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11 Surprising Facts About Surrogacy

11 Surprising Facts About Surrogacy

Thanks to many celebrities using this family-building process, you have probably heard about surrogacy. Surrogacy is where intended parents help another woman (the surrogate mother) who carries a pregnancy for them.

The method has been tested and proven successful over time, and now, thousands of babies are born through surrogacy. Surrogate conception has become more popular since it allows hopeful parents to have a biological link with the baby even if they are not carrying the baby themselves.

But surrogacy is a time-consuming, demanding, complex process, and it is full of many ups and downs. Before anyone decides to pursue surrogacy (intended parents or surrogates), they should understand the process very well. Below, we will discuss some astonishing facts about surrogacy to help you get to know the process better.

Alternatives to Adoption and Surrogacy in Australia
Alternatives to Adoption and Surrogacy in Australia

1. Thousands of babies born through surrogacy every year

Since the first compensated surrogacy in 1980 and the first successful gestational surrogacy in 1985, surrogacy has become a reliable family-building method. As the IVF process technology became more sophisticated, the gestational surrogacy success rate also plummeted.

Today, about 750 babies are born via surrogacy in the US alone to put this perspective into numbers. Between 2004 and 2008, almost 5,000 children were born through surrogacy, and the Center for Disease and Control predicts that this number will increase in the future.

2. Surrogacy is not used by infertile couples only

When the surrogacy process was first introduced, it was thought to be a great family building solution for heterosexual couples who are facing infertility. Over the course of time, LGBT acceptance gained momentum in our society, and same-sex couples started looking for ways to have a family.

At this point, surrogacy showed that same-sex couples could have a biological child using donor eggs or sperm. Today, LGBTQ+ parents are actively resorting to gestational surrogacy to have children, and the numbers are soaring every year. There is a large range of support websites in Australia, such as Gaydads and

3. The gestational surrogate is not biologically linked to the baby

You may already know there are two types of surrogacy arrangements – traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogate carriers. Traditional surrogacy is where the surrogate mother’s own eggs are used to create the embryo. The pregnancy can be achieved through artificial insemination or IVF. In this case, the baby is genetically related to the surrogate mother. This type of arrangement was used in the initial days of surrogacy, and the surrogate was generally a close relative (mother or sister) of the intended parents.

The other method is gestational surrogacy which is a more preferred method today. In this process, the intended mother’s eggs and the intended father’s sperm are used to create the embryo in the IVF lab. Alternatively, donor eggs and sperm can be used. The resulting embryo is placed in the surrogate’s womb, and pregnancy is achieved. This way, the surrogate does not have any biological relationship with the baby.

This is why a gestational surrogate is also referred to as a gestational carrier. The process eliminates any complications and makes it easier for the surrogate to hand over the baby’s parental custody.

4. For the surrogates, it’s not just about the money

Some internet articles may lead you to believe that women become surrogates because of the money. That is not true!

Gestational surrogates are compassionate, selfless women who are driven by the will to help hopeful parents have a baby. Many of these women have seen their friends and families struggle with infertility and were moved by it, and some felt the urge to help others after they became parents themselves.

Nonetheless, surrogates are compensated for their time, effort, and sacrifices and not for “renting out” their womb, as the media vilifies. Simply go to any surrogate discussion forum or group, and you will find out what beautiful altruism these women have.

5. The gestational surrogate won’t be claiming the child as hers

There is a common concern that the surrogate may refuse to give the baby to the intended parents. While there were some instances of such cases, this is very rare. Becoming a surrogate embarks on this path because she wants to help others have children. Moreover, most surrogates pursue this journey after they have their share of babies and don’t wish to expand their families.

Apart from this, a legal agreement in place during gestational surrogacy bounds all parties’ responsibilities and rights. This means that in the unlikely scenario where the surrogate wants to keep the baby, the law will ensure that the intended parents get the baby’s custody.

Everything You Need To Know About Surrogacy
Everything You Need To Know About Surrogacy

6. Not everyone can become a surrogate

Surrogacy is a complex medical process, and success greatly depends on the surrogate’s health. A surrogate needs to be physically and psychologically healthy, responsible, and meet certain criteria set by the surrogacy agency. These criteria may change agency to agency but typically includes:

  • Aged below 35
  • Not smoking cigarettes
  • No drug abuse
  • Recent history of sexually transmitted diseases
  • BMI < 30
  • Pass psychological evaluation
  • Has had a safe pregnancy of her own and is raising her child etc
  • Not receiving any state or federal monetary aid

The surrogate and her family goes through screening to ensure the surrogate is living in a healthy home environment. A woman can be accepted in a surrogate program only after meeting these criteria.

