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Pros and Cons of Altruistic Surrogacy

June 4th, 2019
A pregnant woman touching her belly.

There is a great deal of selflessness that comes with the beautiful act of surrogacy. Both the intended parent(s) and the gestational carrier’s sacrifice, all for the purpose of bringing a life into this world. Once a surrogacy partnership has been established, meaning you have been matched, each party will need to determine the type of surrogacy agreement that best fits their unique situation. There are also different types of surrogacy agreements. One is referred to as a commercial surrogacy agreement, also known as “compensated” surrogacy and the other is referred to as altruistic surrogacy which is commonly called a “compassionate” surrogacy. With any major decisions, there are both pros and cons associated with each option. Below, we will dive into the pros and cons of altruistic surrogacy.

What is Altruistic Surrogacy?

According to our good friends at Merriam Webster, someone who is altruistic is defined as: “an unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others.” We can all agree here that it takes someone who is extremely unselfish to consider surrogacy, no matter if it is a commercial or altruistic agreement. In an altruistic surrogacy, a woman will carry a child as a great act of generosity, by waving financial compensation known as a “surrogacy fee” apart from the medical, legal, and other various pregnancy expenses that naturally occur in the process of surrogacy.

What are the pros to altruistic surrogacy?

Cost. It’s no hidden secret that surrogacy can be cost prohibitive especially for those couples and individuals who have already invested in years of fertility treatments prior to considering surrogacy. In a commercial surrogacy arrangement, the surrogate would receive compensation not only for the costs associated with carrying the pregnancy but also for her time and effort. While cost is an obvious pro, it is one of the biggest reasons why altruistic or low-comp surrogacy is considered and why some people overlook the risk factors that may be connected.

Familiarity. Often, an “independent” or altruistic surrogate enters into a surrogacy because she personally knows the individual or couple, such as a close family member or friend, and is genuinely wanting to help them. Although entering into an altruistic surrogacy with someone you know, can also come with its own set of problems, it’s a beautiful gesture of kindness. It is also the basis for why most surrogates consider surrogacy - no matter if the agreement is compensated or not. Intended parents also may feel an increased level of comfort and trust since a relationship has already been previously established.

Accessibility. Compensated surrogacy is illegal in some U.S. states and in several countries. For example, Australia and Canada only allow altruistic surrogacy arrangements. In these situations where the intended parent lives in a non-surrogacy friendly state or country, altruistic agreements may be the only option that intended parents have.

What are the cons to altruistic surrogacy?

Relationships. In an altruistic agreement, you risk your relationship being strained over the course of the process and post birth. Surrogacy can be complicated and full of shared demands. While the intended parents endure the financial and emotional aspects, the surrogate is also going through a great deal physically and emotionally. Intended parents may withhold basic requests essential to the surrogacy since they are not compensating the surrogate, and in return, the surrogate may not feel comfortable asking her friend or family member for reimbursement of minor items and basic requests which will add up over time. You’ll have to ask yourself, can this relationship withstand a surrogacy, and is it worth the risk of the relationship.

Less Safe-Guards. Using a reputable agency in a compensated surrogacy agreement will help navigate both the intended parents and the surrogate through the complex process. No stone is unturned, and there are protective measures that are put into place to protect both parties- such as background checks, psychological screening, and confirming financial stability. There is no third-party objective in an altruistic surrogacy agreement to help safe-guard potential risks.

Cost. This can also be a con for several reasons. If this was the case for a commercial surrogacy agreement, intended parents and the gestational carrier would typically need to prove financial stability to enter into a surrogacy program with an agency. At the end of the day, the intended parent(s) need to be able to support the medical and various costs that accompany the surrogacy process, and the surrogate would need to prove that they are not doing it as a primary source of income. In the case of an altruistic agreement, the gestational carrier could incur more out of pocket costs, and the intended parents could also end up paying more due to misinformation or other various outliers.

Why should gestational carriers be compensated?

Undergoing a surrogacy is a great commitment. There are many first-time surrogates that may enter into an altruistic agreement, not fully aware what the emotional and physical role it will play in their day to day lives. The surrogate will need to attend a greater number of appointments, especially at the beginning stages of the process. There is also a significant impact on her family as they will be the ones who are supporting her on a daily basis. You’ll want your gestational carrier to feel appreciated for the level of sacrifice she is committing to. Compensation allows her to feel appreciated and recognized for her time and effort in helping you grow your family.

What are the legal aspects of an altruistic surrogacy?

The legal process is relatively the same whether you consider to move forward with a commercial or altruistic surrogacy agreement. The intricate details must still be laid out in a gestational surrogacy agreement also known as a GSA, which is a legal contract that will bind the two parties throughout the surrogacy process. The difference is that in an altruistic GSA, there are no pre-negotiated financial details in regards to a surrogacy/base fee.

While an altruistic surrogacy, like any surrogacy agreement, is a beautiful gesture of kindness, it does come with risk. Every situation is unique and where some altruistic surrogacy experiences may be picturesque, for others, the risk may far outweigh the positive aspects of it. Whichever route you consider, be sure to consult with an experienced reproductive attorney and professional to help you decide if this is the right path for you.

To learn more about how ConceiveAbilities can provide guidance for your surrogacy needs, please visit our website and connect with our expert staff.