Common Myths about Surrogacy
Over the years we have heard quite a few things about surrogates, and surrogacy in general, that are completely untrue. Often these things are said by people who do not understand surrogacy, or why women become surrogates. You may have heard people implying that surrogacy is unethical, or that the women becoming surrogates are selling their bodies and/or just doing it for the money. We’re here to quash some of the common myths about surrogacy.
Myth: It’s difficult to ‘give the baby up’.
Truth: This is probably the most common question surrogates are asked; “Isn’t it hard to give up the baby, don’t you become attached?” No, it’s really not difficult at all. The baby, or babies, resulting from the surrogacy arrangement were NEVER the surrogate’s baby(ies) to begin with, and she went into it knowing that. A person wouldn’t offer to babysit a niece or nephew then suddenly decide they won’t give the child back; they know that child is not theirs, just as a surrogate knows the baby(ies) she carries aren’t hers, either. To make certain everyone is emotionally and mentally prepared for this task, surrogates and parents are psychologically screened before any contract can be entered into to ensure this is not an issue, as it would be traumatizing and unhealthy for all involved. The intention, from beginning to end, is to carry a child for her intended parent(s). We do not give babies up; we give them back to their parents!
Myth: Surrogacy is unethical.
Truth: Surrogacy is not unethical. This is not “wombs for rent”, nor is it “baby selling”. There is no exploitation of women happening in legal surrogacy agreements within the United States. To become a surrogate a woman must first pass many requirements, which include financial stability, and then pass medical and psychological screenings. Surrogacy agreements are not drama filled like what you see on TV
Myth: Surrogacy contracts don’t provide protection- The surrogate can just keep the baby if she wants. Or, she will be responsible if the parents don’t want their baby.
Truth: The contract phase is a crucial. Everything regarding a surrogacy process is placed on hold until contracts have been drafted by an attorney, reviewed, revised if necessary, and signed by all parties. Surrogacy contracts are a binding legal document and will be upheld in a court of law in states where surrogacy is legal. There are some states in which surrogacy, a certain type of surrogacy, or even carrying for certain Intended Parents, is illegal. If going through a reputable agency, they will be able to let a woman know if it is possible for her to be a surrogate in her state. In the incredibly rare occurrence the parent, or parents, do not want the child, there are guardians written into the contracts. As for the surrogate trying to keep the baby, (also uncommon), the courts will uphold the contract and/or pre-birth orders, granting the parent(s) custody of their child.
Myth: Why surrogacy when there are so many kids to foster/adopt out there, isn’t that selfish?
Truth: fostering and adopting is not always a viable option for an Intended Parent or Parents. Surrogacy is not an endeavor anyone goes into lightly. Most people have a desire to have a genetic connection with their child, and surrogacy is a selfless way to fulfill that. Would the average person or couple who experiences no fertility issues be asked why they decided to have biological children instead of adopt or foster? For the most part, no, and they shouldn’t be expected to; just as Parent(s) utilizing surrogacy shouldn’t be expected to, either; simply because they need a little extra help creating their family. There are wonderful people out there who open their hearts and homes to kids in need of adoption or a foster home. Just as not every woman is meant to carry a child or children for another family, not everyone is able or desires to foster or adopt to expand their families. How a person or couple decides to create their family is their decision and a very personal one. Only the very narrow-minded think they should dictate how another family is made.
Myth: Surrogates are doing it for the money–and make big bucks!
Truth: Surrogacy is not about the money. Surrogacy is the look on the parents’ faces when they see their baby(ies) for the first time or hear the first heartbeats. While some women may first consider surrogacy for the profitable aspects, they still have what every other surrogate has: compassion.. The joy in their faces when their deepest wish becomes reality placing a hand on your belly and feel their child(ren) kick. It’s the heart flutters you feel when you watch them hold their baby(ies) for the first time, as tears of gratitude flow from their eyes. It’s in knowing you made a difference in the life of another, helping them fulfill their dreams of becoming a family. These are life’s precious moments, and no monetary amount can come close to having those experiences. As for how much a surrogate is compensated, there is range, while it does provide for the time and energy expended, no amount can truly compensate for the
Myth: Surrogacy is about designer babies. If it’s not what they want (like a boy) they’ll ask the surrogate to terminate.
