Surrogacy as a form of assisted reproduction has helped hundreds of thousands of people start or grow their families. Many military wives are drawn to becoming surrogates as a means to give back to their communities, contribute to their own financial goals, and help other families experience the joy of becoming parents. In fact, there are dozens of online communities of military wives who have been surrogates or are pursing surrogacy for the first time that share a unique bond over an incredible shared experience.
Choosing to become a surrogate is a unique path for anyone, including those married to active service men and women. Below is a discussion on some of the various considerations military spouses should think about when deciding to pursue surrogacy. Military wives interested in becoming surrogates should fully understand the benefits and challenges.
Reasons for Becoming a Surrogate
The decision to become a gestational carrier is never taken lightly as surrogacy is an emotionally and ethically complex endeavor. Military wives that become surrogates are motivated by a wide variety of deeply personal factors, including the sincere desire to help another family as well as help themselves and their own families achieve specific financial goals. Surrogacy should never be the source of primary income. In fact, needing the money from surrogacy is considered a hard disqualifier in the United States. Financial compensation from surrogacy can, however, be used to generate savings, purchase a home/make home improvements, fund college tuition costs, pay off student or other debt, or finance dream vacations. Regardless of the motivation, surrogacy can be an incredibly rewarding experience, providing not only a financial upside, but also an intense emotional satisfaction from bringing joy to another family.
If/when you decide to become a surrogate (you can review some of the qualifications here), you’ll need to pass a medical exam given by a Reproductive Endocrinologist, undergo a psychological screening and background check, and negotiate the conditions of your surrogacy journey. The terms of a surrogacy arrangement will eventually be codified in a signed legal document. During the legal phase, prospective surrogates are represented by their own attorney who is paid for by the Intended Parents. Surrogates choose their base compensation levels and their attorneys are there to make sure their legal rights are well protected as well as all expenses (legal, medical, travel) are covered by the Intended Parents.
It’s imperative that surrogates and Intended Parents find the right fit in matching from a pool of potential candidates. All parties entering surrogacy should know their legal rights and assess any potential concerns before agreeing to move forward. Those interested in becoming surrogates will need to meet certain state requirements; a surrogacy-specializing attorney can help ensure all parties follow local law.
The Unique Nature of the Military Community
For many military wives, becoming a surrogate is not only a lifechanging way to help other couples achieve their dreams of having a family, but it’s also its own opportunity for personal financial benefits. In addition to providing care and support for those who are unable to have children on their own, being a surrogate can provide military spouses with additional sources of income that directly benefits themselves and their own families.
Because of the frequency of transfers and deployments, many military spouses are unable to secure or maintain a regular job, especially while raising children of their own. Many military wives want to financially contribute to their families, but are unable to do so given the nature of being married to someone in the military. In addition to raising children of their own, many military spouses take advantage of no or reduced cost tuition or grants and are pursuing undergraduate or masters degrees.
There are potential financial and emotional benefits of surrogacy for military families. It’s important to consider what makes sense for you and your family if deciding to become a surrogate:
- Pay: Military wives receive pay for their services as a surrogate, providing an additional source of income.
- Protection: Surrogacy agreements provide a clear outline of medical coverage and assigns Intended Parents as the party financially responsible for medical bills, including any due to complications during pregnancy or delivery.
- Support: Your spouse must be on board with your plans to become a surrogate and are usually a named party in the surrogacy agreement. Additionally, you’ll need his/her support through the emotional aspects of surrogacy. For military wives that do not have their spouse nearby, it’s important that family can step in with childcare in the event of bedrest or pregnancy complications. Having a support network is imperative to a successful surrogacy arrangement, especially with the unpredictable nature of any pregnancy.
The Emotional Benefits of Surrogacy in the Military
Military spouses engaging in surrogacy usually find fulfillment in helping another family achieve their dreams of parenthood. Having experienced infertility themselves or watching a loved one go through an infertility journey, women that become surrogates are deeply moved by the opportunity to give back. Many experience great pride at being able to carry out a lifechanging feat on behalf of others. Most surrogates go on to do additional surrogacy arrangements and are primarily motivated by wanting to have the experience of a surrogacy pregnancy again. Most surrogates enjoy being pregnant.
