Gestational surrogacy has been legal in areas of the United States for decades, but it is surrounded by misconceptions and inaccurate assumptions. If you’re considering becoming a surrogate, or working with one to carry your child, it’s crucial to distinguish facts about surrogacy from fiction spread by misinformed parties. These are common misconceptions you may hear about gestational surrogacy compared to the truths about the process.
MYTH: In all types of surrogacy, the child is biologically related to the surrogate.
REALITY: There are two types of surrogacy. These are traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy. In traditional surrogacy, a surrogate uses her own eggs. However, this type of surrogacy is uncommon and not a practice supported by many professional agencies. Traditional surrogacy is completely different from gestational surrogacy where the surrogate does not use her own eggs and instead has an embryo implanted inside her. This means she has no biological relation to the child.
MYTH: You can’t be a surrogate if you’ve had a tubal ligation.
REALITY: Since gestational carriers don’t use their own eggs, it’s still possible for them to become surrogates, even if they’ve had their tubes tied. Rather than being a downside, tubal ligation actually makes women preferred candidates for some professional agencies. This procedure eliminates any chance she could become pregnant with her own child during the surrogacy process.
MYTH: A surrogate can keep the child she carried for intended parents.
REALITY: In movies and soap operas, to create drama, you’ll see custody battles over children surrogates have carried. Because of these inaccurate media portrayals, this is one of the most common misconceptions about surrogacy. It is very rare for a surrogate to change her mind and want custody of a child and it’s even more unlikely for a gestational pregnancy (where she isn’t related to the child) than for a traditional pregnancy. Some states allow intended parents to obtain a pre-birth order that establishes parental rights before the child is even born.
MYTH: Surrogates just want an easy way to make money.
REALITY: While surrogates are fairly compensated, that isn’t their main motivation for being a surrogate. The entire surrogacy process takes at least a year and a significant amount of dedication. Many surrogates have full-time careers or are financially stable through their partners’ careers and they aren’t fully dependent on their surrogacy compensation. Payment is contingent on hitting pregnancy milestones rather than a standard pay schedule one can count on. Additionally, surrogacy takes a huge toll on a woman’s body. Rather than money, surrogates are primarily motivated by their desire to help intended parents build their families. Helping a couple become parents is extremely rewarding.
MYTH: Surrogacy isn’t legal where I live, so it isn’t an option for me.
REALITY: It’s true that surrogacy laws vary by state. However, if you’re interested in becoming a surrogate, or working with one, there are most likely legal ways to accomplish this no matter where you reside. Lawyers familiar with surrogacy have specific legal processes they complete that ensure everybody is thoroughly protected.
MYTH: Intended parents are not able to bond with or breastfeed a baby carried by a surrogate.
REALITY: Intended parents are present throughout the entire surrogacy process. There are opportunities to talk to the developing child in person or over a recording and feel the baby kick. Ultimately, bonding with a child is more about what happens after birth than before and intended mothers tend to feel strongly connected to their child right after birth. Through hormone prescriptions that induce lactation, it’s even possible for intended mothers to breastfeed the baby a surrogate carried for them. Alternatively, a surrogate will sometimes agree to pump milk that you can bottle-feed to your child.
Whether you’re considering becoming a surrogate, are an intended parent, or just curious about the surrogacy process, it’s important to separate the myths from the realities. For any questions you still have, contact a surrogacy attorney or a surrogacy professional. No two surrogacy journeys are exactly the same and professionals can provide you with answers specific to your situation.