Surrogacy is when one woman (the surrogate host) is to bear a child for another woman or a couple (the commissioning couple). All patients considering surrogacy are strongly advised to seek legal advice. Please see the step by step guide to understand surrogacy.
What is surrogacy?
This is an arrangement that is made between a woman and a couple to carry and deliver a baby on their behalf. A surrogate mother is someone who carries within the uterus and then gives birth to a child from another person, with the full intention of handing the child over to that person after the birth. Here in India, the surrogate mother cannot have a genetic link to the child, she carries for the commissioning (intended) parent or parents, hence called gestational surrogacy, and her egg may not be used in the surrogacy arrangement called traditional surrogacy as this is ILLEGAL. Surrogacy is a chosen method for couples or women that are unable to conceive themselves due to a missing uterus or abnormal uterus, multiple pregnancies losses or failed IVF attempts. Gestational surrogacy is where the embryo is created from the woman’s egg and the man’s sperm and hence the baby is biologically their own.
Advantages of surrogacy
There is much controversy and debate regarding this topic. The advantages of surrogacy is based on the personal autonomy of the person or couple commissioning a surrogate mother. It’s a personal choice and it provides childless couples a way to have children who are biologically theirs. Many childless couples opt for adoption but then they have to ensure that the history of the child is good and will suit them. Surrogacy can eliminate this. This is also the most suited option for couples who are of the same gender.
Disadvantages of surrogacy
Surrogacy can be a long and tedious process. Searching for the right clinic and support can be time consuming. This involves costs which are very high and hence require financial planning by the intended couple. Couples have to ensure that legal procedures are set in place before committing themselves to surrogacy or they may else face legal issues later. There could be a possibility of the surrogate mother or commissioning person changing their mind. There is also the danger of miscarriages, multiple births, and serious disabilities.
Types of Surrogacy
Its important to understand the different types of surrogacy. There are two main types: gestational surrogacy and traditional surrogacy.
In traditional surrogacy the surrogate is pregnant with her own biological child, but this child was conceived with the intention of relinquishing the child to be raised by others such as the biological father and possibly his spouse or partner and thus the child that results is genetically related to the surrogate mother. The child may be conceived via sexual intercourse, home artificial insemination using fresh or frozen sperm or impregnated via IUI (intrauterine insemination), or ICI (intracervical insemination), which is performed at a fertility clinic. Sperm from the male partner of the ‘commissioning couple’ may be used, or alternatively, sperm from a sperm donor can be used. Donor sperm will, for example, be used if the ‘commissioning couple’ are both females or where the child is commissioned by a single woman.
This type of surrogacy is opted by most parents as they feel secure that the chances of the surrogate being able to keep their baby is virtually second to none. Parents feel more in control with this option as they are choosing the genetics of their baby. Using the egg of either the intended mother or ovum donor separates the complex; emotional issues of being a donor mother.
Using an Egg Donor
The surrogate mother cannot genetically contribute to the offspring of the intended parents. Usually the intended parents will rely upon an egg donation, and this case the donor will have to undergo hormone therapy (usually injections) over the course of many weeks which cause her ovaries to release more than one egg. These eggs are then inspected for quality and can be either used immediately or frozen for later use.
This type of surrogacy involves no payment being made to the surrogate mother. Although expenses related pregnancy and birth, maternity clothing, medical expenses, could be paid for by the intended parents.
In this situation a gestational carrier is paid to carry a child to maturity in her womb. This is a legal procedure in most countries including India. Sometimes this surrogacy is referred to in offensive term such as “wombs for rent”, “baby farms” and “outsourced pregnancies”.
Become a surrogate
The criteria required to become a surrogate mother is as follows :
›› Surrogate mother must be in good health
›› Be able to undergo a pregnancy with minimum risk to her health
›› Must not be overweight
›› Must not be a heavy smoker
›› Must not be an alcohol drinker or substance abuser
Being a surrogate mother is highly demanding both physically and mentally. She will require the backing and support of her partner, family and friends. Surrogacy is something that should not be taken lightly as considerations must be given to medical, emotional, legal and practical issues and most of all surrendering the child at birth.
In order to act as a surrogate mother she must fulfill the each of the following conditions of the section 56 of the Act. These are as follows:
- She is at least twenty-one years of age.
- As the risks of illness and problems are much higher in the first pregnancy it is strongly recommended that surrogate mothers should have borne at least one child previously and preferably have completed her own family.
- She has not previously acted as a surrogate for compensation more than once.
- She has completed a medical evaluation and the evaluating physician has determined that there is no known reason why she would not be capable of carrying a child to term without endangering her health or the health of the child;
- In the case of a surrogacy involving in vitro fertilization or similar technology involving fertilization outside the uterus, informed consent to the medical procedures associated with the establishment of a pregnancy through embryo transfer, is required . She must have provided the written consent.
- She has completed a mental health evaluation by a mental health specialist.
- She has undergone legal consultation with independent legal counsel regarding the terms of the surrogacy contract and the potential legal consequences of the surrogacy.
If you are interested in providing this service, please call us to make a one to one appointment to discuss this further.