Surrogacy

Advantages & disadvantages of surrogacy

Monetary Implications

In cases of commercial surrogacy, the exchange of money accompanies the pregnancy arrangement. The surrogate is compensated financially for carrying and birthing a baby, whereas the intended parent(s) may be responsible for financing the entire pregnancy. A costly process, surrogacy involves medical and legal fees. The intended parent(s) may consult an agency -- which means acquiring additional expense -- to handle the essentials, such as preliminary screening procedures, maternity insurance and travel and legal issues. Both parties will have to weigh moral issues of "renting the womb," paying for a child or selling the baby, as in traditional surrogate cases.

Legality

The United States is one of the few countries in the world that permits the practice of surrogacy. Laws vary by state in the U.S. with some prohibiting surrogacy altogether and others allowing it with restrictions. For some wishing to become parents through surrogacy, travel outside the home state may be necessary in order to enter a surrogate contract. The lack of strict laws regarding surrogacy may contribute to the risk of fraud through agencies that exploit potential parents and skip out on the financial and medical obligation to the surrogate mother.

The Gift of Life

Surrogacy affords those who cannot biologically have children the opportunity to become parents and speaks volumes of surrogate mothers for the gift of giving life. Surrogacy serves as an alternative to the lengthy and highly regulated adoption process. Infertile women, homosexual couples and singles desiring to become parents may seek surrogacy as a simpler route to do so. Altruistic surrogacy agreements do not involve any monetary gain and tend to be more common among women carrying children for family members or close friends.

Paternity

As the end result, the baby is the most susceptible component of a surrogate agreement. Abandonment or the chance of neither party wanting the child after birth may suddenly be an issue. The risk of surrogate mothers, specifically those in traditional surrogate arrangements, forming an attachment and demanding to keep the child(ren) may arise. If guidelines are not followed, such as those requiring surrogates to refrain from sexual intercourse until fertilisation and the onset of pregnancy are successful, paternity may come into question. This guideline ensures that the conception is in fact a result of the intended biological father.

How to Calculate Surrogacy Costs

Start with the main part of the bill, the surrogate's fee. Her fee will vary, depending on her level of experience, whether she will be providing a traditional or gestational surrogacy and her individual circumstances.

Factor in the costs for the surrogacy agency, if you choose to use one. You can avoid agency fees by going it on your own. Independent matches are becoming common, now that surrogates and prospective parents can find one another over the Internet.

Choose between a traditional or gestational surrogacy. A traditional surrogacy generally costs less than a gestational surrogacy. With a gestational surrogacy, you also must include the costs of egg collection, storage, fertilization, the surrogate's hormonal treatments and the In Vitro fertilization procedure. It also may take several attempts before the In Vitro process works, and it might not work at all.

Add the costs of an egg donor, if you are planning a gestational surrogacy and cannot use your own eggs.

Estimate the cost of the surrogate's medical expenses. You will incurring costs for prenatal appointments, labor and delivery. These costs will be reduced if the surrogate has insurance that will cover pregnancy and delivery and if you have insurance that will cover the baby after birth.

Include any travel costs that you may incur, including meeting the surrogate, attending special prenatal appointments and attending the birth of the baby.

What is a Surrogate Father?

Surrogate Legal Definition

"Surrogate father" has no distinct legal definition unlike that of a "surrogate mother," defined by uslegal.com as a woman who "carries and gives birth to the child of another woman ... by way of a pre-arranged legal contract."

"Surrogate father" is a male mentoring role, not a legal one. A surrogate father isn't limited by a legal or medical definition because it is an intentional, not obligatory, presence in the child's life.

Step or Foster Father

Surrogate fathers can be part of a family dynamic, or external from it.
Surrogate fathers can be part of a family dynamic, or external from it.

Male roles such as stepfather or foster father can be surrogate fathers, but they are not interchangeable. Stepfathers and foster fathers can provide that father figure presence, but a surrogate father is inherently focused on the well being and development of the child; not marriage to the mother, and not as a paid duty of the welfare state.

Mentorship

A surrogate father assumes some of the emotional stewardship of the child through his formative years. Though the opportunity for influence on a child is greatest when living together, a surrogate father can also be outside the family home. He can be a relative, friend or neighbor.

Father Figure Interaction

Children benefit from daily interaction with trusted male role models.
Children benefit from daily interaction with trusted male role models.

