Surrogacy is when one woman agrees to carry a child for another couple [intended parents] or, increasingly, a single person.
Traditional surrogacy: Also known as "Straight" or "Partial" surrogacy, involves fertilising the surrogate mother's egg with sperm from the intended father. This may take place in an IVF clinic or by using an artificial insemination kit at home.
Gestational surrogacy: Also known as "Host" or "Full" surrogacy, involves the implantation of an embryo which has been created using the intended mother's egg and either the intended father's sperm or donor sperm.
Surrogate agreements are usually facilitated by an agency. Both Surrogacy UK (www.surrogacyuk.org) and COTS (Childlessness Overcome Through Surrogacy, www.surrogacy.org.uk) are non-profit organizations that offer information, advice and support to both intended parents and surrogate mothers. Other couples will be lucky enough to have a sibling, cousin, or close friend who is willing to act as their surrogate.
For women who discover that they are unable to fall pregnant or carry a healthy baby to term, surrogacy may offer the only chance for her and her partner to parent a child who is genetically theirs. While adoption is also an option, it is not without its own financial and emotional costs. Some couples may have already been turned down as adoptive parents because of their age or due to a medical condition. Others may simply want the opportunity to experience the joy of raising a child from birth.
In addition to the potential complications associated with fertility treatment and pregnancy, both the intended parents and the surrogate mother may experience emotional and psychological issues before, during or after the surrogacy arrangement. Very rarely, a surrogate mother may have difficulty handing over the baby after the birth, which is why organisations such as Surrogacy UK emphasise the importance of maintaining good relations throughout the agreement.
Surrogacy in the UK is legal, but it is also govern by various restrictions:
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