What Is Social Surrogacy?
Surrogacy is a process where a woman (referred to as the surrogate or gestational carrier) carries and gives birth to a child on behalf of another person or couple (referred to as Intended Parents). While surrogacy is usually associated with medical reasons, such as inability to carry children/infertility or medical conditions that prevent safe pregnancy, there are cases where individuals or couples pursue surrogacy without a medical need. This is often referred to as “surrogacy for convenience” or “social surrogacy.”
In surrogacy without a medical need, the reasons for seeking a surrogate can vary widely. Some individuals or couples may choose surrogacy as a means to preserve their physical health, avoid pregnancy-related complications, or maintain their careers without interruption. Others may opt for surrogacy due to personal preferences or to expand their families when traditional methods are not preferred.
There are different reasons individuals or couples may pursue social surrogacy:
Individuals or couples who prioritize their careers may choose social surrogacy to avoid the physical and time demands of pregnancy. By utilizing a surrogate, they can continue working without interruptions, while still having a biological child.
In the case of professional athletes, for example, pregnancy can significantly impact physical capabilities and performance. The rigorous training, intense physical exertion, and risk of injury make it difficult for athletes to continue participating in their sport during pregnancy. Additionally, contact sports carry an increased risk of harm to the fetus. High-profile public figures such as celebrities often face intense media scrutiny and a lack of privacy in their personal lives. Social surrogacy provides them with a level of privacy and control over their reproductive journey. By using a surrogate, they can keep the pregnancy and birth out of the public eye, minimizing the intrusion and speculation from the media and fans. Many professionals and executives with demanding jobs, e.g. CEOs of multi-national companies, may also use surrogacy to avoid the physical changes and challenges of pregnancy, allowing them to focus on their professional commitments without interruption.
In some cases, individuals or couples may have concerns about their health or specific medical conditions that make pregnancy risky or potentially harmful. They may opt for social surrogacy to protect their health while still having a child biologically related to them.
Some individuals or couples simply prefer not to carry a pregnancy for personal reasons. They may choose social surrogacy as an alternative to traditional pregnancy and childbirth, allowing them to have a child while avoiding the physical and emotional changes associated with pregnancy.
The stereotype surrounding social surrogacy often revolves around the idea that wealthy individuals and celebrities use surrogacy as a luxury or convenience, rather than for medical reasons. This perception can be attributed to high-profile cases where celebrities have publicly discussed their surrogacy journeys or when media outlets report on celebrity surrogacy stories. It’s important to note that not all celebrities pursue surrogacy without a medical need, and their reasons for choosing surrogacy may vary.
Non-Medical Reasons People Turn to Surrogacy
There are several non-medical reasons why someone may choose to use a surrogate to build their family. These reasons can vary widely depending on individual circumstances and preferences.
Pregnancy can bring physical and emotional changes, and some individuals may have specific concerns or reservations about going through pregnancy themselves. Factors such as previous difficult pregnancies, pregnancy-related health issues, or personal discomfort with the physical aspects of pregnancy can lead individuals or couples to choose surrogacy as an option.
Same-sex couples, particularly male couples, may require a surrogate to have a biological child. Surrogacy allows them to use their sperm to fertilize a donor egg, which is then carried by a surrogate. This enables same-sex couples or individuals to have a genetic connection to the child.
Some individuals or couples may simply prefer not to go through pregnancy for personal reasons. They may have concerns about the physical changes, health risks, or lifestyle disruptions associated with pregnancy. Surrogacy provides an alternative option for them to have a child without experiencing pregnancy firsthand.
Career and Personal Goals:
The demands of certain careers or personal goals may make it challenging for individuals or couples to devote the time and energy required during pregnancy. Surrogacy allows them to continue pursuing their professional aspirations or personal interests without interruption, while still having a biological child.
Previous Pregnancy Loss or Trauma:
Individuals or couples who have experienced previous pregnancy loss, stillbirth, or traumatic birth experiences may choose surrogacy as a way to mitigate the emotional and physical risks associated with pregnancy. Using a surrogate can offer a more controlled and supportive environment for the pregnancy and birth process.
Family Building Preferences:
Some individuals or couples may have a strong desire for a larger family but prefer not to go through multiple pregnancies themselves. Surrogacy allows them to expand their family without undergoing multiple pregnancies or experiencing physical strain and limitations associated with carrying multiple pregnancies.
