For many couples, the traditional journey of life is one they will follow without any major obstacles. People will meet, fall in love, decide to spend the rest of their lives together and then, when they feel ready, decide to start a family with the mother conceiving a child, carrying it to term, and then giving birth nine months later. But for some people, this, unfortunately, may not be the path they can follow.
There can be many reasons for this. Some same-sex male couples, for example, simply can’t have a baby through natural childbirth because neither man in the relationship has a uterus in which to grow or give birth to a child. Some women don’t either, if they were diagnosed with uterine cancer, and had their uterus surgically removed to save their lives. In other cases, a woman may be older and thus put herself and a baby at risk by attempting pregnancy later in life. Alternatively, a woman may be diagnosed with an illness, such as AIDS, where if she becomes pregnant, she guarantees to pass that illness onto her child.
While this is a significant challenge, it’s not one that is insurmountable, even if a family wishes to have a child that shares the genetic characteristics of both the mother and the father. There are alternatives, such as adoption, but there is also surrogacy. Surrogacy is where another woman agrees to become impregnated with the child of a hopeful family. She then experiences a normal, nine-month pregnancy, usually with her medical needs, and living expenses are taken care of by the hopeful family. When the time comes, she gives birth, and the newborn is united with his or her new, hopeful parents.
So how exactly does this process work? Let’s take a closer look at some of the steps involved.
Choosing A Type Of Surrogacy
There are different types of surrogacy available, and this initial choice is going to have a ripple effect on just what future choices and consequences a hopeful family faces. For example, choosing between an altruistic or compensated surrogacy will determine just how expensive surrogacy is going to be. In altruistic surrogacy—which is sometimes the only type legally allowed in a country—the hopeful family engages the services of someone who is not doing this for profit. It may be another family member, a friend of the family, or someone found through a reliable agency. In all of these cases, however, she agrees to do this as an act of generosity. While her medical and living expenses may be covered by the hopeful family, there is no financial reward for what she’s done.
Compensated surrogacy, on the other hand, is where the surrogate mother’s sizable contribution is financially recognized. In addition to her medical and living expenses, she receives money for her willingness to be a surrogate mother. Compensated surrogacy often means a wider available pool of suitable candidates.
Traditional Or Gestational
Another choice the hopeful family must make is whether to have a traditional or gestational surrogacy. Traditional surrogacy is where sperm is artificially inseminated into a surrogate mother, but the surrogate mother uses her egg. This means that, biologically, the child is 50% related to the surrogate mother.
With gestational surrogacy, the egg and sperm and fertilized together in lab conditions, either selected from specific donors or coming from the hopeful mother and father themselves. This means that, as with traditional childbirth, the newborn will be 100% genetic match with the mother and father, the only difference being he or she was delivered from a uterus other than the hopeful mother’s.
Local Or Going Abroad
Depending on the laws in a country, surrogacy may be undertaken in the country of residence, or the hopeful family may need to go elsewhere. France and Germany, for example, have banned all surrogacy, so citizens of these countries must go to another country if they wish to have a baby through surrogate motherhood. Citizens of the USA on the other hand, may only have altruistic surrogacy allowed in one state, but compensated, gestational surrogacies are fine in others, such as California. In some instances, the choice to go to another country might be for financial reasons, since countries like Georgia have legalized surrogacy but are comparatively cheaper than the USA.
The Surrogacy Selection
Once a hopeful couple knows how and where surrogacy is going to occur, it’s time to select a surrogate. For compensated surrogacy, this may involve an agency, and interviewing all the potential candidates. Once a candidate has been selected, and an agreement struck, the surrogate mother is impregnated.
Over the course of nine months, the surrogate mother looks after herself, possibly with much assistance and medical supervision from the surrogate agency. At the right time, she undergoes a medically supervised birth, and then, if there are any legal requirements, the wheels can be set in motion to ensure a newborn’s proper legal citizenship status is taken care of.
For people that want a start-to-finish, easy process, it may be best to look for an experienced surrogacy agency that offers all these services under one roof.