Even if you don’t personally know someone who has used a surrogate to have a baby, you have probably read about some famous people having children through surrogacy, from Andy Coren to Jimmy Fallon to Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. Surrogacy is a common family-building option for people who are unable to carry a pregnancy on their own, and it’s getting more and more popular by the day.
But what exactly is surrogacy, how does it work, and why would someone want to consider it as a way become a parent. Find the answers to all these questions and more in this article.
What Is Surrogacy?
Surrogacy is a process where a woman (known as the surrogate) agrees to get pregnant and deliver a baby for another couple or individual. There are two types of surrogacy:
(i) traditional surrogacy and
(ii) gestational surrogacy.
In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate mother also provides the eggs that are used to create the baby, making her the child’s biological mother.
In gestational surrogacy, however, the eggs do not come from the surrogate. Instead, they are provided by the would-be mother herself or an egg donor. Hence, the surrogate mother has no genetic connection to the baby she carries.
The most common form of surrogacy arrangement in the US nowadays is Gestational surrogacy, as it is less emotionally and legally complicated for the parties involved.
Why Do People Consider Surrogacy?
There are many reasons a couple or individual may want to build their families via surrogacy. These include:
Straight couples who are unable to conceive on their own due to blocked fallopian tubes or other medical issues may turn to surrogacy as a way to have a biological child.
(ii) Health concerns:
Surrogacy is often recommended for couples or individuals who have health conditions that make pregnancy or childbirth unsafe for them, .e.g., women who have had a hysterectomy, women who have a high-risk pregnancy, or men or women with a genetic disorder that could be transferred to their babies.
(iii) Gay couples:
While there are other ways same-sex couples can bring a baby to their families, e.g., adoption and fostering, many prefer surrogacy, as it allows them to have a biological connection with their baby.
(iv) Single parents:
Surrogacy is also a great option for single individuals who want to have a biological child. Their sperm can be mixed with donor eggs and the resulting embryos may be transferred into the womb of the surrogate, who will carry the baby until delivery.
Gestational Surrogacy Process
The process involved in gestational surrogacy may vary based on many factors. But here are the steps you can expect to undergo when taking this path to parenthood:
1. Finding a surrogate:
The first step is looking for a surrogate mother to help you carry your baby. You can do this by working with a surrogacy agency. These agencies usually have a large pool of qualified surrogates that they can match you with. They also provide a wide range of services to help ensure a successful surrogacy journey, such as background checks, psychological evaluations, and legal support.
Alternatively, you can find a surrogate mother yourself through ads or personal connections, e.g., by asking a friend or family member to carry for you. Be careful when using this option, and make sure there is an agreement between both of you to avoid future conflicts or legal battles.
Once you find a surrogate, she will undergo an extensive medical and psychological evaluation to ensure she is physically and emotionally fit to carry a baby. This may include a review of her medical history, physical examination, psychological evaluation, and more. You and your partner (if you have one) will also be screened to ensure that the baby is born healthy and without any preventable medical conditions.
2. Legal process:
If you are using a surrogacy agency, they will help create legal contracts for you and your surrogate mother to sign. These contracts will outline the rights and responsibilities of the intended parents and the surrogate and address issues like compensation, medical expenses, and any legal issues that may come up during the surrogacy process. It’s crucial that you and your surrogate have individual legal representation for this step to ensure the rights of both parties are protected.
3. Embryo creation and transfer:
Once the legal process is complete, the intended parents will provide the sperm and eggs or the egg donation process will be used that will be used to form embryos through IVF. These embryos will then be grown in the labs for 3 to 5 days, and the healthiest one(s) will be transferred to the surrogate’s uterus.
The surrogate mother will then carry the pregnancy to term. She will receive regular prenatal care and monitoring from her obstetrician during the pregnancy. Based on your earlier agreement with the surrogate, you can be as involved in this process as you want.
If you like, you may choose to attend doctor’s appointments and ultrasound exams with your surrogate and be involved in making decisions regarding the pregnancy and delivery. The surrogate will need to follow all medical instructions and take good care of herself and the baby during the pregnancy.
Once your surrogate gives birth, she will relinquish the baby to you, the rightful parents. The surrogacy attorney at your agency can help you obtain a parentage order for you to be recognized as the child’s legal parent. In some cases, you may have to legally adopt the child based on the surrogacy laws of the state or country.
After delivery, you will take the baby home and raise him or her as your own. You and the surrogate may agree on the level of contact you want to maintain after the baby is born. While some surrogates would like to maintain a close relationship, others may prefer to have limited contact with their intended parents. Either way, it is important that both parties respect each other’s wishes and boundaries.
For those who can afford it, surrogacy is a fantastic option to start or grow a family. It allows intended parents to have biological children, regardless of their marital status, gender orientation, or background. However, it’s also a complex medical and legal process. So, you need to make sure that you understand the process completely and seek the services of surrogacy professionals to help you navigate this exciting and highly-rewarding journey.