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Using A Surrogate Mother: What You Need To Know

Working with a surrogate mother – a concept known as surrogacy – is slightly enmeshed in controversy. It is a valid option, however, for people that want to have a baby through current reproductive technologies.


How Do You Define A Surrogate?

There are a couple types of surrogate mothers.

A customary surrogate is easy to understand. The wonder of artificial insemination made surrogacy a reality for many couples. A customary surrogate carries the father’s sperm through artificial insemination. She is the biological mother of the baby. She carries and delivers the babies, and then she transfers it over for the couple to take on. A customary surrogate would technically qualify as the biological mother of the baby. Her egg is given fertilization with the father’s sperm. Donor sperm will be used with a surrogate mother, as well, so that the father does not have to use his own sperm.

There is also the term, general surrogate. In vitro fertilization, or IVF for those that prefer to use the acronym, has opened the door to harvesting eggs from a mother, using sperm from the dad, and placing the embryo within a gestational surrogate uterus. The surrogate will carry and delivery the baby. There are no genetic links to the surrogate, however, and they just do the job of carrying the child. Her eggs was never used at all. The differentiation in terminology is that the surrogate is referred to as a birth mother, but the biological mom is the woman who will actually raise the child, and whose eggs were used.

There are less complexities in the legal system with gestational surrogacy. The reason is that both of the parents maintain genetic links to the baby. Gestational surrogacy has actually dominated over traditional surrogacy in recent years because of this. There are just under 1,000 babies born per annum with the process of gestational surrogacy.

What Kind Of People Use Surrogates?

There are several reasons that a woman could opt for a surrogate.

  • There might be physical ailments with the uterus
  • A hysterectomy in the past could have taken her uterus out
  • Some conditions may make pregnancy a bad choice like heart disease

Some women go the route of surrogacy after they’ve tried other routes like ART and IVF.

Some people use surrogates if they are just not able to go for an adoption. There are several legitimate reasons for this.

  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Sexual orientation

Gay men might opt for a surrogate. One partner in the relationship could use his sperm with a surrogate’s egg through the process of artificial insemination. The surrogate will carry the baby through to delivery, and then she will give birth. A gay pair could also choose an egg donor, use fertilization on that said egg, and the embryo might then be put into a gestational surrogate.

How Does One Locate A Surrogate Mother?

There are different options for finding a surrogate mother.

Friends or relatives could become surrogates. It’s not unheard of. It sounds a little outlandish at first, but it makes perfect sense. It’s a little controversial in some circles, though. There is a high expense of surrogacy though, and there are several big legal issues surrounding it. That’s why many people opt for a simple solution just involving a family member. It is an acceptable practice by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. The organization discourages the process of surrogacy, however, if the child would have identical genes to a child that was created through incess with a relative one is close to.

There are also surrogacy agencies, not surprisingly. The majority of people use a surrogacy agency to get the job done. There are about 100 agencies in the U.S. that handle surrogacy. The agencies are like middlemen. They help the parents-to-be find ideal surrogates, make the final arrangements, and grab any fees that are exchanged from parents and surrogates. Reimbursement for medical expenses is a common expense.

How Does One Choose A Surrogate?

There are currently no federal guidelines on who is qualified to be a surrogate. There are some critical points you should consider in choosing a surrogate though. You should choose a surrogate who meets the following conditions.

  • The surrogate should be at least 21 years of age.
  • She should have already given birth at least once and can comprehend the medical exigencies, emotional tolls, and practical problems associated with carrying a baby.
  • She should have aced a psychological screening with flying colors by a certified mental health professional to make sure she will be alright with giving up the baby after the birth.
  • She should definitely sign a contract that will outline her rights and responsibilities with the pregnancy, such as what she’ll do to make sure that prenatal care and the baby’s health are taken care of.

Going Through With Using A Surrogate

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine recommends certain things for any healthy surrogate to be seriously selected. She should get a thorough medical evaluation and history of her pregnancy to make sure that a healthy, complete pregnancy is likely. Screening for common STDs is also highly recommended like syphilis, chlamydia, HIV, and hepatitis B and C.

Surrogates should also get tested for their immunity to diseases like measles and chickenpox. A medical test to make sure that the uterus is healthy is also a must. The probability of carrying a pregnancy through to completion should be assessed. A surrogate mother should also have a separate doctor from the mother-to-be.

The cost of surrogacy is quite extensive, and it can go from $80,000 to $120,000. There are a multitude of factors that determine the costs. Some of these factors include whether or not the surrogate carries her own medical insurance or if the parents-to-be have to buy a policy on her behalf.

What Are The Complex Legal Issues Surrounding Surrogates?

Parental rights are not set in stone once a pregnancy takes place. Reproductive law is constantly changing. Reproductive technology continues to redefine what a parent actually is.

State laws vary from state to state on surrogacy, and there are no comprehensive federal guidelines. In some states, after a surrogacy take places, parents might still have to qualify for adoption. In some states, there is such a thing as a “declaration of parentage” prior to birth which will proscribe a need for adoption proceedings to take place at all.

Parents-to-be should also protect their rights. They should also protect the rights of the child. Hiring an attorney that is thoroughly well-versed in reproductive rights in the state that you live is a good idea. A surrogacy contract should be signed by both parties. The contract should clearly outline the obligations of the surrogate mother as well as the parents-to-be. A legal contract like this can really help after birth if there is an issue. Surrogacy contracts should also outline financial arrangements. The surrogacy contract should outline all the possible outcomes of the pregnancy, such as if twins or triplets are born.



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