Even a few minutes of interaction with a trusted male role model on a consistent basis has a positive impact on children. A 2006 study by the U.S. Census Bureau regarding father involvement and child well-being determined that children who talked or played with their father at least once per day and children who were praised by their father once per day were more likely to become involved in gifted academic programs, not be expelled or suspended, and never repeat a grade. For children without fathers, the attention and presence of a surrogate father in their lives is profound.

Big Brothers Big Sisters Foundation

Mentor relationships are valuable for every child.
Mentor relationships are valuable for every child.

The old proverb "it takes a village to raise a child" is apt, as men can singularly or collectively provide that surrogate father presence to children in their extended family or community. Perhaps the best example of this on a formal scale is The Big Brothers Big Sisters Charity Foundation, which seeks to provide mentoring and support through one-on-one relationships between role models and youth.

Psychological Aspects of Surrogate Mothers

Giving Baby Away

Giving a baby away is one of the most difficult tasks faced by a surrogate mother. Even if the baby is genetically unrelated to her, the fact that she carried it in her womb for nine months makes handing it to another person very challenging. Researchers Fazli Khalaf, Abdollah Shafiabadi and Madjid Tarahomi report in "The Journal of Reproduction and Infertility" that giving the child up may be extremely distressing to the mother and may even result in psychological problems.

Abortion

Psychologist R.J. Edelmann reports in the "Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology" that a surrogate mother may have to face the reality of parents who want her pregnancy terminated if it is discovered that the baby has some sort of birth defect. While surrogate mothers often sign a contract agreeing to an abortion if this were to happen, many do not plan for the unexpected and face psychological crisis at the idea of having to follow through with it. Although the law usually protects the right of the child over the wishes of the prospective parents, each case is different, and the complications of what to do with the child who is no longer wanted by the adoptive parents can cause tension and depression in the surrogate mother.

Refusing to Relinquish Her Child

In extreme cases, a surrogate mother may refuse to give up a child to the prospective parents. Dr. Connie Shapiro reports in "Psychology Today" that legal protections for surrogate parents have been slow to develop, and that oftentimes the surrogate will get to keep the child. A surrogate mother's attachment and bonding to a baby may cause a host of legal problems if she refuses to follow through with her agreement to give the child up.

Family Conflicts

Edelmann states in the "Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology" that surrogate motherhood can cause conflicts in the family, as well as strained relationships between the surrogate mother and her husband. He may struggle to accept the fact that his wife is pregnant with a child unrelated to either of them, and the children in the family may wonder why they are not going to have a new sibling. Although oftentimes the family is accepting, if they are not completely supportive of the idea of surrogacy there will likely be tension.

What Are the Pros & Cons of Surrogacy?

Pro: Alternate Option For Childless Couples

For couples who are unable to bear children or cannot take the risk due to health issues, surrogacy provides an alternative method of becoming parents. Before the availability of surrogacy, couples who could not have children had to go through the adoption process, an experience not suitable for everyone. Surrogacy provides another choice for childless couples.

Con: Long Process

Regardless of the method chosen, couples who decide to go the route of surrogacy for pregnancy should plan to wait much longer than the standard 9-month pregnancy period for the baby to arrive. Couples will need to spend time researching surrogacy options, find the right surrogate mother and then wait for the fertilisation process to succeed. This process may take several years.

Pro: Surrogate Mother Benefits

Surrogacy provides surrogate mothers a number of benefits, such as the opportunity to help an otherwise childless couple experience the joy of parenthood. This also gives women who are responsible with their bodies and overall health an opportunity to make money.

Con: Costly

Because of the complicated process of surrogacy, the cost is high; as of 2011, fees range from £26,000 to £65,000, according to Adoption.com. Couples must compensate not only the surrogate mother, but also must plan to finance all medical fees, agency fees and any legal fees that arise during the process.

Pro: Biological Connection

Although adoption allows a couple to experience the joy of parenthood, there is no biological connection in the process. For some couples, the desire to combine genes and create a child of their own plays an important role, and this is where surrogacy comes in. Couples have multiple options for conception. They may either donate the male sperm and use the surrogate mother's eggs, or combine the sperm and egg of the couple in a process called in vitro fertilisation.

Con: Surrogate Mother Concerns

Choosing a surrogate mother is challenging for couples, as it is possible that, over the course of the pregnancy, the surrogate becomes attached to the baby and has trouble giving it up. This is especially problematic if the couple chooses not to do in vitro fertilisation, meaning the surrogate mother is the provider of the egg and is biologically connected to the baby. The female partner may also become jealous over the surrogate mother for getting to experience the motherhood process in a way she is unable to.