Having A Baby with A Surrogate: Everything That You Need To Know
Surrogacy is an amazing experience that is shared between intended parents and surrogates and provides families with a newborn of their own. While the process has been around for decades, advancements in both medicine and technology have made it an accessible method of growing or starting your family.
Alongside the rising popularity of surrogacy have come questions regarding nearly every aspect of surrogacy from how to become a surrogate to what you should get your surrogate after the birth of your child. Simple Surrogacy works to establish transparency in the surrogacy process. Here is a short guide on everything that you need to know about surrogacy whether you’re considering surrogacy or just curious.
What is Surrogacy?
Surrogacy is a broad term that refers to a method of assisted reproduction (having a child with the help of modern medicine) in which a baby is carried by a woman to help individuals or couples start a family.
The woman who carries the child to term is referred to as a surrogate and the parent(s) of the child are referred to as the intended parent(s). Every surrogacy is unique, sometimes they can consist of a same-sex couple as the intended parents, a single mother or father, or a heterosexual couple.
Surrogacy is an extremely important option for the LGBT community. Same-sex couples, especially gay men, have turned to surrogacy as a method of starting their own families and having children that are biologically related to them.
Speaking of biology, one of the most frequently asked questions about surrogacy is whether or not the surrogate is biologically related to the child that they are carrying?
The answer to that question is: it depends. The common misconception is that the surrogate will always be biologically related to the child that they are carrying. However, that is not the case. There are two main types of surrogacy. They are:
- Traditional Surrogacy
- Gestational Surrogacy
In a “traditional surrogacy”, the surrogate also serves as an egg donor for the intended parents. Therefore, the surrogate is biologically related to the child that they are carrying. This is a less commonly practiced surrogacy.
As the surrogate in a traditional surrogacy is biologically related to the child that they are carrying, they must give up their parental rights to the child once it is born. This allows the intended parents to legally become the parents of the child. Traditional surrogacies are harder to come by because of the legalities involved in the process.
These kinds of surrogacies can involve friends or family members who are willing to give up their parental rights or who intended parents would like to have in their child’s life. They are much less common than Gestational surrogacies, because the Surrogate is genetically related to the child and must give up their rights after the birth. They are not advisable, legally.
A “gestational surrogacy” occurs when an embryo (created through the process of IVF) is transplanted into the surrogate to be carried for the duration of the pregnancy. This is a popular option for intended parents who can produce healthy eggs but cannot carry a child to full term, same-sex couples, and single parents. A child born via gestational surrogacy will not be related to the surrogate.
How Does Surrogacy Work?
The process of surrogacy involves a number of medical procedures dependent on whether the surrogacy is gestational or traditional. Gestational surrogacy involves the surrogate taking a number of different medications in order to ensure that the embryo is implanted at the best point of their cycles.
Gestational surrogacy may require egg donation, where a woman donates her eggs to intended parents in need, or an Intended Mother may use her own eggs. The process is fairly simple, and women must pass a psychological and physical exam to be considered as a donor. The donor is then given medication to stimulate egg production and the eggs are then extracted from her.
Gestational surrogacy utilizes In vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF is a treatment for infertility. Eggs are collected and taken to a lab where they are then fertilized with sperm to create an embryo. These embryos are then implanted in a healthy uterus to be carried to term.
Who Can Become a Surrogate?
Not everyone can become a surrogate. There are strict guidelines determined by the state you live in that dictate who can become a surrogate. For example, some of the requirements of surrogates in Texas utilizing Simple Surrogacy as their agency are:
- Be a citizen or legal resident or legal immigrant of the United States
- Be between the ages of 21-40 (Traditional Surrogates must be under 35)
- Have given birth to a child of your own
- Be in a stable living situation (7-year address verification is completed on all Surrogates)
- Be willing to adhere to all contractual obligations throughout the process
- Be able to pass a background check
- Have read and understood the Surrogacy process
- Not smoke or take illegal drugs, or be exposed to second-hand smoke
- Be willing to refrain from alcohol throughout the medical process and pregnancy
- Not have any sexually transmitted diseases that would subject you or the child you are carrying to physical harm
- Enjoy pregnancy and be motivated by the wish to help others create or add to their family
This is by no means a comprehensive list of requirements, there are several more that you can view at Simple Surrogacy’s website. Each agency and state is different and will have their own guidelines for their surrogates. The purpose of these guidelines is to ensure that both surrogates and intended parents have the best experience possible.
How Does Surrogacy Work Legally?
One of the biggest concerns of those participating in surrogacy is the unclear legal definitions surrounding surrogacy. There have been some well-publicized court cases which highlight the lack of universal laws regarding surrogacy. One of the biggest reasons that there aren’t universal federal laws regarding surrogacy is because the practice is still in its infancy. As its popularity has grown, more and more states are issuing their own laws on the subject.
So, how does custody work after the baby is born?
Both intended parents and surrogates should seek legal counsel when drawing up their legal contract regarding who is considered the legal parents of the child. If a child is biologically related to the surrogate, such is the case in traditional surrogacy, they may be entitled to parental rights once the child is born. This is one of the reasons why this type of surrogacy is not common.
In most cases in Gestational Surrogacy, the court validates the contract before the birth of the child, which gives all of the rights only to the Intended Parents. In these cases, the Surrogate’s name is never on the birth certificate and the Intended Parents are the only legal parents.
Agencies work to ensure that they work exclusively with surrogates who are fully aware of the agreement and process of surrogacy and will refer all parties to expert legal representation to ensure everyone understands the process and their rights.
Some states, such as Texas, have already enacted laws that protect intended parents’ right to their child born via surrogacy. They do not require the adoption after the child is born. Working with an agency in one of these “surrogacy-friendly” states eases the legal stress of surrogacy.
Simple Surrogacy is more than happy to answer any of your surrogacy questions. We offer egg donation services, as well as several other services to help you on your surrogacy journey. Please visit our website for more information. We can’t wait to hear from you!