A Tribute to Compassionate Surrogacy

Aren’t all women who volunteer to become surrogates/carriers considered “compassionate”? Most are but because money is involved the altruistic part is often overlooked and the focus becomes more financial. However, there are women out there who are willing to carry a baby for another couple/individual because they feel compassion….sympathy even, for the plight of the Intended Parent. This doesn’t diminish because financial compensation is included in their contracts.

Lets look at the true ‘compassionate’ surrogate. A woman who may be a sister, sister-in-law, cousin, niece, or friend of a couple in need. She has had her own children and realizes that the joy she experiences through the family she has given birth to will not happen for someone close to her unless she steps in and volunteers her uterus…her entire body really, to help them create the family that they need to feel complete. She isn’t asking for money, but she should expect her expenses to be taken care of by the couple she is helping…what this may include are health insurance, medical co-pays, travel expenses, lost wages, child care, legal consultation, out of pocket expenses for over the counter medications and possibly maternity clothing. This alone can be a burden on any Intended Parent but what needs to be recognized is that these expenses, among others, would be theirs in any case if, in fact, they were using Assisted Reproductive Technology and carrying their own child.

Most ‘compassionate’ surrogates or carriers are known relatives or friends of the Intended Parents. It would be nice to think that a woman would offer this wonderful gift to someone in need but unknown to her and her family however, the thought of being taken advantage of comes into play. Even surrogates/carriers who are compensated sometimes feel used during this emotionally charged process.

What about compensated surrogacy? First, lets look at the two types of surrogacy. Traditional Surrogacy, where the woman not only carries the baby, but is genetically related because she is also using her own eggs. She is impregnated using the medical procedure inter uterine insemination (IUI) with the sperm of the Intended Father or donor sperm. She is the biological mother and she essentially gives her baby up for adoption to the Intended Parents she has agreed to help. (Step parent adoption is most common in this case). Second, is a Gestational Carrier, a woman NOT related to the baby at all, who is impregnated via an in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure using the Intended parents embryos, donated embryos or embryos made from either/or sperm and egg donations. Because there is no biological connection, most surrogate friendly states allow the Intended Parents names to be placed directly on the birth certificate and there is no need for an adoption procedure.

Compensated surrogates/carriers receive a ‘base fee’ which is often based on how experienced she is, where she lives, if she has heath insurance that will cover the prenatal care and delivery and what the average person receives through the agency she works with. Intended parents can expect to pay between eighteen thousand to twenty two thousand for an inexperienced, first time surrogate/carrier. This is not to say that she has never had any children of her own, only she has never carried a baby for someone else. As a matter of fact, one of the many basic requirements of any woman wanting to become a surrogate or carrier is that she have given birth to at least one baby and that the pregnancy was relativity uncomplicated. (C-sections are ok but often limited to three in most cases.) This base fee is over and above what a ‘compassionate’ surrogate/carrier would receive.

One of the many joys that surrogates/carriers gain from this experience is the knowledge that their gift is so huge and life changing that it’s impossible to know how it will affect the rest of humanity. Bringing any child into this world is truly an awe inspiring experience. Not only does surrogacy turn individuals into parents but parents into grandparents, brothers and sisters into uncles and aunts, and adding to the family tree by becoming cousins, nieces and nephews. The bigger picture is what will these ‘surrogate’ babies, (children, teenagers, and adults) bring to our world? These children may not have existed if not for a woman who had the calling to carry a child for another person. This is an amazing sacrifice for any one woman but for the compassionate surrogate/carrier it means just a little bit more for she has not asked for an extra dime in return for her time and sacrifice, not to mention the inconvenience her immediate family has had to live with during the entire surrogacy process. All surrogates/carriers deserve to be honored and respected for all that they do to assist their Intended Parents in reaching their dreams of having a baby and the ‘compassionate’ surrogate should feel extra proud of her contributions because she volunteered not only with her body but with her heart and soul.

Sharon LaMothe
Infertility Answers, Inc.
LaMothe Services, LLC

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