Surrogacy at West Coast Fertility Center
"SURROGACY" is a method of reproduction whereby a woman agrees to become pregnant and deliver a child for a contracted party. She may be the child's genetic mother (the more traditional form of surrogacy), or she may, as a gestational carrier , carry the pregnancy to delivery after having been implanted with an embryo. Surrogacy is a controversial, and in some jurisdictions, illegal, medical procedure.
General Definitions: A surrogate mother is the woman who is pregnant with the child and intends to relinquish it after birth. The origin of the word SURROGATE is derived from the Latin subrŏgare (to substitute), meaning… "appointed to act in the place of." The intended parent(s) is the individual or couple who intends to rear the child after its birth.
Traditional Surrogacy: The surrogate is pregnant with her own biological child, but this child was conceived with the intention of relinquishing the child to be raised by the biological father and possibly his spouse or partner, either male or female. The child may be conceived via home artificial insemination using fresh or frozen sperm or impregnated via IUI (intrauterine insemination), or ICI (intra cervical insemination) which is performed at a fertility clinic.
Gestational Surrogacy: (aka the Host method) The surrogate becomes pregnant via embryo transfer with a child of which she is not the biological mother. She may have made an arrangement to relinquish it to the biological mother or father to raise, or to a parent who is themselves unrelated to the child (e. g. because the child was conceived using egg donation, sperm donation or is the result of a donated embryo). The surrogate mother may be called the "gestational carrier."
Humanitarian Surrogacy: The surrogate receives no financial reward for her pregnancy or the relinquishment of the child (although usually all expenses related to the pregnancy and birth are paid by the intended parents such as medical expenses, maternity clothing, and other related expenses).
Compensated Surrogacy: This is a form of surrogacy in which a gestational carrier is paid to carry a child to maturity in her womb and usually involves an infertile couples or individuals wishing to fulfill their dream of being parents. This procedure is legal in certain regions of the United States of America, such as California.
Indications for Surrogacy
Intended parents may arrange a surrogate pregnancy because of female infertility due to gynecologic problems in the uterus or other medical issues which make the pregnancy or the delivery too risky. A female intended parent may also be healthy but wishes to electively forego pregnancy.
Alternatively, the intended parent may be a single male or female or a gay couple.
Who May Be a Surrogate?
Surrogates may be relatives, friends or a woman previously unknown to the intended parent(s). A Fertility Clinic such as West Coast Fertility Center can help manage the medical and screening aspects of the surrogacy agreement. A surrogacy arrangement can also be made independently with the help of the Fertility Center and a legal consultant. In compensated surrogacy, the amount a surrogate receives varies widely from almost nothing above expenses to over $30,000. Careful screening is needed to assure their health as the gestational carrier incurs potential obstetrical risks.
Qualifications to Become a Surrogate
In theory any woman who is sufficiently healthy to undergo pregnancy can be a surrogate. However, careful consideration must be given to the emotional, psychological and physical suitability of a potential surrogate.
Medical Screening for Surrogates
Adequate medical screening must be completed by a physician experienced in the statutory requirements for a surrogate to be deemed suitable. As a minimum, a complete physical exam is performed focusing on general health and specifically an assessment of the reproductive system. Ultrasound is excellent for evaluating the ovaries, uterus and other pelvic structures. Patent Fallopian tubes must be confirmed if traditional surrogacy is planned. If appropriate, the surrogate's obstetrical history is important to determine if she experienced complications during her own pregnancy and delivery which may disqualify her.
Recommended medical screening includes, but is not limited to:
- a complete blood count (CBC) with blood type and Rh Factor
- a fasting chemistry panel
- screening for infectious diseases like HIV, HTLV 1, Syphilis, Hepatitis B and C
- ovarian reserve testing if traditional surrogacy is intended
- tissue biopsy of the uterus to determine the receptivity proteins are present
Women over age 40 may still qualify as surrogates provide additional testing is performed such as mammography, an EKG, a chest x-ray and possibly clearance from
Psychological and Social Implications of Surrogacy
It is strongly recommended that the surrogate and her spouse/partner should undergo psychological consultation to clarify doubts, discuss expectations and confirm the concordance of the parties to participate in the surrogacy process. Any feelings of ambivalence or discordance should be discussed immediately and may be cause to re-consider whether surrogacy is appropriate in these cases. Relinquishment of the child must be an overriding part of the psychological evaluation with consideration given to visitation arrangements or contact with the child as determined mutually by the intended parents and the surrogate. In cases of gestational surrogacy, there must be clarity regarding the surrogate's and the intended parents' feelings about carrying twins or possibly undergoing selective reduction if medically indicated.
