Reasons to Have a Child with a Surrogate: Bad, Not So Good, and Best
Surrogacy can be a risky endeavor, but not for the reasons most people think: the surrogate will get attached to the baby and keep it for herself, leaving the intended parents high and dry. This does not happen. Unfortunately, the sensational “Baby M” case in New Jersey twenty years ago still resonates. That surrogacy was a “traditional” one, in which the surrogate was inseminated with the intended father’s sperm, and the child resulting was indeed the surrogate’s biological daughter. Before the insemination, the surrogate signed a contract relinquishing her rights to the child in exchange for money. This contract was unlawful and the courts rightly determined it invalid. No parent can lawfully relinquish parental rights to an unborn child.
Now, however, the vast majority of surrogacies are not “traditional,” but “gestational.” Surrogates, or “carriers,” as we prefer to call them, do not become pregnant by insemination. An embryo is formed with sperm and egg from the intended parents (or donors) through in vitro fertilization (IVF), which is then transferred to the carrier’s uterus for gestation. So the carrier has no genetic relationship to the child, and contracts enforcing the rights of the intended parents are lawful (in states where surrogacies occur). The baby belongs to the intended parents from the start, even when adoption proceedings are necessary, and the carrier has no legal claim. When a live birth results from a surrogacy arrangement, it is a truly joyous event for all involved: intended parents and their family and friends, carrier and her family and friends, as well as the professionals who helped make it happen. There is good will all around.
But although surrogacy is not risky for the reason people think, I still consider each arrangement a delicate house of cards for a host of other reasons. This is especially true when an egg donor is involved, since there are so many players and schedules to coordinate. The medical part is the most unpredictable: will the carrier and donors pass their screenings? Will the egg retrieval yield good results? Will the embryo transfer take? There are so many variables and opportunities for snags. But a successful surrogacy is a wonder to behold.
Success depends on the commitment of the carrier and as well as the egg donor, if one is required. Commitment is of course required from the intended parents as well, and in my experience, theirs poses an equal risk. We see intended parents withdraw (before the embryo transfer takes place, that is), leaving the carrier hurt and feeling rejected. That is why I urge those who are considering using a surrogate to think long and hard about their motives. From talking to so many people who have considered surrogacy, I have compiled a list categorized by risk level. See where yours fit in.
BAD reasons to consider surrogacy
I want to delegate the pregnancy to someone else because I am too busy; I don’t want stretch marks; I am scared of being pregnant and giving birth; I don’t want to gain weight, etc.
Fuhgettaboutit. These may work on an SNL skit, but they have no reference to reality. Nobody engages in surrogacy for these ridiculous, frivolous reasons. There must be a legitimate medical reason to use a surrogate, or the intended parents will not pass their required medical and psychological screenings.