Starting a new life with your partner and a new family of your own is such a beautiful feeling. At the same time, it could be pretty overwhelming. There are so many things to consider—time, finance, a bigger house, the list goes on and on. Parenting requires a lot of time and emotion. You’re bringing a new human being to this world and you only want to give them the best. However, if natural means of conceiving a child isn’t the way to go for you for whatever reason, there are other ways. There’s adoption, IVF and even surrogacy. While adoption and IVF are starting to gain popularity and people are well aware of the method—surrogacy still isn’t a couple’s first choice.
And while it might not be as popular, couples and even celebrities like Karan Johar, Tusshar Kapoor, Sarah Jessika Parker, Neil Patrick Harris, Elton John have opted for surrogacy. This is because it is a lot simpler now than it was before. Having said that, there are many myths and questions people have about surrogacy that we will deal with today. So, if you’re considering surrogacy as an option in India, here is everything you need to know—straight from the experts!
What is surrogacy?
Surrogacy is a legal binding between two parties—a woman who agrees to conceive and give birth to single or multiple children and a couple. There are typically two types of surrogacies, traditional and gestational surrogacy.
In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate is also the egg donor that basically means that her eggs or gametes are used and hence, she is also the genetic mother.
Here the surrogate’s gametes are not used. The intended couple’s gametes are used or in cases of single mother or father, it is the intended parent’s gamete with that of a sperm or egg donor respectively that is used to form an embryo. This is then transferred into the uterus of the surrogate mother. In India, as per ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) guidelines, we can practice Gestational Surrogacy only.
When do couples opt for surrogacy?
This procedure is not the first option for couples in order to conceive a child. Dr Kaushal Kadam, Medical Director of Corion Fertility Clinic, tells us how difficult it is emotionally for women to opt for surrogacy. Many women want to have the pleasure of experiencing pregnancy, but unfortunately, a lot of them can’t. Some women may be born without a uterus, others may have a history of repeated early or late pregnancy miscarriages, or few may be suffering from medical conditions that do not allow them to carry a child. Women affected by these conditions opt for Surrogacy. Also, there are certain women who have been undergoing Assisted Reproductive treatments for a long duration and have had repeated failures in IVF, they opt for a surrogacy treatment when everything else fails. Single men may also require to use a Gestational Surrogate along with a separate egg donor.
How does one prepare for surrogacy medically?
Dr Kadam tells us that a couple who intends to plan a surrogacy process must first undergo good psychological counseling and confirm they are prepared for it. They may also need to discuss with their families and ensure they have the support of their elders. The couple needs to understand that the baby is going to be genetically theirs and the surrogate is only the carrier and explain the same to their families. The next step is to visit the infertility clinic and understand the process in detail. Scientifically, the woman needs to prepare herself to undergo an IVF cycle. Thus, the couple needs to finalise a clinic and meet with the surrogate. The IVF cycle will involve the female partner to take injections for 10-12 days to form eggs at the end of which a minor surgical procedure is performed under anaesthesia to retrieve the eggs. The eggs are then mixed with her partner’s sperm to form embryos. These embryos are then transferred into a surrogate.
What are the things to keep in mind before considering surrogacy?
Dr Kadam says that there are standard pregnancy risks that might occur during surrogacy, as below:
- Surrogates may not conceive at the first attempt and one may require 2-3 attempts.
- Surrogates at times may also have miscarriages.
- One only needs to confirm that surrogate has been investigated well and does not have any medical ailments. Additionally, the surrogate has been counseled well regards this arrangement and she has understood it well.
What are the legal procedures involved?
We got in touch with one of the most well-known advocates of our country, Advocate Usha Kejriwal to give you all the details you need to know in order to begin the procedures.
According to The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2018, commercial surrogacy (where the surrogate mother is paid to bear a child) is illegal and is a punishable offense. The only surrogacy that is allowed is Altruistic Surrogacy where there is no compensation granted to the surrogate, she can only be a surrogate once and this is done purely on the basis of goodwill for the couple. Hence, in most cases, you will find relatives of the couple stepping up to becoming their surrogate.
The one thing Advocate Usha Kejriwal mentioned was that since many minors are being sold as surrogates, and are used multiple times too, commercial surrogacy and advertisement of it is now illegal. Hence, couples must be certain about their choice of clinic and must be within the laws when going through this extremely critical process of surrogacy.
If you have any queries regarding this, leave us a comment and we’ll ask the experts to answer them for you.
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