Surrogacy on the upswing?

This morning I read two articles from two very different parts of the world.

The first article, Dealing with a childless marriage, came from The Times of India.  According to this publication, (no author is mentioned), couples facing a childless future are encouraged to consider the effects stress has on conceiving, and recognize when professional counseling can be beneficial, especially if infertility is the issue.  Then, as can be expected, the A-bomb gets dropped after the third paragraph:

Adoption is a boon for a parentless child, but more often than not, adoption proves to be a blessing for the couple who is adopting. Anuradha Talwar, 35, who adopted a child after six years of marriage says, “After we adopted Niharika, a curtain of sorrow was lifted from our lives. Earlier, we were resigned to the fact that we would always be miserable and unhappy.”

"Adoption is a boon".  A business boon, indeed... especially since every business must have a target audience, and when it comes to adoption, is seems as though that audience is often infertile, and/or wanting more children.

However, a not-so-new trend seems to be making media headlines these days, as well.  Today, news about surrogacy comes from Canada.  According to the article, N.B. surrogate helps complete Island family, surrogacy has benefits adoption doesn't.

"We knew we wanted at least two (children). That was our intention but, after Chelsey was born, it didn't look like that was going to happen," Trevor says.

"It was a difficult ordeal. There were a lot of mixed emotions at the time. We had a beautiful baby daughter but, at the same time, Tricia (lost her ability to carry another child)."

About a year later, Tricia started to research their options as far as adoption and surrogacy.

"(Adoption) is a great system but, after looking into the time span of waiting for four or five years and all that, we just didn't know if that was what we wanted," Trevor remembers.

Seems the waiting-period is what gets people down and disinterested with the adoption-option... so off to the fertility clinic couples will go.

Later in the article, readers learn how surrogacy operates with this one particular Canadian-based agency.  First the surrogate mother gets to choose the couple for which she will carry, then the type of contact during and after (pregnancy) is agreed upon, and once all is peachy, all partners enter a legally binding contract.   What I found surprising is how some surrogacy agencies, (like those in India) will pay the mothers to give birth but not emotionally attach, while this featured agency follows a different policy... one that mimics a good old-fashioned adoption-plan and procedure:

The agency is paid a fee for matching the surrogate with the prospective parent(s). The surrogate receives no payment but her legal and medical costs associated with the pregnancy and also accommodation and travel costs to, in this case Toronto, for the in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure.

So now, in my mind, things get a little tricky, like a crazy roller-coaster ride, because how many average Joes and Janes know what fertility treatments do to a person... to a couple?  As one who had friends take the IVF route, I know it was not easy, especially for the woman taking so many hormones, hoping desperately she will conceive (but not too many).

According to the happy-surrogacy-story, set-backs did take place.  Even though the infertile couple had to do their part with the fertility specialist, so did their non-paid "gestational carrier"... and still that mutual effort was not enough, at first. 

"Even though there was nothing wrong with my eggs, I too had to go on fertility (drugs) and all that because they wanted the best chance in order for us to conceive," Tricia says.

"So I went though all the same medication as did our gestational carrier to get her body ready to accept (embryos). Plus I had ultrasounds along the way that she did herself to (check the eggs' status)."

The egg-provider in this story produced only four eggs, and not all the eggs were strong.  Next round, she only produced three.  Lucky for the paying couple, one of those fertilized eggs did produce a baby that was delivered by induction that following April.  [My favorite part of the surrogate-story was how the "gestational carrier" was treated before and after delivery... all according to plan.]

They were in constant contact with their gestational carrier, who kept them informed of all the little details, such as doctor's appointments and other pregnancy milestones that add up to big memories for parents-to-be.

"Everything and anything she sent our way and really and truly we don't feel like we missed out on anything," Tricia says. 

[Later...] 

Once Sophie was weighed and cleaned she was placed in her parents' arms, according to the birth plan that had been made up by their gestational carrier beforehand.

At the end of the article, the reader learns 18 months later the young family still keeps in touch with, and I quote, "the woman who volunteered to help bring their child into the world."