Challenges for Surrogacy in the Military
All surrogates face medical risks associated with any pregnancy. Surrogates in the military may face unique challenges in not having a spouse or loved one nearby in the event of unexpected pregnancy complications. There may also be logistical and legal considerations to work through as a result of frequent moves or deployments.
Given the additional complexities, all parties must discuss how a military setting may create additional obstacles and how to handle any unpredictable scenarios including delays due to deployment or unforeseen circumstances that may come up during a surrogacy pregnancy and delivery.
What are the legal implications of surrogacy for the military?
Surrogacy poses intricate and diverse legal challenges for military personnel. While the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) does not explicitly outlaw surrogacy, it may contain provisions that affect how its practiced. Active duty service members may encounter constraints in participating in surrogacy arrangements due to their obligations to military service. Added to the complexity is the varied regulations under state laws which vary significantly across jurisdictions. Individuals in the military who are contemplating becoming surrogates or entering into contracts with surrogates must thoroughly evaluate all potential legal consequences before proceeding. Always discuss surrogacy with a qualified attorney before moving forward.
Are there any financial incentives for military wives to become surrogates?
In places where commercial surrogacy is legal (most of the United States), surrogates are free to determine their own levels of base compensation. Surrogates usually receive around $45,000 to $50,000 for their first surrogacy journey, experienced surrogates usually ask for more. Remember, however, surrogates choose their own compensation level; many ask for much less and much more than the typical rate. Only surrogates know what they consider a fair rate for their services.
The financial incentive is undoubtedly an attractive option for military wives that are looking to supplement their income. The legal implications of surrogacy, however, should also be considered. It is imperative that military wives consult with an attorney specializing in surrogacy before entering into any arrangements to ensure they understand their rights and obligations under the law.
Are there any physical or mental health risks associated with surrogacy and the military?
Surrogacy is a legally and medically complex endeavor that carries physical and emotional risks. All potential surrogates are screened for general health, including Body Mass Index, and the likelihood of pregnancy complications. Only healthy women are eligible to become surrogates. Surrogates must also pass a psychological screening where potential risks to their wellbeing are assessed. It’s important to note: many women that have had healthy children of their own are not approved to be surrogates. Prior pregnancy complications, including postpartum depressions, will exclude women from eligibility for surrogacy.
All pregnancies carry potential physical risks including gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, hypertension, and placental abruption. It is crucial to thoroughly contemplate potential risks before determining whether surrogacy makes sense for you and your family.
Is there any difference in the surrogacy process for military families compared to civilian families?
The surrogacy process for military families can differ from the process of civilian families because service members are subject to frequent moves which could add additional complexity to the legal and personal aspects of a surrogacy agreement. Partner/spousal absence is also a factor. Military wives should have a local support network in the absence of their partner nearby.
Are there any restrictions on who can become a surrogate within the military?
When considering becoming a surrogate within the military, it is important to note that there may be restrictions and regulations set in place by the Department of Defense. The Department can enforce certain policies regarding surrogacy-related activities, such as requiring that all parties provide proof of consent and obtain approval from their respective service branch prior to proceeding. Always discuss any potential military-related restrictions with an Assisted Reproduction attorney that has had specific experience advising military families.
Conclusion: Surrogacy and the Military
Surrogacy can be a unique and rewarding experience for those who are qualified and choose to participate. Surrogacy arrangements provide opportunities for people to start or grow their families in ways that may not be possible otherwise. While surrogacy can be a beneficial choice for military wives, it does come with its own set of challenges due to the nature of the military lifestyle. With appropriate support from family members, friends, and the military community at large, these challenges can be overcome. Ultimately, surrogacy can be an inspiring way to help other families create their dreams of parenthood while also bringing joy and purpose into the lives of those involved.