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  • First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.

  • At least, that's what most would-be parents are hoping for.

  • Sadly, it's not always as easy to get pregnant as a couple might expect, and some hopeful

  • parents need a little help to make their family dreams come true.

  • When fertility treatments aren't enough, some aspiring parents turn to surrogacy to

  • expand their family.

  • So, how does baby surrogacy actually work?

  • It's more complicated than you might expect.

  • There are many reasons that someone may not be able to have children of their own.

  • Some medical issues can make pregnancy extremely risky for the mother, or there could be struggles

  • with fertility for women and men, or the prospective mother might be too old to have children naturally.

  • In some cases, the prospective parents are a same sex couple who need a surrogate to

  • help them become biological parents, and for others it's simply a personal choice not

  • to carry their baby themselves.

  • Many celebrities have used a surrogate to add to their family.

  • Tyra Banks and her boyfriend Erik Asla welcomed a baby boy named York to their family in 2016

  • via a gestational surrogate.

  • Grey's Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo's second child was delivered by a surrogate in 2014.

  • Niel Patrick Harris and his husband David Burtka welcomed their twins in 2010 - they

  • inserted two eggs into their surrogate's uterus, one inseminated with each of their

  • sperm.

  • In any of these cases, a surrogate can be the answer to the aspiring parents' dreams.

  • A surrogate is a woman who carries and delivers a baby for aspiring parents who are unable

  • or unwilling to have children of their own.

  • While surrogacy seems pretty straightforward, it can raise a lot of questions, like: “Is

  • the baby related to the surrogate?” orWho are the 'real' parents?”.

  • The answers to these questions depend on what type of surrogacy is used.

  • There are two types of surrogacy available for prospective parents - traditional surrogacy

  • and gestational surrogacy.

  • In both cases, the surrogate carries and delivers the baby for the intended parents, but there

  • are major differences between the two types.

  • In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate provides both the womb and the egg, and is artificially

  • inseminated with the sperm from the prospective father or a donor.

  • In cases of traditional surrogacy, the baby will be related to the surrogate as the egg

  • - and therefore half of the genetic material - came from the surrogate parent.

  • In gestational surrogacy, the baby that the surrogate will carry is not related to her

  • - the embryo is created with the eggs and sperm of the parents or donors and implanted

  • in the surrogate.

  • About 750 babies are born via gestational surrogacy in the U.S. each year.

  • As for the question of who the 'real' parents are, traditional surrogacy can complicate

  • things since the baby shares DNA with the surrogate, and for that reason it is the far

  • less common option for aspiring parents looking to have a child through a surrogate.

  • In gestational surrogacy, the surrogate is thebirth mother”, but the biological

  • mother is the woman whose egg was used.

  • In either case, as long as everything is done properly, the intended parents are thereal

  • parents, whether or not they share DNA with the baby - just like in the case of adoption.

  • Gestational surrogacy may seem pretty straightforward, but it's actually quite a complicated and

  • expensive process.

  • Once a couple has decided that gestational surrogacy is right for them, the first step

  • is to find a surrogate willing to carry and deliver their baby.

  • For Jenn and Brad Nixon, this step was one of the easiest parts of the process.

  • After 2 years of trying unsuccessfully for a baby, the couple finally became pregnant

  • with the help of fertility treatments, but sadly they lost the pregnancy at 16 weeks,

  • and Jenn discovered that she had a heart condition that would make pregnancy unsafe for her and

  • her baby.

  • They were incredibly fortunate to have a close friend who volunteered to be their surrogate,

  • and agreed to carry their baby for free.

  • Even though they did not have to compensate their surrogate, the cost of medical bills

  • and legal fees added up quickly.

  • In the end, it still cost them nearly $35,000 dollars to have a baby through surrogacy,

  • but the couple were happy to pay the price if it meant finally having a family of their

  • own.

  • It's not always so easy to find a friend or family member willing to act as a surrogate.

