While the term “surrogate mother” became widely known only in the 20th century, the concept of women helping couples become parents through carrying their baby has been known since ancient times. However, only recently the officials started developing a legal foundation for the complex and demanding process of surrogate motherhood.
Even without the legal complications, surrogate pregnancy is a trying time in the life of both the intended parents and the surrogate mother. From the parents’ medical conditions to the problems after the delivery, there are many things that require constant attention from all parties involved.
Nevertheless, for many modern couples, surrogacy is the only way to have a baby with a genetic relation to the parents. We have prepared this guide for you to answer the two most important questions: what is a surrogate and how does surrogacy work?
What is a Surrogacy?
Surrogacy is a process of a woman carrying and giving birth to a child for a couple or an individual who, for any reason, cannot go through the process themselves. Surrogacy is often supported by a legal agreement and is a complex procedure that requires a lot of attention at every stage.
For years, the topic of a surrogate mother has been one of the most widely discussed ones in our society. People may have different opinions on the matter, but the fact that surrogacy helps thousands of people finally have a baby ensures the popularity of this service worldwide.
When researching the concept of surrogate parenthood, it is impossible not to talk about the types of surrogacy. Right now, there are two types of surrogacy available to intended parents:
As you can guess from the name, this type of surrogacy has been around for a long time, although now more and more parents make a choice against traditional surrogacy. So how does a surrogate mother get pregnant with traditional surrogacy? This is done via artificial insemination, which means that only the surrogate father will have a genetic connection to the baby.
Under this type of surrogacy, both the mother and the father will be genetic parents of their child. For gestational surrogacy, vitro fertilization is used to create an embryo, which is then implanted in the gestational carrier, or surrogate mother. In this case, the surrogate mother does not have a genetic link to the baby and only carries the baby to term.
Who Uses Surrogates?
If you have not studied the concept of surrogate child closely, you may think that only couples who struggle with conceiving a baby are the typical clients of a surrogate clinic. And while it’s at least partially true and surrogacy is often the only way for infertile couples to become parents, that is not the only situation where you may consider surrogacy.
Many women choose surrogate motherhood when they can conceive but have trouble carrying the pregnancy to term or have a risk of complications developing in a link to pregnancy. Intended parents with genetic conditions who do not want to pass the illness to their children are also often interested in surrogacy.
Finally, same-sex couples or single people who have no other way of having a child that is genetically theirs also think that surrogacy is their only option. It’s clear that surrogacy parents come from all walks of life, but what unites them all is the desire to have a child of their own.
How to Find a Surrogate?
Now that you know the answer to the question “What is a surrogate mother?”, you probably want to know how to find a woman who will carry your baby. In some cases, you can ask around in your family. Women who have a close connection to you will often be willing to become surrogate mothers to gift you the joys of motherhood.
If that is not the case in your family circle, you have several other options. The most popular one is to work with a surrogacy agency. After carefully studying your family situation, your surrogacy agent will embark on a search for your potential surrogate mother using their own channels, including online advertising.
If you do not want to cover the extra costs of working with a surrogacy agency, you can try and find your surrogate mother by yourself. You will need to use online ads and visit boards designed for connecting intended parents and surrogate mothers. In that case, you will have an additional responsibility of choosing the right person to carry your baby, but for many intended parents, this method works out well.
How to Choose a Surrogate
From a legal point of view, the process of selecting a surrogate mother is not regulated. In theory, it means that you can choose pretty much any woman who wants to carry your child. However, the experts of the surrogacy market advise to take the following things into account:
- The woman should be over 21 years of age.
- The potential surrogate mother should be ready to sign a legal agreement regarding the pregnancy, which includes the fact that she will need to hand the baby over to the intended parents once she gives birth.
- She should have carried at least one healthy pregnancy to term. This is done to make sure not only that her body is capable of successfully carrying a baby, but also that she fully understands the medical and emotional risks of pregnancy.
- The woman needs to undergo a series of psychological tests to determine that she will not try and keep the baby after the pregnancy and delivery.
Surrogacy is a rather complex process, but it can be easily broken down into several steps. To become parents through a surrogate mother, you will need to go through the following stages:
- Once you know for a fact that you are ready to become parents, you will need to decide how you are going to search for the surrogate and which type of surrogate pregnancy you want to go for. Most couples today settle on gestational surrogacy and prefer to work with an agenсy.
- After finding out more about the intended parents and their expectations, the surrogacy agent will then use every available resource to find a surrogate mother who matches the requirements of the parents.
- When the parents have found a matching surrogate, the three of them will then go through the required medical procedures, which start with screenings and end with the embryo transfer.
- As soon as the pregnancy is confirmed to be successful, the parents wait for the delivery of the baby. In most cases, they can reach out to the surrogate mother, visit screenings, and support the mother in the ways specified by the contract.
- When the delivery day comes, the intended parents await the arrival of their baby and finally become genuine parents when the surrogate hands over the child. After that, the surrogate is fully compensated and the parents go home with their new baby.
You may think that in the US, the process of surrogate parenthood is precisely designed for the comfort and security of all parties. However, the reality is very different. Right now, there is no federal law regulating surrogate pregnancy in the United States, and the state laws have widely different views on the subject.
In some states, the intended parents can sign a “declaration of parentage” to avoid having to adopt their child after birth. In other states, adoption is required by law to get full legal custody of the baby. Still, no matter which state you live in, you should know that in the US, parental rights are not guaranteed to the intended parents.
In order to minimize the risk of legal complications during and after the surrogate pregnancy, it is important to hire a professional reproductive lawyer who is familiar with both the specifics of the process and the state laws. And even then, it is not guaranteed that the surrogate mother will not want to keep the child for herself.
What if the surrogate decides to keep the baby?
One of the first questions that intended parents have about the process of surrogacy is this one: “Does a surrogate mother have rights?”. You should know that in the US, the surrogate mother has the right to refuse to hand over the baby without any legal repercussions.
That is why thousands of US couples consider other countries for the process of surrogacy, and Ukraine is currently the most popular overseas destination for surrogate pregnancy. Ukraine is one of the only two countries where the surrogate mother is legally required to give the baby to the parents who hired her for the procedure.It means that no matter how the process goes, after a successful pregnancy and delivery, you will end up with your own baby in your hands. And given the significantly lower cost of surrogacy in Ukraine, it is not surprising that thousands of families have already chosen it to fulfill their dreams.