Kim Eldridge, then 21, decided that she would like to explore the world. The desire to see the world was a childhood dream. It became a passionate ambition, and then, it became a reality.

How to finance such an adventure? Kim was the only person who could raise the money, as her parents were not wealthy enough to provide a trust fund.

So she came up with a unique, highly controversial — and, some might argue, morally questionable — plan to raise the cash. As a surrogate, she would travel the country for a year as a paid parent.

It may seem like a crazy idea but Kim is doing it now at 26.

Many will disagree with Kim’s decision or believe she is being foolish. Kim is now engaged to her best friend. 

She is also no stranger to the concept of surrogacy: her own mother, Emma, now 50, was herself a surrogate — six times over.

Kim Eldridge (pictured today) was 21 when she decided she wanted to see the world. With no trust fund or wealthy parents to indulge her, it was down to Kim to raise the money. So she came up with a highly controversial plan to raise the cash. She'd become a surrogate for an infertile couple and spend the year-long maternity leave, which she'd be legally entitled to just like any other parent in paid employment, travelling

Kim Eldridge, pictured here today at 21, was just 21 when she made the decision to travel around the globe. Kim had to find the funds, as she didn’t have a trust fund nor wealthy parents. Kim devised a controversial way to raise cash. The surrogate would travel around the country as a paid parent and she’d spend her year-long maternity break legally.

Kim gave birth via Caesarean section to baby Boy in March. After expressing breastmilk for six weeks to give him food and for time for her scar from her C-section to heal, Kim left for Spain in September. She plans to continue travelling to her return date to work, which will come after she tags on six weeks of holiday allowance.

This is something that she intends to continue doing over and over again. She will only be allowed to have three surrogate children if her next pregnancy ends with a Caesarean birth. 

She plans to have at most four children. The’very supportive railway company’ for which she has been working for the last five years is her home. She sees no reason for them not to support several pregnancies, maternity and other leave requests.

Kim says that this was a long-planned project. Kim is referring to her youth hostel in Zagreb, Croatia. 

‘I’m flying next to Greece, after which I will fly home for Christmas. Then, I’ll be heading to Thailand in January, where, hopefully, I will spend at least a month. As Covid is currently prohibiting access to some parts of Asia, I hope that they will allow me to travel there. If that happens, I will fly to Europe, and then do the eastern part of Spain and Portugal.

“I enjoy meeting people new and old, locals as well as travellers, trying out new foods and experiencing the unfamiliar feeling of being in a new place.

Kim’s spirit of enterprise hasn’t struck everyone, it’s safe to say. 

Many accused her of abusing a program that was set up for mothers in order to have precious quality time with newborns when her story was published on Mumsnet’s parenting forum.

Kim’s dad was more nervous than usual when she made her plans.

“I recall talking to my father when I had this idea, and trying to get his approval. He said that it was a great reason to give a child a chance to live.

Kim, above, during her pregnancy.  She received £12,000 in expenses from the couple for whom she carried the baby — but says that money was used for exactly that — expenses. Paying surrogates is illegal in the UK

Kim (above) during her pregnancy.  She received £12,000 in expenses from the couple for whom she carried the baby — but says that money was used for exactly that — expenses. Surrogacy is illegal in the UK

He said, “Well, it’s just one reason.” It is just an amazing benefit for me. ‘

We can’t know what Kim’s employers might think. Kim however insists that her bosses have been supportive and her colleagues are.

For five years she has been employed by the unnamed railroad company, four of them as signallers. 

And, although she doesn’t want to discuss her salary, most earn in the region of £48,000. For each child, she is eligible to receive 26 weeks of full pay, 13 on statutory and 13 on unpaid maternity leaves.

The UK does not have any specific laws regarding surrogacy. She said she showed her my MATB1 certificate, which verifies pregnancy and allows a woman to receive maternity leave.

“I have heard of surrogates refusing to take the entire year off, either because they believe they are taking advantage or because it would jeopardize their careers. But employers can’t make a distinction over maternity leaves.

“Pregnancy can take a toll on your body, and your mind. You should have fun with it. Because it’s such a sacrifice, I am going to let my guard down for a little while.

Kim also received £12,000 in expenses from the couple for whom she carried the baby — but says that money was used for exactly that — expenses. The UK has made it illegal to pay surrogates.

They matched Kim with her parents via COTS (Childlessness Overcome through Surrogacy). Although they appreciate Kim sharing her experiences on social media and support Kim, they don’t desire to share theirs.

However, her fierce protection of their privacy is evident. She will also tell you that the baby’s mom has blue eyes and blonde locks, much like her.

Kim was unsuccessful in her attempts to conceive. On ovulation days, Kim and the man visited her home to ‘produce’ sperm samples. Then they left her to inseminate on her own using a syringe.

Kim had felt terrible every time she had to inform them she wasn’t pregnant. Kim was thrilled to announce her positive pregnancy test in June 2020.

Kim says, “I called them via WhatsApp video in the early morning and gave the positive test stick to them.” “I will not forget the sheer joy they expressed to me.”

I’ve saved all her notes and cards. Her mother always tells me that I don’t have enough words.