  • Being a surrogate is a huge commitment - the person has to be willing to undergo pregnancy

  • and delivery, understand the impact of giving up the baby after birth, and work closely

  • with the couple for a year or more.

  • Thankfully, there are agencies that will help match aspiring parents with willing surrogates

  • and help with every step of the process.

  • There are around 100 of these agencies in the U.S., and working with an agency gives

  • prospective parents access to willing surrogates who have usually passed the agency's rigorous

  • evaluations.

  • There are currently no regulations for who can be a surrogate, but most agencies require

  • surrogates to be over 21 years old, to already have had at least 1 healthy baby, and to have

  • passed psychological screening and medical evaluations, including STD screening and immunization

  • tests.

  • Jessica and Ryan Benson had tried unsuccessfully for years to have a child of their own before

  • their doctor recommended gestational surrogacy.

  • Not knowing anyone personally who could act as their surrogate, they turned to a local

  • agency for help.

  • They met with a case manager who helped them create their surrogacy plan and had them complete

  • a lengthy questionnaire detailing their preferences for a surrogate - everything from the surrogate's

  • sexual orientation and personality to her preferred level of contact throughout and

  • after the process - as well as helped them complete their own profile to show to prospective

  • surrogates.

  • Their case manager then showed them 4 profiles of potential surrogates who matched their

  • criteria, and after meeting with the one they liked best, the 3 agreed to work together,

  • and Jessica and Ryan finally began their journey to parenthood.

  • Choosing a surrogate was just the beginning of the process for the Bensons, though.

  • Once they had found someone they liked who was willing to carry their baby and they had

  • ensured she was medically and psychologically fit for pregnancy, there were still mountains

  • of legal paperwork to complete before they could begin their surrogacy journey.

  • Both the Bensons and their surrogate each had to get their own lawyers to help them

  • finalize the surrogacy contract - and the Bensons had to pay for all of the legal costs.

  • The surrogacy contract covers everything from how the parties would deal with any complications

  • to how the surrogate would be compensated for her service.

  • The contract also outlined the plan for establishing the Bensons as the legal parents of the baby,

  • a process that usually starts once the pregnancy has reached the second trimester.

  • Establishing legal parenthood is usually less complicated in gestational surrogacy than

  • traditional surrogacy, since the baby is not related to the surrogate, but it's far from

  • simple and parental rights are by no means guaranteed.

  • There are no federal laws governing surrogacy in the U.S. - the rules vary widely from state

  • to state, and are constantly changing as more and more people turn to surrogacy.

  • In some states, prospective parents are required to legally adopt the baby after birth, while

  • others allow the parents to state their intention to take over legal guardianship before the

  • baby is born.

  • Gestational surrogacy is currently only legal in 10 U.S. states, and although it is practiced

  • in many others, there are many legal hurdles and potential issues to be aware of.

  • In many states, the surrogate has the right to choose to keep the baby at any point throughout

  • the process, and some states even require that prospective parents be legally married

  • and heterosexual to even be allowed to use a surrogate.

  • Needless to say, lawyers and surrogacy agencies highly recommend holding off until the contracts

  • are finalized and signed by both sides before taking steps to get pregnant.

  • Once the legal hurdles have been cleared, the next step is fertilization.

  • For the Bensons, this meant a trip to the fertility clinic for all 3 of them.

  • After taking medications to help develop her eggs, Jessica underwent an egg retrieval procedure.

  • Jessica's egg was then fertilized with Ryan's sperm in the lab to create an embryo that

  • would be implanted in their surrogate's uterus.

  • The Bensons were able to use their own egg and sperm, but that's not always the case

  • - some prospective parents use donor eggs or sperm to make the embryo that will become

  • their baby, either because they have to or because they chose to.

  • The Bensons' surrogate also had to take fertility medications leading up to the procedure

  • to increase the chances of a successful implantation.