Truth: Surrogacy is about creating a family–not a certain appearance or gender for a child. Would some families like to have a girl instead of a boy or vice versa? Yes, but so do most families who have no fertility issues. If a specific gender is wanted by a parent or parents, there are tests they can, and likely will, take in order to determine the gender of the embryos prior to the surrogate’s transfer. However, this is not incredibly common, and finding out the gender of the embryos is often a by-product of the genetic testing an Intended Parent, or Parents, undergo to ensure their embryos are viable and healthy. Also, asking a surrogate to terminate for non-medical reasons is nearly unheard of, and will likely not even be placed in the contracts. Above all else, the IP(s) want a family.
Myth: The IP(s) will request unreasonable diets and make absurd demands on a surrogate’s day-to-day living.
Truth: This one is a little bit of a mixed bag. An Intended Parent, or Parents, can certainly request a surrogate eat certain things, or refrain from certain activities, such as; eating more fresh fruit and drinking plenty of milk, or becoming a smokejumper while pregnant. The requests made are generally mild and go right along with things an OB or Midwife would recommend, too. If the request is something cultural, of high importance within their belief system, or if they have strong feelings about it, they may ask to write it into the contracts.
Keep in mind these are requests. If an IP asks a surrogate to do specific things, they are trusting that she will honor those requests, they won’t be posting cameras around a surrogate’s home to make sure she does them. It is also usually discussed at match meetings on whether the surrogate would be comfortable with honoring the requests/putting them into the contracts. If it’s something you aren’t comfortable agreeing to, then everyone moves on to the next IP(s)/surrogate, and no one is ever forced to do anything they are uncomfortable with.
Myth: Surrogates have to sleep with the Intended Father.
Truth: Absolutely not! For Gestational Surrogacy situations, the surrogate undergoes standard in-vitro fertilization or IVF procedures. This occurs by eggs being retrieved from an Intended Mother, Mothers in some cases, or Egg Donor, while sperm is retrieved from the Intended Father or Fathers, and the eggs are fertilized in a laboratory–completely outside of a human body. The transfer is where the embryo(s) are then placed inside the surrogate. In less common Traditional Surrogacy arrangements, the surrogate will usually have an intrauterine insemination, also known as IUI. There are some scenarios where the surrogate has an egg retrieval performed, and then undergoes IVF for traditional surrogacy.
Myth: Surrogacy is just like adoption.
Truth: Surrogacy is not adoption. In surrogacy agreements, the woman choosing to be a surrogate is going into the agreement with the sole intent of carrying a child for a person or couple who cannot on their own. She is not pregnant of her own accord nor adopting out her own child.
Myth: The parents can force you to terminate/go through a fetal reduction, and a surrogate has no say.
Truth: Whether a woman is comfortable with termination and fetal reduction, (reducing the number fetuses being carried), as a surrogate, is something she must decide on before submitting her application and profile to become a surrogate. Matching with IP(s) who are on the same page regarding termination and reduction critical and these decisions will be reflected in their contract. Some surrogates and IPs decide they will not terminate or reduce regardless of medical indications, while some say they will opt for a termination for medical reasons, such as if the fetus has severe genetic abnormalities/deformities. Also, potential surrogates should consider their willingness to reduce from four fetuses to three, or three down to two, as examples. It is a very personal decision on the part of the surrogate and the IP(s), and generally no one will proceed if they do not agree on what they will or will not terminate/reduce for. So, truly, the surrogate does have a say before the issue could ever arise.
We hope this article helps to demystify some of the commonly held myths. Surrogacy is such an amazing and wonderful journey.