Here's my question(s) for discussion:  had that woman... that gestational carrier... been paid, like the fine folks working at the fertility clinic, would she still have gotten monthly updates on the baby she helped create?  At what point is that relationship supposed to end?  Is this surrogacy, or an open adoption, done through a fertility clinic?  Last but not least, if surrogacy becomes more popular, does this mean orphanages around the world will be seeing less and less very young "orphans" available for adoption?

0

definitely on the upswing

I think the adoption industry has seen this coming long time ago. At least one of them, Partners for Adoption, jumped on the surrogate train itself, offering services in Ukraine. For the rest of the agencies, there has been a shift towards selling orphans to any couple that wants them, as opposed to trying to find children for infertile couples. It had become more and more common for couples that already have children and that have no fertility issues, to adopt internationally. This is especially promoted through churches.

Infertile couples that want a "child of their own", more closely meet their desires by going the surrogacy route. With surrogacy genetic differences don't have to play a role, and I wouldn't be surprised if some couple will be tempted not to tell their child about the surrogacy. Unlike adoption, children born to surrogates have no way of knowing they were not born in their mother's womb.

Since India started commercial surrogacy in 2002, it is a booming industry. I wouldn't be surprised when other countries follow suit. That will lower the price of surrogacy to the point where it is entirely competitive with the price asked for adoption. The only "disadvantage" the industry has is that it is not as heavily subsidized as adoption is.

Ethically, I see the same issues arise in surrogacy as in adoption. How can we ever be sure women are not coerced? How can we tell that the money involved is in effect not a coercive instrument, especially when doing surrogacy from countries with a large population of poor.

"Will you have my baby?"

While I know adoption agencies (like Bethany) are infamous for their maternity home services -- pre-made babies made available for high-paying PAP's -- I never really thought a surrogacy service would merge with an adoption one... but sure enough, on that Partners for Adoption webpage, there is a page dedicated to international surrogacy.

Partners for Adoption is excited to share the news of our sister program with International Surrogacy Partners. International Surrogacy Partners, a pioneer in the new frontier of International Surrogate Parenthood, believes that every individual and couple has the right to happiness through parenthood. International surrogacy has, until recently, been most common throughout Europe. International Surrogacy Partners is the first U.S. based agency to have an established surrogacy program in Eastern Europe, with the exclusive rights to work with 2 prominent clinics in Ukraine, both of which have many years of experience.

http://www.partnersforadoption.org/surrogacy.shtml

I guess this type of operation makes non-contraceptive family-planning a one-stop service center for some. 

What's interesting is the cost-difference, and who is getting involved in this business.

Fister met his surrogate who, he says, is married with two children and told him the money she’s making from the surrogacy will go toward her children’s education.
Fister says he was surprised at how open the clinic was.

“The whole process was a lot more hands-on than it would be in the U.S.,” he says. "You get to see the whole process. I got to watch the embryos go in. Those are things you never get to see here. You follow them the whole way." After one failed attempt and one miscarriage, their surrogate is now due in April.

They get updates, including ultrasounds, via email. Samson, a native of India, started Surrogacy Abroad in 2006, when one of his sisters was having trouble getting pregnant.
He’d worked in the medical field for 22 years, processing claims and benefits, before starting the agency.

"I flew to India and checked out all the clinics," he said, before finally settling on Kiran. Commercial surrogacy was legalized in India in 2002, and it is now estimated to be a 445 million dollar business.

Griebe and Fister say they’ve spent around 40,000 dollars on the surrogacy process so far. According to Samson, 8,000 dollars goes directly to the surrogate mother.

[From:  American gays all for Indian surrogacy ]

So, in India, women are paid less than ten- thousand of dollars to serve those wanting babies, whereas in other areas, (like the agency in Canada,  mentioned in my original post) women are not paid, but seen as "volunteers".  Meanwhile, infertile couples in the US are facing outrageous surrogacy-related fees:

 The high costs and legal murkiness of surrogacy arrangements here in the U.S. are driving some would-be parents to India. The price tag can be anywhere from $70,000 to $130,000, and many people pay more for multiple attempts, says Richard Vaughn, managing attorney at the National Fertility Law Center in Los Angeles.

[From:  Heading to India for a Longed-For Child ]

One can only imagine how the cheapest fees will earn the most eager and desperate clients.

