Dear Sassy Surrogate: Altruistic vs. Compensated Surrogacy?

Dear Sassy,

I have heard some countries, and even states with in the United States, only allow altruistic surrogacy. What does that mean?

Altruistic surrogacy means that the surrogate, whether traditional or gestational, will not receive any monetary compensation outside of reimbursement for expenses. In many places there are laws that prohibit compensation for a surrogate. For example, Canada has the Assisted Human Reproduction Act which makes it illegal to pay a surrogate for her services. Most places where compensating the surrogate is illegal will allow surrogacy only with the reimbursements of reasonable expenses directly related to the surrogacy pregnancy. Knowing what the laws say in your area, whether illegal all together or just illegal to compensate, is important. Please consult a lawyer and/or surrogacy agency to see what the laws say about where you live regarding altruistic or compensated surrogacy.

Dear Sassy,

If someone is wanting to be a surrogate, and it’s legal in their state or country to be compensated, why would someone choose to be a surrogate altruistically?

Yes, the money is appealing! However, I find that largest reason why someone chooses to become a surrogate originally has nothing to do with money. Surrogates are kind, generous, loving people who want to help someone else build their family and their dreams. How much the compensation could help their own family is a secondary thought. Some women become surrogates for a family member or close friend, and in those cases they often don’t request compensation, or at least significantly reduced compensation. The surrogate’s expenses related to the pregnancy are covered by the Intended Parents, whether the surrogacy is altruistic or compensated. It really depends on the surrogate. A decision to act altruistically or be compensated depends on the gestational carrier’s relationship with the Intended Parents, whether she chooses to go through an agency or not, and even on if she lives in a place where laws don’t allow her to be compensated.  No matter what choice a gestational carrier makes, I can tell you from personal experience as a surrogate, being a gestational carrier is work. It takes time and energy, not only for a pregnancy, but also with the relationships of the others involved in the process with you, especially the Intended Parents. Being a Gestational Carrier is a wonderful gift that is priceless to many people who couldn’t otherwise have children of their own.

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