Surrogacy is an arrangement in which a woman carries and delivers a child for another couple or person. A surrogate is always a woman. There are two different kind of surrogates:
1. A traditional surrogate is a woman who is the child's genetic mother (called traditional surrogacy). The pregnancy is created with her own egg and someone else's sperm such as a designated father or a donor sperm. A traditional surrogate can become pregnant either through intercourse, artificial insemination such as intrauterine insemination, or in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
2. A gestational surrogate is a woman who is not the child's genetic mother. The pregnancy is begun without her own egg, through in-vitro fertilization (IVF). A gestational surrogate carries the pregnancy to delivery after having an embryo, to which she has no genetic relationship, transferred to her uterus.
Commercial versus Altruistic Surrogacy
If the pregnant woman received compensation for carrying and delivering the child (besides medical and other reasonable expenses) the arrangement is called a commercial surrogacy, otherwise the arrangement is sometimes referred to as an altruistic surrogacy.
Controversies of Surrogacy
There continues to be significant controversy concerning surrogacy nationally in the US and internationally. In the United States, surrogacy laws differ from one state to the other. A few states permit surrogacy and surrogacy contracts, while other states refuse to enforce them, and some states penalize commercial surrogacy. Many countries including most Western European countries have outlawed surrogacy because they feel it is considered exploitation of women for financial reasons while other countries permit surrogacy. Most countries around the world, though, have no specific laws and surrogacy is unregulated or uncertain.
There are several circumstances of surrogacy. Two of the most common are:
- A heterosexual couple that cannot get pregnant
- A homosexual couple (usually men but also women) who needs or wants a woman to carry their baby
In infertile couples, for example, when examining options for infertility, surrogacy may come up as a viable option.
There are different ways of approaching surrogacy. The surrogate mother can carry a baby conceived from the egg of the donor mother and the sperm of the donor father in cases where the infertility is caused by the inability to carry a child and not conceive (traditional surrogacy). Other forms of surrogacy can include the surrogate mother being impregnated by the male parent’s sperm and carrying the child for the duration of the pregnancy or utilizing a donor sperm in the cases of male and female infertility (gestational surrogacy).
Surrogacy and the Male Parent
When it comes to being the male parent, the attachment to a child often comes from the ability to pass genetic coding onto that child. In cases where the male and female are infertile, the surrogate mother will carry a child conceived from a donor sperm. This donor sperm will leave the male parent with no ability to have a genetic connection with the child. In cases such as these the male parent, often finds bonding with the child difficult and will need to be emotionally attached to the idea of becoming a parent completely before undertaking the surrogate option.
Surrogacy and the Female Parent
The mother feels the closest connection of all with the child they are carrying. In cases where the mother is infertile, the surrogate mother will come in and carry the child in place of the female parent. After birth, the mother may wish to feel that personal connection with the baby through skin on skin contact and breastfeeding.
Mothers who do not give birth to the baby will have the ability to breastfeed after birth. With the help of supplemental milk supplies from breast milk donors, the baby will receive nourishment and the mothers breast will begin to make breast milk on its own after a short time. While the non-parental mother will most often never produce enough milk to feed the baby successfully without supplemental milk, the bonding associated with breastfeeding will be achievable.
Surrogacy and the Cost
Surrogacy is one of the most expensive options for infertility. The rates will include prenatal care, post natal care, medical expenses of birth, in-vitro fertilization or artificial insemination fees and any monies promised to the surrogate for carrying the child. When combined with the legal ramifications (surrogacy is not legal in all states), the option of choosing a surrogate mother is often left as a last resort for infertile parents.
There are options for parents who wish to choose surrogacy as the solution for their infertility. In order to choose a surrogate, the parents must first research the legality of the surrogacy and then find a surrogate agency in order to begin the surrogate screening process. In some cases, the surrogate will be a friend or family member closely involved in the fertility troubles.
Surrogacy and the Law
There are many potential legal issues involved in surrogacy. Who is the mother? Who is the father? Can you adopt the child? It is therefore advisable to get good legal advise and support before deciding on surrogacy.