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In this article we will take a look at altruistic surrogacy vs. commercial surrogacy, we hope it helps you understand the differences and which option may be a better choice for you and your family. Let’s dive in!

Altruistic Surrogacy: Why some women choose to become compassionate surrogates

Altruistic surrogacy, also known as non-commercial or compassionate surrogacy, refers to a surrogacy arrangement where the surrogate does not receive financial compensation beyond the reimbursement of pregnancy-related expenses. In altruistic surrogacy, the primary motivation for the surrogate is to help someone else achieve their dream of becoming a parent, driven by compassion and empathy.

In an altruistic surrogacy arrangement, the Intended Parents may cover the surrogate’s medical expenses, legal fees, maternity clothing, and other reasonable costs directly associated with the pregnancy. However, the surrogate does not receive a separate payment for her participation in the surrogacy process. Altruistic surrogacy is often based on a personal relationship or connection between the surrogate and the intended parents, such as family members or close friends. Altruistic surrogacy is sometimes done on behalf of strangers, though this is decidedly less common.

Bringing new life into the world is a profound experience, and for some, the desire to help others on their journey to parenthood goes beyond their own family. Altruistic surrogacy, a selfless act of carrying a child for someone else with no financial benefit, is a remarkable choice that embodies compassion, empathy, and the belief in the transformative power of giving. There are many types of motivations that inspire those seeking to become an altruistic surrogate.

Fulfilling the Desire to Help

Altruistic surrogates are driven by an innate desire to make a positive impact in the lives of others. They understand the deep longing for parenthood experienced by individuals or couples facing fertility challenges, medical conditions, or same-sex couples. By becoming a surrogate and forgoing the usual compensation requirements, these women offer a truly selfless gift, enabling a broader range of Intended Parents to experience the joys of raising a child and fulfilling their dreams of starting or expanding a family.

Empathy and Compassion

All surrogacy is rooted in empathy and compassion. Altruistic surrogates empathize with the emotional and physical struggles that Intended Parents may face, and they are motivated to provide hope. They recognize the profound impact that bringing life into the world can have on the lives of others, and their compassion drives them to offer their assistance and support.

Why are some women motivated to help in such a selfless way?

Research suggests that certain genetic and biological factors can contribute to an individual’s capacity for empathy and compassion. Studies have found that specific variations in genes associated with empathy-related brain regions may influence an individual’s empathic responses. Additionally, neurochemicals like oxytocin and serotonin play a role in regulating social behavior and may influence feelings of empathy and compassion. Early experiences can shape their capacity for empathy and compassion as well. Nurturing and responsive caregiving in childhood can foster a secure attachment, which lays the foundation for emotional understanding and empathy. Children who grow up in an environment that values empathy and models compassionate behavior are more likely to develop empathy and compassion. Cultural norms, values, and social expectations can also influence how individuals perceive and respond to others’ emotions and needs. Growing up in a family that emphasizes empathy, kindness, and compassion can cultivate these qualities in individuals. Observing and imitating empathetic and compassionate behavior from significant individuals in one’s life, such as parents, siblings, or role models, can shape an individual’s empathic responses, too. Witnessing acts of kindness, altruism, and empathy in others can inspire and model compassionate behavior, leading individuals to internalize these values and exhibit empathy themselves.

Personal experiences, especially those involving adversity, suffering, or injustice, can enhance an individual’s capacity for empathy and compassion. Having gone through challenging situations or witnessing others’ struggles can create a deeper understanding of others’ pain and increase the motivation to help and support them. Certain personality traits, such as openness, are associated with higher levels of empathy and compassion. Individuals with a greater propensity for empathy often have heightened emotional sensitivity, a willingness to understand others’ perspectives, and a genuine concern for their well-being.

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Personal Experience or Connection

Some altruistic surrogates may have personally experienced the joy of parenthood and want to share that experience with others. They may feel blessed with their own children and wish to extend that blessing to those who are unable to conceive or carry a child. Others may have witnessed the struggles faced by friends, family members, or acquaintances dealing with infertility, which sparked a deep empathy and a call to action.

Empowerment and Transformation

For many altruistic surrogates, the surrogacy journey is transformative and empowering. They understand the immense responsibility and the impact they have on the lives of Intended Parents. The surrogacy journey becomes a profound and life-affirming experience that shapes their own perspective on love, family, and the value of selflessness.

