The New Openness About Surrogacy Has Expanded Society’s Definition of Parenthood
What is parenthood, exactly? Is it giving birth and raising a child you’re genetically related to? Many people would say “yes, of course,” but what about the people raising adopted children? Or children of relatives? Or siblings? They are parenting, just like the more traditional families, and society recognizes that too. Most countries have a formal process for adoption because they acknowledge that there doesn’t have to be a genetic connection to make someone a parent. As surrogacy has become an accepted option for family building, it has expanded society’s definition of parenthood to be a little more inclusive.
Gestational Surrogacy Brought Surrogacy into the Mainstream of Society
Traditional surrogacy started to become a credible option for creating a family in the 1970s. However, it’s only since the introduction of gestational surrogacy in 1985 that surrogacy has had an impact on how society views parenthood and families.
Before that time there were so few surrogate mothers around that most people didn’t know one personally or even what a surrogate mother was. Thanks to gestational surrogacy, and an increasing number of reputable surrogacy agencies, more and more people have first-hand knowledge of surrogacy and have accepted it as another path to building a family.
Since more people are putting off parenthood until they’re established financially, and missing their prime child-bearing years, there has been a greater need for fertility services. At the top end of the fertility services ladder is gestational surrogacy, where a surrogate mother carries a child she is not genetically related to.
This is different from traditional surrogacy, where the surrogate is the genetic mother of the child. With traditional surrogacy, a lot of time was spent finding a surrogate who fit the general description of the intended mother or had a look the intended parents liked.
The number of women who want to become a surrogate in the traditional arrangement is small compared to the women who prefer to be a gestational surrogate where they can help anyone, not just people looking for someone who looks like them.
There’s also the time factor, it can take years to find a suitable traditional surrogate but most surrogacy agencies have lists of women who are available immediately to become gestational surrogate mothers. One of the biggest advantages of gestational surrogacy is that the intended mother can be the genetic mother if she can produce viable eggs, even if she can’t carry a pregnancy to term.
This step, the ability of people who cannot carry a pregnancy to have children that they are the genetic parents of, is one of the factors that has pushed surrogacy into the mainstream and changed the way society views parenthood. Surrogacy has now gone from an extra-ordinary challenge, involving a lot of searching and time, to literally the next option on the list of ways to build a family.
Reputable Surrogacy Agencies
As surrogacy has become more common, the need to use a reputable surrogacy agency has become more apparent. Like adoption, there are a lot of legal issues involved with surrogacy, especially when it comes to making sure all parties involved understand their rights and responsibilities. A good surrogacy agency will have their program set up so that both the surrogate and intended parents have legal representation, a contract that spells out what is paid for and when and covers all typical outcomes, like multiple births. With this kind of security in place, a woman who wants to become a surrogate can feel secure in her choice and not have to worry about a lot of “what ifs.”
Celebrities Using Surrogates
One of the primary things that has carried the concept of surrogacy to the attention of most people is the number of high-profile celebrities using surrogate mothers to carry children for them. Stars that have been very open about using the services of a surrogate mother include Tyra Banks, Elizabeth Banks, Jimmy Fallon, Lucy Liu, Ellen Pompeo, Sarah Jessica Parker, Neil Patrick Harris, Nicole Kidman, Ricky Martin, Kim Kardashian West and Elton John. These celebrity’s honesty about their choice to use a surrogate mother has opened-up the surrogacy discussion in society, and people’s conscious minds, the way nothing else could have.
Their openness has taken surrogacy mainstream, facilitating discussions about the subject and helping people realize that it is now a viable option for people with infertility issues. This openness also brings the whole process out in the open a little more so people are more comfortable with the idea. Now surrogate mothers can be open about the fact that they are carrying a baby for another family without worrying about how people will respond, most people will understand the situation and talk to the surrogate accordingly.
Things like asking about the pregnancy, how she’s feeling, etc. but not possible baby names or who the baby might look like. Intended parents have the same knowledge base working for them, they can display sonogram pictures and talk about the baby they are expecting via a surrogate mother without the need to explain the whole process or feel like they are lesser parents because they’ve gone the surrogacy route to build their family. That’s the real beauty of all the openness and education about surrogate mothers, society now accepts surrogacy as just another way to grow a family.