The Surrogacy Experience: Taking the Leap (Part 1 of 3)
Finding a Surrogate
Dr. Craig Sweet, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist in Florida, says that many people who come in asking about surrogacy would not medically qualify. “Seventy-five percent of the time, people come in thinking they need surrogacy and they don’t. If the woman can carry the pregnancy, she should carry the baby,” says Dr. Sweet.
Surrogacy should only occur when a woman should not or cannot carry a baby. “Someone who should not might have severe diabetes, lupus, or cardiac disease that could put her at a medical risk during pregnancy,” explains Dr. Sweet. “A woman who cannot would be someone born without a uterus, whose uterus has been removed, or someone who has experienced recurrent pregnancy loss with normal embryos.”
Sensational news stories (such as the famous case of “Baby M” in the 1980s, whose surrogate mother refused to relinquish her parental rights once she was born, leading to a series of custody battles that rocked the legal system) stick in the public’s mind. However, thousands of babies have been born to surrogates and handed over to their parents without any problems. “It’s virtually unheard of for a [gestational] carrier to try to keep the baby,” says Melissa Brisman, a reproductive lawyer in New York.
Kelly’s doctor said that he might know someone who would be willing to be a surrogate. She knew about the Russells’ story and wanted to help, and she enjoyed being pregnant. “We met her and started to talk about it, but it just didn’t work out,” shares Kelly. “She said, ‘I think I want $10,000 per child.’ We weren’t comfortable.”
Typical surrogate arrangements include some form of reimbursement, which averages between $10,000 and $18,000, according to Everythingsurrogacy.com. In addition, the intended parents frequently pay for healthcare costs, time off work, and pregnancy-related expenses. Some arrangements, such as those made through surrogate agencies with surrogates who are not personally connected with the intended parents, also include some compensation for the service.
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