For generations, traditional surrogacy has been practiced in some capacity – it actually dates back to biblical times. But while the option was not always viewed favorably, time and ever-evolving technology are turning a once taboo subject into a highly regarded way to create modern families.
There are two types of surrogacy: traditional and gestational. Altruistic and independent surrogacy arrangements can fall under either type and have their own pros and cons to weigh.
A traditional surrogate is the biological mother of the child; her egg is combined with the intended father’s or donor’s sperm. This is the type of surrogacy that has been practiced the longest. Before modern technology allowed for the creation of embryos outside the womb, it was the only way to conceive via surrogate mother.
Now that the means do exist to use the intended mother’s or a donor’s egg, traditional surrogacy is much more rare. The potential legal and emotional implications are often enough of a deterrent; there is little protection to prevent a traditional surrogate from claiming the child as her own, or for a surrogate to be left responsible for medical costs for herself and the child.
In some states, traditional surrogacy is actually against the law.
Science now allows a surrogate mother to carry another woman’s egg with relative ease: she is known as a gestational surrogate or carrier. This is the most common form of surrogacy and what provides the most solid legal protection for both intended parents and the surrogate.
While it is scientifically possible for surrogate mothers to pass on DNA to the baby in tiny increments (and vice versa) through the placenta, she is not the child’s genetic mother.
When a woman agrees to be a surrogate without being compensated, this is known as altruistic surrogacy. In most surrogacy arrangements, the surrogate receives compensation for her time and effort on top of general costs related to the pregnancy. Altruistic surrogates are typically helping someone they know, such as a close friend or family member, and will likely only receive reimbursement for medical costs.
In countries like Canada and Australia, this is the only type of surrogacy that is legal.
Much like traditional surrogacy, independent surrogacy runs a whole host of legal risks. An independent surrogate is working without the support and expertise of an agency – again, often going through the process for someone she already knows.
And while it may seem reasonable to take the agency out of the equation, you can never underestimate the value of a knowledgeable third party. When the process gets complicated and emotions run high, the agency is there as an added layer of support and protection for both parties.
Surrogacy is too complicated a process to go it alone; from medical decisions to insurance to compensation, a reputable agency has truly been there, done that and can find a solution for even the most challenging situation.
Here at ConceiveAbilities, we have the experience, knowledge and resources to guide you at every turn. If you’d like to learn more about how we can support your surrogacy journey, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
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.