Surrogacy 101: Everything You Need to Know About Surrogate Mothers
Starting a family isn’t always a straightforward, simple process. Approximately 12% of women and 7.5% of men have difficulty conceiving due to fertility issues.
There are many causes for infertility, and for some couples a surrogate mother is the only way to have a baby. Today surrogacy is much more common than in years past. Even high profile celebrities like Nicole Kidman and Jimmy Fallon have discussed their experience using a surrogate to conceive. Fallon has been very vocal about the struggle he and his wife went through for five years before finally using a surrogate on two separate occasions to have their two daughters.
The idea of having another person you don’t know that well carrying your baby can be extremely stressful. But it’s often a better alternative than forgoing a family. This guide can help couples better understand the process and what all a surrogacy service entails.
What is Surrogacy?
Surrogacy refers to a few different scenarios. It can refer to a woman who has a fertilized embryo implanted in her uterus. The egg and sperm come from the couple or an individual that is trying to conceive along with donor sperm or an egg that does not come from the surrogate mother. When this is the case the surrogate mother simply carries the child and gives birth.
In other cases the surrogate mother undergoes artificial insemination using her own egg. This is often the case for gay couples that want to start a family and instances when the intended mother’s eggs aren’t viable. In this scenario the surrogate mother is biologically related to the child.
How much do surrogates get paid? It’s one of the top questions hopeful parents ask when they begin considering the service of a surrogate mother. Typically the surrogate mother receives a surrogate benefit package (SBP). This includes monetary compensation as well as additional benefits like healthcare coverage and transportation reimbursement.
In many cases the SBP will total $30,000-50,000. However, there are a few things that can increase the cost, for example carrying multiples. Look for surrogacy service providers that are transparent about their pricing and provide a detailed breakdown of the benefits package.
Concern Over Birth Defects
Some birth defects are a result of DNA from the sperm and/or egg while others occur because of lifestyle choices made by the mother carrying the child. The latter are birth defects that can be prevented.
Finding a surrogate that makes the health of the baby their top priority is extremely important. Many surrogate services screen for drugs and provide vital assistance that makes it easier for surrogate mothers to live a healthy lifestyle. You’ll want to make sure the surrogate mother:
- · Does not smoke at all during pregnancy.
- · Does not drink alcohol at all.
- · Does not use drugs or prescription medications that are deemed unsafe.
- · Takes prenatal vitamins daily.
- · Practices stress relief techniques.
- · Does light to moderate exercises regularly.
- · Eats a healthy diet based on whole foods.
Most surrogacy service providers will have strict requirements for women that are eligible to become surrogates. Chief among them is having already given birth. This ensures that the surrogate is capable of carrying a baby to term and understands that lifestyle changes that are involved for a safe pregnancy.
Choosing a Surrogate Mother
For many people the most important decision in the entire process is choosing a woman to be the surrogate mother. It goes without saying that a person builds a close relationship with their surrogate mother. It’s a unique, emotional experience that you go through together.
Finding a woman who is mentally and physically healthy is a top concern, but it isn’t the only thing that people look for in a surrogate mother. You want to find someone that you can trust and rely on. Having similar or complimentary personalities can also help make the process much easier for everyone involved.
Surrogacy service providers can help match surrogates with couples and individuals based on location, personality types, etc. You’ll have a chance to meet with potential surrogate mothers to get a better idea of who they are and what is motivating them to become a surrogate.
The Legal Issues of Surrogacy
No surrogacy discussion is complete without bringing up legal issues. Traditional pregnancies are clear-cut. The woman carrying the child is the mother and the man they had a sexual relationship with is the father from the onset of conception. When surrogacy is used legal documentation will be needed to establish who the parents are.
A lawyer can help individuals and couples draft a paternity establishment document. You will receive a certified copy from the state court and uncertified copies will need to be given to the surrogate mother, surrogacy service provider and hospital where the baby will be delivered. You will also need a certified pre-birth court order for the hospital to recognize you as a legal parent of the child.
In states where adoption is not necessary your name will be listed on the birth certificate as the parent. The surrogate mother will not be listed and they will not have any legal rights to the child. At all stages it is highly recommended that couples and individuals retain the service of a lawyer who specializes in family law.