Intended parents often have a lot of questions about the surrogacy process. Some of these take the form of common myths about egg donors, surrogate mothers, and surrogacy agencies. Most people know enough not to accept popular sentiment at face value—but they need somebody to tell them the truth, and to back it up, before they can move forward with such a personal and life-changing process.
Here are five of the most oft-repeated rumors about gestational surrogacy, along with the facts that help to contradict them.
Gestational surrogacy is expensive, but the compensation paid out covers expenses, time, effort, and health risks. Prospective surrogate mothers must also meet a simple but strict list of qualifications before ConceiveAbilities will process her application. Surrogate mothers tend to be warm, compassionate, and altruistic women, who are interested in providing this unique service to help start a new family.
A surrogate mother faces all of the bodily changes, health risks, and other concerns of any woman carrying a baby. In addition, stringent demands are made on a surrogate mother’s lifestyle, her activities, and her daily routine. She is responsible for the well-being of another person’s child. The pregnancy itself takes up nine months of her time, with the entire legal and medical process combining into a procedure that lasts more than a year.
For her efforts, the surrogate mother receives what amounts to an average salary for the time period involved. ConceiveAbilities pays between $43,000 and $53,000 to a surrogate, based on factors such as her past experience as a surrogate—and the demand for a woman of her ethnic background. In truth, few intended parents have any qualms about compensating a surrogate mother for her efforts on their behalf.
A friend does not benefit from the experience or preparation afforded by a licensed and reputable agency. ConceiveAbilities screens hundreds of prospective surrogates before choosing one who, based upon years of experience, best matches your particular needs.
Without an agency, intended parents forego substantial background checks, psychological screening, and ongoing professional support from industry experts. An agency assists in selecting the best matching surrogate, and in maintaining a regular medical check up with the surrogate.
Using an independent surrogate could also lead to legal issues. Without a formal gestational surrogacy agreement, arranged in a state where such agreements are legally protected, legal problems abound for those who have attempted to find a surrogate on their own. In one case, two gay parents, known only as R.W.S. and B.C.F., used the Internet to find an independent surrogate in Minnesota. Nine months after the agreement, lack of proper screening and poorly drafted parenting provisions resulted in delayed parentage. Legal procedures took 2 years, and by the time a Minneapolis court rules that the R.W.S. and B.C.F. were the rightful parents, their baby was already 3 years old.
While these cases don’t happen frequently, it still underscores the major risk and inconvenience when deciding to use independent surrogates over an agency. Make sure you check on the surrogacy laws in your area before deciding to use a surrogate.
There are many places around the world, including within the United States, where gestational surrogacy is strongly protected by existing laws. It is true that some countries don’t allow foreigners to pursue surrogacy agreements with their citizens. Some other locations, within the US and elsewhere, restrict their protection for surrogacy agreements to those mandated by medical reasons—or they allow for altruistic surrogacy only: an arrangement wherein the surrogate is not compensated for her services.
However, more states and countries are beginning to consider more progressive policies. Surrogacy agencies such as ConceiveAbilities will always work to make the process of facilitating a legally protected agreement as painless, convenient, and affordable as possible, while always matching intended parents with surrogates in states which will recognize their parentage.
Progress is being made in advancing a more comprehensive surrogacy policy within the US. Some states which currently frown on gestational surrogacy agreements, such as New York, now have their policies under review. In other countries, such as Canada and Australia, laws which restrict (or forbid) the compensation of surrogate mothers and egg donors are being challenged.
In recent years, a great deal of attention has been focused on the emotional bond that develops between a mother and her child. This bond is very special, and is extremely important to the child’s future development. Recent research suggests, however, that it is less the result of carrying the child to term than it is the result of subsequent nurturing.
It begins with the birth of the child. The child is handed to his or her parents at the hospital.
Many intended mothers report feeling a connection with their newborn immediately. Intended parents are involved in the surrogacy process at every step, and a study recently conducted at Cambridge University suggests that positive relationships are actually encouraged by the surrogacy process.
ConceiveAbilities offers a level of support that includes social networking with other intended parents, as well as with former surrogates who are willing to share their stories. An emotional attachment is cultivated from very early on.
This is one of the most common fears involved in surrogacy, and is naturally rooted in the concern felt towards a new and unfamiliar process. However, studies have shown that there is very little to fear.
In gestational surrogacy’s 30-year history in America, there have been an estimated 23,000 gestational surrogacy agreements made through reputable and upstanding agencies which followed the guidelines put forth by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Out of those, approximately 26 surrogate mothers have tried to change their minds over relinquishing their child to his or her intended parents—a rate one-tenth of 1%. Due to the binding nature of surrogacy contracts, most of these didn’t even get as far as the courtroom: you have an estimated 0.001% chance of having a challenge to custody of your child. Virtually all of these disputes were the result of using friends, family members or engaging with surrogates in states without legal protections.
Gestational surrogacy is a well-established practice, with a strong support base. It is undergoing regular technological advancement, and is continuously being refined through the efforts and experience of dedicated professionals all over the world. With today’s society becoming increasingly focused on recognizing modern families, however, surrogacy has been pulled into the limelight.
There will always be myths, in any field. As a society, we can approach them in two ways. Either we accept whatever we hear, or we question them and seek the truth. At ConceiveAbilities, we believe that through open-mindedness and curiosity, we can move towards the goal of creating a more modern kind of family and society- one based on love and understanding.
All Things Conceivable is a blog dedicated to sharing the knowledge and expert opinions of the dedicated team at ConceiveAbilities, a Chicago-based egg donation and surrogacy agency.