Parenting is the only job in this world that includes giving without expecting anything in return. Mentally, physically, emotionally, and even financially, until the child is ready to earn his bread, a parent will do anything for them. It is true, that times are changing and with time everyone and everything is evolving but a few things like parenting never change. What has changed is how nowadays parenting is being pursued or how couples are choosing to become parents in a way that is not traditional. In our parent’s generation and before that era, becoming parents was in a good old fashion way, i.e, intercourse or if the couple is not somehow medically fit then adoption was another way, but that also took a lot of time for people to accept. Some of them are still struggling. But as stated earlier, times are changing, people are changing, the thoughts are evolving day by day and eventually, people are understanding that parenting, being a mother or a father of a child needs love and care from the will of the heart and mind.
Surrogacy is one such way via which a couple can pursue parenting. Recently, global star Priyanka Chopra and singer Nick Jonas had a baby via surrogacy.
There are a few other Bollywood celebrities like Shilpa Shetty, Karan Johar, Shah Rukh Khan, Sunny Leone, Ekta Kapoor, Tusshar Kapoor, and many others who opted for surrogacy to become a parent. Let us first take you through the meaning of what exactly is surrogacy.
It’s a process where a woman fertilizes her egg with the sperm of a man to make an embryo via a medical process. The embryo is then implanted in the uterus of another woman, who had agreed to carry the couple’s baby in her womb and who is called a surrogate mother in medical terms. In a simpler language, surrogacy is a type of pregnancy where a woman carries and gives birth to a baby for another woman who is unable to do so due to any reason or personal wish.
Understanding Different Types Of Surrogacy
1. Traditional Surrogacy
Traditional surrogacy is a method in which the surrogate mother gets artificially injected with the sperm and it’s her egg that gets fertilized by the sperm. Sometimes, couples chose a sperm donor to donate sperm. In this case, the surrogate is the biological mother as it’s her eggs and she carries it for the next 9 months and then after birth gives it to the parents who are legally eligible to raise the child.
2. Gestational Surrogacy
In this method, the surrogate mother has no biological ties with the baby as it is not her egg that is used. The eggs are taken from the legal mother and fertilized with the sperm of the legal father before placing the embryo into the uterus of the surrogate. This process is successfully done by using IVF, i.e, in vitro fertilization. Then the surrogate mother carries the baby until the birth, and in this, the child is biologically the couple who hired the surrogate.
Top Reasons for Choosing Surrogacy
- The couple who are medically challenged individually or even there can be times when the male’s sperm and the female’s eggs are not a good match and that becomes a reason for not getting pregnant.
- The couple who do not want to adopt and want their child with a biological link.
- If the couple is of the same sex.
- The couple who wants to have a child but could not go for adoption because of age or legal reasons chooses this.
Surrogacy in India
India has now legalized surrogacy. The central government on the 25th of January, 2022, notified the Surrogacy (Regulation) Act 2021 and the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Act 2021. The two Acts aim to regulate in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics and prohibit commercial surrogacy in India. The bill was enacted on December 2021 and the Surrogacy act’s main goal is to regulate surrogacy in India by establishing a National Surrogacy Board all over the country. Similarly, the Assisted Reproductive Technology act aims to regulate assisted reproductive clinics with properly assisted banks and prevent them from being misused. As mentioned earlier via this bill, in India commercial surrogacy is not legal. It is where you pay the surrogate to do this. Altruistic surrogacy on the other hand involves no monetary compensation to the surrogates, except the medical and insurance expenses during the pregnancy.
There are lots of mental, physical, monetary, and legal issues when it comes to choosing Surrogacy in India. One of the challenges is the eligibility criteria for the couple. There are some very important steps that a couple needs to tick off the list before getting to even think of doing this. The intending couple should have the ‘certificate of essentiality’ and a ‘certificate of eligibility issued by the appropriate authority.
Certificate of essentiality includes:
- A certificate of proven infertility of the couple or either one of them by the known medical board.
- An order of parentage was passed by the Magistrate’s court for the child.
- Medical and insurance expenses for 16 months for the surrogate.
Certificate of eligibility includes:
- The couple should be Indian citizens and should be married for at least 5 years.
- The eligible age for the wife is 23-50 years and for the husband is 26-55 years.
- They should not have a child before this, biological, adopted, or surrogate. If they have a kid with a physical or mental disability or suffer from some life-threatening disease, then it is ok.
- Other conditions may be specified while reading the proper regulations.
Now, that we know the eligibility, let’s go through the criteria for the surrogates too. To obtain the certificate of eligibility the surrogate mother has to be:
- She has to be a close relative of the intending couple.
- She has to be a married woman with an existing child of her own.
- The eligible age is 25-35 years old.
- She can be a surrogate only once in her entire lifetime.
- She needs to pass the test of medical and psychological fitness.
- She cannot provide her gametes during this.
Where are we with this term?
Honestly, we are still not there! In India, we have a long way to go. People are still accepting that a couple can have a child in a non-traditional way and it is ok till the time laws and people are not exploited or hurt. There are mixed feelings when the topic of surrogacy is discussed. Many women say that it is a choice but then they won’t opt for this as the emotional connection with the baby might be missing. A few think that it is wrong to put another woman through this just for the sake of it. Their point is why not adopt a child rather than going for this procedure and spend so much without thinking of the condition they will put the surrogate through. There have been cases where the surrogates have been exploited by the intended couple and even there are cases where after giving birth the surrogate chooses not to give up the baby. Another reason why people still don’t opt for surrogacy is the expenses involved. It is a very expensive procedure and then there are many legal activities involved before you finally become a parent. Some elders are dead against it so much that even if the couple would like to go for this, they won’t. And some are just scared thinking what if they do not feel the emotional connection and end up hurting both, themselves and the kid at the same time. This is where we need to talk about it, learn more about it and discuss it openly.
The term surrogacy being accepted and working legally in everyone’s favor without any hurdles will take a long time. But it is not all bad, right? India has legalized surrogacy and has made laws to protect both parties from getting wronged. You don’t only become parents if you opt for the traditional route, there are ways like adoption and surrogacy that can help them become parents. And if a woman does not want to go through the pain of pregnancy, then it is not to be assumed that she is incapable of becoming a good mother. It is all on the top shelf of our body that needs to be ok with things. So, let us become more open to discussing topics like these rather than shunning them out thinking that it is wrong or what would people think. Let us educate ourselves first before jumping to what is right or what is wrong and type aggressively on the keypad to voice our opinions to the world.