“I have visited the parents twice, once when the baby was six-weeks old and again at six months, to see the happiness he has brought them. It would have been impossible to be a surrogate if I never got in touch with them. The whole point of the process is watching their children grow.

Kim is a YouTuber and often calls herself the ‘traveling surrogate’. Kim’s unusual arrangement involves explaining her situation to anyone she encounters along her way.

Kim happily shows off her Caesarean scars and stretch marks, not only to fellow travellers — many of whom, due to language and cultural barriers, are utterly baffled — but also to the hundreds of followers her unique story has attracted, both on YouTube and Instagram.

“Some people that I have met said, “Oh, but your body has ruined.” However, I’ve not. It’s changed — I’ve got stretch marks, loose skin, a big scar and my boobs hang a bit lower — but it’s not ruined.

“I now feel that I am a woman, not a girl, in my body, and I embrace it. I have created my life regardless of whether it is my baby. My body has grown as a result.

Kim is pictured with the baby she delivered as a surrogate. 'When they pulled him out of me, I felt such relief. I couldn't see him because of the screen in front of me, but when he cried I looked at my mum, who was my birthing partner, and said: "I still don't want kids"'

Kim and the surrogate child she gave birth to is shown here. “When they took him from me, it was such a relief. Because of the screen, I couldn’t see him, but when I heard his cry, I glanced at my mum who was my birthing partner and stated: “I still do not want to have children”

“Other people said to me, “Oh, it was so selfless what your have done.” It’s not, I say. It’s been a year since I was last at work, and now I am traveling the globe.

However, it is not possible for everything to be so simple. 

It was nine months ago that Kim carried her baby for her first child. After undergoing 24 hours of labor, Kim gave birth to a healthy newborn. Kim continued to breastfeed the infant while Kim continued to express colostrum.

You can also add the fact that the baby was genetically hers because she self-inseminated using the father’s eggs, which could lead to significant depression after birth.

Kim insists that this is not true. Perhaps it helps that her mother went through this same thing multiple times. Kim has had her full support.

Kim, her mother’s sole child, has two older halfsisters from her dad’s previous marriage. Kim was just five when she had her first baby. The next three were biologically hers.

Kim says, “Mum was passionate about being pregnant with me, but insisted that she wanted only one child.” She saw an advertisement for COTS and believed she could achieve it.

She became addicted. “If I don’t use my egg, it will be just wasted,” she would tell me. Why not give it to a desperate woman in need of a child?

“Mum had 2 babies, and we were able to get to know them. It felt normal.

“But it was confusing to other people who saw Mum pregnant and would congratulate her. My dad would then tell them that the baby wasn’t mine. Then, Mum would reply: “Well, it is not mine.”

Kim’s maternal grandfather was an adopted mother who felt that having a child to care for another person was like giving up a child. Kim says, “He did some education initially.”

Kim believes her past prepared her mentally for surrogacy. “From the moment I was pregnant, I knew that it wasn’t my baby. It’s just some genetic material that I am caring for.” After the baby woke up, I would call his mother and tell her “Oh my god, your baby is going insane, he won’t sleep tonight.” His mother had never shown any maternal affection towards me.

“When they took him from me, it was such a relief. The screen was blocking my view so I could not see him, but when I heard his cry, I turned to my mother, my birth partner, and told her: “I don’t want children.”

They took him inside the anaesthetist’s room where parents were waiting. After I’d been stitched, I finally saw him in the recovery area. My mother asked to take pictures of me and the baby. Although I didn’t have any interest in this baby, it was astonishing to see the joy his parents expressed.

“I don’t know how mothers who have their babies delivered by Caesarean can look after them.”

Kim never held the baby. To lessen any risk, Kim, as first-time parents whisked the child off to his new home.

After five days, the baby blues began to kick in.

It was intense and sudden, like the worst PMS. Kim recalls it feeling like she’d been hit with a car. “I called my mom and said that I didn’t feel well. 

The next day she came to my home and cleaned it. She also made me lunch. It only lasted a few days and wouldn’t put me off being a surrogate again but the hardest part of the whole thing was expressing milk for six weeks — I felt like a cow.’

Kim, however, is already planning for her next pregnancy, both with the same couple as before or, if not, another person.

However, she will wait for the recommended two years before getting pregnant following a C-section.

Kim, who is 24 years old, hopes Dilara, her fiancée, can take a break from her career to go with her to her next postnatal adventure around the world.

Kim was like Dilara. Dilara isn’t interested in motherhood and she knew about Kim’s surrogacy decision and has been very supportive. 

You will also need to understand that wedding plans may have to be made after Kim has had babies. If Kim and Dilara are married, UK laws dictate that Dilara would first appear on birth certificates.

Parents of the child must file a court order for parental rights to change the certificate to add their names.

Kim was present in Valencia at the time the family court met a few months back and connected via Microsoft Teams.

Kim says that the judge told her: “Thank you for your significant contribution to this family.” This is a British appraisal. “But, it was nonetheless moving.

Kim is able to watch the video shortly after she gave birth to provide grounding.

She said, “I have lost track of the number of times that I have watched the video where the parents hold the baby for the very first time.” “I just cry each and every time. It’s beautiful.