Gestational surrogacy is one of several options for parents who are unable to have a baby the “traditional” way. Even though it’s been an established practice in the United States for decades, there are still many misconceptions about it.
Let’s debunk some of the biggest myths about surrogacy.
Will the baby look like the surrogate?
Unless you choose a traditional surrogacy, there’s no genetic reason why the baby would look like your surrogate.
Most surrogacies in the United States are gestational surrogacies. That means genetic material — egg and sperm — is taken, joined together in a lab, and then transferred to the surrogate’s uterus. The egg and sperm can come from donors or from the intended parents, or a combination of both. The egg does not come from the surrogate.
Because the surrogate’s eggs are not used, there’s no genetic link whatsoever to her. If the baby bears any resemblance, it’s just a coincidence!
Is surrogacy only for the rich?
Let’s not sugarcoat it: becoming a parent via surrogacy isn’t cheap. But it isn’t just for the ultra-wealthy, either. With celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Cameron Diaz using surrogates, the concept has permeated pop culture in recent years. But don’t be fooled – surrogacy and egg donation isn’t just for the elite. There are everyday people who find modern family building to be beneficial and fitting for their lifestyle.
While the cost can deter a lot of people, there are financial options that can be put in place to help cover the expenses of creating your own family. We’ve seen parents from all sorts of economic backgrounds stretch to make surrogacy attainable.
Intended parents have several options when it comes to financing a surrogacy journey: loans, grants, fundraising, and strategic financial planning can make surrogacy a reality for you. Check out 12 Ways to Save Money on Surrogacy for more ideas.
Can the surrogate keep the baby?
You may have heard of some sensational legal cases surrounding surrogacy, or watched the newest Hulu series “Little Fires Everywhere” which features a surrogate who ran off with the baby she was carrying. The fact is, a surrogate has no legal right to the child. From the very beginning, the carrier is aware and agrees that she will not parent or have legal parental rights of the child. There are multiple legal processes in place that cement the legal parentage and negate any parental rights of the carrier. Plus, not to be insensitive, she could just have her own children. She’s already proven that she could.
Another myth in surrogacy is that the gestational carrier would have parental rights. She carried and gave birth to the baby – it’s partially hers, right? Wrong! Provided the child is born in a surrogate friendly state, no parental rights are given to the gestational carrier who volunteers to help the family through this process. Even in cases of traditional surrogacy, in which the surrogate is the biological mother of the child she carries, the surrogate will not have parental rights to the baby.
A very important caveat: It’s absolutely essential to get expert legal representation from the beginning of your surrogacy journey. Intended parents and surrogates are protected by a Gestational Surrogacy Agreement (GSA) that establishes all the legal parameters of surrogacy and parentage.
Gestational surrogates have no genetic ties to the baby at all, so the likelihood of a court siding with her is slim to none, especially when there’s a solid GSA in place. The few cases where this has been an issue were traditional surrogacies, where the surrogate’s own eggs were used, giving her a genetic link to the baby.
Regardless of which type of surrogacy you choose, the GSA will ultimately ensure your parental rights.
Can I be a surrogate if I’ve had my tubes tied?
Yes! When you have a tubal ligation (also referred to as “getting your tubes tied”), your fallopian tubes are permanently cut, sealed, or clamped shut. This prevents ovulation, meaning your eggs cannot travel via the tubes to your uterus.
You can be a surrogate after tubal ligation — in fact, many medical professionals prefer this scenario! Because gestational surrogacy uses eggs from either a donor or an intended parent, the surrogate’s eggs never enter the equation. Tubal ligation simply prevents your eggs from being released. The rest of your reproductive cycle carries on, which means your uterus is still able to be a healthy environment for an embryo to develop.
Only women under 30 should be surrogates
It’s important to understand that the health of a pregnancy has to do with the eggs used to create the embryo, not the age of the uterus. While the risks of pregnancy certainly increase with age, women in their 40s, 50s, and even 60s in some extreme cases, have been successful surrogates.
Surrogates in their 50s or 60s are definitely the exception to the rule. Most fertility specialists regularly accept surrogates up to age 45. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine states that “carriers must be of legal age, and preferably between the ages of 21 and 45 years. Certain situations may dictate the use of a carrier older than 45 years of age, but all parties involved must be informed about the potential risks of pregnancy with advancing maternal age.”
Dr. Monica Best of Reproductive Biology Associates in Atlanta, GA recently discussed this topic on Fertility Cafe podcast. According to this top reproductive endocrinologist, the uterus doesn’t age in the same way that a woman’s egg do. Pregnancy rates and risks of miscarriage are tied to the age of the egg in an embryo, not the age of the uterus carrying the embryo.
If you’re interested in becoming a surrogate, the best thing to do is to talk to a surrogacy professional and your doctor to see if you meet the qualifications.
Will I have to adopt my baby?
Since there is no federal law regarding this, the question of adoption depends on the state where your surrogate gives birth. Surrogacy-friendly states do not require adoption. Parental rights are established with pre-birth orders, meaning the intended parents will be listed on the birth certificate right away.
Other states require post-birth orders, in which case the parents would appear in court as a formality soon after the birth of the baby. This isn’t the same as adoption, which is a much more involved process.
A handful of states require a formal adoption process, usually when the baby is genetically unrelated to one or both of the intended parents. Check this US Surrogacy Map to see where your state lands on the legal spectrum. Before moving forward, though, be sure to consult with an attorney who specializes in reproductive law.
The first time I heard YOUR baby’s heartbeat
A special bond forms between intended parents and their gestational surrogate. Read how our current surrogate’s reacted the first time they heard their surro-baby’s heartbeat. Their reaction may surprise you!
Have more questions about surrogacy?
Reach out to our team to learn more.