Updated: 2019, Feb 7

Surrogacy: A Solution for Couples Who Want, But Can’t Have Kids

By - Reviewed by CHD Team
Surrogacy

Sometimes, couples simply can’t have a baby. And sometimes, society can be judgmental towards this type of couples. But every problem has a solution. In this case, the solution is surrogacy. In its essence, surrogacy is an agreement between a couple, and another woman, who accepts to give birth for the couple. Surrogacy helps couples battling infertility to have children.

What is a Surrogate Mother?

The woman, who agrees to carry and give birth to a child for another couple, is called surrogate mother. There are several ways for surrogate mothers to get pregnant, including use of reproductive technology and in vitro fertilization. The mother carries the baby, gives birth, but after childbirth, the hospital gives the baby to the parents. There are two types of surrogate mothers: traditional and gestational.

Types of Surrogate Mothers

Traditional Surrogates
In this case, mothers are artificially inseminated with sperm from the intended father. Since her egg is being fertilized, traditional surrogates are de facto biological mothers of the baby. Sometimes, a donor sperm can be used to fertilize mother’s egg. After she gets pregnant, she carries the baby until childbirth, delivers, and then leaves the baby to intended parents.

Gestational Surrogates
Unlike traditional surrogates, gestational surrogates have no biological ties with the baby. They get pregnant with In vitro fertilization. The process includes harvesting eggs from the mother, fertilization by sperm from the father, and then placing the embryo in the gestational mother. She carries the baby until childbirth. A common term for gestational surrogates is birth mother, as the fertilized egg is not her. Gestational surrogacy is more common, since there are less legal complications. Since both parents have biological ties to the baby, it makes it easier for them to claim the baby legally.

Why People Require Surrogates?

There are several valid reasons for couples to use surrogates. Some of them including the woman in the relationship has medical problems with her uterus, had a hysterectomy, and other medical conditions that make pregnancy a risky move. Also, when women fail conceiving several times, they decide to try something else. Couples, who can’t adopt a child, also consider surrogacy. Gay men commonly use traditional surrogate to help them raise a family.

Is Hiring a Surrogate Legal in USA?

As mentioned previously, there are several legal issues considering surrogacy. Depending on the state, there are different legal conditions that apply. Some states allow, even promote and facilitate surrogacy, while others forbidden it. Some of the surrogacy friendly states are California, Illinois, Arkansas and Maryland.
A key benefit of the legal system is that it is important where the mother lives and where childbirth takes place. Essentially, this means that couples from non surrogacy-friendly states can still hire surrogate mothers, provided they find one in a state that allows surrogacy.

There are different examples and legislatives from one state to another. For example, Arkansas was one of the first states to legislate surrogacy in 1989. The law allowed biological fathers and their wives to be recognized as legal parents, even though a third party (surrogacy mother) carried and delivered the baby. Should the father is unmarried; he alone will be recognized as legal parent. California even promotes and enforces contacts between couples and surrogacy mothers. California allows parents to legally have children from surrogates, regardless of their sexual orientation. And then, there are states like Michigan and New York. In Michigan, all surrogacy agreements are forbidden, and they are considered a felony (possible punishment of five years in prison). In New York, civil penalties apply for people who participate in commercial surrogacy.

Finding a Surrogate

Once couples (women) decide to get a baby with the help of a surrogate mother, they need to find one. One way to find a surrogate mother is to ask friends and family. Certain family ties are accepted, but it is generally not recommended. The common way, however, is to find a mother with the help of a surrogacy agency. There are more than 100 agencies of this kind in the US.

Choose The Right Surrogate

Even though there are no regulations or requirements for qualification for one to be considered suitable for surrogacy, there are few criteria that experts recommend:

  • A minimum age of 21
  • Ladies who have given birth before
  • Has passed psychological screening
  • Is willing to sign a contract

Before choosing a surrogate mother, couples need to make sure she has a complete medical examination, and talk about her family history of health conditions.

Cost

At the moment, the cost for surrogacy ranges between $80,000 and $120,000. There are many factors that determine the price including health conditions, but also whether the mother has own medical insurance, or intended parents need to buy one.

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