Surrogacy is an option open for those who intend to have a child, if they are not capable of conceiving themselves. Radical as it sounds, it’s actually a practical option for those couples to whom adoption is not an option.
Surrogacy is when another woman (“the surrogate mother”) carries and gives birth to a child for you. She has no rights over the baby and thus the child, as soon as it is born, will be legally yours.
But surrogacy, as you probably guessed, is not an easy process. There are some legal grounds you would have to get cleared, as well. Here are some of the basics you need to clear when you are thinking of opting for baby via surrogate.
Everything You Need To Know About Surrogacy
Here we mention 6 simple steps for you to follow when you go for baby surrogacy. Check them out:
Is Surrogacy Right For Me?
Surrogacy is a really complicated process, so before you opt for it, you have to find out if you (and your family) are right for it.
- A woman might choose to get a baby through this method if her uterus has been removed due to hysterectomy.
- In some cases women face severe health problems, that might be made more complicated due to pregnancy.
Here is a list of medical conditions that might make it impossible for them to have kids:
- Repeated failure to have children.
- Recurrent pregnancy loss.
- Absence of the womb, or malformation.
- Repeated failure of IVF (in vitro fertilization) attempts.
- Age, marital status and sexual orientation might also have a role to play in a person’s decision to opt for surrogacy.
Who Is A Surrogate?
Surrogacy is when a woman carries and delivers a baby for another person, or a couple, who is not capable of conceiving. There are two kinds of surrogates:
a. Traditional Surrogates:
Traditional surrogacy is when artificial insemination is used.
- Traditionally, the surrogate woman is inseminated with the father’s sperm. The surrogate mother then carries the baby the whole term and delivers.
- A traditional surrogate is the baby’s biological mother herself. The biological mother’s egg is the one fertilized by the father’s sperm.
- Donor sperm can also be used to fertilize the egg in some cases.
b. Gestational Surrogates:
IVF makes it possible for people to harvest the egg from the mother, fertilize it with the sperm from the father, and place this embryo in the uterus of another surrogate.
- In Vitro Fertilization has become an incredibly popular option nowadays. This surrogate is a gestational surrogate, and this woman will carry the baby till birth.
- This surrogate mother will not have any genetic impact or ties with the child, as it’s not the surrogate’s egg that is used. She will just give birth to the baby, but the biological mother will still be the woman who provides the egg for the baby.
- Since both the parents have genetic ties to the baby, the laws regarding gestational surrogacy is rather simple. This is one of the reasons why this form of surrogacy is more preferable.
Surrogacy is a complicated process; results depend on a lot of variables. It is not easy to determine how successful the procedure is going to be. However, based on the current conditions, doctors might be able to provide you with a realistic view of what you can expect.
A number of factors can determine whether you can successfully get a baby through this method. They are:
a. The Surrogate’s Ability To Get Pregnant:
This can be the ability of the mother herself, or the ability of the gestational surrogate.
b. The Age Of The Egg Donor:
In case an egg donor has to be used, the age and health of the egg donor will determine whether this will be a successful case or not. Usually, women who smoke, or women who are above the age of 35 have a slightly lower chance of being successful egg donors.
c. The Success Of The Procedures:
Procedures such as IVF are rather complicated and intricate. They require a lot of effort and care. If there are any complications, they may not succeed, in which case the parents will not be able to get a baby through surrogacy.
d. The Quality Of Gamete:
The quality of the gamete provided by the couple also plays a huge role in determining whether or not a baby can be conceived. It will also determine how the baby will grow within the womb.
The biggest factor determining the success or failure rate of surrogacy is the age of the mother who is donating the egg.
How To Find A Surrogate Mother?
Say, if you need to find a surrogate mother, because you are not capable of taking the traditional surrogacy route. Now, you need to find a surrogate mother. You need to be careful about the person you are picking to be the surrogate mother – after all, the woman is going to be carrying your child. Here are some of the places you can look:
It’s good to keep it within the family. Family members are usually ready to help out their relatives any way they can, and you can use this deep bond to find yourself a surrogate.
- Surrogacy is an expensive, legally-complex process. Tried and tested bonds, such as the ones between family members, will make the whole process easier. It will also prevent any future issues with the surrogate mother.
- However, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine accepts only certain family members are being good as surrogate mothers (1). Certain other ties might be disagreeable, for the child would carry a lot of similar genes as a child born of incest.
- In general, surrogates from one’s immediate family are discouraged, as this would be bad for the genetic development of the child, and it’s a societal taboo.
It’s good to look for a surrogate mother among one’s friends because one already knows about these people, and know if they will stand with the couple looking for a baby during tough times.