To be honest, I really don't know how I feel about all this fooling with nature.  Hormones, petri dishes, sperm and ovum being frozen and placed... some getting paid, while others are doing most of the work... I dunno... what ever happened to letting nature decide if you were going to have a newborn-baby, or not? 

While I agree each child has a human-right to have parents, (after-all, that's basic biology), I don't really think parenthood is a right scientists and business names looking for a profit should be deciding.  I certainly don't like how adoption and surrogacy are becoming inter-linked and promoted when there are so many children in this world suffering from profound abuse and neglect.

The funny thing is seeing how celebrities get in the mix of things.  A while ago, Ricky Martin announced his desire to adopt from every country.  A while later, he learned more about the situation in Cambodia, ending all adoption-talk from the entertainer.  Now that Ricky has his twins via surrogacy, he's decided to tackle trafficking.

Am I the only person who seems to think "encouraging" poor women to rent their wombs, for the more wealthy, is not the best direction to take? 

[OH!  Why oh WHY can't an external womb and synthetic eggs be developed?  Rumor has it artificial sperm has been created.... maybe then no one would have to worry about who gets named "parent" on a birth certificate. ]

There was a time I used to think the single-most romantic thing a man could say to the woman he loved is, "Will you have my baby?"

Now it seems anyone can do the job, just as long as someone if getting paid.

Rent-a-Womb aka Int'l Surrogacy Adoption

While the world wrestles with over 2-4 million (depending on what figures you read) homeless orphans and over 100,000 street orphans in the Ukraine...I find it morally disturbing that Ukrainians and ignorant Americans would want to create more children. What have we become "a made to order" society? I realize the goal for these Americans (majority are Americans that are fueling this industry) is to have a child with their DNA . They try to save a few bucks and take their business overseas to the Ukraine, India and I am told Guatemala has such a program (surprise, surprise).

The thought of adopting a older child or one with slight delays doesn't appeal to them, so they are willing to dish out $75,000+ for a healthy baby.
When does the USCIS catch up with all of these legalties? We have adoption agencies with NO MEDICAL license practicing as a fertilty, baby producing machine. The chances of the child being switched and incorrect DNA tests or fraud in these countries would be high, look at the money involved.
How does a couple really know that it is their eggie and spermie that were used to implant in the poor Ukrainian woman? Adoption agencies are always working on a new angle to support their business. One program closes, they are working on another "NEW" program. If anyone thinks this is nothing more than a BUSINESS transaction to these agencies they should view their 990 IRS tax returns for free at www.guidestar.com you will be astounded - most gross well over $1 million a year- some "non-profit" huh? Many of these 990's tax returns proudly display the salaries of the Executive Directors (aka owners) and many are around the $100K per year.

There is also the chance of being extorted by the Surrogate woman for more money, they legally don't have to relinquish their rights and can hold out for more money. Frankly, I see all kinds of issues, legally and medically with this surrogacy International Adoption. I know Partners for Adoption has had a few wealthy couples through their program, but as of late Partners for Adoption has been touting themselves as a "one stop shop for adoption".
In the last 1.3 years they have added a Ghana, Armenian and Georgian adoption where they are "partnering with Hopscotch Adoptions" Robin Sizemore operates Hopscotch Adoptions (small time operation of under 18 adoptions per year) out of her home in NC, I am told from her kitchen table...imagine that? Prior to opening Hopscotch Adoptions she was the Armenian and Georgian adoption faciltator for Carolina Adoption Services which dismissed her contract after her Georgian facilitator Mariza was ARRESTED for baby brokering.

Partners for Adoption has also added domestic adoptions to their portfolio. The other disturbing thing about PFA (partners for Adoption) is they don't have any long term employees. None are over 2 years with them.
I just had communication with a couple from San Diego (Acostas) that were adopting from Ghana, 2 children that they already had photos of. Their staff person handling Ghana at Partners for Adoption either quit or was let go and PFA had Hopscotch Adoptions step in to finish the facilitating of the adoption. This couple was unaware that although they had supplied her a photo of 2 adorable children (they proudly displayed on their blog) -----these children are not legally theirs until the country of Ghana has decided this. I mentioned that if she truly wanted these kids she should get off her lazy ass and travel to Ghana and meet them. Otherwise if you are trying to help out 2 African children consider our fellow African-American children that are sitting in Foster Care ready to adopt. www.adoptuskids.org.

