Starting a family is, for most people, a big decision, but the path towards having children is linear and well-understood, by allowing the woman in the couple to become pregnant, and then, nine months later, delivering a baby. Unfortunately, it is not always this straightforward for some couples.
In certain circumstances, a woman may be medically advised to avoid pregnancy. She might have contracted an illness, such as AIDS, that she would automatically transmit to a child if she became pregnant. Or she might have a heart condition, meaning that the demands of pregnancy would put both her and the child at risk. In other cases, pregnancy may be medically impossible. Such is the case with women diagnosed with uterine cancer, and so had their uterus surgically removed to save their lives. Male same-sex couples share the same obstacle since neither partner has a uterus in which to nurture a child.
But when naturally giving birth to a child proves difficult, or impossible, a solution exists in surrogate motherhood or surrogacy. This is where another woman agrees to become impregnated, carry a baby to term for nine months, and then deliver and united that newborn with the hopeful family that wants a child. However, as with any medical technique, there are pros and cons to choosing surrogacy. Here are a few of the important ones.
Pro: More Options For Surrogacy
Thanks to greatly advanced medical technology and techniques in the 21st century, surrogacy now makes it possible for hopeful families to have more choice about the way the process happens. Traditional surrogacy still exists, where the surrogate mother is also using her own egg for fertilization. 21st-century technology, however, means that artificial insemination can be used for this from a hopeful father, or some other donor.
Hopeful parents also have the choice of using their own egg and sperm if they’d like. In some cases, this means the genetic material was harvested and stored beforehand. This is common with a mother and/or father that needed life-saving surgery that would result in infertility. The sperm or egg is collected and cryogenically stored until required.
Once it is time, In Vitro Fertilization, or IVF, occurs. This means the donor materials have a lab supervised fertilization, and, once confirmed, are implanted in the surrogate mother. In this way, the child can be 100% the genetic ancestor of the hopeful family.
Con: An Investment Is Required
Because surrogacy involves extra procedures, there’s a sizable financial commitment that hopeful parents have to make. Traditional pregnancy usually involves some additional costs for medical support for the mother during pregnancy, with the costs of birth, and new baby supplies such as clothing and safety chairs for the car afterward.
With surrogacy, there may be a cost involved in locating a surrogate mother. There are the costs involved in covering her medical support and living expenses. If a hopeful family wishes to use their own sperm and egg, there is a cost in cryogenic retrieval if required, the IVF procedure itself, and then possible genetic screening. Finally, the implantation has a cost, and, if it is a compensated surrogacy, there is also the cost to the surrogate mother for her role.
Pro: Finances Vary
There are different “price points” for surrogacy depending on the type of surrogacy and the location. Compassionate surrogacy means that only required expenses are paid for by the hopeful family and the surrogate mother in no way profits from the surrogacy. But even when the mother does, as in a compensated surrogacy, there are variances in what the total investment may be.
By going to other countries, such as Georgia, for example, hopeful families can experience rates that are three to four time lower than what they might pay in the United States. An IVF surrogacy in the USA costs $50,000 on average and may go much higher than that, but traveling abroad can reduce this cost.
Con: No Universal Legality
While there are different types of surrogacy techniques, that doesn’t always mean they are permissible or accessible for everyone. In France and Germany, for example, surrogacy is illegal. That means that even if hopeful parents there take a chance and contact someone to be a surrogate mother, legally, that birth mother, not the hopeful mother, has parental rights, guardianship, and custody of that child.
This means that in some cases, parents may have no choice but to travel abroad to undertake a surrogate mother pregnancy. However, even if this choice is made, it is important to consult with legal experts to determine the final legal status of the baby once born. Certain countries, if a baby is a surrogate child, may refuse to grant citizenship to that child, effectively rendering the child “stateless” unless proper protocol was observed beforehand, to ensure the process goes smoothly. Always look at your own country’s laws towards surrogacy to see how it would affect you and your potential family.