Choosing to find a surrogate mother is not normally the first choice for people that want to start a family. Ordinarily, most couples will try to conceive a child naturally, with the woman in the couple getting pregnant and carrying the baby herself for nine months until the time of birth arrives. However, for some people, this may not be a feasible choice.
In some instances, there may be medical considerations at play that prevent safe, natural childbirth. Some women who have the HIV/AIDS, for example, may live long lives, but any pregnancy would automatically pass the virus onto the infant, and that same chance to escape the life-threatening symptoms are not guaranteed for the child. In other cases, a same-sex couple may simply not have the biological equipment—namely a uterus—required for a natural pregnancy.
It’s in these situations that surrogacy becomes an important alternative for people that want a newborn child, with their own genetic characteristics. The other options, to adopt, or, worse yet, remain childless are not all that appealing, but choosing the surrogacy option is neither fast nor easy. One of the most important things a hopeful family must do in this process is finding a surrogate mother, and that can be a complex, methodical goal. There are essentially two ways to find a surrogate mother.
Approach Someone You Already Know
For some, this may be the only acceptable option, but it carries with it its own set of complications. Some hopeful families will approach another family member, or perhaps even a very close friend that meets the medical/health criteria for safely carrying a baby to term and giving birth to that child. In most cases where a couple approaches someone they know, this is known as an altruistic, or compassionate surrogacy. The person approached wishes to help the couple move beyond their childless status. It’s not unusual in these situations for the surrogate mother to also be the genetic mother of the child, as her egg is used in the fertilization process.
For this type of surrogacy, the financial investment is, comparatively speaking, lower. Assuming that surrogacy is legal in the state/province and country of residence, altruistic/compassionate surrogacy usually means that a surrogate mother is only requiring that necessary expenses for the child’s safe growth and birth are paid for. There is no profit in this type of selection, and normally little in the way of legal issues, as the child is being born in his or her natural country of residence.
Working With An Agency
The other alternative is to find a willing surrogate mother elsewhere, through other means. While it may be possible to conduct searches, interviews, and iron out surrogacy contracts yourself, this is highly inadvisable. It’s usually much safer—for everyone—to go with an experienced agency or other organization that can help to pair hopeful couples with a willing surrogate mother.
Choosing to go with this method ensures that there are many safer options on the table, such as gestational surrogacy and/or the choice of specific donors for genetic material. It means the hopeful family can use their own sperm and egg, or that of a chosen donor, undertake in vitro fertilization, and then have the surrogate mother carry the baby to term, with the desired genetic connection.
Going this way, choosing an agency to help with the search means that hopeful parents now benefit from a careful screening process. Agencies will generally have strict medical and lifestyle requirements for potential surrogate mother candidates. So, for example, it is generally preferred that surrogate mothers have already given birth to a child at least once. That way, everybody, including the surrogate mother herself, knows that she’s safely given birth to a child in the past, and has the experience that can help to carry this process to its conclusion successfully.
This way, a hopeful family gets a selection of candidates, can interview them, and, best of all, have all the legal considerations taken care of.
This is a critical factor in selecting any surrogate mother, regardless of whether she is known to the hopeful family or not. Once again, an agency and rigorous screening can help in this regard. Women with genetic disorders should be screened out, but lifestyle choices are also important. A woman who uses drugs or drinks a lot of alcohol, even during pregnancy, for example, can severely, negatively impact the health of a growing baby, so these candidates must be weeded out early.
Then there is the actual medical support that the surrogate mother will require through each trimester of the pregnancy as she gets closer and closer to birth.
This and many other legal, financial and medical considerations, are why it is often better to seek a surrogate mother through a service that specializes in this activity. It makes for a much more safe and successful experience for everyone.