As more and more couples put off having children until they feel settled in their careers, artificial reproductive technologies (ART) are becoming increasingly common. Artificial insemination and in-vitro fertilization (IVF) increase the chances of multiple births. But even with all the technology, there are still some couples who can’t conceive. In these cases, a surrogate may be the best alternative. In this guest post, Hanna Griesbach explains the details.
Surrogacy is the means by which a woman carries a pregnancy and delivers a baby for another person. A surrogate mother can be the genetic mother or the gestational surrogate.
The first acknowledged case of surrogacy was documented in 1976. Over the course of time, surrogacy has dramatically increased in popularity. Statistics show that between 1987 and 1992, there have been an estimated 5,000 surrogate births recorded in the U.S.
While surrogacy remains controversial in some circles, especially among religious, including the Roman Catholic Church and feminist groups, others firmly believe in the process as a means by which a family unit can be created and the issue of infertility be eliminated.
The genetic mother of a surrogate child is one whose egg has been used in the fertilization process. When this means of fertilization is used, it is known as traditional surrogacy.
The fertilization process is done via artificial insemination using fresh or frozen sperm. The sperm used in a traditional surrogacy pregnancy can be that of the intended father or it can be donor sperm.
A gestational surrogate is not genetically related to the child she is carrying. The pregnancy is created by implantation of an embryo, which was created through lab processing of the prospective parent’s egg and sperm.
Harvesting eggs from the biological mother and fertilizing them with sperm from the biological father begins the fertilization process. Once fertilized, the embryo is placed in the uterus of the gestational surrogate or birth mother, who carries the baby to term and delivery.
Why Use a Surrogate?
Surrogacy allows people who would otherwise not be able to parent a child to become a mother a father of a newborn. There are a variety of reasons to choose using a surrogate:
· A uterine condition that prevents carrying a pregnancy to term
· A previous hysterectomy
· A serious medical condition, such as heart disease, that makes carrying a pregnancy too risky
· Advancing age
· Marital status
· Sexual orientation
· Previous unsuccessful attempts to get pregnant via assisted-reproductive techniques like in vitro fertilization (IVF)
In order to become a surrogate, there are several basic requirements. The government does not mandate the requirements listed below. These basic criteria do constitute important and basic issues for the potential parents to consider. Parents should choose a surrogate who:
· Is at least 21 years old
· Has previously given birth to at least one healthy newborn
· Understands the medical and emotional risks of childbirth
· Has undergone professional mental health screening to be sure they are prepared to surrender the baby at birth
· Willingly agrees to sign a contract delineating their responsibilities during the pregnancy and at birth
· Has been tested for infectious diseases like sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and hepatitis
· Has had immunity screening for measles (Rubeola), chickenpox (Varicella) and German measles (Rubella)
The Expense Account
Deciding to use a surrogate is not an inexpensive commitment. The cost of engaging a surrogate ranges from $80,000-$120,000, depending upon the specifics of each agreement. Many factors influence the cost, especially whether or not the surrogate has her own health insurance coverage or not.
Enlisting the advice and guidance of a lawyer specialized in reproductive rights to prepare a legal agreement between the potential parents and the surrogate is the best protection for both parties.
The Choice is Personal
The decision about whether to use a surrogate or to become a surrogate is a very private and individual choice. It is based upon personal life situations and circumstances.
For some, surrogacy can make dreams come true. For those who choose this means to achieve pregnancy, surrogacy creates families.
Freelance writer Hanna Griesbach is a busy mom who loves to scrapbook. She enjoys hunting the web for great deal and freebie. One of her favorite resources is Free Gifts 4 Kidz.