will share a bundle of joy and I appreciate the stories.

Jillian on

Shona,
You don’t hire a surrogate……like you hire a cleaning lady or nanny. That word may turn someone off and not help you find someone. If you feel the person is hired help….then, oh boy.

Sarah K. on

Shona are you seriously questioning why people would have sympathy for those who cannot get pregnant? If have no desire to get pregnant and want to “hire” a surrogate for your own convenience, that’s your deal. But, it is natural instinct for women to want to get pregnant and give birth, so when a woman cannot fulfill this desire, others do sympathize.

FC on

I’m happy for Elizabeth and her husband on their little guy, Felix. She seems so happy to be his mama, and that’s all that matters. How he got here is irrelevant.

W on

@Jillian: People like you make me sad. You only see the perspective of the infertle adults not of the helpless babies, who also deserve happiness and who cannot speak for themselves.

If you like it or not: After nine months inside a woman, the baby will feel that this person is its “mommy” – no matter what its DNA or any contracts say. How does it probably feel, when this person is just gone – left alone?

W on

Jen T: Does surrogacy not involve loss?

Surrogacy = loss (of the person considered as mother during the pregnancy right after birth)

hi on

I have two kids and although that is awesome for her, I would NEVER want to be pregnant just to give the kid to someone else. My body is not a machine! More power to surrogates I guess.

Grooooooss on

Gross. These people would rather spend tens of thousands of dollars for in vitro, then surrogacy, than adopt one of the hundreds of thousands of children around the world who desperately need a family. Trust me, there’s nothing THAT special about their DNA.

Lori on

Thank you, Elizabeth Banks, for being honest and open about your surrogacy. So many women live through the silent pain of infertility, I am so very proud of you for being candid and removing the shame. Bless you and your awesome new son!

Kim on

As as gestational surrogate, I love it when people are honest about how their children were brought into this world. Being a surrogate was the most rewarding and amazing experience. I am proud to tell people that I made a couple into a family.

For those who automatically answer “Just adopt”, it’s not that simple. Do you have any idea how many people are denied an adoption? They’re not just handing out children to anyone with money. Cancer took away the fertility of the couple I carried for and it also took their chance at adoption away. They were denied adoption because the cancer “might” come back and leave the child parentless. So before you start spouting your opinion, please do your research.

Kim on

FYI, a gestational surrogate is JUST the carrier and has no biological connection to the baby.

A traditional surrogate uses her own egg and the father (or donor) sperm.

And for the woman who wants to hire a surrogate because she doesn’t want to get pregnant or have children of her own, good luck. Personally, if that was your reasoning for coming to me as a surrogate, I would laugh and tell you that if you can’t handle pregnancy and birth, you won’t be able to handle children. Any agency that takes selfish people like you should be ashamed of themselves. You are wasting valuable time for those couples that CAN’T have children.

omi on

Shut up Kim, people have a right to do whatever they want. Go away.

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