- By choosing a friend as a surrogate, one gets all the benefits one would have gotten with their family, but none of the drawbacks.
- However, if you are choosing one of your friends as the surrogate, make sure it’s a friend you know really well and have known for a sufficient period of time.
- In all cases, pre-surrogacy counseling and clear communication of terms and expectations is vital.
c. A Surrogacy Agency:
Sometimes, people might not manage to find a suitable surrogate in their family, or their friends. In such a situation, they would just have to turn to the surrogacy agency.
- There are thousands of these agencies in the country. They keep a record of people who are willing to be surrogates, and they get the information about parents looking for surrogates. They provide a connection between these two, find suitable surrogates and make the necessary arrangements, as well.
- The one drawback of choosing a surrogacy agency, of course, is the fact that one might not know exactly whom they are getting as a surrogate mother. This person will be a stranger, essentially.
- However, this is the only option left for a number of people, so a majority of people decide to go for this option.
- One can browse through the internet based on their locality to search for the surrogacy agencies. This would help in fetching the agency in a quick way.
How To Choose A Surrogate?
Even if you go through a surrogacy agency, you will be given the opportunity to interview the potential surrogate mother. You have to use them as the surrogate mother only if you are perfectly content with them and think that you will be okay with them carrying your child.
Most people do not know what to look for in a surrogate. This is a huge decision, to be made with utmost care and attention. There are no regulations regarding the kind of people who can become surrogates, so most of these criteria are subjective.
Here are some of the important points you should keep in mind:
- The surrogate mother should at least be 21 years old.
- It’s better for the surrogate mother to have given birth to at least one healthy baby. These women will understand the intricacies and medical risks of pregnancy, and their bodies are ready for the wear and tear associated with pregnancy.
- The surrogate mother you choose should pass a psychological screening by a licensed mental health professional. This will make sure that the surrogate mother does not have any issue (or create any issues for you) once the baby has been delivered.
- You have to make sure that the surrogate mother signs a mutually-agreed contract. This contract will underline the role and the responsibility of the surrogate mother during and after the pregnancy. It will also ensure that the surrogate mother gives up all rights over the baby after birth (if need be).
- It is always better to choose a surrogate mother one is comfortable with. There is no point in choosing a woman you or your partner do not like as your surrogate mother. You would have to spend a lot of time with her in the next few months, and the person will be carrying your baby. You have to ensure that this is a person you like or get along with enough, just for that reason.
Legal Issues With Surrogates:
Surrogacy is no simple process. It is rather complicated, and there are some legal matters to be tackled as well. Do not underestimate the complications that might arise in the legal front – your entire family is at stake here, after all.
- It is recommended that you seek legal advice and counsel throughout the surrogacy process. You should make sure that you consult with your lawyer before you make any decision about the pregnancy, once you have decided to try it through the surrogacy method.
- State laws are different when it comes to surrogacy. In some states, after a surrogacy pregnancy, parents would have to actually adopt the child, even if it was created with their egg and sperm (2). This means that the biological parents themselves have to go through a series of legal processes to adopt the child.
- Some other complications might also arise in the field. If the surrogate mother changes her mind, she does have the right to keep the baby, even if she is not genetically linked to it. In these situations, the parents will need all the legal counsel and help they can get.
If you want to protect your condition as the parent of the child, and the child’s life, you should make sure that you have an attorney who is well-versed in reproductive rights as per the state/country. This attorney will help you tide over all the legal complications. The attorney will also be helpful in case you have used a third person to carry the baby for you, as they will draw up the necessary contracts, and iron out any problems, as well.
Summary Of Steps:
Here’s a brief list of the steps that you have to take when you are planning for having a baby through a surrogate mother.
- Determine if you are actually incapable of having children.
- Consult the doctor about the probability of a successful surrogate pregnancy.
- Figure out if it is possible for you to opt for traditional surrogacy, or if you have to opt for gestational surrogacy.
- Figure out the costs and find out if you will actually be able to carry through with this.
- If you can afford it, then find a hospital/doctor you trust. In case you have to go for gestational surrogacy, start looking for a surrogate mother among people you know, or by applying to surrogate agencies.
- Hire a lawyer to straight out any issues regarding the surrogacy, so that the lawyer can start drawing up the surrogacy contracts.
- Get the actual medical procedure done.
Once the baby is born, take care of all the necessary legal procedures. This might involve having to settle the deal with the surrogate mother, and straightening things out with the government regarding the parentage of the child born.
Are you in a plan of having a surrogate baby? Do share your thoughts with us.