People who decide to start a family and then realize there are barriers to natural, conventional childbirth are often caught off guard by this obstacle. It can be devastating to want to start a new life together, as a family, only to find that just getting started, with pregnancy, is a steep challenge.
For some, this is because of medical conditions. A woman with a disease like HIV, for example, may be fortunate not to be severely affected by the virus, but if she should decide to become pregnant, she will transmit that virus to the baby. For others, birth may be physically impossible. A woman diagnosed with uterine cancer, as an example, may have her uterus surgically removed to save her life. Unfortunately, this now means she’s biologically incapable of becoming pregnant.
Fortunately, one solution to this challenge is surrogacy. Surrogacy is when a couple unable to naturally conceive prevail upon another woman that is medically capable of undertaking a safe pregnancy and birth. Once the baby has been delivered, that newborn is introduced to the hopeful couple and life together as a new family begins.
This means that the role of a surrogate mother is critical to the success of this entire venture. So what is the process of finding a surrogate mother? How does it work?
The Legal Question
A major concern for finding a surrogate mother is the type of surrogacy—if any—that is permitted in the area of residence. Different countries have different policies about surrogacy, and this may even differ within a country itself at the state or provincial level. Canada, for example, allows altruistic surrogacy in most provinces, however only in the province of Quebec is surrogacy completely illegal.
On the other hand, entire nations, such as France and Germany, national-level policies banning surrogacy. The United Kingdom, meanwhile, allows altruistic surrogacies, similar to Canada. This means that a surrogate mother receives financial support for her living and medical expenses during pregnancy, but that is essentially volunteering, with no profit in mind.
Surrogacy in some parts of the USA, or the country of Georgia, on the other hand, allow for “compensated surrogacy.” This means that surrogate mothers in these areas get significant financial recognition for their contribution. In places that permit compensated surrogacy, there is often much more choice of suitable candidates due to the financial incentive.
Of course, the health of a surrogate mother is one of the most important considerations. In many cases where surrogacy is pursued, the woman’s health in the hopeful couple is an issue that prevents pregnancy. So when looking for a surrogate mother, a clean bill of health is important.
This doesn’t just mean that she is free of any current physical illness, or other medical condition, her genetics counts as well. Someone, for example, who is physically fine, but has a history of Down’s Syndrome in her family may pass this condition onto a baby if it is her egg being used for fertilization, for example.
Another important factor when looking for a surrogate mother is previous births. It is not advised to engage a surrogate mother who has never given birth before. There are numerous ways this could go wrong, such as discovering a medical condition that is only made evident during pregnancy, or the surrogate mother herself unable to psychologically deal with the experience of pregnancy.
A woman at least in her 20s who has had at least one child previously is a better candidate. A successful birth in the past is an establishing “track record for success.” More importantly, however, she knows what is coming and is prepared to deal with it thanks to her experience.
Beyond the physical condition of a surrogate mother, her lifestyle is another major component. A woman who is in good physical health, but smokes cigarettes, consumes alcohol, or takes drugs, is negating her health in the long run. More importantly, however, if she is unwilling to give up these habits even during pregnancy, then this will have a measurable, negative impact on the healthy development of a baby.
Working With Experts
For a hopeful couple trying to find a suitable surrogate mother without any experience or connections, it can be both time consuming and expensive. A lot of research needs to be done, as well as much interviewing and verifying to ensure that a safe choice is being made.
One of the best ways to make this an easier, safer choice is to work with a surrogacy agency, clinic, or another professional facility. These organizations specialize in working with couples and women interested in becoming surrogate mothers. It ensures that the surrogate mother candidates are carefully verified and vetted, but it also ensures that they are properly managed and protected, so that both the couple and the surrogate mother have a successful surrogacy experience.