Many people dream of finding someone else they want to spend the rest of their lives with, and then starting a family together, to build a new life. Unfortunately, while some people are fortunate enough to find love, there may be challenging, or even insurmountable issues when it comes to raising a family through natural childbirth.
This is where surrogacy can sometimes be the solution. But what is it, and how can it help hopeful families?
Finding Another Mother
The idea of surrogacy itself is nothing new and has been in practice in one form or another for centuries. Surrogacy, at its simplest, is when a couple goes to a healthy woman, who is capable of bearing healthy children, and get her agreement to carry a baby to term for them. Upon the birth of the child, the birth mother then unites that newborn with the hopeful parents and a new family comes together.
Why Choose Surrogacy?
For most couples, natural childbirth is the logical next step in starting a family, but for some couples, there are serious obstacles that make this impractical. Some of the reasons why natural childbirth is not the best option include:
Some women, after having been diagnosed with certain medical conditions, like uterine cancer, for example, have had their uterus removed. This surgical removal has been recommended to save their lives, but in doing so, it makes it biologically impossible for these women to now bear children.
Some women are diagnosed with illnesses such as AIDS, and while these illnesses may not always be terminal, they have serious future repercussion. Even if a woman’s uterus is medically feasible for bringing a baby to term, some illnesses of the mother may be passed directly to the growing baby because of the close biological bond they share during pregnancy.
In some cases, a couple may decide to have a baby much later in life. This puts both the woman and the baby at risk. Older women have a higher tendency to experience medical complications because of the intense demands that pregnancy brings. These complications can endanger the health and safety of both the mother and the baby.
If a same-sex male couple wishes to have a child that shares the genetic characteristics of the couple, the only solution is surrogacy. Because neither member of the couple is a woman, there is no uterus for a baby to grow in.
In the past, surrogacy occurred in only one way. A couple entered into an agreement with a potential candidate for surrogate motherhood. That surrogate mother was then inseminated with sperm, usually from the father, although another donor was sometimes also used, and the surrogate mother’s egg was used for fertilization.
This more traditional surrogacy meant that the baby that was born always had a genetic connection to the surrogate mother since she had donated half of her DNA to the development of the child. Even today, this is still an available option for those people that wish to take it.
However, modern technology now makes it possible for a baby to have the DNA of both the hopeful mother and father, just as with traditional childbirth. Through a process known as In Vitro Fertilization, or IVF, the sperm of the father and the egg of the mother undergo supervised fertilization in laboratory conditions. Upon confirmation of fertilization, that egg is then implanted in a surrogate mother, who then carries the baby to term.
More Options For Parents
Surrogacy today is much safer and more widely practiced than at any other time in our history. Hopeful parents now have many different choices for undertaking surrogacy. Altruistic, or compassionate surrogacy, for example, is when a surrogate mother—often someone the couple knows—agrees to carry a baby to term with only the basics, like living expenses and medical coverage provided.
On the other hand, compensated surrogacy also exists. In this scenario, a surrogate mother’s contribution is also recognized financially, for profit, and she receives money in addition to whatever medical or living expenses are required for a safe pregnancy. Compensated surrogacy, while more expensive, can also dramatically increase the available pool of suitable surrogate mother candidates.
Surrogacy In Your Country
One thing to keep in mind is that even though surrogacy is a well-established practice today, the types of surrogacy that couples have available to them varies widely. Different countries have different legal views on surrogacy. In some cases, different states or provinces within a country can have a very different view of surrogacy.
For example, surrogacy is legal in the country of Georgia and has extensive services for it. However, surrogacy is completely banned in the countries of France and Germany. This means that French and German couples risking surrogacy in their country have no legal claim on the child that is born, only the birth mother does.
If you’re thinking about surrogacy, you need to research your options carefully and consider your location in the world.