Surrogacy: Myths and Realities

MYTH:  The surrogate mother will keep my baby.
REALITY In the history of surrogacy in the USA there have been 65 cases documented of a couple not accepting their child.  There have been 26 surrogate mothers that are recorded as having tried to change their mind over relinquishment.  Surrogate mothers and their husbands are as much afraid of you not taking your child as you are afraid of them not giving it you.
REALITY There are reportedly over 22,000 documented surrogacy cases, less than 0.001% have resulted in disputes over relinquishment.
REALITY A surrogate mother can another have child of her own; she does not want yours.

MYTH: The surrogate mother is doing this for the money.
REALITY If a surrogate mother cannot articulate several reasons why she wants to help a couple, we do not accept her offer to help you.  Most professionals in the field believe that the money is not sufficient to reward a surrogate mother for her efforts.  She must be able to recognize the internal benefits, to herself and her family, of what she is considering.
REALITY As the Internet allows more and more surrogate mothers to advertise their services, we believe money will become a more important consideration in this field.
REALITY Most surrogate mothers probably would not do this for free.  Her family as well as she will be making many sacrifices to help you have your family.
REALITY Most couples would not want the surrogate mother to go without compensation.  Couples often feel relieved to offer her and her family compensation.  The couple can make a difference to her family just as she is making a difference to their lives.

MYTH: Surrogate mothers are low-income women without anything going for them.
REALITY Surrogate mothers in most professional programs are mothers, most are married, many work outside the home. Their families are self-supportive (no welfare, etc.).
REALITY Couples have the ability to choose their surrogate mother and you can simply refuse a surrogate mother that you feel is not financially stable or appropriate.

MYTH: How do I know my surrogate mother will not smoke, drink or take drugs?
REALITY As a rule, surrogate mothers feel a greater sense of responsibility taking care of your baby than they did their own.  They want nothing more than for you to have a healthy child.  That is why they have offered to help you.  In REALITY, some surrogate mother’s husbands report that they get jealous or angry at this pregnancy because she takes such greater care of this pregnancy than she did their pregnancy.
REALITY The key to successful surrogacy is TRUST.   She has been pregnant before, you will have met her children and realize that she is a good mom and that the children are healthy.

MYTH: Relatives or friends make the best surrogate mothers.
REALITY Surrogate arrangements are more complicated that you think they are.
REALITY It depends very much on who she is.  Does she acknowledge the benefits surrogacy will bring to her as a person?  Is she healthy?  Is she a mother?  Does she have a good support system?  Will you feel comfortable raising your child in the presence of the woman who gave birth to him or her?   Can you all make the changes necessary to resume your relationship after the birth?  What will the surrogate mother’s role in the child’s life be?
REALITY Do not make a baby with someone you don’t like.  You may love your relative, but do you actually like her?
REALITY Agencies have to screen hundreds of surrogate mothers to select the few that we believe in.  It is difficult to imagine that you could screen only one or two possibilities and find an ideal candidate.

MYTH: IVF surrogacy with an egg donor is better than AI surrogacy because the surrogate mother won’t bond with the baby if it’s not her egg.
REALITY AI (artificial insemination by intended father or donor sperm) surrogate mothers are not more likely to bond with the baby than an IVF surrogate mother.  AI  surrogate mothers are carefully screened (as are all surrogate mothers in our program).  They have chosen the AI program in part because they are capable of making the distinction between their egg and your baby.
REALITY Some IVF surrogate mothers would not want to work with donor eggs because one of the reasons they chose the IVF program was to help a couple have their own genetic child.
REALITY There are no reported cases of an IVF/ED surrogate mother changing her mind about relinquishing the child.

MYTH: Will my husband run away with the surrogate mother?
REALITY No!  We have not encountered any sexual interest between a surrogate and the intended father.  All parties work hard to develop a respectful, warm relationship.
REALITY Surrogate mother’s motivation is to help a couple become a family.

MYTH: Will I bond with my baby?
REALITY Yes, yes, yes!  Always remember that your child would not exist but for the steps you took to create your child.
REALITY Couples are involved with the conception and the resulting pregnancy.

MYTH: Surrogate mothers are ultra-kind and altruistic women.
REALITY Surrogate mothers are indeed kind and altruistic.
REALITY Surrogate mothers still need your attention and kindness throughout the pregnancy.
REALITY Not every surrogate mother is sweet and non-complaining.

MYTH: Surrogacy is illegal in my state/country therefore I cannot pursue this avenue.
REALITY Even if surrogacy is illegal in your state or country, you can usually participate in most programs.  We are not aware of any country or state that prohibits couples from ever bringing home their child conceived through surrogacy.  If a state or country prohibits surrogacy, this is usually limited to surrogacy undertaken in that state or country, or bringing a child in who was born in a third world country.

MYTH: It is less expensive to do surrogacy on my own, without a professional program.
REALITY Maybe. If all goes well, your choice of surrogate mothers works out, and no complications develop, such as insurance disputes, psychological issues, or high risk pregnancy, etc.
REALITY Almost all surrogacy cases work.  Very few cases have gone to court.  However the Internet is full of stories of breakdowns in relationships and hurt feelings. This is less likely to occur when a counselor and agency are involved to work through possible problematic issues.
REALITY You are often paying a premium for experience, attention to detail, protocols and contacts.
REALITY You can do it on your own or with a professional acting as a matching service.  It is simply more complicated for you.
REALITY A final REALITY that is often overlooked is what happens if this match does not work out?  If you found a surrogate mother on your own you may have lost considerable time, emotion and money.  Many couples do not have the stamina to begin by themselves again.  If a particular match does not work out for a variety of possible reasons, most agencies will rematch you in one to two months if they have available surrogates.  Most always have surrogate mothers in screening and if one match does not work out, that couple becomes a priority to the program.

Karen Synesiou is CEO of the Center for Surrogate Parenting, Inc. Karen has been passionate about surrogacy since seeing her now partner, Bill Handel, on “60 Minutes” when she was a girl growing up in South Africa. She is also the mother of three children born through IVF - a daughter who is eight, and twin five year old boys, born from remaining frozen embryos when she was 42.

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