7. Surrogacy is not legal everywhere

Although present for nearly four decades, surrogacy is not legal in all countries, and this is why intended parents need to research their own country’s laws before pursuing surrogacy thoroughly. Moreover, in countries where there is a federal government structure in place (such as the USA or Australia), the surrogacy laws can be different from state to state. For example, in the US, the states of Nebraska, Michigan, Louisiana make surrogacy contracts illegal.

8. Surrogacy agencies helps both in terms of cost and time

A surrogacy agency oversees the entire surrogacy process on behalf of the intended parents and surrogates. The responsibilities include:

  • Finding and screening surrogates
  • Helping intended parents match with a surrogate
  • Coordinate with the IVF clinic
  • Coordinate with the intended parent’s and the surrogate’s Ob-Gyn
  • Contract creation and agreement
  • Set up escrow fund for the Gestational Carrier compensation
  • Create the surrogacy timeline schedules
  • Oversee that the surrogacy is progressing smoothly etc.

Having a surrogacy agency taking care of these steps ensures the process is safe and smooth and improves the odds of success. Without a surrogacy agency, intended parents will spend significantly more time finding a suitable surrogate and starting the process faster. They may even have to spend more on advertising and travelling.

9. Surrogacy stories can inspire others

Examples are the best way to inspire others. When a woman becomes a surrogate, she sets an example of altruism, compassion and kindness. Her story can inspire other women around her to embark on this journey.

On the other hand, when a hopeful parent starts a family through surrogacy, they encourage other intended parents to consider this life-changing process.

As the surrogate born baby grows up and learns about their birth story, they too feel the pride of being part of an extraordinary journey.

This is why we say that surrogacy is a life-changing process for everyone involved.

Can anyone become a surrogate?
Can anyone become a surrogate?

10. Surrogacy involves many professional parties

Since surrogacy is a complicated medical process and involves legal work, several professionals need to ensure a safe and hassle-free journey. Here are some professional sides and what they do:

  1. Attorneys: Responsible for drafting the surrogate contract terms and conditions. Both the intended parents and the surrogates must have their own attorneys to negotiate the terms on their behalf.
  2. Surrogacy agency: As said earlier, a surrogacy agency oversees and manages the surrogacy process
  3. Egg and sperm donors: The intended parents may not be able to use their own eggs and/or sperm to create an embryo. In that case, they will require donor sperm and donor eggs. Most surrogacy agencies have partnered with egg donation and sperm donation agencies.
  4. Ob/Gyn and Reproductive Endocrinologist: An obstetrician/gynecologist (Ob/Gyn) is a doctor who specializes in pregnancy and reproduction. They provide the primary medical care for the surrogate during her pregnancy. A reproductive endocrinologist specializes in diagnosing and treating infertility. They administer surrogacy medical procedures such as IVF, embryo transfer etc.
  5. Surrogacy clinic: This is where the medical processes are completed, such as the medical screening, IVF procedure, genetic testing, pregnancy confirmation, etc.
  6. Nurses and midwives are involved in the surrogacy process and help the surrogate during her pregnancy and delivery.
  7. Mental health counsellors: These professionals help evaluate the intended parents’ and surrogate’s motivation behind pursuing a surrogacy journey and level of commitment. They can also help involved parties to cope with unexpected emotional conditions.

11. Surrogacy is mentioned in ancient scriptures

Perhaps the most surprising fact yet but true. Many ancient scripts and mythological events reference surrogacy, which implies that people who lived during that time knew and considered surrogacy a family-building method. Here are some references for you:

  1. Christianity: In Genesis 16, the first surrogacy records can be found with the story of the founding father of the covenant – Abram, later renamed Abraham and his wife Sarai’s. The second recorded instance of surrogacy happened in the 12th century with a Spanish king.
  2. Hinduism: The Hindu religion considers infertility a curse and must be overcome. There are more than one instances of birth that are similar to surrogacy. One interpretation in the Hindu scripture “Bhagavata Purana,” says that “Balaram” (elder brother of Lord Krishna) was born through surrogacy. This interpretation claims that the Gods transferred the fetus of Balaram to the womb of Rohini. Also, Lord Kartikey, the Hindu god of war, is born out of surrogacy, the surrogate mother being Devi Ganga.
  3. Jainism: According to texts found in the Śvētāmbara sect of Jainism, the embryo of Lord Mahavira was transferred from another woman to the womb of Trishala, Lord Mahavira’s birth mother.
  4. Babylonia: Babylonian laws and customs are found to allow this practice for women who are unable to give birth.