Surrogacy has been around ever since humans started reproducing. What is a surrogate mother? She is a woman who agrees to carry and deliver a baby for another woman or couple. Traditionally, the baby carried the genes of the surrogate mother and the sperm of the intended father. It is only recently that IVF has made it possible for the woman to carry a child that has none of her genes.
Making the decision to use a surrogate to have a child is not arrived at easily. It is oftentimes a last resort for women who have been unsuccessful in their fertility treatments or who cannot physically carry a baby due to problems with the womb. Deciding to use a surrogate and going through the process is emotional and costly with legal ramifications to consider as well.
How Surrogacy Works
There are two forms of surrogacy: traditional and gestational. In both situations the surrogate carries the baby until birth and gives it up to the intended parents. The difference is in how she becomes pregnant in the first place, which ends up having a lot to do with the legal issues surrounding surrogacy.
Traditional surrogacy requires a woman to be artificially inseminated by the intended father’s sperm. The surrogate is also the child’s biological mother since it was her egg that was fertilized.
In Gestational surrogacy, the surrogate is impregnated with a fertilized egg of the biological mother and father. The surrogate is not biologically related to the baby at all. She is sometimes referred to as the \»birth mother,” but not the biological mother.
Legal Concerns Over Surrogacy
One reason for the decline in traditional surrogacy is due to the biological connection between the surrogate and the child. The risk of the surrogate becoming so attached to the baby that she refuses to give it up after birth is very real and many legal battles have been fought over it. As a result, gestational surrogacy is far more common in the U.S. Since both of the intended parents are also the child’s biological parents they have a claim to the child that the surrogate does not. There are many legal concerns that can arise over paternity and maternity in surrogacy cases which is why anyone intending to pursue surrogacy should hire an attorney to guide them through the process and draft the agreement.
Finding a Surrogate
Finding a surrogate can be difficult as some states are more surrogate-friendly than others. In some states, fertility clinics can help you find surrogate contacts and surrogacy support. Other states do not support surrogacy in any form and may even fine commercial surrogacy agencies and participants. In general, traditional surrogacy is not supported in any state, while gestational surrogacy is. Even if you live in a state not supportive of surrogacy you can work with a surrogate mother who lives in a surrogate-friendly state and plans to give birth in a surrogacy-friendly state. Talking to a fertility doctor about surrogacy laws in your state is a good place to start.
Costs of Surrogacy
The costs of surrogacy will depend a great deal on the agreement you strike with your surrogate. You may have to pay her medical expenses. Travel expenses may accrue depending on your location in relation to the surrogate and how involved you want to be in pre-natal appointments and the birth itself. You will have costs associated with IVF as well.