A study by the Family and Child Psychology Research Centre at City University, London, UK in 2002 concluded that surrogate mothers rarely had difficulty relinquishing rights to a surrogate child and that the intended mothers showed greater warmth to the child than mothers conceiving naturally. Anthropological studies of surrogates have shown that surrogates engage in various distancing techniques throughout the surrogate pregnancy so as to ensure that they do not become emotionally attached to the baby. Many surrogates intentionally try to foster the development of emotional attachment between the intended mother and the surrogate child. Instead of the popular expectation that surrogates feel traumatized after relinquishment, an overwhelming majority describe feeling empowered by their surrogacy experience.
Legal Aspects of Surrogacy
Legal counseling is the cornerstone of a robust surrogacy contract and a successful pregnancy outcome. An experienced legal advisor is a crucial member of the surrogacy team. There are attorneys who specialize in "reproductive law" and its evolving status which varies between states in the U.S.
The following excerpts are from HighBeam Research, Inc. © Copyright 2009….they describe the status of surrogacy in certain jurisdictions.
"There is a default legal assumption in most countries that the woman giving birth to a child is that child's legal mother. In some jurisdictions the possibility of surrogacy has been allowed and the intended parents may be recognized as the legal parents from birth. Many states now issue pre-birth orders through the courts placing the name(s) of the intended parent(s) on the birth certificate from the start. In others the possibility of surrogacy is either not recognized (all contracts specifying different legal parents are void), or is prohibited.
United States: Compensated surrogacy arrangements are illegal in Washington, Michigan, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and New York. Additionally, four states in the US have held that such contracts, while not illegal, are unenforceable. California is widely recognized as one of the most friendly jurisdictions for parties desiring to enter into a surrogacy arrangement. There are many states at the present time that issue pre-birth orders placing the correct parent names on the baby's birth certificate.
Compensated surrogacy is legal in Oregon, Texas and Arkansas. Texas requires the surrogate mother to be a resident of Texas. Arkansas does not require surrogates to be residents. Intended parents and surrogates resident in any state of the USA can enter into a legal surrogacy arrangement in Arkansas. Provided the child is born in Arkansas and that financial considerations are dispensed from Arkansas the contract will be recognized by Arkansas courts and upheld.
Canada: Commercial surrogacy arrangements were prohibited in 2004 by the Assisted Human Reproduction Act. Altruistic surrogacy remains legal.
New Zealand: Commercial surrogacy was banned by the Human Assisted Reproductive Technology Act 2004. Altruistic surrogacy is allowed.
France: In France, Since 1994, surrogacy, commercial or not is considered as unlawful and sanctioned by the law (art 16-7 du code civil).
United Kingdom: Commercial surrogacy arrangements are illegal in the United Kingdom. Whilst it is illegal in the UK to pay more than expenses for a surrogacy, the relationship can be recognized under S 30 of the Human fertilization and Embryology Act 1990 under which a court may make parental orders similar to adoption orders."
Taking the First Step Toward Surrogary
West Coast Fertility Centers has 20 years of experience in providing surrogacy services since 1992. Our team of medical, nursing and scientific professionals enables you to begin your surrogacy journey with medical screening performed in one convenient location. We work with Surrogacy Agencies to help you secure a surrogate and with our team of consultants in the legal, financial and psychological fields of surrogacy treatments. If you have a personal or directed surrogate, we can assist you in synchronizing all the elements necessary to help your surrogacy experience flow smoothly. Our goal is to work with individuals and couples, regardless of national origin, race or sexual orientation.
Joan, Maria or Maritza will be your friendly and professional staff members who will help you learn more about surrogacy. They can be reached at 714-513-1399.