Surrogacy is a relatively new method of building families, which means that intended parents and surrogates alike often have many questions before starting this process. Perhaps one of the most common is, “Is the surrogate related to the baby?”
The quick answer is no. That’s because, in nearly all modern surrogacies, a baby does not get any genetics from a surrogate mother, thanks to a process called gestational surrogacy.
If you know you are ready to start your gestational surrogacy journey, you can reach out to a surrogacy specialist today to get the process started. But, if you want to find out more about how gestational surrogacy works, continue reading.
What is Gestational Surrogacy?
When people ask, “Are surrogates related to the baby,” and, “Do surrogate mothers have parental rights,” they likely don’t know about gestational surrogacy and how it works.
Gestational surrogacy is a process through which a prospective surrogate is not genetically related to the baby she carries. Instead, an embryo is created with:
- The sperm and egg of the intended mother and father
- A combination of donor sperm or egg, if needed
When the embryo is implanted in the surrogate, it is already complete. Therefore, a surrogate mother does not pass on DNA to that baby.
Most surrogacy professionals today will only complete gestational surrogacies. So, if you work with a surrogacy agency or fertility clinic, the baby you deliver will not be related to you.
Why People Ask, “Is the Surrogate Related to the Baby?”
If most surrogacies today are gestational, why do people continue to ask, “Are surrogates related to the baby?”
This question often is related to the beginning of the modern surrogacy process.
The Early History of Surrogacy
In the past, assisted reproductive technology like in-vitro fertilization was unavailable. So, surrogacies could only be completed through:
- Sexual intercourse between the intended father and surrogate
- Artificial insemination
Even when in vitro fertilization became possible, it wasn’t until a couple of years after its inception that doctors began using the intended mother’s egg to create an embryo for implantation into a surrogate’s uterus.
Therefore, when people ask, “Is a surrogate mother genetically related to the child?” it’s because they are thinking about traditional surrogacy.
The lack of knowledge about modern surrogacy techniques is why surrogacy questions are still so prevalent, even decades after gestational surrogacy started to become popular.
Why Gestational Surrogacy is the Norm Today
While the medical process of traditional surrogacy may be more straightforward, traditional surrogacy comes with many additional complications that can put intended parents, surrogates, and babies born through surrogacy at risk. These complications inspired many surrogacy professionals to ban traditional surrogacy from their services in the first place.
One of the inherent problems with traditional surrogacy is that the baby is related to the surrogate mother, which means that the surrogate has automatic parental rights to the baby she is carrying. Therefore, she:
- Has the legal right to sue for custody of the child sharing her DNA
- Must consider the emotional factors that can make the process more complicated for all involved
Why Modern Surrogacies are Mostly Gestational
The case of “Baby M” is a prominent reason why the answer to the questions “do surrogate mothers have parental rights” and “are surrogates related to the baby” is most often “no,” thanks to gestational surrogacy.
In 1984, when a traditional surrogate gave birth to the intended parents’ baby, she refused to sign over her parental rights, initiating a complicated, lengthy custody battle. The surrogate eventually retained her parental rights to the baby. While the baby was placed in the custody of her biological father (the intended father), the surrogate still had visitation rights. The emotional and legal complications of this case deterred many surrogacy professionals from ever completing traditional surrogacies again.
If you are considering becoming a traditional surrogate or intended parents ask you to complete a traditional surrogacy, it’s strongly advised that you speak with a surrogacy professional and do diligent research before making a decision. This is rarely the right path for a prospective surrogate.
Next Steps Toward Your Gestational Surrogacy Journey
Now that you know the answer to the question, “Is the surrogate related to the baby?,” is no if you choose gestational surrogacy, you may feel more confident that this path is for you.
If you are ready to find out more about gestational surrogacy, reach out to us today for information.