Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Parenting Pointers: FAQs About Surrogacy

Surrogacy is growing in popularity in the USA, with the leading surrogacy agency, Family Source Consultants, reporting a 25% rise in intended parent applicants so far this year compared to 2014.

Staci Swiderski, Co-Founder of Family Source Consultants, says: “This rise can partly be attributed to the same-sex marriage legalization earlier this year because some states will only grant married couples the legal parental rights to a baby born through surrogacy. Also, surrogacy is becoming affordable for middle income families and it's no longer a taboo subject thanks to high-profile celebrities (such as Lucy Liu most recently) talking openly about their fertility struggles and surrogacy journeys."

If you're thinking about using a surrogate to have a baby, there are probably lots of questions running through your head and it can be overwhelming. Family Source Consultants lists five of the most common questions asked by prospective parents looking to embark on a surrogacy journey:

1)    What are the benefits of surrogacy vs. adoption?
Adoption and surrogacy are both wonderful ways to create or add to families, and it’s not right to promote one option over the other. However, to highlight some of the benefits of surrogacy, one of the most obvious is that in most cases, at least one of the parents has the opportunity to be biologically-related to their future child.

Often with gestational surrogacy, the intended mother is using her own eggs and the intended father is using his sperm - thus, the baby created is the genetic offspring of both parents. Even when an egg or sperm donor is used, at least one of the parents will pass on his/her genetics to the child conceived.

Also, intended parents have the opportunity to be completely involved in the pregnancy and birth experience. For some women, especially those who have had their fertility taken away from them, or for some men, who truly are interested in ‘experiencing’ the pregnancy as much as possible from beginning to end, this is certainly an added bonus.

2)   What are the different types of surrogacy?

Traditional surrogates utilize their own genetics (i.e. their own eggs), while gestational surrogacy - which is the only type of surrogacy we provide at Family Source Consultants - sees the embryo created with either the intended mother's genetics or an egg donor; or in some circumstances, a donated embryo could be utilized. A sperm donor may be utilized too.

3)   What is the law on surrogacy in the USA and around the world?

The current legal landscape for surrogacy across the USA is inconsistent, with laws differing between states. A state is considered ‘surrogacy-friendly’ when there are no residency requirements for the intended parents and a birth certificate (pre or post birth order) can be issued with the intended parents’ names.

Therefore, even if you live in a state or anywhere else in the world where surrogacy is considered illegal or the laws are undefined, this doesn’t mean that you can’t pursue surrogacy to build your family. It simply means that you will want to work with a surrogate who is willing to deliver in a ‘surrogacy-friendly’ U.S. state – then the legal rights of the intended parents and surrogate are protected.

Family Source Consultants purposely based itself in two of the most surrogate-friendly states - Illinois (River North in Chicago) and Florida (Cape Coral) for this reason; working with surrogates from only ‘surrogacy-friendly’ states, but intended parents from across the USA and around the world.

4)    What if the surrogate decides to keep my baby?

This is one of the biggest myths about surrogacy. Surrogates have to already have their own children and they sign up to the process to help make baby dreams come true for other people. Of course, the surrogate will care for the child and have an emotional bond, however, she is fully aware that the child is not hers to keep. With the correct legal procedures in place, intended parents are the legal parents of the baby and the surrogate is not. In addition, a surrogate (and her partner if applicable) must undergo a psychological evaluation prior to entering into a legal agreement with the intended parents.

5)    If I use an egg donor and a surrogate, how close will my relationship be to both?

Surrogates share their expectations of the relationship with the intended parents and vice versa before both parties are matched. Sometimes intended parents can develop a strong relationship with the surrogate that will last a lifetime.

Your relationship with the egg donor depends on what type of donation you opt for. There’s anonymous donationwhere egg donors are not given any information about the recipient parent/s; semi-open egg donation where egg donors may be given some very basic information about the recipient parents (for example, first names and ages) or open egg donation, where once the recipient parents express interest in an egg donor, all parties have a relationship with each other and keep communication channels open, potentially throughout the life of the child born via the egg donation.

About Family Source Consultants
Family Source Consultants is one of North America's leading surrogacy agencies, with offices in Illinois (Hinsdale and River North in Chicago) and Florida (Cape Coral). They provide personalized support throughout the entire surrogacy process and work with the very best reproductive law attorneys and doctors.

Founders, Zara Griswold and Staci Swiderski, were inspired to set up the agency after their own personal experiences with surrogacy - Zara had a complete hysterectomy due to ovarian cancer when she was 23 years old and used a surrogate to have her twins and Staci Swiderski and her husband completed their family through surrogacy and has also been an egg donor twice.

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