Tokophobia is a term used to describe an extreme fear or phobia of pregnancy and childbirth. It is derived from the Greek words “tokos” meaning childbirth and “phobos” meaning fear. Tokophobia can affect individuals of any gender and can range from mild anxiety to a debilitating fear that significantly impacts their daily lives. People with tokophobia may experience intense anxiety, panic attacks, or distress when thinking about or encountering situations related to pregnancy or childbirth. The fear may arise from various factors, including a fear of pain, fear of loss of control, fear of complications, fear of childbirth-related injuries, fear of the unknown, or traumatic experiences related to pregnancy or childbirth.
It’s important to remember that the decision to use a surrogate is deeply personal, and each individual or couple will have their own unique motivations and circumstances.
Intention and Preparation:
The Intended Parent(s) typically make the decision to pursue surrogacy and begin their search for a suitable surrogate. Legal consultations are essential to understand the legal aspects and requirements in their jurisdiction. In my states, surrogacy can only be done if there’s a legitimate medical reason. Intended Parents interested in social surrogacy will need to find a state where “surrogacy for convenience” is permitted. See SurrogacyPlace.com’s state-by-state directory and discuss your options with a qualified attorney in that state.
The Intended Parent(s) and the potential surrogate undergo a matching process, where they discuss their expectations, preferences, and values. Compatibility in terms of expectations, personalities, and beliefs is crucial for a successful surrogacy journey.
Legal agreements are drafted to establish the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved. These surrogacy agreements address issues such as surrogate compensation, medical decision-making, parental rights, and potential contingencies. It is vital to consult with experienced reproductive lawyers who specialize in surrogacy laws to ensure all legal aspects are appropriately addressed.
In most cases of surrogacy without a medical need, gestational surrogacy is pursued. In this process, the embryo is created through in vitro fertilization (IVF) using the genetic material of the intended parents or donors. The embryo is then transferred to the surrogate’s uterus, where it implants and develops. Throughout the pregnancy, the surrogate receives medical care and support from healthcare professionals.
Pregnancy and Birth:
The surrogate carries the pregnancy to term, typically following a standard prenatal care routine. The Intended Parent(s) may choose to be involved in the pregnancy journey, attending doctor’s appointments and providing emotional support. When the baby is born, the Intended Parent(s) assume legal parenthood, as established in the legal agreements.
It is important to note that surrogacy laws and regulations vary significantly between states and countries. The availability, legality, and specific requirements of surrogacy without a medical need can differ depending on the jurisdiction involved. It is crucial that intended parents thoroughly research and understand the legal framework governing surrogacy in their desired location. Consulting with professionals experienced in surrogacy law is necessary to navigate the process successfully.
It’s worth mentioning that not all surrogates will not carry for Intended Parents that turn to surrogacy for non-medical reasons. If you’re an Intended Parent interested in surrogacy for a non-medical reason, it’s important to disclose that to prospective surrogates during the matching phase.
FAQ: Social Surrogacy and Non-Medical Reasons for Surrogacy
What is social surrogacy?
Social surrogacy refers to the use of a surrogate without a medical need, meaning individuals or couples choose surrogacy for non-medical reasons, such as convenience or personal preferences.
Why do people pursue social surrogacy?
There are various motivations for social surrogacy. Some common reasons include prioritizing careers, preserving physical health, avoiding pregnancy-related complications, maintaining privacy for high-profile individuals, and expanding families when traditional methods are not preferred.
What are the non-medical reasons for using a surrogate?
Non-medical reasons for using a surrogate can include concerns about pregnancy-related changes, personal preference to avoid pregnancy, prioritizing career or personal goals, previous pregnancy loss or trauma, and a desire to expand the family without multiple pregnancies.
What is the process of social surrogacy?
The process typically involves intention and preparation, matching with a suitable surrogate, legal procedures to establish rights and responsibilities, medical procedures such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) to create and transfer embryos, and legal transfer of parental rights after birth.
Are there legal considerations for social surrogacy?
Yes, surrogacy laws and regulations vary between states and countries. It is essential to consult with experienced reproductive lawyers who specialize in surrogacy laws to ensure compliance with legal requirements and protect the rights of all parties involved.