Black Market Surrogacy

Surrogacy is an arrangement by which a woman (the surrogate) carries and delivers a baby for a person or couple (the intended parents) that (for whatever reason) is unable to do so on their own. Surrogacy is the topic of much debate across the globe, with some countries allowing it and others banning it either partially or fully.

Current Chinese legislation bans doctors from delivering children carried by surrogates. This is in accordance with a legislation concerning assisted reproductive technology that was passed by their Ministry of Health in 2001. This same legislation also forbids the trading of such human DNA as gametes, zygotes, and embryos.

However, it is evident that many in China are proceeding with surrogate relationships despite this legislative action. In fact, there is a thriving surrogacy black market that continues to grows. 2011 statistics show that, in Shanghai the number of babies born each year due to IVF treatments was higher than 20,000. However, since hospitals are unable to satisfy the demand, many infertile couples turn to surrogacy to make their dreams of parenthood come true. In fact , this demand has only served to cause the surrogacy market to grow exponentially.

In explaining why surrogacy is illegal, China Law Society member, Di Guozeng stated that it is essentially boring someone’s organ (the womb) to give birth and making a profit from it. The illegality comes in using organs for trade.

On one side of the argument, it is believe that surrogacy complicates things. They cite possible situations in which the surrogate mother has health problems that arise due to the pregnancy but is not compensated fairly, ones where the intended parents decide that they no longer want the child, leaving the surrogate to raise the child, as well as situations where the surrogate suddenly decides she does not want to part with the child. They also feel as though it forces legislatures to redefine the term “parent” as there are so many different people involved in bringing the child into the world and raising him or her.

One the other side of the argument, people feel as though perhaps it would be best to make surrogacy legal, but have legislations in place to limit commercial (for profit) surrogacy in which the surrogate is not compensated beyond fees associated with pregnancy, labor, and delivery. In that way, those people who are unable to bear children are afforded the opportunity to do so.

What do you think? Do you feel that surrogacy, in general, should be legalized? If so, do you feel there should be any limitations set? If not, why? Please comment below.

The Birth of My Only Child

…from a reader

I was two weeks overdue, but finally went into labor about 10:00 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, the 2nd of April. I was really glad it was not the 1st because that would have been an April Fool’s baby.

I called my husband at work first then I called my mother. My husband finally got home, it seemed like an eternity, and I was so bent over with pain, that my husband had to practically carry me to the car. Then on the way to the hospital I thought I would have the baby right in the car.

Finally, we reached the hospital. I had to stand up while trying to answer questions, and that was not easy. It was taking what seemed like forever to sign into the hospital and fill out forms. I just couldn’t wait any longer, so a staff member took me to a room while my husband filled out the rest of the paperwork.

I felt a relief when I got to lie down. But, it was a false feeling. The pains kept coming. About every 2-3 minutes, I would have labor pains. My husband stood at my side while I went through one, holding my hand as I squeezed his.

My mother came and they traded places each time I had a labor pain. I squeezed her hand so hard that she thought it was broken. This went on for hours. My doctor hadn’t showed up yet, and all I wanted was for the birth to be over. The nurses kept popping in and out saying he’s on his way, but I was getting so anxious that that became annoying and caused me more aggravation and the pain got more intense; something I could have done without.

Every once in a while I would get a hypo and the pain would melt away and I felt such a relief. Then it seemed like the pain would come back twice as hard as before, and I would ask for another hypo. But, they were stingy, said they could not give me that many. By now I was having pains a few minutes apart. Someone finally gets in touch with my doctor and he gets there around 8:00 p.m. He had been out playing golf all day and told the nurses that there was plenty of time.

Just about the time he reached my bedside, my water broke. It was time to take me into the delivery room. They did the usual prepping and I did the usual screaming. The doctor stands over me and told me too push. I was so exhausted that I didn’t think I had one more push in me. Finally, the baby comes rushing out. I felt a relief that you wouldn’t believe. No more pain, just happiness.

When I found out it was a boy, I was overjoyed. I always wanted a son. Right then and there, I knew I wasn’t going to go through this again. But, as my son started growing up, I regretted not having another child so that he wouldn’t be an only child. I still regret that today.

My son is 41 now. It is something I cannot undo now, but it might not be too late for others. If anyone has an only child right now, think about how that child has to grow up without someone he can share things with and someone he can play with, and just knowing he has someone he can count on. If I had it all over to do again, I would have given my son a brother or sister.

Keeping in touch and compensation

by Eva

Two separate questions:
– A friend of mine had her child adopted. She gets a photo of the child twice a year and a small update, through her agency (ie her and adoptive parents don’t know eachother’s address etc).Is this possible with surrogacy?

