Altruism is defined as “unselfish regard or devotion to the welfare of others” — a quality that all surrogates arguably must possess to make the physical and emotional sacrifices demanded by surrogacy. Many surrogacy supporters argue that all surrogacy is altruistic in nature, which can make it somewhat difficult to truly define altruistic surrogacy.
However, the term “altruistic surrogacy” generally refers only to those arrangements in which the surrogate does not receive compensation for her services beyond reimbursement for medical costs and other reasonable pregnancy-related expenses. Many of these arrangements are between family members or close friends and are completed as independent surrogacies. The alternative to altruistic surrogacy is commercial surrogacy, in which the surrogate is fairly compensated for her time and energy, the sacrifices she makes and the many physical and emotional challenges she faces throughout the surrogacy process.
The sections below explore the process, costs, pros and cons of altruistic surrogacy, as well as some important considerations for prospective intended parents to take into account before pursuing this type of surrogacy arrangement.
How does altruistic surrogacy work?
The surrogacy process is generally the same for altruistic surrogacy as it is for commercial surrogacy. However, most intended parents in altruistic surrogacy arrangements work with surrogates they already know. Because of the incredible selflessness required of altruistic surrogates, many are women who volunteer their gestational services for their siblings, children, or other close family members or friends.
These arrangements are known as “identified surrogacy” because the intended parents and surrogate have already found their match before working with a surrogacy professional. Identified surrogacy puts intended parents and surrogates a few steps ahead in the surrogacy process and eliminates the need for an agency’s matching services. However, it is highly recommended that intended parents and identified surrogates work closely with a surrogacy professional throughout the remainder of the process to complete the necessary legal and medical requirements, and to provide the surrogate any support she made need.
Altruistic Surrogacy Cost
Altruistic surrogacy is often less expensive than commercial surrogacy because the intended parents do not compensate their surrogate. Despite these savings, there are still several important services and professionals involved in the altruistic surrogacy process, as well as many variable expenses that can impact the overall cost of the surrogacy.
Here are some of the services and fees that may be applicable to altruistic surrogacy arrangements:
- Medical expenses, including the embryo transfer or artificial insemination, fertility injections, and labor and delivery costs
- Donation fees if an egg donor or sperm donor is required
- Attorney fees
- Counseling expenses
- Additional fees, including maternity clothing and travel costs to transport her to and from appointments
- Agency fees
These surrogacy costs are variable depending on a number of factors, including your state’s laws and cost of living, the professional you work with and your surrogate’s needs. For a better understanding of surrogacy costs, speak with a surrogacy professional to discuss your individual circumstances.
Pros and Cons of Altruistic Surrogacy
Between the right surrogate and intended parents, altruistic surrogacy can be a positive experience with many benefits for intended parents. However, there are also some challenges with altruistic surrogacy to keep in mind before entering into this type of surrogacy agreement.
Here are some common advantages and disadvantages of altruistic surrogacy:
- Altruistic surrogacy is generally less expensive than commercial surrogacy because intended parents do not pay their surrogate.
- Altruistic surrogacy is legal in many U.S. states and countries where commercial surrogacy is banned, making it a more widely available option for intended parents.
- Intended parents pursuing an identified altruistic surrogacy may feel a greater peace of mind and stronger sense of trust throughout the pregnancy because it is being carried by a close family member or friend.
- Most altruistic surrogates are close friends or family members of their intended parents. Intended parents who are not pursuing identified surrogacy are not likely to find a match with an altruistic surrogate through an agency’s matching services.
- Altruistic surrogates may feel underappreciated or even exploited at times, and friends and family members may feel pressured to enter a surrogacy arrangement in which they do not receive compensation. These situations could potentially have a negative impact on the intended parents’ relationship with the surrogate.
- Intended parents may feel less in control of the surrogacy when the surrogate is not compensated; for example, some intended parents may feel hesitant to make specific requests of the surrogate because they are not paying her in exchange.
Under the right circumstances, altruistic surrogacy can be an incredible and rewarding experience for everyone involved. For intended parents, it is a remarkable and selfless gift and a more cost-effective way to grow their family. However, it is also important to think about the potential complications that could arise before entering into an altruistic surrogacy agreement with a friend or family member.
Surrogacy is a life-altering experience for everyone involved, and intended parents should be aware of the potential long-term impact this form of surrogacy could have on their relationship with the friend or family member who carries the pregnancy for them. Surrogates and intended parents should seek counseling services before and during the surrogacy process to ensure this is the best choice for them.
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