It’s no longer a dream to have a baby of your own. Today there are viable options available for the couple that give them the chance to have a child they deserve so much. One such option that gains importance nowadays is surrogacy or simply a surrogate mother.
Surrogacy can be simply treated as an agreement whereby a woman agrees to carry the pregnancy for another person or persons, when either pregnancy is medically impossible for them or if pregnancy risks present an unacceptable danger to the mother’s health. Similarly a surrogate mother is simply a woman who gives birth to a baby for a couple or another woman who is unable to conceive. The conditions that makes surrogacy necessary include recurrent losses of pregnancy, repeated failures of IVF implantation’s and absence or malformation of womb.
The fertilization of the surrogate may take place in a number of ways that leads to two main classification: gestational surrogacy and traditional surrogacy.
Gestational surrogacy, also known as vitro fertilization or IVF leads to gestational surrogate mother, which involves implanting an embryo created by gathering eggs from mother and fertilizing them with sperm from the father and simply placing the embryo into the uterus of the gestational surrogate.
Traditional surrogate is simply treated as the baby’s biological mother where artificial fertilization is carried out by using surrogate mother’s egg and intended father’s sperm.
Becoming a Surrogate Mother
The legality and costs of surrogacy vary widely resulting in interstate or international surrogacy arrangements. Couples or individuals wanting a child may enlist either the help of a private or third party agency to oversee the process of finding a surrogate and then entering into a contract with her and recommend fertility centers for insemination, generally via IVF. But it is always necessary to remember no matter how it is done via agency or private, surrogacy involves many physical, emotional and legal issues.
Firstly, it is necessary to check if she is qualified to become a surrogate mother. The laws and rules regarding surrogacy vary from state to state, and that decide who qualifies and who does not qualify to be a surrogate. The third party agency will explain the rules and qualifications which include age range, overall health and prior the pregnancy experience that protect the right of both surrogate mothers and prospective parents.
Next step requires, the surrogate mother to the fill out a detailed application including the surrogate’s age and her state of health which has to be answered truthfully. It also includes details regarding the conditions she will be required to maintain through the pregnancy.
Medical and psychological testing must be undergone to make sure that both her physical and mental health is stable. The tests performed by a surrogacy institution’s staff entails a thorough evaluation to ensure that there is no risk of transferring hepatitis and HIV.
The applicant must have a prior knowledge about her compensation well as the remuneration vary from one agency to other. However, most of the payment is made so that the surrogate mother can use the money for expenses related only to the pregnancy.
Next is the approving stage. Once the application is filled and tests are completed, the applicant is approved and needs to wait for the written contract. Here the applicant must be careful enough before making sign that all her rights are properly taken care of.
The surrogate agency arranges the schedule of doctor appointments prescribed tests of the surrogate mother so that it saves her the inconvenience of making appointments and paying up for the many tests that are ordered during pregnancy. Therefore it is important to remember that the schedule will have to be correctly followed.
Once approved, the woman follows the institution’s surrogacy program and the agency will start finding potential couples or individuals that fit her services well.
The Legal Aspects of Surrogacy
Apart from the emotional and medical issues, there are also a number of legal considerations that need to be addressed which include the requirements of both the surrogate mother and the biological parents or parent. Getting legal counsel before the surrogacy process begins is wise as it will help to clear any doubts including the finance-related contract that outlines all related expenses. The contract should cover all major aspects of the surrogacy process such as:
Clear identification of the person or persons who will retain legal custody of the child after birth.
Mention clearly whether the surrogacy process will be gestational or traditional.
The number of embryos that will be transferred should be indicated clearly if it is a gestational surrogacy.
Rights and obligations must be clearly noted if multiple babies are born.
Accurate outline of the number of times the baby will be tested during pregnancy and a rough outline of these tests must be given.
Also mention the state if the test results are poor.
A miscarriage clause for protection must be included in case of an accidental miscarriage or the surrogate’s body rejects the pregnancy.
List of financial obligations must be given including all related expenses.
Legal Obligations and Legal Protection
Depending on the contractual agreement a surrogate mother’s legal obligations include,
She will be legally and morally obligated to maintain the whole pregnancy and required to attend all prenatal checkups and to seek immediate medical support if any problem occurs and also to avoid any sort of reckless habits or behavior that could put the baby’s life in danger.
No matter how attached a surrogate gets to the child, she will be required to give the baby soon after giving birth.
She cannot end up the pregnancy early without both the parent’s consent if the written contract clearly prohibits it. However, there can be a clause that allows it when the surrogate mother’s life is in danger due to the pregnancy and calls for immediate termination.
Like the legal obligations, the surrogate mother’s protections are also in the contract. It is important for her to understand how she is kept safe under the law.
Unreasonable measures cannot be put into action without the agreement of surrogate mother unless they are clearly included and outlined in the contract.
Termination of the pregnancy cannot be forced unless the contract grants them that right.
There can be a clause that allows to terminate the pregnancy when the surrogate mother’s life is in danger due to the pregnancy and calls for immediate termination.
Depending on how the mother prefers it to be, the privacy of surrogate mother can be protected up to an extent. But if legal obligations are being neglected, parents do have the right to call for immediate action.
No matter what type of surrogacy is chosen, it is a complex process that affects everyone physically, mentally and emotionally and the legal aspects are also complicated. With the help of a fair and well-covered contract, the surrogate mother and intended parents are guaranteed to be satisfied throughout the process. Being a surrogate mother is not all fun and the compensation you receive may not be always equal to the hardships you go through of carrying a baby,. However, it is a very noble act that will give satisfaction of having helped a family have a child!