Honestly makes no sense that Americans pay upwards of $40,000 for International Adoption and travel 4,000+ miles to Ethiopia, Ghana, Columbia, etc., when we have beautiful Hispanic and African AMERICAN children here in the USA. With a fost to adopt program you get a monthly fee to offset the monthly expenses of the child (most people put it into an account for college) and the child's health care is covered under your state MediCaid program.
My hope is that the USCIS will put yet tighter constraints on agencies that are involved with International Surrogacy Adoption. so many questions are coming up??? What stops a medical clinic in the Ukraine from using the rest of the frozen fertilized eggs? What about multiple births --most surrogates are implanted with more than one egg (ala Octamom) because of some not attaching to the womb. Where are the rest of these embryos going? What if the woman has 4,5, 6 babies is the couple obligated to pay for them all and destroy the rest of the embryos?

It took years for the USCIS to catch up with many Adoption Agencies and their human trafficking, fraud -bait and switch programs. The Hague is just now starting to put up more guidelines for agencies but they are still light years away. We have seen a record number of Adoption Agencies closed in the last 2 years and a record number of countries closed down to International Adoption: Guatemala, Vietnam, Nepal, Liberia, Krygzstan and more. Many have tightened up restrictions: China, Ukraine, Bulgaria.
Next on the radar is Ethiopia and Kazakhstan....next year we will be hearing about more fraud and orphanages closing, then the gates will shut. What obscure country will these agencies find next?
One agency World Links International Adoption Agency burnt a few of their Krygzstan clients (aka PAPs) and is now switching them to their NEW Latvian program. World Links is even attempting a Host Program with Latvia. Another agency- Across the World Adoptions touts a "Japanese Open Adoption".
The other popular area is "Special Needs" adoption there is a couple of websites dedicated to this solely. One such website is Reeses Rainbow, where a gaggle of SAHCMs (that is "Stay at Home Christian Moms") have created a "ministry" of adopting Down Syndrome and other medical needs children. Many of these adoptive SAHCMs declare on their blogs that "God has given them a mission that adopting a child with Special Needs is their mission in life" complete with religious verses and music playing on their blogs. These SAHCMs seem to have a competition going with one another on who can adopt more kids than the rest. Many have adopted and have the child home no more than a few months and they are at it again adopting another! One such woman was Kim Elmentsev who was allowed to adopt 2 down syndrome babies concurrently. Kim had a meltdown and threw one DS baby (Koyla a Reeces Rainbow adoption) on the floor and killed him!http://bastardette.blogspot.com/2008/10/kimberly-emelyantsev-sentenced-husband.html

Adoption Agencies know that healthy adoptable children are scarce in most countries. They realize that adopting a special needs child is easier, they have full cooperation of the sending country. Most of these countries are all to willing to dump their special needs children off on SUCKER Americans because they are a financial drain to their already economically strapped country.

I foresee many medical and legal issues in the next few years. The local foster care is seeing a barage of disruptions from Eastern Europe and Russia. Some agencies are actually recycling the disrupted adoptions and re adopting these poor kids out multiple times. Their is also an underground network of people who offer respite and re adoption of disrupted adoptions.

Snowflakes Frozen Embryro Adoption Agency, not an agency?

Agency through Nightlight Christian Adoptions. So very Christianly to manufacture children and play God! Where do I sign up and buy me some frozen embryos?
http://www.ivf.net/ivf/embryo_donation_is_not_adoption_says_reproductive...

Sound ridiculous? But then the adoption industry has become ridiculous!

Nightlight Christian Adoptions and their Snowflake program

This "Snowflake" Embryo Adoption program through Nightlight is quite popular!
It seems much more honest that Intercountry Adoptions, you are not potentially stealing a child but creating on of your own. Many gay stars have done this-Clay Aiken, Ricky Martin, and even Michael Jackson.
The selling page has a video that is impressive! Not I am not a "flake" or giving you a "snowjob" here.

Nightlight Adoptions starts $50,000 "scholarship"

http://www.ocregister.com/news/children-222873-agency-parents.html
Through their "Babuska Fund" the above agency is loaning money to adoptive parents who would like to adopt but don't have the funds.