  • The procedure was relatively quick and painless, and a few weeks later they returned to the

  • clinic to find out if the implantation was successful.

  • Luckily for the Bensons, the procedure was a success on the first try, and 6 weeks later

  • they were finally able to hear their baby's heartbeat for the first time.

  • Once the pregnancy was confirmed, the Bensons' surrogate received the first of her regular

  • compensation payments that she would receive throughout the pregnancy.

  • This was just one of the many costs related to the surrogacy process.

  • The Bensons were also on the hook for all medical costs, including fertility treatments

  • and pre-natal check-ups, labor and delivery costs, as well as their own and their surrogates

  • legal fees.

  • They also had to cover travel expenses for themselves and the surrogate, since they had

  • travelled to another state with more favorable laws to have the procedure.

  • They even had to take care of the cost of the surrogate's food during the pregnancy

  • and pay for her maternity clothes.

  • In all, it can cost anywhere from $100,000 to $150,000 dollars or more to have a baby

  • via a surrogate, but most prospective parents would tell you that it's well worth the

  • costs.

  • Some insurance companies offer special policies that cover the costs of surrogacy, but the

  • premiums alone can cost 10s of 1,000s of dollars and the prospective parents are responsible

  • for that cost, too.

  • Finally, after years of disappointment and months of waiting, the Bensons were thrilled

  • to finally welcome a healthy baby into their family.

  • They were incredibly grateful to their surrogate for helping to make their dream of becoming

  • parents a reality.

  • “I think she's an amazing person who is generous beyond measure,” says Jessica of

  • their surrogate.

  • Unfortunately, not all surrogacy stories end as happily as the Bensons' and the Nixons'

  • did, and there is plenty of controversy around the topic of commercial surrogacy in the U.S..

  • The infamous case of Baby M in the mid 1980s was the first court case in the country involving

  • surrogacy, and it made headlines around the world.

  • In this case the couple had opted for traditional surrogacy, where they had used the husband's

  • sperm to fertilize the surrogate's own egg, meaning that the surrogate was biologically

  • related to the baby.

  • After the baby was born and the new parents took her home, the surrogate turned up at

  • their door demandingherbaby back and threatening suicide if they didn't give

  • her up.

  • The parents reluctantly handed over their baby, though the surrogate was eventually

  • forced to give her back.

  • This case is a prime example of why gestational surrogacy is preferred over traditional surrogacy,

  • and why traditional surrogacy is not even legal in many states.

  • Some even advocate against commercial surrogacy altogether, arguing that financial compensation

  • for carrying someone's baby is unethical.

  • There is also risk on the other side of the table.

  • In 2010, a Nova Scotia couple texted their surrogate, who was 6 months pregnant with

  • twins, to tell her that they were separating and no longer wanted the babies.

  • Thankfully, the surrogate gave birth to the twins and eventually found an adoptive home

  • for them.

  • There's also the 2011 case of a Conneticut couple who offered their surrogate $10,000

  • dollars to have an abortion after testing revealed that the baby had severe abnormalities.

  • Instead, the surrogate fled to Michigan where the rights of the birth mother trump those

  • of the prospective parents, and she gave birth to the baby there before another family adopted

  • it.

  • But these stories are more like anomalies than typical.

  • Thanks to modern medicine and incredibly generous surrogates, families who can't have children

  • of their own now have options for creating the family they've always dreamed of.

  • Surrogacy is a beautiful gift to give to someone who can't have their own children, but it

  • is definitely not without its risks and complications.

  • Understanding how baby surrogacy works turns out to be more complicated than it might seem

  • at first.

  • If you thought learning about surrogacy was interesting, you'll definitely want to check

  • out our other videos, like this one calledWhat Happens Before You Are Born?”

  • Or, you might like this other video instead.

  • As always, thanks for watching, and don't forget to like, share and subscribe!

  • See you next time!

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.

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How Does Baby Surrogacy ACTUALLY Work?

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    Summer posted on 2021/05/26
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