Couples that have difficulties in naturally conceiving a child have a few options open to them if there’s still a hope to start a family. One age-old alternative is adoption, but some hopeful families wish to have a newborn that has some of the family traits of the couple themselves.
Thanks to modern medical technology this is now still possible, though it requires more time, effort and financial investment. A surrogate mother is a solution to this problem, where a woman, who has been medically approved, agrees to let a baby gestate in her uterus. Nine months later, she gives birth to that baby, but, because of the agreement struck with hopeful parents, she now unites the newborn with the intended family.
The surrogate mother plays a critical role in this process. Without her, the baby literally cannot safely gestate or be born, so finding the right person to be a surrogate mother is important. But how does a hopeful family find the right person for this role? The process varies a lot depending on what the couple wants, and what legal environment they find themselves in.
An Acquaintance Or A Stranger
Depending on both the legal status and the feelings of the couple, some may feel it more appropriate to make sure a surrogate mother is someone that they know. More emotional reasons for this may be that a couple feels better about entrusting something as personal as a baby’s welfare to someone who is a close friend of the family, or even another family member.
Another reason for picking someone that is already known, especially if it is a family member, is a genetic concern. If the hopeful father, for example, can donate his sperm, but the hopeful mother has no egg to use for fertilization, then a family member on the mother’s side can still provide some genetic, familiar connection, if she agrees to be both a surrogate mother, and provide her egg for use in fertilization.
Alternatively, sometimes no friend or family member may be available, either due to no one wishing to take up the role, or because they have been medically evaluated and not approved for surrogate motherhood. In that case, there’s no choice but to find another surrogate mother that the hopeful family does not know.
The Financial Question
Another aspect of finding a surrogate mother that can affect finding one is whether there will be financial compensation or not. An altruistic/compassionate surrogacy is when a surrogate mother agrees to take on the role with the expectation of profit. There is usually some financial reimbursement, especially to ensure she can continue to live, buy food and take care of herself as the pregnancy progresses, and when the time comes, the couple takes care of the hospital bills as well. However, there is no additional money involved.
With a compensated surrogacy, it is closer to an actual business transaction. In addition to the living expenses and medical support, the surrogate mother also gets financial recognition for her effort. Some places, such as California, put this additional cost at USD$ 50000, minimum, and this doesn’t take into account the cost of the surrogacy itself and whether it is traditional or gestational.
Finding The Surrogate
Once you know what kind of surrogate you want, and what the financial arrangements will be, it’s time to find a surrogate to negotiate and arrive at an agreement. The first, cheapest solution is to do this yourself. While this certainly possible, using the Internet as a resource, it can be extremely time and effort intensive. Sifting through legitimate candidates and separating them from bogus applications can take time. Then there is the need to ensure they are medically approved for this role, as well as thinking about getting the psychological counseling that will be required, especially for a first-time surrogate mother. On top of all this, you will likely want to secure the services of a lawyer to ensure a legal contract is drawn with a smooth transition for everyone once the baby is born, and rights of parenthood are assigned.
The other alternative is to go through an agency. Finding a surrogate mother through an agency will add more expense to your budget, but it will also save you huge amounts of time and effort. An agency specializes in screening, so this means that a hopeful couple no longer has to worry about making sure a candidate meets certain minimum medical and physical requirements, only viable choices will be available at an agency. There are agencies available for both compassionate and compensated surrogacy, though their presence in your area depends on whether compensated surrogacy is even legal in your country, state or province. If it isn’t, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
Once you’ve chosen a surrogate mother and everyone agrees on the arrangement, it’s time to get it down in writing. The contract for surrogacy protects everyone’s rights, yours and the surrogate mother’s, so there are no unpleasant surprises in the future. Once that’s signed, there’s nothing to do but start!