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Understanding The Basics Of Surrogacy

July 28, 2022 | Dr.Amna Zubair

By definition, surrogacy is an arrangement in which a woman agrees to bear someone else’s child till birth. It can be done for a single parent or a couple. The parent/ parents of the child are known as intended parents. The woman who agrees to carry the child is called a surrogate or gestational carrier.

The primary purpose of surrogacy is to help those who cannot have children of their own due to multiple reasons. Intended parents who opt for surrogacy often include: 

  • Heterosexual couples where one or both partners are infertile
  • Women who are unable to carry a full-term pregnancy 
  • One of both partners has a genetic disease they don’t wish to pass on
  • Single man who wishes to have a child
  • Homosexual partners 
  • Trans partners

What are the types of surrogacy?

Based on its process, surrogacy can be divided into two types: traditional and gestational surrogacy. There are different rules and laws regarding both of these types. 

Traditional surrogacy

In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate is artificially inseminated with the sperm of the intended father. The sperm fertilizes her egg to produce an embryo. This way, the surrogate has a direct genetic link to the baby. In some cases, donor sperm may be used. Traditional surrogacy may arise legal conflicts in the future because the surrogate is considered the child's biological mother. Therefore this practice is not allowed in certain states. 

Gestational surrogacy

In gestational surrogacy, the process of fertilization is often achieved via in vitro fertilization (IVF) which is carried out in a laboratory. The resulting embryo is then inserted into the womb of a surrogate. This way, the surrogate has no genetic link with the baby. In certain cases, donor eggs or donor sperms may be required to fertilize. In the modern-day, gestational surrogacy methods are preferred over traditional surrogacy. 

In terms of payment to the surrogate mother, surrogacy can also be divided into commercial and non-commercial surrogacy. The surrogate gets paid a reasonable amount by the parents in commercial surrogacy. In non-commercial surrogacy, the surrogate agrees to bear the child without any cost. 

What to keep in mind before opting for surrogacy?

Surrogacy can be a complex procedure if done without giving it proper thought beforehand. One of the major issues that arise before intended parents look forward to a surrogate is the cost of the procedure. If you opt for commercial surrogacy, you have to make sure that you can afford the whole process. In the United States, overall expenses for surrogacy may cost around $110k to $175k. The cost may vary depending on the laboratory processes involved in fertilization. 

If you have the option of non-commercial or altruistic surrogacy available, make sure that you can afford the expenses of the surrogate woman during pregnancy. This may include shelter, food, medicines, and other basics. 

It is necessary to understand the legal and medical issues regarding the process of surrogacy before you go for it. Traditional surrogacy may arise more legal issues than gestational surrogacy. The selection of a suitable surrogate is another major concern. Whether you opt for any surrogacy, make sure that the surrogate gives her consent for this arrangement. 

Ideally, it is suggested that the surrogate should be within 25 to 35 years of age, but it may vary. The surrogate should be in good mental and medical condition to carry a child. Once all medical, legal, and financial concerns are dealt with, the surrogate can either be inseminated or implanted with an embryo. Mutual communication and understanding should be maintained between the surrogate and the parents throughout the pregnancy. 

It is also important to keep in mind that the process may not go as smoothly as discussed. Stay realistic and be aware of handling the situations during or after pregnancy. In some cases, the surrogate gets emotionally attached to the baby. This can be a difficult situation for her and the parents to handle. Medical concerns during pregnancy should also be considered. If any complication occurs, immediate medical attention would be required. 

Surrogacy has helped many individuals and couples to build beautiful families. It can be rewarding for both the parents and the surrogate. But it is essential to think over the necessary factors before deciding on this arrangement. 

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