All about Surrogacy: Process & Types

8 min read

A baby makes a family complete and brings immense joy to not just the parents but for the whole family too. Having a baby is a great blessing but not everyone can do this successfully. Many couples have given up on the hopes of starting a family due to many medical and fertility issues. However, there are couples who leave no stones unturned when they decide to start a family. In a situation where couples are not able to reproduce on their own, they opt for adoption or surrogacy.

surrogacy

What is Surrogacy?

Before we go into any more details, let us first answer the most basic question that comes to everyone’s mind. What is surrogacy? Surrogacy’s meaning is simple. It is the process where couples who are unable to reproduce on their own, take the help of another woman who is ready to grow the baby in her womb, for them. She agrees to grow and care for the unborn child and hands over the child to them, once the birth process is completed.

Is this Ethical?

The minute many read about surrogacy, the first question that pops into their head is – “is it even ethical?” The answer is yes. It is ethical and legal.

It is completely ethical because the surrogate (the lady who agrees to carry the baby inside her to term) and the parents get into a legal contract and both parties agree to all terms and conditions given by the laws surrounding surrogacy pregnancy. Technically, the womb of the surrogate is borrowed for a few months and paid for.

How does Surrogacy Work?

Women who are ready to carry a child or children for other people will have to sign up with a surrogacy agency or institution. Here they will undergo a number of tests to ensure they are indeed healthy enough to carry a pregnancy to term without any issues. Their genetic background will also be checked as much as possible to ensure no illness is passed on to the child they carry.

The intended parents who opt for surrogacy can do so by signing up with a surrogacy center. After checking their health and legal background, they will be put on a waiting list.

Next, the intended parents and surrogate mothers are matched to find the optimal match. This is crucial as parents may be specific about the race or background of the surrogate who is willing to carry their child. Health and economic profiles are also matched before the right pair is chosen and allowed to meet face to face. Only after a legal contract is drawn, can a surrogacy treatment begin.

This process has to be legal to avoid any issues later. The carefully formulated procedure has to be followed to avoid any illegal activities like human trafficking or scams.

What are the Pros and Cons of Surrogacy?

Here are some of the pros and cons of surrogacy for the intended parents:

Pros:

  • Couples, who are struggling to start their own family, can do so with the help of a complete stranger.
  • One need not go through the motions and phases of pregnancy, yet have a child they are genetically linked to.
  • The intended parents need not change their lifestyle to endure the pregnancy period.
  • The mother does not need to struggle through morning sickness, gestational diabetes, or even postpartum hormonal fluctuations.
  • The mother’s life is not at risk at any given point in the pregnancy.
  • The long and exhausting wait for couples who have tried every possible fertility treatment or consulted the best doctors in the field is now over.
  • The surrogate mother gets a sense of fulfillment when she sees the joy on the face of the parents when she hands over the child.
  • Unlike in adoption where couples miss out on the initial days of the baby’s life, in surrogacy, they can ride along the entire journey, right from conception.
  • Unlike in adoption where the child will be completely unlinked to the family, surrogacy enables one to have a child with their own genes.
  •  You can now have a genetic child, without passing on your genetic defect.

Cons:

  • The intended mother can’t experience pregnancy to its fullest glory as she is not the one carrying the child.
  • The child cannot hear the mother’s voice at all times as it will be exposed to the surrogate mother’s voice and heartbeat throughout the pregnancy.
  • The surrogacy cost is very high. This doesn’t stop with just the treatment, but also includes the monetary compensation for the surrogacy mother, the doctor appointments, the extra medications or tests required. One will also have to spend on nourishing the surrogate mother as people from poor economic backgrounds don’t eat rich or healthy food.
  • The surrogacy baby, though yours genetically, may take time to adjust to you and your partner as it is more familiar with the surrogate mother.
  • If you decide to go with breastfeeding for the child and retain the services of the surrogate mother, you will have to endure the child and mother’s attachment for a while. This can be emotionally tough on the intended mother.
  • Society and your own family members may not be receptive to this idea and might treat the child differently.
  • When the child learns the truth behind their birth, s/he might go through some emotional trauma and it can be a very trying time for the parents.
  • If the surrogate mother suffers from any unknown or undocumented illness, it can affect or worse, be passed on to the child.
  • The entire surrogacy process can be very long and emotionally very demanding on the parents.

What are the Types of Surrogacy?

Did you know there were different types of surrogacy one could choose from? Here we have some necessary information regarding the types you can opt for:

1. Traditional Surrogacy:

In this type of surrogacy that was once common but not anymore, the surrogacy mother is artificially inseminated. The father’s half of the genetic material required for the baby is provided to the surrogacy mother. She is later inseminated via treatments like IUI. This baby will carry half genes from the surrogate mother and the intended father. The intended mother will not be genetically linked to this child.

2. Gestational Surrogacy:

In this type of surrogacy, both the intended parents’ genetic materials are provided. The sperms from the father are used to fertilize the eggs of the mother and more than one egg is implanted into the womb of the surrogate mother. Here the child will have genetic traits of both the parents and none from the surrogacy mother.

