The blessing of a child conceived by two loving parents is the greatest gift an expectant mother can receive. But what about when you are given that gift to a family who wouldn’t experience it otherwise? There is something truly wonderful about surrogacy, one of the fastest growing trends in fertility medicine of the 21st century. Most people read the tabloid versions of what an unsuccessful surrogacy relationship gone bad looks like. Some apprehension is normal as you begin to explore this process, either as the prospective biological parents or as the prospective surrogate mother.
Surrogacy is not legal in all fifty states, and as such can be a thorny process to navigate for many prospective couples. This is where utilizing the services of a professional surrogacy agency such as Open Arms comes in. Couples of all orientations and backgrounds use surrogacy as a valid way to procreate without the path of adoption or the mother of the couple carrying the child herself. Surrogates do not hold any legally binding parental claim to the child when it is conceived from a donor sperm and a donor egg. This option is to become a surrogate is most commonly exercised through fertility clinics, and society most associates that with chlidless heterosexual couples. This type of surrogacy is considered gestational, since the surrogate is only providing the womb to allow fetal development but contributes zero DNA.
In some cases, though it has fallen out of favor due to the legal hazards of parental involvement, the woman may opt to become a surrogate through artificial insemination from one or both donor parents depending on the orientation of the couple involved. She provides the donor egg organically in this instance. To ensure that a pregnancy is achieved easily in both cases, the surrogate signs on for a hefty physical and mental contribution to the triad. She often has to take high doses of hormone therapy such as Clomid, Metformin and other medications to hyperstimulate her ovaries.
After the donor sperm has been collected and screened for disease at the fertility center, the semen is placed into a sterile cup, which is then inserted into the recumbent woman at the peak of her ovulatory cycle. She remains lying down for up to 3 hours to promote the chance of conception, and then returns to the clinic in a few weeks for additional lab work that will verify if a pregnancy has occurred. This process is referred to as in vivo fertilization, and is one of the more time honored ways to become a surrogate.
The alternative route to become a surrogate is to participate in an in vitro fertilization procedure. Commonly referred to as a test tube baby, donor egg and sperm combine with human intervention to create embryos, which are then implanted directly into the surrogate mother’s uterus. This process also involves high doses of hormones such as progesterone and luteneizing hormone, in hopes of leading to a successful pregnancy. In these types of pregnancies, couples often experience multiple gestations, as the doctor will seed up to 6 embryos per in vitro attempt.
As you can imagine, to become a surrogate is a serious commitment. Now let’s explore the couple’s part in the process. Donating genetic material is merely the tip of the iceberg. Financially, couples need to plan around spending $20,000 per in vitro attempt, or up to $15,000 per in vivo attempt. Many insurance carriers don’t cover these associated costs, and if they are willing to do so, may limit the number of attempts a couple can make before they assume out of pocket expense.
The psychological commitment is also nothing to sneeze at. To become a surrogate, you are heavily screened for attachment issues, problems with bonding or other birth associated mental health diagnoses. Surrogates are literally living the pregnancy, but not bringing home the baby they have nurtured. It can be a stressful proposition for both the couple and the surrogate. Setting clear boundaries about attending prenatal appointments, as well as health decisions that may impact fetal development have to be hashed out well in advance of the first attempt at fertilization.
Now for the truly beneficial stuff. Surrogates are giving LIFE and HOPE to families across the country every day. By gifting an infertile couple the joy of biologic parenthood? They are changing lives, and creating families in just under 10 months time. Surrogacy has life altering effects on the woman herself as well. Many successful surrogates voice a feeling of extreme accomplishment and satisfaction, knowing they have made their mark on the world forever.
In most cases, a surrogate will receive a financial stipend. After all, to become a surrogate you are literally letting a baby borrow your body. While medical care and expenses during maternity related convalescence are standard in surrogacy agreements, many surrogates make a substantial amount of income in the form of direct compensation for their efforts to bring forth a life. This has led to many discussions on the ethics of surrogacy law, however past precedent has fallen hard on the side of this becoming an expectation of surrogacy, not an option.
Writing this article as a mother of four, I can tell you there is no greater love than you have for the lives you create from mere cells and expressions of love. While many surrogates report feeling a bond with the baby during gestation, they learn effective coping skills many adults never have to in order to release the child they bore to the parents who will raise them. Some couples permit an open connection policy with the surrogate, others simply want the privacy of raising their family without contact at all. Another benefit of surrogacy is that the woman can truly have a pregnancy experience on her own terms, well negotiated in a method that puts most contracts to shame.
We here at Open Arms hope that you will consider the choices of using a loving surrogate, or that you will even become a surrogate yourself. We look forward to discussing it with you at a future appointment, which you can schedule through our Contact Us page. Whatever you choose? Thank you for giving this very worthy topic your consideration today.