Contracted motherhood agreements can be divided into two categories: commercial and non-commercial, or “altruistic.” Commercial contracted motherhood arrangements are those in which the party seeking a child agrees to pay a fee to the surrogate beyond the cost of her medical needs. In contrast, non-commercial or “altruistic” contracted motherhood arrangements are those where the surrogate agrees to receive no payment or reward, although it is rare that a total non-commercial agreement is ever made as it is expected that the commissioning party will pay the pregnant woman’s medical bills. Altrustic agreements are often between parties who are family or friends prior to the arrangement.
It is estimated that in the United States, the payment for a surrogate mother ranges between US$10,000 and $20,000; the whole procedure can cost $45,000 to $60,000. According to a poll on http://www.surromomsonline.com, fees anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000+ are considered fair by the surrogates themselves; with most voting in the $17,000-$22,000 range. The fees for the rest of the process- including fertility clinics; lawyers; medical fees; and agencies and/or egg donors (if they’re used)– generally cost more than the fee going to the surrogate. Gestational surrogacy costs more than traditional surrogacy, since more complicated medical procedures are required. Surrogates who carry a baby for a family member (i.e. sister or daughter) usually do so without reimbursement.
In the United Kingdom it is an offence to pay a surrogate under the Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985, but it is permitted to reimburse expenses. Although no official statistics verify this, it is believed that by describing generous allowances as expenses, payment of surrogates occurs in the United Kingdom as well.
Contrary to popular belief, surrogate mothers are not all poor women being exploited for their fertility. Many are middle-class women who want to help make families. They come from all walks of life; some have had children of their own, while some want more children in the future.
The same can be said of fertility tourism, when couples go abroad for surrogacy, notably to India. And here too surrogates come from all walks of life. The benefits of doing so would be that it is far cheaper; around $12,000 will give one a surrogate, an egg donor and all medical and hospital bills paid for. IVF on its own is more than $3,000. Other benefits are a short waiting list (or none at all) and an unrestrictive embryo count implant.
Who chooses surrogacy?
Surrogacy is a method of assisted reproduction.
In some cases it is the only available option for a couple who wish to have a child that is not related to them. Changing attitudes towards illegitimacy have led to fewer women placing their children up for adoption, and couples may wish to avoid being asked to adopt a child of a different race or having to go through the difficulties of international adoption.
The biological connection
There are two major types of surrogacy:
Partial or genetic contracted motherhood (also known as traditional or straight surrogacy), in which the gestational mother is impregnated with the sperm of the commissioning father (usually through artificial insemination). In these cases, the woman who becomes pregnant is both the genetic and gestational mother of the child; however, she relinquishes her role of social mother to the commissioning mother.
Complete or gestational contracted motherhood (also known as host or gestational surrogacy). Using in vitro fertilisation (IVF), the intended parents produce an embryo that can then be transplanted into the surrogate mother for her to gestate and give birth to after nine months. In gestational contracted motherhood the pregnant woman makes no genetic contribution to the child; however, she is the child’s birth mother. In some cases, particularly of infertility, this may be combined with the use of donor sperm or donor eggs in creating the embryo for transfer.
Note that the term “biological mother” confuses the two sorts of surrogacy, and as such is best avoided.
Increasingly, more surrogate mothers are female relatives whom share a common blood type of child-bearing age (i.e. aunts, nieces, sisters and grandmothers) of birth mothers (or fathers) agreed to carry a developing fetus full-term, in order to help the actual mother to have that child.
Also of note the “Traditional/Straight” surrogate can have her pregnancy achieved (for expediency sake) via IVF treatment. The surrogate’s own eggs would still be used and would still be the genetic mother of the child. A sort of ‘hybrid’ method of the two major forms of surrogacy.
The emotions involved in surrogacy are very strong on both sides. Mothers should make sure they have appropriate support before choosing surrogacy. Support organizations exist for couples choosing this option.
Research carried out by the Family and Child Psychology Research Centre at City University, London, UK in 2002 showed surrogate mothers rarely had difficulty relinquishing rights to a surrogate child and that the commissioning mothers showed greater warmth to the child than mothers conceiving naturally.
Most surrogacies end without problems, with the parents getting their child(ren). Most stories (especially movie dramas) about the subject focus on the problems of the practice, and on the conflicts that may arise from it, but this is not so common in reality.
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