Surrogacy is a unique partnership between hopeful parents whose goal is to have a child of their own and a matching surrogate mother. The collaboration between them and a host of other professionals, including medical, legal, and surrogacy professionals goes a long mile in bringing a new life to the world.
In case you are a novice in the world of surrogacy, you probably know that it is a legal and medical process, which is regarded as one of the most revolutionary assisted reproduction techniques. However, what you might not know is that it is also a social and emotional process that involves more than meets the eye.
As a prospective surrogate or someone interested in learning about surrogacy, knowing where to start, based on the perplexing information you find in multiple sources, can be mind-boggling.
But today is your lucky day! This article provides you with everything you need to know about surrogacy basics. Sit back and read on!
First, …what is surrogacy?
Before we dive into some of the technical aspects of surrogacy, you first need to understand the surrogacy meaning.
Basically, this is an assisted reproduction method where a woman (known as a surrogate mother) agrees to carry a baby for another person or other people (often referred to as intended parents).
There are two types of surrogacy:
1. Traditional surrogacy
2. Gestational surrogacy
In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate mother donates the eggs, which are then fertilized using the sperms of the intended father or another donor. Therefore, she shares a genetic link to the child.
In gestational surrogacy, which is the main type of surrogacy being sort today, the surrogate mother carries a baby created from the egg and sperms of the intended parents or from donors using in vitro fertilization (IVF). In this case, she becomes a gestational carrier and doesn't have a genetic link with the baby.
Today, surrogacy is an option because, for thousands of couples, it is the only way they can have a baby and raise a generation.
Even though critics have dismissed surrogacy as a ‘womb for hire’ kind of business, it has helped many people around the world who cannot sire babies naturally have children they can call their own. Some of the reasons why people seek surrogacy include:
They are in same-sex marriages
They have fertility problems
They have conditions that could put their lives in danger if they got pregnant
Without a doubt, surrogacy is a collaboration between consenting adults, and if done right and in full conformity with the law, it could help lots of people struggling with infertility problems become parents.
Is surrogacy legal?
Honestly, there is no clear cut answer regarding this question. Look – there are countries such as Ukraine that have the best laws governing this technology, while there are others that don't permit it at all. Also, some lack specific statutes related to surrogacy, while there are those that will allow it as long as the process is not commercialized.
Before you choose a surrogacy destination, therefore, make sure you do thorough research, and ensure this assisted reproduction technology is legal. Also, you can talk to your surrogacy agency or attorney to help you in choosing the ideal destination that has friendly laws, and which will keep costs to a minimum.
The surrogacy process in a nutshell
The surrogacy process varies based on several issues, such as country or state laws, and clinical procedures needed. Nonetheless, below is a step-by-step process that will help you prepare for your journey to becoming a parent using surrogacy:
1. Decide whether surrogacy is the ideal choice- this is certainly the first and the most important step in the surrogacy process. The agency you choose will help you go through various types of assisted reproduction methods, analyze their risks, and determine whether surrogacy is the best choice for you.
2. Find a match- you don’t just pick the first surrogate you come across to help carry your baby. Surrogate matching is, therefore, an integral step of the surrogacy process. After the surrogate is chosen, she undergoes various tests to ascertain whether she is fit to proceed with the rest of the process.
3. Satisfy legal requirements- once the intended parents and the surrogate have a wish to proceed, an attorney who specializes in assisted reproduction law will then draft a surrogacy contract. Each party should have an attorney who ensures their legal interests are protected. Once the contract has been signed, the embryo transfer process will begin.
4. Begin the fertilization and embryo transfer process- this is where the fertility clinic comes in. The embryo will be created in the lab through IVF. The surrogate will then undergo multiple fertility treatments before the embryo is transferred.
5. Hold a bundle of joy in your arms- after the lengthy surrogacy process (which could take up to 15 months), the baby comes, and this is a joy to the surrogate and the intended parents. More often than not, the intended parents join the surrogate in the delivery room to enjoy the momentous experience.
Once the baby is born, and the surrogate is discharged from the hospital, the intended parents can go home with their new member of the family. In most cases, however, they will need to follow a bureaucratic process before doing this.
Terms in the surrogacy process explained
IVF, which stands for In Vitro Fertilization, is one of the most popular methods used in the creation of an embryo during surrogacy. It works by combining an array of surgical procedures and medicines to help a sperm fertilize an egg, and help the fertilized egg implant in the uterus of the surrogate mother.
ICSI stands for Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection. It is a laboratory procedure where a single sperm is picked using a glass needle and injected into an egg. What makes this process an ideal choice for some embryologists involved in the surrogacy process is because very few sperms are required. Also, it eliminates the need for the sperm to naturally penetrate the egg because this is done through the ICSI technology.
PGD stands for Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis. It is a revolutionary reproductive technology that is used alongside IVF to increase the chances of a successful pregnancy during surrogacy.
PGD is basically a test on cells removed from embryos, to help choose the best embryo to achieve pregnancy or avoid any risk for genetic disease.
Finally…How much does surrogacy cost?
The amount of money you will spend on surrogacy will vary, depending on the destination you choose, and the surrogacy agency you decide to work with.
Surrogacy can be as expensive as $150,000 in some countries such as the United States, but it can also be as cheap as $40,000-$60,000 in some of the most popular surrogacy hubs such as Ukraine.
The secret towards keeping the costs down is to hire the best surrogacy agency you can find and choose a destination that will provide you with a combination of friendly, explicit laws, and cost advantage. Good luck in your surrogacy journey!
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