Surrogate motherhood relates to women who are going through the process of a surrogacy pregnancy for another couple or individual. Following is some basic information on this somewhat controversial topic.
Basics of Surrogate Motherhood
Surrogate motherhood is an in-depth topic. In general, a surrogate mother carries a child for another couple. After the surrogate mother gives birth, the other couple raises the baby.
There are some different situations that involve surrogacy.
- The surrogate mother will carry a baby that's not genetically related to her - meaning that another couple provides the fertilized egg that is implanted in the surrogate. This may occur because a would-be mother has problems carrying a pregnancy to term.
- The surrogate mother will carry a baby that is a combination of her own egg and genetic make-up but that also has DNA (i.e. sperm) from the father in the couple who will raise the child.
- Lastly, a surrogate mother may be carrying a baby with no genetic connection to the couple who will raise the baby. This is rarer though. The main point of surrogacy is that a couple wants a child who is genetically related to them. This is how most surrogate situations differ from typical adoption. The wish for a genetically-related child is very strong for some couples.
How Stuff Works has an article that discusses the different surrogacy agreements, including family surrogacy, gestational surrogacy, and traditional surrogacy.
Pros & Cons of Surrogacy
There's no doubt that surrogacy has some positives.
- There are many reasons for infertility- no matter which reasons a couple face, surrogacy allows a couple to have the biological child they want.
- If a woman can become pregnant but has health issues that prevent her from carrying a baby, then surrogacy is a viable option.
- Same sex couples can adopt via surrogacy.
- A woman who is pregnant, but chooses not to raise a baby, can benefit from surrogacy.
- Some surrogate mothers note that they feel happy to be able to provide a baby for a family who might otherwise not have one.
- In an open surrogate situation, the birth mother and adoptive parents may become close, a situation that can benefit everyone, including the baby.
The cons of surrogacy may include:
- A lengthy and medically invasive process for the surrogate mother.
- Anxiety on the part of everyone involved.
- Monetary costs for the adoptive parents. The average cost of surrogacy can be very high.
- Guilt on the part of the surrogate mother for giving up her baby.
- In serious cases, an adoptive couple may go through the whole pregnancy only to find that the surrogate changes her mind and wants to keep the baby. This results in heartbreak and possibly court time.
See more cons related to legalities directly below.
Is Surrogate Motherhood Legal?
Surrogacy laws are extremely complicated. The laws surrounding the surrogate motherhood process, genetic parental rights, adoption of a surrogate baby, and the surrogate mother's rights are in-depth and vary from state to state. Note that surrogacy is not legal in every state.
The whole legality issue of surrogate motherhood is further complicated by the ongoing debate of whether any type of surrogacy should be legal. Some people say surrogacy should be illegal everywhere - a hard thing to hear for couples who are dreaming of a baby yet can't successfully carry one on their own.
The problem is that there's a fine line. Many people have heard of the case of Baby M, the first major groundbreaking surrogacy case made public. The case of Baby M involved surrogate mother Mary Beth Whitehead who agreed to carry a child for a couple, the Sterns. After the baby was born, Whitehead changed her mind and an intense court case ensued. Whitehead and the other family had signed a contract and the judge eventually awarded baby M to the Sterns, but it absolutely made everyone in the country think differently about surrogate motherhood.
The lines surrounding surrogacy are fuzzy. Are the legal parents the individuals who provide the egg and sperm or the woman who carries the baby for the entire pregnancy? Is it the person holding the contract rights? Because this is such a complicated issue, it's in your best interest to have superior legal advice before entering into a surrogate contract. Legal advice is essential whether you're the surrogate mother or the eventual adoptive parents.
Surrogate motherhood and the entire surrogacy process is so in-depth that you have a lot more to learn.
Visit the following sites for more information:
- Surrogate Mothers Inc.
- Definition of Surrogacy
- Circle Surrogacy