The Truth About Genetic Modification of Embryos

A U.S. team of scientists made headlines this summer when they were the first to successfully correct a disease-causing mutation in a human embryo. While the embryo was not and never intended to be transferred into a uterus for implantation, the announcement did open up a larger discussion about genetic modification of embryos and its future moving forward.

There is a lot of confusion today in the U.S. about genetic modification of human embryos and an even greater ethical conversation about this practice. If you are considering entering into the surrogacy process, whether as an intended parent or a prospective surrogate, it’s important you understand the realities of this scientific find and what it may mean for surrogacy moving forward.

The best source for information about genetic modification of embryos will always be a fertility specialist, as they can explain in detail not only which processes are possible but which are available at their own organization. But, to help you grasp the basics of the process, we’ve answered a few of your questions below.

What Kind of Genetic Modification is Available?

In the U.S. today, it is illegal to perform genetic modification on a human embryo for the purpose of implanting it in a woman. While research is allowable for scientists as long as they destroy the experiments and don’t receive federal funding, genetic modification for intended parents is not a possibility.

But, just because an intended parent cannot genetically modify their embryos does not mean they are limited to unhealthy possibilities. In fact, it is common today for embryos created in vitro to undergo preimplantation genetic screening. This screening tests for chromosomal abnormalities and certain genetic diseases, which means intended parents can avoid transferring an embryo that is not desirable — i.e., one that has a genetic disorder or another mutation that will prevent it developing to term.

Your fertility specialist can give you a better idea of what kind of screening and testing can be done to ensure a healthy embryo for transfer.

Could Genetic Modification Play a Role in Creating “Designer Babies?”

One of the concerns that people have about scientists moving forward with genetic modification of human embryos is what they see as a potential for “designer babies” — embryos that are modified for not only dangerous mutations but also characteristics like eye color, height and more.

However, the National Academy of Sciences (an organization of leading researchers) explicitly states that genetic modification should never be used for enhancement purposes. In addition, researchers have not yet isolated genes for those kinds of traits, making any modification of them impossible. Any researchers who are testing genetic modification focus on more critical characteristics, like disease-causing genes, and are well aware of the ethical concerns of focusing on more superficial traits.

When Can I Expect Genetic Modification to be Available?

While genetic modification could theoretically be applied to thousands of genetic diseases, the testing behind approval of this technique will take years — especially because of the restrictive U.S. laws and lack of funding regarding this technique. Therefore, it’s likely that genetic modification for many traits and diseases will not be available until at least the federal laws on the practice are changed.

In the meantime, methods like preimplantation genetic screening and egg, sperm and embryo donations can help reduce the likelihood that a child is born with genetic diseases and disorders. For more information about how you can have the healthiest child possible through the surrogacy process, contact a surrogacy professional and a fertility clinic.

Deciding Between Surrogacy and Adoption: The Similarities

There are a lot of folks hoping to grow their families but aren’t sure whether they should turn toward adoption or surrogacy. We don’t shy from the fact that our sister company is a national adoption agency, so who better to compare surrogacy and adoption than us?

Let’s quickly break down some of the biggest similarities between the two options:

1. You will need to locate an opportunity with a surrogate or birth mother.

The process of finding an opportunity with a surrogate or with a birth mother is one of the most challenging parts of either processes and is often the main reason hopeful parents choose to work with an agency.

Don’t take this decision lightly – do plenty of research on adoption and surrogacy professionals’ marketing and advertising strategies, and ask them a variety of questions to understand how long it might take to find you an opportunity.

And be sure to find out how long their advertising fees are good for. Do they expire after several months of trying to find a surrogacy or adoption opportunity, or do they never expire like with American Surrogacy?

2. Both options are costly.

You are likely already aware that both surrogacy and adoption are significant financial investments. However, the result of this process is priceless, so in our opinion, either option is quite the bargain!