3. Gamete Surrogacy:

In this type of surrogacy, both the sperms and the eggs are taken from donors, fertilized under lab conditions, and then implanted into the womb of the surrogate mother. Many couples, who are experiencing fertility issues or genetic disorders, can opt for this. However, the cost will increase accordingly.

surrogacy process

When to Opt for Surrogacy?

Surrogacy is not an option for one and all who want to start a family. There are some legal requirements to be fulfilled before you are allowed to proceed with surrogacy.

You can opt for surrogacy in the following situations:

  • Fertility:

When there is a fertility issue that is preventing the heterosexual parents from having a natural pregnancy. The reason for infertility could be many. This requires a medical professional to conduct various tests, go through other fertility treatments and procedures to conclude the intended parents are not fit to get pregnant or have a child on their own.

  • Genetic Defect:

If there are health issues or defects with both or one of the parents which can be genetically passed on to the child, they can opt for surrogacy for the safety of the child. This again requires the parents to go through a battery of tests and have proper supporting documents to prove there is a genetic defect they don’t want their child to have.

  • Same-Sex Parents:

Homosexual couples where both partners are of the same sex and want to have children with their own genes can opt for surrogacy. This is however not allowed in India.

  • Mother’s Health:

If the intended mother has any health issues that are preventing her from getting pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term, she can opt for a surrogacy mother. Here, if the intended mother’s eggs are not viable, they can even get an egg donor or directly fertilize the surrogate mother.

Which is the Surrogacy Centre in India?

There are a number of surrogacy centers in India. However, when you are on the lookout for a surrogacy center, ensure it is authorized by the Surrogacy Act. If the center does not follow the surrogacy laws in India, you could be signing up for a long legal battle instead of a child.

Factors to Keep in Mind:

Some of the factors to consider while searching for a surrogate are:

  • Background:

The economical background of the surrogacy mother is an important point to consider, to understand more about her health and nutrition habits.

  • Rapport:

The surrogacy mother and the intended parents need to have a rapport so that communication and attitude towards the entire pregnancy can be similar. This helps in handling doctors, medications, and any other complications that might arise as the pregnancy progresses. A good understanding between the parties will ensure everything is smooth.

  • View on Abortion:

Both the surrogacy mother and the intended parents have to decide on their views on abortion. If the pregnancy develops any issues in the due course that requires terminating the pregnancy, both parties must agree. If the surrogacy mother has a firm stand against abortion and decides to carry a medically unfit child to term, it is the parents who will have to take responsibility after birth. Similarly, if the intended parents are against termination and the pregnancy is causing some risk to the surrogacy mother’s life, they need to be ok with her terminating the pregnancy to save her own life.

  • Compensation:

Both parties have to agree to monetary compensation if any. This has to be clearly mentioned in a legal document, to avoid any issues at a later date.

  • Legal:

When you find a surrogacy mother, do ensure she is legally registered and has no other issues with the law. Surrogacy is legal in India and one has to ensure both parties follow all rules and requirements.

Will Surrogacy Affect the Child?

Surrogacy will not affect the child per se, but one cannot neglect certain issues that might crop up in the future due to this type of birth.

  • While in the Womb:

Doctors always ask the expecting mother to be happy, calm, and relaxed so that the unborn child also inherits these traits. This is because it is believed that a child, though on the inside, will observe and absorb everything happening around them. So, if the expecting mother is going to be sad and angry all the time, it might negatively impact the behavior of the child too. So, if the surrogate mother goes through negative emotions or is exposed to traumatic situations, it will impact the child in the womb.

  • Inability to Take the News:

If parents decide to tell their child about surrogacy, when the s/he is old enough to understand, it might be hard on the child. While some children might just nod and accept the information, some might get emotionally affected. The child might feel unhappy because her mother is not her “real” mother in a sense that a young child can understand. Young children may not process the scientific details and may just see the real mother as the one who carried them in their womb.

  • Reaction of Friends:

Young children are always eager to share details about themselves and the family, with their current best friends. If your child reveals the news about surrogacy to their friends and they end up teasing that you are not the real parent, your child might be hurt.

surrogacy in india

How to Care for your Unborn Child in Surrogacy?

When you are pregnant with your child, you can care for the unborn child in a number of ways. However, in surrogacy, your options are limited. Though emotionally very trying, here are some ways in which you can still care for your child in another woman’s womb:

  • Spend time with the surrogate mother so that you can talk to the child on the inside. The child will also hear your voice regularly.
  • Provide good food and nutrition to the surrogate, as what she eats is what your child receives.
  • Take her for Lamaze or yoga classes to ensure a healthy and smooth delivery.
  • Buy her good books or read to her if she can’t read.
  • Buy her some nice music or a system to listen to music on.
  • If she has issues at home, see if you can remove her from that environment, for the better development of your baby.
  • Ensure she is happy and does not face any abuse.
  • Accompany the surrogacy mother to all doctor’s appointments.

Having a child, on your own or through surrogacy is magical. If you have opted for surrogacy, you have just found a way to start a family rather than giving up. It’s time to finally start expecting a child and prepare for it. It’s a beautiful phase, enjoy it!  All the best!

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