A surrogate mother is a female who carries a child in her womb for someone else. There is a great deal of controversy over some surrogate cases, because there are not enforceable laws in every state on surrogacy. Many surrogate mothers wish to fulfill the pregnancy in order to help a family member or friend. It is against the law in most locations to become a surrogate for financial gain. Knowing the basic facts will help you decide if you should pursue the issue of surrogacy further with a carrier, donor and attorney.
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With a surrogate pregnancy, the surrogate must fully understand the concept of the surrogacy. The surrogate should have a complete mental evaluation to determine that she is of sound mind and will be able to carry someone else’s baby and give it up after birth. A complete medical exam is also required to assure that the surrogate is in good health and does not have preexisting medical conditions that could harm her or the baby. Legal paperwork should be drawn up to protect the surrogate and the new parents. This can be a preempt to the final adoption paperwork that will finalize the new parents gaining legal custody over the child after he is born. The surrogate and involved parties then meet with a fertility specialist to set up the artificial insemination or in-vitro fertilization to implant the embryo and impregnate the surrogate. Per a verbal or legal agreement, the surrogate must hand over the baby at birth.
According to the American Surrogacy Center, there are three main types of surrogacy; traditional AI, gestational and donor egg/gestational. Traditional AI is where the surrogate donates her egg and is artificially inseminated by the father’s sperm. At birth, a stepparent adoption is completed so the mother can legally adopt the child. A gestational pregnancy is where an embryo from the biological parents is implanted into the surrogate via in-vitro fertilization. The surrogate in this case is sometimes referred to as the gestational carrier or host. A donor egg case is where an anonymous egg from a donor and the sperm of the intended father are implanted into the surrogate.
There are many different reasons why women become carriers. One of the most common is to help or assist parents in having a child of their own. Sometimes family members or friends step in provide this role. Carriers can also be found through adoption or surrogacy agencies.
Having a surrogate mother can be expensive. Costs vary depending on the company you work with and if you use your own donated sperm or egg. According to circlesurrogacy.com, the total cost on average for most surrogacy cases range between $55,000 and $120,000. These costs include agency fees, legal fees and medical expenses for the implantation. This does not cover the cost of the pregnancy including prenatal care and labor and delivery fees.
There are risks involved with being a surrogate mother. The biggest one is attachment to the unborn child—especially if the surrogate is the egg donor. Surrogacy should be handled much like an adoption because the baby must be relinquished at birth. If you are considering becoming a surrogate mother, medical problems such as preeclampsia and other concerns at labor and delivery should be discussed with your family doctor or IVF specialist. Many states such as Michigan and the District of Columbia prohibit surrogacy agreements; this can be difficult when working with an agency. Other states may be accepting but have difficulty making legal binding agreements when it comes to finalizing an adoption in surrogacy cases should a problem arise with custody.