On Sunday's episode of "Kourtney & Kim Take Miami," Khloe revealed that she and her husband, Lamar Odom, are battling infertility -- and her sister Kourtney offered a touching (if conveniently TV-friendly) solution to their problem.
"I just wanted to say that if you did need someone to carry your child, I would volunteer my services," 33-year-old Kourtney, already a mom of two kids, told Khloe, 28, during the episode.
But playing surrogate to a family member is easier in theory than in reality. For starters, not everyone in your family may be on board with the idea. "You don't just go putting babies in other sisters because you can," Kourtney's partner Scott Disick rants. "It's too much for me. This is freaking me out!" -- but he eventually comes around.
Still, before anyone—Kardashian or otherwise—embarks on this kind of undertaking, there's plenty to consider.
In 2010, 1,448 babies were born via gestational surrogates. It's not uncommon for surrogates and hopeful parents to be total strangers, matched through agencies. But having your sibling be your surrogate doesn't necessarily make the process easier.
Since the surrogate doesn't contribute genetic material to the baby, there's no biological benefit to having your sibling carry your child. But there are still lawyers to hire, complicated contracts to sign, psychological testing to undergo, and custody issues to deal with. According to the Northeast Assisted Fertility Group, using a gestational carrier can cost an average of $110,000 to $150,000, depending on health insurance coverage, IVF costs, the number of medical procedures required, and program fees. And the entire process can take an emotional toll, no matter how close the families are.
"It took me four tries, and I was surprised they wanted to try the fourth time," said Robin Kaufer, who was as a gestational surrogate for a friend. "Losing three pregnancies was hard on me. But the toughest part was when they took the baby from me. I was cavalier through the whole process ... until they physically left, and hormonally I went nuts for a week and a half. It really ripped me apart, which took me by surprise."
Tiffany Burke was a gestational surrogate for her brother and sister-in-law in 2012. The pregnancy was rough -- she was carrying twins -- and she was often sick, which made it difficult to work as a professional photographer and to take care of her own young sons. Still, she says, "Being a surrogate was one of the coolest things I have ever done in my life." Her nephews were born in November.
"When people ask, 'How are you feeling after giving the babies up?' I say this: I am feeling amazing and I don't feel like I gave them up, I feel like I gave them back," Burke wrote on her blog, A Belly for Me, A Baby for You, in January. "They were never mine. For a short while I was blessed to give them a home and help nourish and love them until it was their time to be born. That was what I signed up for, what I wanted, and what I was happy with."
The Kardashians' baby journey may not mirror Burke's. The Organization of Parents Through Surrogacy suggests all parties involved--including husbands--consider counseling. Families may not know what emotional drama awaits, but then again, that's the perfect set up for reality TV.
Also on Shine:Surrogacy: The Pregnancy Option You Haven't Considered
Surrogate Retires After Giving Birth to 15th Baby
What are a Surrogate's Rights?