– I keep reading of compensation for surrogates of around $20’000. Is this purely for “time and effort”? Ie, are the surrogate’s expenses (IVF, prenatal care, birth, medications, childcare for older kids during doctor visits etc) covered on top of that?

Reply by Rayven
Surrogacy is different than adoption. Surrogates and intended parents are in contact with one another, and need to get to know each other before starting a surrogacy arrangement. The agency would most likely NOT be the go between with pictures/updates. That would be handled directly between the surrogate and intended parents.

Often, surrogates request that intended parents keep in touch. Some specify in their contracts that they want pictures and updates on a regular basis. Many others prefer to let a more natural friendship take place.

As to compensation, surrogates are not compensated for time and effort. They are either compensated for pain and suffering or for prebirth child support. A surrogate is not responsible for any expense regarding the pregnancy or delivery of the intended parent’s child, including the IVF procedure (usually more pricey that the surrogate’s compensation!) and all her doctors bills. Any out of pocket expenses such as childcare should be reimbursed by the intended parents.

See the section on Compensation for a break down of how compensation in surrogacy works.

Does Medicaid Cover Surrogacy?

Wondering if you can use Medicaid or some other form of government assistance to cover the costs of surrogacy? Read on to find out.

Many potential surrogates are excited by the idea of their surrogate pregnancy costs being offset by Medicaid or another form of government assistance. After all, maternity health insurance is not exactly cheap. Having financial assistance can save a lot of money – thousands, even.

So the question is: can a surrogate mother use government assistance to cover the costs of surrogacy. The answer is, incontrovertibly, no.

It is not the government’s responsibility to aid intended parents with the costs associated with surrogacy, including but not limited to IVF treatments. This should not be a burden that other taxpayers should have to bear.

Although the surrogate mother may qualify for government assistance, the child that she is carrying does not. The child belongs to the intended parents and the intended parents are highly unlikely to qualify for this type of assistance.

Let me put it bluntly – it is fraud and is a punishable crime. The punishment could involve heavy fines as well as jail time for both the surrogate and the intended parents.

In fact, many surrogacy clinics will refuse to work with surrogates who receive government assistance as a precautionary measure against this type of fraud (or even accusations of it). They also avoid working with surrogates who receive government assistance because the surrogate may actually need the compensation, but they realize that the possibility exists that compensation may not be received – which would leave her worse off. Add to this the stigma that surrogacy is a way to exploit the poor and most surrogacy agencies just wish to steer clear of the possible controversy.

If a surrogate is in a financial situation that requires government assistance, she should not consider surrogacy as an option at the time. If, during the course of the surrogacy, her situation changes and she cannot afford proper nutrition, the financial responsibility should fall to the intended parents. However, under no circumstances should government assistance be used to help offset the costs of surrogacy. It might help right now, but you are setting yourself up for big trouble in the future.

how can I be sure that my surrogate will take good care of her self and my baby?

by Angela Arcila
(new york)

just wandering on how are the parents able to now for sure that the surrogate mother they’ve choose is careful with her body,no drugs, takes vitamins, etc?

Reply by Rayven
Surrogacy is all about trust. That’s why I stress so much the importance of not jumping into it, or rushing during the matching phase.

The best way to know: don’t sign a contract until you are sure you’ve found the surrogate you can trust.

Find out everything you need to know in the beginning stages. Sure, you know that your surrogate (and you, for that matter) is on her best behavior, but look for the little things. A person who is not responsible will have small, telltale signs of it.

For instance, if she or someone in her home smokes, you should be able to pick up the scent of stale cigarette smoke on her clothing, in her hair, or in her car or home. This could be a sign that she is untrustworthy (if she said no one smokes).

As far as if she is going to do drugs, I’d say that if she is a responsible mother who takes care of her own children (who are in her custody, and appear reasonably healthy, and were not born as “drug babies”) you probably don’t have any cause to worry here.

You could always require drug testing throughout the pregnancy as well as during the matching phase, but be advised that many surrogates will be extremely offended by this. If this is something that you want to do, I would suggest mentioning it early on in the matching phase and getting it into the contract.

Personally, I really don’t feel it is a problem, especially after you get to know your surrogate. Why on earth would you ask someone you don’t trust to carry your child?

As far as taking care of her body, and taking her prenatals, the big thing to remember here is your surrogate has done this before. She has been pregnant, gone through it all, and given birth to at least one healthy child. She knows how to do it. She’ll do it again.

Bottom line, there is no real way to know for sure what your surrogate does when you are not around her. Just like there’s no way to know for sure what your husband is doing when you’re not around him. It is all a matter of trust.

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