A surrogacy is an arrangement where a woman becomes pregnant on behalf of another person or couple. There are several reasons for this path to creating a family, and it has become increasingly popular as social norms and science have developed. For example, many couples choose surrogacy when they are unable to conceive a child naturally – they may be same-sex, or having other fertility issues.
A traditional surrogacy is where the surrogate is artificially inseminated with sperm, which means the child is genetically related to the surrogate. The sperm can be donated by either a parent intending to raise the child, or can be from unrelated donor sperm. This is the most common option as medical involvement is not necessary to the conception of the baby.
Gestational surrogacy is where the embryo is created using an egg and sperm implanted into the surrogate mother, and so the surrogate is not genetically related to the baby. There are a variety of options in this instance – the sperm and the egg cells can either come from one of or both of the parents, or both can come from unrelated donors.
Surrogacy has been popular throughout history, and is a viable way to bring a child into a waiting and excited family. It offers a way to choose how genetically related the child is to its parents whilst offering an alternative to traditional conception or natural insemination. Many couples feel more comfortable with a surrogate whom they can support throughout the pregnancy and birth, and so still feel present in their child’s creation.
However, there are some concerns as to surrogacy. In the UK, it is illegal to pay for surrogacy, and the waiting parents are only able to contribute financially to any pregnancy-related costs (like IVF treatments and healthcare). There is also the risk that the surrogate could become attached to the child and create both emotional and legal trouble upon birth. Some countries do allow ‘commercial surrogacy’, where the surrogate can legally be paid for her pregnancy, such as Russia, some US states, and India. These countries also tend to recognise legal agreements, whereas countries which prohibit commercial surrogacy tend to not enforce such agreements. France and Sweden are two countries who do not even recognise or regulate the use of surrogacy as a medical practice.
In contrast, co-parenting enables a more reliable and mutually beneficial arrangement, as the woman who carries the child is doing so with the expectation of parenting the child once born. Therefore, all parties are invested in the child, which minimises any confusion or miscommunication. Everyone can be upfront from the start. Co-parents can support each other, whether emotionally, financially, and with their time. By dividing the responsibilities of parenthood, co-parents share the benefits and flexibility that comes with such collaboration.
Co-parenting can also use any variety of IVF, so the parents involved can choose whose genetics the baby will carry.
Whether you choose co-parenting or surrogacy to create your family, it is important to do your research on what would best suit your situation, as well as the legal situation in your home country.