One of the most natural things in the world for people who decide to start a new life together is to make becoming a family part of that plan. For many, this is a straightforward path that goes the traditional route of becoming pregnant and giving birth to a new baby 9 months later.
Unfortunately, this conventional path isn’t always available to every couple. For example, medical issues, such as a heart condition, can put a woman and a baby at risk if pregnancy is attempted. Other women have had surgery to save their lives, such as hysterectomies, which involved the removal of the uterus, and thus conventional pregnancy is now medically impossible.
There are, however, alternatives. And one of them is surrogacy, which is the practice of having another woman agree to become pregnant on behalf of a hopeful couple. When the baby is born, that infant is then united with the hopeful couple to start their lives as a new family. But like any practice, whether it is adoption or traditional childbirth, surrogacy has its own pros and cons.
Pro: Couples Get A Newborn
One of the biggest points in favor of surrogacy is that it allows hopeful couples to fulfill the wish of having a newborn baby to raise. In this case, the child may have gestated in the womb of another woman, but with the proper surrogacy arrangements in place, a hopeful couple begins their new life as a family almost immediately after a baby is born and are legally considered the parents of that child.
This is contingent on ensuring that the proper legal channels have been observed. Geography is an important part of this. Some states in the USA, for example, have ambiguous legal structures about child custody. In contrast, other countries, such as Georgia, have very well-defined legal practices to ensure parental rights with regard to child custody are protected from the moment of birth, provided all formal legal requirements have been met.
Con: Children In Need Remain Unassisted
In the same way, those who take on pets confront the debate about adopting an orphaned animal versus investing in a pure breed specifically created to serve their needs; the same is similar when choosing between adoption and surrogacy. Some children are already born of different ages, genders, and circumstances and would benefit from adoption into a loving, supportive family environment.
However, choosing surrogacy means these children lose another potential opportunity to integrate with another family. It’s a matter of balancing a hopeful couple’s priorities between their wishes and more extended acts of generosity.
Pro: It’s Possible To Get A Direct Genetic Ancestor
One thing that has made surrogacy an incredibly popular alternative in recent years is the perfection of the In Vitro Fertilization or IVF technique. IVF is a complex procedure where a selected egg and sperm are first supervised in a lab. Upon confirmation of fertilization, that fertilized egg is then transplanted to the surrogate mother’s womb, where the normal course of pregnancy gets underway.
Using this technique, a hopeful mother and father can have a child genetically considered to be, in all ways, a direct descendant of that mother and father, exactly as in a traditional pregnancy. The only differences are that the father and mother’s sperm and egg were fertilized elsewhere, and the baby gestated in another woman’s uterus. Genetically, however, the connection is clear and established.
It’s even possible to use this technique for hopeful parents to eliminate the risk of a baby with a congenital disease. Conditions such as cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy, and Down’s syndrome are all genetic conditions passed on by parents. Every time an egg is fertilized, there is always a risk of these conditions manifesting if either the mother or father has this trait in their family. However, with IVF, it’s possible to fertilize multiple eggs and then screen them to see which ones do not carry the congenital condition so that only a healthy baby is implanted.
Con: IVF Can Get Expensive
As expected from a technique that requires precise laboratory equipment and highly trained specialists, IVF surrogacy requires extra investment. This is all an additional cost on top of what the surrogate mother may be receiving if it’s a compensated surrogacy, meaning she is not volunteering her services but is getting paid to do so.
The IVF expense may also incur additional expenses beyond the technique itself. Screening for congenital conditions, known as preimplantation genetic diagnosis, is an additional expense if required. In some instances, highly specialized logistics may also be necessary for donor retrieval. If the woman or the man had had eggs or sperm removed before surgery and stored cryogenically, special transportation techniques are required to get these donor samples to the lab in viable condition.
Surrogacy can be the perfect solution for some couples who want to start a family. However, it’s important to go into the decision-making process informed of the pros and cons.