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.
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).
Within the last two years, a story fromAustralia reached headlines about a positive altruistic surrogacy arrangement between strangers. The gestational surrogate decided she wanted to give back to someone faced with reproductive challenges. She connected with a family struggling to have a second child and agreed to be their gestational surrogate. This was a rare scenario.
Entering into an altruistic surrogacy with a known surrogate (i.e. family member, 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 pre-determined monetary compensation to the surrogate, in addition to covering medical costs, etc.
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 also provides the intended parents a sense of involvement in the surrogacy, 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 ten months’ salary.
More importantly, it is 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 comes from the feelings of selflessness and kindness a gestational surrogate can experience having given the greatest possible gift, a child to someone who could not have the baby without the commercial surrogate’s help.