More than one adoption agency are now getting involved in financing for adoptions. I smell problems!

Surrogacy gaining in popularity while adoptions fall

A Legal and Ethical Void
Diane B. Kunz is the executive director of the Center for Adoption Policy, a nonprofit group that provides research, analysis, advice and education on domestic and international adoption.

There are many ways to create a family but only one — adoption — is consistently regulated. That should change. Assisted reproductive technology, of which surrogacy represents a small percentage, is replacing adoption as the preferred method of family creation for those who cannot have a baby without assistance. It should be regulated, not to limit technology but to protect all involved, especially the children.

Medical tourism and the globalization of surrogacy make the case for regulation imperative.
Adoption used to be an informal, unregulated practice, determined by kinship ties, word of mouth or chance rather than professional vetting and assessment. It is only in the past century or so that adoption became a matter for regulation.

Governance may well come from the assisted reproductive technology community. And it should because it is in a position to create a code of practice that would be effective and ensure access to the technology regardless of gender, sexual preference or marital status.

regulation

The above quote comes from a New York Times post where four experts present their views on ethical and legal issues surrounding surrogacy.

I do not agree with Diane Kuntz when she calls adoption to be consistently regulated. It is certainly true that each state has laws that describe the legal standing of adoptees and adopters, and all 50 states do respect each others adoption decrees. Unfortunately that is as far as it goes. The adoption process and the industry involved, are hardly regulated consistently. Some states have strict legislation to regulate the industry, others hardly make an effort.

As with the discussion about adoption, the discussion about surrogacy involves at least two important aspects. One is the legal standing of the practice, the other is the industry involved in the practice. Adoption has a long history regarding the legal standing of the practice, and most discussion nowadays revolves around the influence of the industry. Surrogacy has a much shorter history and as a result much of the discussion is focused on the legal standing of the practice, while the real issue will be the commerical exploitation of surrogacy.

As long as these two aspects are not being distinguished, will Diane Kuntz be able to get away with silly remarks regarding the regulation of adoption.

surrogates

a
A serious concern with surrogacy is that pregnancy can cause serious and even fatal medical problems. Nobody should be persuaded to take this kind of risk for money. There are serious medical concerns with many ART procedures.
Some people use the difficulties in adoption as an excuse to turn to ART, and that is a bad excuse.
I think that the challenges of adopting a child have had the unintended consequences of promoting ART. It would be nice
if there was more help available to encourage adoption rather than ART. I know of several people conceived by donor gametes who are angry that their parents didn't adopt instead

Agreed

A serious concern with surrogacy is that pregnancy can cause serious and even fatal medical problems. Nobody should be persuaded to take this kind of risk for money. There are serious medical concerns with many ART procedures.

Sadly, I fear those exceptionally anxious for a "healthy newborn" overlook such risks and consider the risks (and sacrifices made by those "chosen" to produce for those who can't conceive "naturally"), to be worth the happiness felt by the buyers. This makes whatever risk-taking there is for the "gestational carrier" insignificant and nothing more than a little collateral damage. Such a mindset makes the exploitation of (often poor) women (for their reproductive organs) that much more insulting.

I think that the challenges of adopting a child have had the unintended consequences of promoting ART

I think the desire for a healthy newborn (without living family members) has made surrogacy what it has become:  a more attractive, lucrative option the adoption industry is more than happy to embrace within it's services menu.

I know of several people conceived by donor gametes who are angry that their parents didn't adopt instead

I know many adult's conceived by anonymous donor sperm, eggs, and embryos who suffer with their own version of "identity issues".  Some post private personal blogs about their issues, others feel the need to join support groups, like IVFlings.

In addition, since 2012, there have been studies that indicate IVF babies have "a significantly higher rate of genetic disorders compared to children conceived naturally".  This, of course is a huge concern for some, as these unwanted embryos/pregnancies may lead to "unwanted" or "selective" abortions

[Thank goodness, for those looking to make a profit,  the pitch to sell "unhealthy/"special needs" children is still going strong within the adoption industry!]

Egg donation and lavish gifts.

This agency has a whole page dedicated to the "lavish gifts" you recieve for being an Egg Donor.

http://www.eggdonation.com/becoming-an-egg-donor/e.php

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