Alternate Family Planning is a term used to describe any method of expanding your family that does not involve traditional unassisted pregnancy. IVF, adoption, and surrogacy all fall under this umbrella. While adoption and IVF are commonly accepted practices by the general public, there continues to be an air of misunderstanding surrounding surrogacy. At Simple Surrogacy, the staff is primarily egg donors and surrogates who want to help others undergo the journey, and we thought it would be helpful to explain this form of growing your family.
Surrogacy is the process of having a biological child by creating embryos and implanting them in someone with no gestational problems. This is one of the greatest gifts you can give someone, and most surrogates become close with their Intended Parents during the pregnancy. That relationship can grow after the child is born, and many people become family-like throughout the process, using the same surrogate for sibling journeys. People who seek out surrogacy are those experiencing infertility, same-sex couples, and people who have had difficult pregnancies in the past. Some examples of celebrity surrogacies are Kim Kardashian, who after experiencing severe preeclampsia was advised not to give birth to any more children, Jamie Chung, who struggled with infertility for years, and Grimes who experienced many pregnancy-related medical issues and severe post-partum depression during her first pregnancy. While some agencies provide social surrogacy services (or surrogacy for non-medical reasons), ours does not.
Who is Related?
There are two different forms of surrogacy: Traditional and Gestational. “Traditional” as a term refers to how surrogacy was done prior to the medical advancements of the 20th century. In these cases, when a couple experienced infertility, the future father of the child would impregnate a family member of his wife, or the future mother would become impregnated by a member of the husband’s family. This process was not often spoken about but many historical figures were reported to have difficulty conceiving a child. However not having children, especially for a monarch, posed a threat to social rank and status. We have to assume some sort of traditional surrogacy was used in this case to assure lineage.
In modern times, traditional surrogacy is still done, but less invasively. Traditional now only refers to the gestational carrier being the one who provides the egg to the child. This insemination is done through IVF and IUI, not traditional means. Simple Surrogacy does facilitate traditional surrogacy, but it is not recommended. When doing traditional surrogacy, feelings can get complicated when it comes to the fetus.
“Gestational”surrogacy is the process that we use today and recommend for our surrogates. Embryos are created by the parents using their own DNA or a donor’s and implanted in the surrogate through IVF and IUI. Thus, a child completely unrelated to the gestational carrier is able to be born. This creates an overall humane way to give birth to another family’s child. Many children of surrogates will refer to it as “babysitting”.
Thus, through gestational surrogacy the biological parents of the child are the intended parents, not the surrogate. In fact, most times the surrogate is not related to them at all.
What is Involved?
There are several tiers to the surrogacy process: matching, contracts, pregnancy, and compensation. Each of these manages to keep all parties safe from any miscommunication during the pregnancy and prevents disagreements about parentage.
Matching is the process through which surrogates and intended parents meet. When using an agency, they will take both parties’ references regarding the pregnancy into account before connecting them. This is to assure that the two groups get along well and share commonalities that can make the partnership feel fulfilling and like gaining a friend. After the two groups meet if they agree it’s a match, they will begin the medical process. Many surrogates and intended parents bond closely and remain friends after the child is born.
Contracts are a pivotal part of surrogacy. This outlines how a surrogate will be compensated, agreements about lifestyle changes for the sake of the child, termination clauses, and parental guardianship rights for the child. The US has progressive policies toward surrogacy, but they hinge on a contractual agreement where the parentage of the child is clearly laid out. Laws also vary state to state regarding surrogacy, so a contract is the best way to assure the process goes smoothly. Without one, the surrogate could end up the legal parent of the child!
The pregnancy is explained above. Surrogates must complete a psychological and medical evaluation before they are allowed to carry for someone else. After being inseminated the surrogate carries the child to term, gives birth, and the intended parents take the child home. As long as everything goes to plan, the process here is quite simple.
Finally, compensation. While all agencies have different qualifiers and standards for payments, most surrogates are compensated for their time, effort, and risk to their bodies. While there are many altruistic reasons to do this, surrogates should still be compensated and have their medical bills covered. Most US agencies require surrogates to be financially stable, so that going on a surrogacy journey is not an act of desperation. There are also surrogacy-friendly insurances, to help subsidize the cost.
Surrogacy is a good way to grow your family if you would like to have biological children but cannot conceive naturally. It’s absolutely normal to grow your family however you want, and that option should be extended to anyone who wants it. Same-sex parents frequently find this to be the best option for growing their family, and we proudly support them.
If you would like more information about surrogacy, please reach out here.
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