A surrogate mother carries the child of an infertile couple. This expensive method can allow men and women the ability to have a child even if the desiring mother is not able to carry the baby. There are two different types of surrogacy, gestational and traditional. In a traditional surrogacy, the surrogate mother is also the genetic mother of the baby, and the intended father donates sperm which is artificially inseminated into the surrogate mother. In a gestational surrogacy, the surrogate mother has no genetic ties to the offspring, but is given the parents' sperm and egg through an expensive process known as in vitro fertilization.
Surrogate mothers are normally paid around $10,000-$20,000 for their services if they carry the baby full-term. If the pregnancy results in a miscarriage, then the surrogate mother must receive some payment for her efforts. The qualifications to become a surrogate mother are hard to meet. Most often the surrogate must undergo many physical and psychological examinations. In some cases, the biological parents of the baby must undergo an adoption process in order to legally gain custody of their offspring.
It is very important to involve a lawyer in your surrogate process. The future parents and surrogate mother must reach agreements on payment, legal matters, adoption, and all other factors. If the couple desires to hire a surrogate mother for gestational pregnancy then all parties will need to discuss how this affects the mother's rights to the unborn child. In some states, a surrogate contract is mandatory. In this case the surrogate, infertile couple, and lawyers must come to an agreement and solidify a legal document outlining conduct and agreements. Parties need to discuss nutrition and nurturing, as well as the surrogate's activities while pregnant. The stand-in mother will want to outline her privacy rights. Her husband or significant other will need to agree to sexual abstinence at certain times.
Some states do not enforce a surrogate contract. These stats hold the opinion that signing over possession of a baby by contract is the equivalent to "baby-selling," which is not constitutional. Baby-selling, according to Report from America: A USC Medical Journal, is the act of marketing children to others for compensation, and has been a historic method for lower-class women to make money. This makes matters complicated if the surrogate mother becomes attached to her child and does not wish to relinquish him or her to the rightful parents. In other states, such as California, Texas, and Oregon, future parents can guarantee that they will receive full custody of their child by arranging pre-birth certificate.
Another legal concern with surrogate motherhood is the option of abortion. The U.S. Supreme Court is not clear as to whether or not a woman's right to abortion is permitted for a surrogate mother. In some cases, the surrogate mother may wish to abort the baby. In other cases, such as a current law case in California, the future parents of the child may want their surrogate mother to abort. In this California case, the surrogate mother is carrying twins, and the parents only want one child. They began a lawsuit against their surrogate mother when she refused to abort the unwanted twin.
According to Time magazine, the surrogate mom signed a contract that specifically stated that in the case of twins, the couple reserved the right to choose a selective-reduction abortion. The surrogate mom believes it is too late into the pregnancy to have an abortion and is scared both for her and the children she is carrying. This case is particularly complex because the adoptive parents of the unborn twins live in California, while the surrogate mother is from Great Britain. Courts are torn as to whether to uphold California's statute that the future parents have all rights to the children, and the British rule that the surrogate mother has until six weeks after the baby's birth to choose whether or not to keep the child.
In the end, each state has its' own set of laws outlining the rights of a surrogate mother and the rights of the adoptive parents. While some states uphold contracts, others do not. Some states prefer the surrogate mother to the future parents, while others prefer the parents to the surrogate mother. To find out the laws specific to your state, you will want to contact a family law attorney. That way, you can get a first-hand look at surrogate motherhood in your location before making a decision.