With that said, surrogacy is often more costly than adoption, usually around double the cost. The two main reasons surrogacy is often more expensive are:

  • The surrogate is paid a base compensation starting at $30,000 (and higher in a state such as California), whereas a birth mother only receives living expenses to help with her pregnancy-related expenses. Surrogates may also earn additional compensations for a variety of events throughout her pregnancy.
  • This is an artificially planned pregnancy, where state-of-the-art medical procedures are required. Medical expenses can quickly add up, especially if multiple embryo transfers are required until a pregnancy is successfully achieved.

3. Support and counseling are important.

Support and counseling are often an overlooked service in adoption and especially in surrogacy.

Even though a surrogacy is a planned pregnancy, the surrogate mother still experiences the same maternal hormones found in traditional pregnancies, and may have certain feelings she needs to talk about with someone other than the intended parents.

This is particularly true in an identified surrogacy, where the surrogate mother may be a family member or friend of the intended parents but may feel uncomfortable sharing her thoughts of feelings if she’s having a rough day. A third-party surrogacy professional or counselor is a great resource to ensure the emotional part of the surrogacy process is being handled as delicately as the rest of the process.

If you have any questions about either option, please contact American Surrogacy today.

An Introduction to American Surrogacy

Hello and welcome to American Surrogacy’s blog! Here you will find the latest news about American Surrogacy, stories about intended parents and surrogates, stories about our staff and various helpful surrogacy information.

We’ve been receiving a lot of questions about our organization and services, so we decided to answer some of the most popular ones in our first blog post.

1. Where is American Surrogacy located?

American Surrogacy is based out of Overland Park, KS, but we offer surrogacy services to intended parents and surrogates nationally and even internationally.

2. How can you work with clients not located in Kansas?

American Surrogacy works closely with a network of both social workers and ARTs attorneys who meet with our clients face to face, and when necessary, our clients will visit us in Kansas. No matter where you live in the country, or even in the world, you will receive the best surrogacy services possible.

3. How did American Surrogacy begin?

In 1991, a small adoption agency named American Adoptions was founded, and today, it has grown into one of the largest domestic adoption agencies in the country, completing around 300 adoptions every year.

While adoption and surrogacy are very different processes, there are also many similarities between the two, and the American Adoptions’ staff began seeing and hearing about areas in which surrogacy could be greatly improved for both intended parents and surrogates. Thus, with 25 years of experience, American Surrogacy was founded, with the mission of making a better surrogacy organization for both intended parents and surrogates alike.

4. What makes American Surrogacy different from other surrogacy professionals?

We’ve spoken to former surrogates who said their surrogacy professionals made them feel like a “womb for rent.” They said once a match was made, their surrogacy professional largely removed themselves from the process, never to be heard from again.

For 25 years, American Adoptions has prided itself on offering birth mothers the best support imaginable, going as far as being available to these women any time of the day or night, any weekend or holiday, and before, during and even after the adoption is completed. We wondered why surrogates should be treated any differently?

The support we offer to surrogates, as well as intended parents, is unmatched. We are directly involved in each step of the surrogacy process, preparing our clients for what’s to come and offering support and counseling when necessary. We are as involved in the intended parent/surrogate relationship as needed, mediating contact and requests when requested, or we can simply be there if either the intended parent or surrogate needs to ask a question or has a concern.

Each surrogacy situation is unique, as is each intended parent and surrogate that we work with. American Surrogacy can serve any role required during the surrogacy process.

5. How much does surrogacy cost with American Surrogacy?

Every surrogacy is different and the overall cost largely relies on the variance in medical expenses and your unique situation.

However, American Surrogacy’s Organization Fees, which include background checks, screenings, medical and psychological evaluations, support and education, marketing and advertising, and matching services, always remain fixed. Therefore, if intended parents are matched with a surrogate, and the match doesn’t work out, they will not be charged to find another surrogacy opportunity.

You may click the following to read more about our surrogacy costs.

If you have would like more information about American Surrogacy’s costs or have another question that isn’t answered here or on our website, please contact us today!