Surrogacy: An Introduction

Surrogacy creates a chance for couples, who can’t conceive, to parent a child who is at least partially genetically theirs. This genetic link may be through the partner’s sperm or an embryo, which is created from one partner’s egg and the other partner’s sperm.

What is surrogacy?

Surrogacy refers to a contract where a woman carries and then delivers a baby for another. The woman who carries the baby is known as the surrogate, the couple for whom she carries the pregnancy is known as the intended parents.

What are the different types of surrogacy?

 There are two types of surrogacy: gestational and intended/traditional.

Gestational surrogacy is more commonly employed due to its legally less complex nature, as in this the surrogate is genetically unrelated to the baby she is carrying. It is the result of in vitro fertilization where the gametes of usually both or either of the intended parents are used for conception (some couples may need donor eggs or sperms or embryos).

Traditional surrogacy involves the artificial insemination of the surrogate with the intended father’s semen so that the child born would be genetically related to the surrogate as it involves use of her eggs.

Who are the couples who need to consider surrogacy?

  • The female partner doesn’t have a uterus.
  • The female partner has a uterus but it cannot support a pregnancy due to various reasons.
  • The female partner is suffering from some medical condition that deems her unfit to carry a pregnancy as it poses a threat to her life.
  • Patients with a history of recurrent implantation failure during the course of their infertility treatment.
  • Single people or homosexual couples (Not permitted in India).

What does the process involve?

 Once you have been advised to consider surrogacy by your ART specialist, the first step in the process involves the selection of the right surrogate. While couples can seek the aid of family and friends for it, most employ the services of certain surrogate agencies or ART banks for the same.

Most experts recommend choosing someone who:

  • Is between 21 and 35 years old
  • Has proven fertility and has previously given birth without any complications
  • Has a supportive family and
  • Is in good physical and emotional health

The shortlisted surrogate undergoes medical and psychological screening for assessment. This involves certain pre IVF essentials like blood tests and hysteroscopy to test her suitability for the procedure.

Once screened medically fit, the surrogate enters a legal agreement with the intended parents protecting everyone and describing important details such as compensation, parental rights, legal custody, where the baby will be delivered and control over medical decisions made during the pregnancy. In India, the gestational surrogate signs away parental rights before the baby’s birth and the intended parents’ names are listed on the birth certificate.

Usually, surrogate screening and legal formalities are completed in parallel with the process of In vitro fertilization involving the formation of embryos using both or either of the gametes of the intended couple. This helps in saving out a lot of time. The embryos thus formed are then usually frozen. Once the selected surrogates uterine lining is found to be adequate for implantation, the embryos of the intended couple are thawed and transferred into the womb of the surrogate. A blood test is done 14-16 days later then confirms pregnancy.

What’s the success rate for gestational surrogacy?

IVF success rates in surrogates are usually better than in other IVF patients since the selected surrogates are usually patients with proven fertility. The success is largely dependent on the quality of embryos transferred.

How much does surrogacy cost?

Surrogacy is an expensive arrangement. It usually involves paying the surrogate alone anywhere between 3.5 to 5 lakh Indian rupees for her services with the cost increasing in case of multiple pregnancies. However, the entire payment is usually made in instalments spread across the pregnancy to safeguard against any unfortunate incidents, with a major share being paid only after delivery, as specified in the legal contract entered at the start of treatment. Being an IVF conception, the entire cost of treatment up till delivery, including IVF, hence might reach anywhere between 8-10 lakh Indian Rupees. This is however far more reasonable and affordable than the cost of the same treatment in other countries.

What makes India an attractive destination for gestational surrogacy?

The first ICMR guidelines in India were released in 2002, and in October 2008, the Supreme Court unequivocally ruled that “commercial surrogacy is legal and an industry in India”. Hence it is a legally protected, affordable and viable option for international couples. As of 2014, a surrogacy ban in India was placed on homosexual couples and single parents.

The upcoming Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill aims to regulate the surrogacy business in the country and is expected to further increase the confidence in Indian clinics by sorting out dubious practitioners.

Besides the laws and the affordable fees, the basic Indian culture and lifestyle with most women refraining from smoking, alcohol and drugs make Indian surrogates a healthier investment to their western counterparts. Most of them are young mothers who see surrogacy as an option to secure their kids future and have family support for the same.

We at Ruby Hall Clinic, Pune have more than a decades’ experience in the field where our expert in house legal and ART team have helped many national and international couples realise their long-cherished dream of parenthood. We understand the apprehensions and concerns of our patients and address them in a transparent yet sensitive manner to make the entire journey a hassle-free and memorable experience.

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