Infertility is something that one in eight women in the USA struggle with. It’s a very personal and difficult situation, one that doesn’t get talked about often. Dispelling myths about IVF and Surrogacy in the United States is so important. Not only for the intended parents and potential surrogate, but also for society in general. Shaming surrogacy and IVF is no different than shaming disability. What I’ve found is that families that use surrogates or IVF and no different from everyone else. All they want is a healthy, happy baby to grace their lives and their homes. Here are some of the most common myths and misconceptions, explained, that people might have about these topics.
YOU CAN JUST ADOPT
Adoption is (rightfully) an incredibly difficult process, and some parents aren’t eligible or able to adopt- age constraints, medical history, and sexual orientation can all be exclusionary criteria. It’s also completely natural to want to have a genetic connection with your child. Telling someone considering IVF and surrogacy to adopt is akin to telling someone who plans to start a family the old fashion way to adopt. It’s rude, cruel, and uninformed.
THE BABY DOES NOT BELONG TO THE INTENDED PARENTS
Sorry. Simply not true. In Gestational Surrogacy (as opposed to traditional) the child(ren) are completely comprised of the intended parents, and/or donors, DNA. It’s exceptional and extremely rare that the surrogate mother gives ANY genetic material to the child.
THE BABY IS HARD TO GIVE UP
Again, it’s just not true. Imagine you’re babysitting for a friend, do you decide not to give the child back to them once they come home? Of course not! Because it’s not your child. Same rules apply to a surrogate mother, it’s not her child, so keeping it is totally out of the question. On top of that, potential surrogate mothers go through extensive psychological screening before they can apply to become a surrogate.
POOR WOMEN ARE BEING TAKEN ADVANTAGE AND TURNED INTO BABY FACTORIES
This one is almost laughable. The average surrogate is paid between $20,000 and $40,000 per birth, and this number depends on a multitude of factors. Most surrogates undergo a ton of tests before they can even think about meeting a host family- psychological, financial, medical, and lifestyle evaluations are all rigorously preformed. The quality standard for potential surrogate mothers is incredibly high.
IF YOU DON’T GO THROUGH AN AGENCY, YOU’LL HAVE NO RIGHTS
This is and isn’t true. The choice to go through an agency or to search independently for a candidate surrogate is entirely up to the intended parents and what fits best for them. Regardless of whether or not you use an agency (and there are TONS to choose from, each with their own unique approach), there are extensive legal contracts and processes that must be performed by professionals before surrogate IVF can be performed. If you go the independent route, all medical and psychological screening must be paid for and arranged between the intended parents and surrogate.
IVF WORKS EVERYTIME
Well, no. Not at all. Prepare for a little bit of disappointment as you get the ball rolling. There’s only about a 30% success rate with most IVF programs, but your physician will ensure that the best embryos and sperm will be chosen to afford you the best possible chances of success. Having proper surrogate screenings for fertility beforehand can also help bump up those numbers.
INSURANCE COVERS IVF
It’s rare in the USA to find an insurance plan that covers IVF. Definitely check with your employer or insurance provider about your options. There are some ways of adding specific types of coverage to pre-existing plans. Some forward thinking employers are even starting to begin offering these types of coverages from the get go!
INTENDED PARENTS CAN MAKE ANY DEMANDS OF THE SURROGATE THEY WANT. INCLUDING DIET, LIFESTYLE, AND ELECTIVE TERMINATION.
I guess this could be true if the intended parents and potential surrogate did not opt for a clear and concise surrogacy contract before hand, but the reality is- this is mostly false. Intended parents can absolutely make requests of the potential surrogate, especially if the requests are centered around the intended parents belief systems or are rooted in reasonable medical concern. All of these things will be discussed during the meet and greet with the potential surrogate. Values, concerns, desires, and expectations will all be laid out, discussed and agreed upon. If not, then your agency will provide you with another choice of potential surrogate. Surrogacy is really about comfort and planning. Any agency worth their salt (and dollars!) will ensure that your comfort is absolutely their paramount concern throughout the entire process. Negotiating and navigating legalities and preferences is just one of the many things that they are designed to do.