In many nations including the UK and Australia, surrogates cannot be compensated beyond the expenses relating to the pregnancy, and it is illegal to advertise for surrogates. Women who volunteer to carry another’s child without any financial compensation are known as altruistic surrogates.
What prompts this altruism? Surrogacy can be a harrowing process, bringing with it all the complications of pregnancy along with the emotional pain of giving up a child that the surrogate has carried for nine months. In some cases, surrogates may even be asked to undergo medical procedures that they do not agree with, such as aborting a child with a birth defect. It can be hard to imagine why any woman would volunteer for such a process, without any hope of financial gain.
Miranda Montrone, an infertility counsellor in Sydney, has studied over 120 altruistic surrogacy arrangements in an effort to find what drives surrogates and what constitutes a successful partnership.
Montrone told The Sydney Morning Herald that altruistic surrogates consider motherhood to be very important. They understand the despair that comes with infertility, and they value the opportunity to help another woman have a child. Montrone added that surrogates are typically women who have relatively easy pregnancies.
Nine out of ten altruistic surrogates are either related to the intended parents, friends of theirs, or friends of friends. However, a growing number of surrogacy arrangements are being made online. Gabrielle Upton, Attorney-General of New South Wales, is pushing for her state to allow intended parents to advertise for surrogates. This could make surrogacy much easier for the 10 percent of couples who do not have family or friends to turn to for surrogacy.
There are currently no plans to allow UK residents to advertise for surrogates. Hopeful couples may consider asking singer Adele, who recently offered to be a surrogate for a male Swedish couple after they got engaged during her performance in Copenhagen.