The concept of surrogacy is not a new one, as its history can be traced back to the Biblical times. The story of Sarah and Abraham in the Holy Bible, is the earliest reference of surrogacy. As per this story, Sarah was infertile and so, she asked her handmaiden Hagar to carry and deliver a child for herself and Abraham. So, surrogacy has been practiced by humans for a very long time. However, there is no recorded evidence for the same, till the 1988 Baby M case, which mustered wide publicity.
The case was between the biological father of the child and the surrogate mother. Both of them were total strangers, till they got to know about each other through a newspaper ad. The surrogate mother got conceived through artificial insemination, and gave birth to the child in 1986. Even though, the custody of the child was given to its biological father and his wife, the surrogate mother demanded the child's custody and sought legal action.
Today, you can find umpteen number of such cases, as surrogacy is a common practice. This is partially due to the alarming rise in female infertility and other medical conditions, that make it impossible for some women to conceive, or carry the pregnancy to the full term. Surrogacy is now classified into two types - traditional and gestational.
So, surrogacy can be defined as an agreement between a couple (or an individual) and a woman, who has to carry and deliver a baby for the former. The process is almost like outsourcing birth. In some cases, the surrogate mother receives monetary compensation for the same, and such type of surrogacy is often referred to as commercial surrogacy or altruistic surrogacy.
As far as traditional surrogacy vs gestational surrogacy is concerned, the main difference lies in the fact that in the former type, the surrogate mother has genetic connection with the child and in the latter, there is no such connection. In case of traditional surrogacy, the woman, who agrees to become a surrogate mother, receives sperm from the intended father. In other words, the ovum belongs to the surrogate mother. So she has genetic links with the child.
In case of gestational surrogacy, the surrogate mother receives the fertilized embryo, which is produced through procedures, like in vitro fertilization (IVF). So, the intended father donates the sperm, and the egg is donated by the intended mother. It may also happen that egg or sperm donors are involved in the process. The fertilized embryo is then transferred to the uterus of the surrogate mother. In short, the surrogate mother lacks genetic connections with the child. This type of surrogacy is called gestational surrogacy. It can be much more expensive than the traditional one, as it involves advanced medical procedures, like IVF.
The process of gestational surrogacy starts with the selection of the right female candidate, who is medically fit and willing for the procedure. Usually, a healthy woman, who is under the age of 40 is preferred for surrogacy. She must have at least one child, who is healthy and living. Once the screening is complete, and the chosen woman is fully aware of the details of the procedure, a legal contract is made between the parties, regarding the terms and conditions of the procedure.
The next step is to prepare the surrogate mother for receiving the embryo, and induce ovulation in the intended mother. The egg retrieved from the intended mother is fertilized with the sperms from the intended father. The resultant fertilized embryo is transferred to the uterus of the surrogate, after three days from the date of fertilization. If the embryo gets implanted in the uterus of the surrogate mother, she will get pregnant and the baby will be taken by the genetic parents, when he/she is born. If pregnancy does not occur, the process may continue.
As mentioned above, gestational surrogacy costs can be much higher, as compared to the traditional one. It may range between $70,000 to $100,000, and may vary from one region to another. Even the laws with regard to gestational surrogacy, may differ from one region to other. The above said is only a brief overview about this procedure. If you have any plans for gestational surrogacy, contact legal as well as health experts, so as to obtain a thorough knowledge about the various aspects of the procedure.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert advice.