Love of Pregnancy

Many surrogates may love the experience of being pregnant, but are done completing their own families. Pregnancy is a unique and awe-inspiring experience. Many women find joy in the profound changes to their bodies. The physical sensations of movement and the ability to nourish and protect a developing child can create a deep sense of fulfillment and happiness. Pregnancy can evoke a range of intense emotions, including a profound sense of purpose and fulfillment. The knowledge that their body is nurturing and sustaining another life can provide a profound sense of joy and emotional well-being.

Pregnancy brings significant changes to a woman’s body. While these changes can be challenging for some, others appreciate and embrace the transformation as a natural and beautiful part of the journey. Some women may find joy in witnessing their body adapt to accommodate the growing life within them and view it as a celebration of womanhood and the power of the female body. In this way, pregnancy can provide a surrogate with a profound sense of purpose and empowerment. The knowledge that they are nurturing and protecting a new life can instill a strong sense of responsibility and drive to make healthy choices. This sense of purpose can contribute to a positive and fulfilling pregnancy and surrogacy experience.

Many surrogates also find comfort and joy in the support and care they receive from their partners, family, friends, and healthcare professionals during pregnancy. The attention, nurturing, and love showered upon them can create a positive and nurturing environment that enhances the overall experience of being pregnant.  Pregnancy can be a time filled with anticipation and excitement as a surrogate eagerly await the arrival of their surrogate baby. There’s real joy in the anticipation of providing happiness to others, including reactions to ultrasound scans and watching Intended Parents prepare for parenthood. The journey of a surrogacy pregnancy offers a unique opportunity for a surrogate to witness and be a part of the wonder of life unfolding on behalf of others.

Creating Lasting Connections

Altruistic surrogacy has the potential to create deep and lasting connections between surrogates and Intended Parents. Through open communication, trust, and shared experiences, meaningful relationships are formed, and bonds are strengthened. Surrogates often express a sense of fulfillment in witnessing the love that Intended Parents experience with their child, knowing that they played an integral role in creating that bond.

The decision to become an altruistic surrogate is an extraordinary act of selflessness, driven by empathy, compassion, and a deep desire to help others. Altruistic surrogates bring hope, joy, and the gift of life to individuals and couples longing to become parents. Their courage, kindness, and willingness to embark on this transformative journey showcase the power of the human spirit and exemplify the incredible capacity for empathy and love.

What is Commercial Surrogacy?

Commercial surrogacy, also referred to as compensated or paid surrogacy, involves a financial arrangement where the surrogate receives compensation or a fee in addition to the reimbursement of pregnancy-related expenses. In commercial surrogacy, the surrogate receives monetary compensation for carrying the pregnancy. In commercial surrogacy, the surrogate’s compensation and terms are negotiated and agreed upon under the supervision of experienced attorneys representing each party. The compensation amount can vary depending on factors such as the surrogacy laws, the complexity of the surrogacy journey, and the personal preferences of the surrogate herself.

Legal Considerations

Many countries and a few US states only permit altruistic surrogacy. These restrictions include strict guidelines on what types of reimbursements a surrogate is eligible for and is usually limited to medical/legal costs and basic pregnancy-related expenses such as maternity clothes. For a list of state-by-state requirements, including which states mandate altruistic-only surrogacy journeys, please see SurrogacyPlace’s own state-by-state guide.

Overall, the key distinction between altruistic surrogacy and commercial surrogacy lies in the financial aspect. Altruistic surrogacy involves a voluntary act of carrying a child for someone else without monetary compensation beyond reimbursement, whereas commercial surrogacy involves financial compensation beyond the reimbursement of expenses. In jurisdictions where commercial surrogacy is legal and regulated, whether a surrogate chooses to forgo compensation or require a fee for her surrogacy journey is up to her. Any woman considering becoming a surrogate, altruistic or compensated, will need to make sure they meet the basic requirements.

Some surrogate health and lifestyle requirements include:

-Be at least 21 years old and generally younger than 42, though some doctors will make exceptions on the older side for direct family members in great health.

-Be in excellent health, including a BMI outside of the obese range. Potential surrogates should not have chronic health conditions where pregnancy is risky, nor should they be on medication where pregnancy is a contradiction.

-Have a pregnancy history without any noteworthy complications.

-Have raised or are raising a biological child of her own.

-Have stable housing and live in a clean/toxic-free environment.

-Are a legal US citizen or resident.

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Bridget Myers

Bridget Myers grew up in small town in Maryland. She started her career as a substitute teacher before meeting the love of her life and moving to the suburbs of Chicago. She has a passion for dogs and painting. Bridget got involved in Surrogacy Place after researching surrogacy for her best friend. Since joining the team at Surrogacy Place, she has developed a passion for advocating on behalf of Intended Parents and surrogates and doing her part for meaningful reform in the industry.