For many couples unable to have a child on their own, using a surrogate mother is an excellent option. Although there are a number of financial and legal requirements for the couple and surrogate, surrogate agencies can help simplify the process by ensuring that the rights of the parents and the surrogate are honored and protected.
What is a Surrogate Mother?
A surrogate mother is a woman who carries to term another couple’s child, then relinquishes her rights as the child’s mother after the baby’s birth. There are two main types of surrogate motherhood. In the first, the surrogate is artificially inseminated with the male’s sperm, meaning that the conceived child is a product of the man and the surrogate mother. The second type of surrogacy involves IVF (in vitro fertilization). In this process, the surrogate is impregnated with an embryo from the couple involved and is not genetically related to the child.
What Are the Benefits of Using a Surrogate Mother?
A surrogate mother is a good option for women who can’t birth children of their own because of infertility or physical problems. Many couples in this situation prefer using a surrogate mother because it allows for the child to have at least the father’s genetic makeup. The IVF technique allows women who do have viable eggs but are unable to maintain a pregnancy to have a child with their partner, regardless of their personal physical problems. In addition, IVF allows same-sex couples to bear children together.
What Are the Drawbacks of Using a Surrogate Mother?
Surrogate motherhood has been plagued with ethical and religious issues since the practice came under public scrutiny in the mid-1980s. However, the main drawbacks for couples interested in using a surrogate mother to conceive are the costs involved and the possibility of the surrogate breaking the surrogacy agreement after the child is born.
The price of utilizing a surrogate mother can run as high as $100,000. The couple has to pay the surrogate a fee, and they are also responsible for all medical bills incurred during the pregnancy and delivery–as well as legal fees when hiring a lawyer to work out the surrogacy agreement.
Although surrogate mothers sign a contract ceding their rights as the parent of the child, in cases of artificial insemination where the surrogate is the baby’s genetic mother, it’s not uncommon for surrogates to fight for custody of the child after birth.
The best way to get started is to contact one of the many reputable agencies that screen women interested in becoming surrogates and help match them with compatible couples. The site Fertilityproregistry.com lists surrogate mother agencies located throughout the United States. It’s possible to locate a surrogate independently through advertisements or through willing friends or family members, but be aware that you and your partner will be responsible for completing all of the necessary paperwork and legal documentation on your own.
How Does the Process Begin?
The best way for a woman to become a surrogate mother is to submit an application to a surrogate agency. The agency will require a medical and physical exam and, if you are approved as a surrogate, will help match you to a couple and will ensure at every step that your rights as a surrogate are honored. Becomeasurrogatemom.com lists possible United States agencies.