What we commonly refer to as “surrogacy” in America is often called “commercial surrogacy” abroad. Commercial surrogacy is not an option in many other countries. Some countries will only permit altruistic surrogacy agreements.
There are two main types of surrogacy in which the child via surrogacy is biologically unrelated to the surrogate carrier: altruistic surrogacy and commercial surrogacy. In this blog post, we'll explain the significant differences between these different surrogacy journeys and what they mean for both Intended Parents and surrogates.
Altruistic surrogacy refers to those surrogacy agreements where the surrogate does not receive monetary compensation. In most altruistic surrogacy agreements, the surrogate is a close relation to the Intended Parents (family member/close friend).
In 2017, we shared an altruistic surrogacy story featuring Bonnie and Stacy. The two women attended the same church where Bonnie's husband, Justin, shared he and his wife's infertility journey with the congregation. When Stacy and her husband heard their story, they agreed that this was the perfect opportunity for her to pursue a longstanding dream of hers: to become a surrogate.
“I was blessed to have healthy pregnancies myself, so I wanted to provide that for someone else,” Stacy says. She volunteered to carry Bonnie and Justin's child without compensation—strictly out of the compassionate goodness of her heart.
Entering into an altruistic surrogacy with a known surrogate (i.e. a family member or close friend) is a celebrated experience. However, even when the surrogate in an altruistic agreement is a close relation, complications or unforeseen expenses may arise.
A commercial gestational surrogacy agreement includes a surrogate compensation package that's designed to fit each surrogate's unique situation. The surrogate compensation agreement details a pre-determined plan wherein the Intended Parents agree to cover medical costs, travel expenses, legal expenses, and other potential expenses that may arise during the journey.
Some online forums praise altruistic surrogacies and criticize commercial surrogacy agreements. Arguments are posted that accuse commercial surrogacy of using women’s wombs for profit, demoralizing the surrogates and sending “motherless” babies into the world.
Most experienced gestational surrogates’ stories and testimonies prove the above mentioned criticisms are unfounded. Experienced gestational surrogates rave about the empowering act of selflessness they felt entering into the commercial gestational surrogacy agreement. A commercial gestational surrogacy agreement also provides the Intended Parents a sense of involvement in the surrogacy journey through agreed to terms in the surrogacy contract (i.e. if there is a certain diet they would like the surrogate to follow, anything they would like the surrogate to abstain from, etc.).
Gestational surrogates in a commercial surrogacy agreement are also supported by the services the surrogacy agency provides throughout the experience. Part of the screening process helps perspective surrogates fully understand what will be expected of them to ensure this is truly what they want. A social worker and experienced surrogate advocate will help the gestational surrogate throughout the process, including post-delivery when it may be needed.
Any successful surrogacy where Intended Parents get their child is worth celebrating. An altruistic surrogacy with a close friend or family member can be a wonderful experience, but it is not always an option.
Commercial surrogacy agreements are positive, noble acts of generosity gifted from the gestational surrogate to the Intended Parents, regardless of the monetary compensation the surrogate earned. It is important to remember that the monies paid to the surrogate are hardly the equivalent of 10-month salary. It's also important to remember the physical toll the pregnancy will have on the surrogate, including any complications that may arise. No amount of money can make up for it.
The value of pursuing a surrogacy journey comes from the surrogate's feelings of selflessness and kindness. Gestational surrogates are proud and honored to give Intended Parents the greatest possible gift: a child.