Surrogacy is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) that’s advancing at a rapid rate, making intended parents’ dreams come true in a more efficient and easier way than ever before. However, it’s still a fairly new process — and, because the nuances of the processes can change relatively quickly, there is still a lot of misinformation about surrogacy.
No matter whether you’re interested in completing a surrogacy of your own or just want to learn more, it’s important that you recognize these myths and their truths. Not only will this help you better understand surrogacy yourself, it also gives you the knowledge to clear up some of these misconceptions whenever you hear them from other people.
Here are some of the most common myths that unfortunately still exist when people think about surrogacy:
1. The surrogate is related to the baby, and she has to conceive the child in the “traditional” way.
Sometimes, when people think about surrogacy, they automatically think of traditional surrogacies, in which the surrogate is genetically related to the child she’s carrying. While traditional surrogacies are still an option, they are rarely completed today because of the inherent risks from a genetic relationship between the surrogate and the child. Instead, the vast majority of surrogacies (including those completed by American Surrogacy) are gestational — meaning the surrogate is implanted with a previously created embryo that does not include her own eggs.
On the same note, even though many people know of in vitro fertilization, they may assume a surrogate becomes pregnant after having intercourse with the intended father. While this may have been the way secret surrogate pregnancies were created before the advance of ART, this is never done today by surrogacy professionals. As mentioned, surrogacy involves in vitro fertilization, and the implantation of an embryo into the surrogate takes place under the supervision of medical professionals.
2. Surrogates are only in it for the money.
Women who choose to become surrogates do have the option of a compensated surrogacy, in which they will receive a base compensation for carrying the child (in addition to coverage of all pregnancy-related expenses). While surrogates do consider this base compensation as a way for them to reach a financial goal, that’s not the prime reason they choose to become a surrogate. They are instead motivated by helping another family experience the joy they know that parenthood can bring. Some of these women have dreamed of being surrogates since they were young, while others discovered it later in life and just “knew” it was something they were meant to do.
At American Surrogacy, all of our potential surrogates are thoroughly screened, including in regards to their motivations. If we sense that a woman is only interested in surrogacy for the money, she will usually not be cleared for the surrogacy process.
3. A surrogate can change her mind and keep the child after it’s born.
In a gestational surrogacy, this is a nearly impossible thing to do. Because a surrogate is not genetically related to the child she is carrying, she has no parental rights to keep a child after birth. In addition, your surrogacy lawyer and surrogacy professional will make sure that the intended parents’ rights are protected while the surrogate is still pregnant. A pre- or post-birth parentage order establishes those parental rights and, many times, makes it possible for the intended parents’ names to be placed on the birth certificate at the hospital.
In addition to these legal protections, a surrogate rarely wants to “keep” the child she is carrying. The surrogates who work with American Surrogacy have already completed their families and have no desire for another child. A surrogate does not have the emotional connection with the intended parents’ baby like she had while carrying her own; she thinks of herself as “babysitting” the unborn child until they’re born, at which point she is happy to see the baby meet and go home with their parents. All of American Surrogacy’s surrogates are provided emotional counseling throughout the process and are required to have one child already, as just another way to provide an emotional balance throughout her surrogacy.
4. The parents who choose surrogacy don’t want to deal with the stresses and risks of being pregnant, so they hire someone else to do it for them.
We’ve all heard it: “She decided to use a surrogate because she obviously didn’t want to ruin her perfect body or deal with the side effects of pregnancy.” This is a completely false and hurtful comment; intended mothers would do anything to be able to carry their own child, and many have already gone through years and thousands of dollars’ worth of IVF treatments before turning to surrogacy. Surrogacy is usually the last chance they have at a biologically related child. It’s also not cheap. Therefore, to suggest that intended parents are only using surrogacy for convenience is completely out of touch with the realities of the surrogacy process.
5. Surrogacy is an unethical practice where women sell their wombs and intended parents profit off vulnerable women.
Surrogacy is not only an ethical practice where both parties want the same thing — it’s also a highly regulated one that protects the rights and interests of both parties involved. Laws across the United States ensure that both surrogates and intended parents are not taken advantage of, and professional surrogacy agencies like American Surrogacy make sure that their clients are properly cared for throughout the process. Surrogates want to carry a child for intended parents, and they are properly compensated for doing so. As long as your surrogacy is completed by an experienced surrogacy professional and attorney, it will be a positive experience for all.
6. Surrogacy is illegal where I live.
There are some states that have strictly defined laws regarding surrogacy and other states that do not — but just because your state doesn’t have any surrogacy laws doesn’t mean that surrogacy is not legal for you. Lawyers in these states have created specific legal processes to complete surrogacies in a way that protects all involved; it may even be easier to complete a surrogacy process in one of these situations. Odds are, if you want to complete a surrogacy in the United States (whether you live in the states or in another country), it’s completely possible for you.
You can always call our surrogacy specialists at 1-800-875-2229 to learn more about whether surrogacy is legal where you live.
7. Surrogacy is selfish when there are so many children waiting to be adopted or fostered.
As mentioned before, many intended parents who choose surrogacy do it as a last chance to have a biologically related child. They may have a few embryos left from previous IVF cycles, and they don’t want them to go to waste.
Regardless of their infertility successes or failures, most people have an inherent desire to have a child who is genetically related to them. That’s a completely rational and understandable desire. After all, are the parents who can have biological children naturally also selfish for not adopting instead? Of course not — and neither are the intended parents who choose to pursue surrogacy. Adoption isn’t right for everyone and, ultimately, how a person chooses to create their family is their own personal decision.
8. Intended parents are not able to bond with a baby that is being carried by another woman.
Surrogacy is a partnership; intended parents and the surrogate work together through every step. While the intended parents may not be able to experience every moment of the pregnancy, they will be able to be a part of milestones like doctors’ visits, baby showers and the birth of their child. A surrogate is happy to let the parents be a part of her surrogate pregnancy, and she may even make a pregnancy scrapbook to document the parents’ pregnancy for their future child.
Intended parents can bond with their child even when another woman is carrying him or her. They can speak to the child in person or over a recording that the surrogate plays, they can be there to feel the baby kick and move, and more. Ultimately, it will be up to intended parents and the surrogate as to what kind of pregnancy contact is possible and acceptable during this stage of the surrogacy process.
A bond with a child is less about who is carrying them and more about who cares for them after birth. Many intended mothers report feeling a strong maternal connection with their newborn immediately after birth.
9. I can’t breastfeed my baby if he or she is born via surrogacy.
Breastfeeding as an intended mother is absolutely possible in surrogacy — and highly recommended. A fertility doctor can help intended mothers breastfeed their babies by prescribing the proper hormones and inducing lactation. As long as intended mothers put in the time and effort into inducing lactation, they can successfully breastfeed their baby like any other mother.
10. I can’t afford surrogacy.
While surrogacy can be an expensive process for intended parents (it’s completely free for surrogates), it certainly is still a possibility with the proper funding and financial research. Intended parents may choose to take advantage of grants and loans and other fundraising options to afford their surrogacy journey, and the specialists at American Surrogacy can work with you to find a financial solution that’s best for your family. Contact us today to learn more about our fee schedule, and contact a financial advisor for counseling on how to best move forward with your surrogacy costs.
These are just 10 of the common misconceptions about surrogacy, and they’re certainly not the only ones. One of the best ways to recognize the myths about surrogacy is by talking to an experienced surrogacy professional like American Surrogacy. Our specialists can answer any questions you have and help you fully understand exactly what the surrogacy process entails. To learn more today, please call us at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).