If surrogacy is being considered as an option for starting a family, there are some things to think about upfront.
Types of Surrogacy
There are two basic types of surrogates:
- Traditional Surrogate – This is when a woman is artificially inseminated with the father’s sperm. Then she carries the baby to term and delivers. This means the surrogate is the biological mother.
- Gestational Surrogate – This is when eggs are harvested and externally fertilized using in vitro fertilization (IVF). Then the embryo is surgically implanted into the uterus of another woman. The woman who contributed the eggs is the biological mother and the woman who carries the child to term is the biological mother. The biological mother has no genetic ties to the baby.
Why Use Surrogacy
There can be a number of reasons to consider using a surrogate.
- A woman with uterine problems, who have had a hysterectomy, or other medical issues that would complicate her life or the pregnancy
- For couples who were unable to become pregnant even with other techniques like IVF
- Someone who was precluded from adoption
- Gay couples
Locating a Surrogate
Finding a surrogate mother may be easier than imagined.
- Friends and Family Members – A solid relationship with a clear understanding of the responsibilities.
- Agency – There are a number of qualified, legitimate companies that will arrange for a surrogate. They act as an intermediary including expenses and fees.
While this process is currently unregulated, there are some issues that prospective parents should keep in mind for the potential surrogate.
- At least age 21
- Already given birth to at least one healthy child. This will aid in understanding medical, physiological and psychological issues that may occur.
- Successfully passed a psychological screening by a licensed mental health professional.
- Executes and understands a contract between the parties that covers her role, prenatal care, and adoption.
Additional issues can include:
- Preliminary medical exam to be sure the woman will most likely carry the baby to full term and is free of infectious diseases including STDs and hepatitis.
- Be immune to measles, rubella, and chickenpox.
- The mother should have her own physician during the pregnancy.
Laws can vary between the Provinces and countries. It is seriously recommended that the parties execute a valid contract setting out the responsibilities of the parties including the child. It should also cover scenarios including twins or triplets. In some cases a “declaration of parentage” is sufficient; in others, a formal adoption proceeding needs to be initiated.