Surrogate motherhood is a concept that is centuries old, and it even has an appearance in some religious texts, such as the Bible. For generations, it has been a way for some hopeful families to have a newborn child truly their own, but it’s only in the 20th and 21st centuries that surrogate motherhood has become more widespread and expanded both in usage and the types of technology and medical support that are available. In the past, surrogacy was something that largely took place in the country that a hopeful family lived in. Today, these hopeful families can fly to other countries to make their dreams come true.
The reasons for surrogate motherhood taking place in other countries varies a lot with the needs of a hopeful family. There is more than one type of surrogate motherhood process, and these different types offer slightly different results. But just how many types of surrogacy are there? We’re going to go over the basics and explain the four major surrogate types and how they differ.
The Compassionate/Altruist Surrogacy
First, let’s look at the financial side of things. One of the more common types of surrogate motherhood and one that is widely practiced in many different countries is known as “compassionate” or “altruistic” surrogacy. As with other types of surrogate motherhood, a candidate surrogate mother agrees to allow her uterus to be used in letting a baby safely grow until the time of birth. However, the surrogate mother in this scenario is agreeing to do this out of “the goodness of her own heart.” This is an act of charity with the sole goal being to help a couple that wants to have a child but is, for some reason, unable to.
With compassionate surrogacy, a surrogate mother is likely to receive some financial assistance for her living expenses, as the pregnancy progresses, and, of course, medical expenses when it is time to give birth and recover. Even this, however, is not necessarily legally required, though it’s very unusual for a surrogate mother to insist on covering all these expenses herself.
The Compensated Surrogacy
Where the compassionate surrogacy is an act of charity with little in the way of financial reward, the compensated surrogacy is the opposite. With a compensated surrogacy, not only are the surrogate mother’s living and medical finances seen to, the contract that defines the surrogacy usually involves some financial recognition for the surrogate mother’s contribution.
In other words, the surrogate mother, in this case, treats the surrogacy similar to a product or service, in which not only are costs covered, but a profit is involved as well. Because there is more financial incentive involved with compensated surrogacy, this tends to open up the field of willing, medically feasible candidates to a much larger degree. Hopeful parents that are willing to invest in a compensated surrogacy are usually looking for many more choices.
Aside from the financial classification of surrogacy, there is also the type of surrogacy using different medical methodologies. Traditional surrogacy is the oldest form, though it has benefited from modern medical technology in some ways.
With traditional surrogacy, the egg of the surrogate mother herself is used for fertilization. This means that the child that is born will use the sperm of a donor, usually the father of the hopeful family, but will have a direct, genetic lineage with the surrogate mother. For traditional surrogacy, the surrogate mother is the biological, genetic and birth mother of the child.
In the past, traditional surrogacy was very old fashioned, in that it required the hopeful father to have actual sexual intercourse with the surrogate mother. In the latter half of the19th century, however, the first artificial insemination techniques were pioneered. Since then, surrogate mothers are now artificially seminated with donor sperm, allowing the egg to be fertilized naturally.
This is a much more recent development in medical technology, using a technique known as In Vitro Fertilization, or IVF. With gestational surrogacy, an egg and a sperm are introduced and fertilized under supervised laboratory conditions. Once fertilization has been confirmed, there may be a screening process to ensure the viability of different fertilized eggs, if desired. This is often done if the family involved may have a genetic condition they are concerned about such as cystic fibrosis or Down’s Syndrome.
Of course, with gestational surrogacy, this also means the child can potentially be 100% the genetic child of the hopeful mother and father since any egg and sperm can be used. Once fertilization is confirmed, the egg is then implanted in the surrogate mother, and a normal pregnancy runs its course until it’s time to give birth.
The type surrogacy a hopeful couple wants depends a lot on their circumstances and needs. For the widest possible choice, it’s a good idea to go with a clinic that offers a full suite of services to accommodate different needs.