One of the many options available to couples that are trying to achieve pregnancy here at the Center of Reproductive Medicine, is having a baby by way of the services of a surrogate. If you're considering surrogacy, one question you may be asking yourself is how to choose a surrogate to carry your child. In an effort to assist you in making your decision, we thought it might be helpful to give you a quick guide of things to consider.
A Brief Background on Surrogacy
There are two types of surrogacy – Traditional and Gestational. A traditional surrogate is artificially inseminated with the sperm of the father (or a donor), gets pregnant, carries the baby, and delivers it for a couple to raise. With traditional surrogacy, the surrogate is the baby's biological mother because it was her egg fertilized by the sperm.
In gestational surrogacy, a woman's egg is fertilized by sperm, and then that embryo is placed in the uterus of the surrogate. A gestational surrogate has no genetic ties to the child because it's not her egg. However, she too will carry the baby until birth. In this case, the surrogate is called the birth mother, but the biological mother is still the woman whose egg was fertilized.
Deciding Between the Two Types of Surrogacy
There are several factors to consider when deciding between traditional and gestational surrogacy. One factor is fertility and/or the ability for an egg to become fertilized. Another is the ability to carry a fertilized egg to term. Additional factors could include medical history, and health risks relating to pregnancy.
Choosing a Surrogate
For some couples, deciding who will be the surrogate is just as difficult, if not more difficult than deciding between traditional and gestational surrogacy.
Here are a few questions you might want to ask when making the decision of who will be your surrogate:
- It may seem obvious, but first you need to ask the surrogate whether or not she is ready, and comfortable with carrying a child for you.
- Is she physically healthy, and able to carry a baby to term?
- Is she emotionally healthy enough to handle surrogacy? And, is she comfortable with the fact that at the end of the nine months, she will have to give the child to you?
- This may seem less obvious, and perhaps even too personal, but it's also important to determine whether or not the family of your surrogate supports her decision to do this for you.
- Discuss whether she is comfortable with the medical treatment for surrogacy. A surrogate mother may need more medical treatment, and it's critical she understands what's ahead of her.
- Is she willing to sign documents legally binding her to give you the child after its birth? In some states there are legal issues regarding surrogacy, and parental rights aren't always guaranteed after a surrogate pregnancy. Therefore, it may be a good idea to use a lawyer to ensure there are no loopholes, or misunderstandings about the rights of the surrogate related to the child after birth.
- Are there reimbursement expectations? What are the financial conditions for the pregnancy? Even though the intended parents pay all of the medical, hospital and counseling expenses, the cost extends to the monetary gift of appreciation to the surrogate mother. It is important to discuss, and finalize these things ahead of time.
- Has she given birth before? If so, what were the results? (i.e. Was the baby healthy? Was she emotionally stable after the fact? How was her mental state after the birth? Etc.)
- Is she willing to undergo prenatal care?
- Is she old enough to make this decision? Many experts believe that surrogates should be a minimum of 21 years of age.
In the end, how to choose a surrogate is not a simple process. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of all potential surrogates, and to not be hasty in making your decision. It's understandable to want to move things along quickly after waiting for a baby for any duration of time. At the same time, that is why it's that much more important to take your time gathering all the information, and make an informed, well thought out, decision.
For more information on third party parenting or other treatment programs for infertility, please ccontact us to speak with a caring infertility specialist who will be happy to discuss your individual situation with you. Or click here to learn more about third party parenting.