How Surrogacy Has Changed over the Years
Surrogacy is one of the most important concepts to have been discovered in the history of the world—particularly for those women unable to give birth to a child. With surrogacy, the opportunity to have a child with your husband or wife becomes possible, even if you can’t give birth yourself. But when did surrogacy start as a practice and how has surrogacy changed over the years?
Although surrogacy contracts have been around since early 1980 in the United States, the earliest and most notorious surrogacy case happened in New Jersey. In 1985, Mary Beth Whitehead entered into a contract with William and Elizabeth Stern to give birth to a child with the genetic makeup of Mary Beth, the surrogate mother, and William Stern (traditional surrogacy) using artificial insemination. Before Whitehead gave birth, however, she decided that she wanted to keep her child. This agreement spun the couple and Whitehead into the first of many court cases about surrogacy and the legal parentage of a child born of surrogacy. “Baby M,” as the case was referred, was sent to the New Jersey Superior Court, which ruled that the surrogacy contract was invalid and that Whitehead was in fact the child’s legal mother. In the end, the Sterns received legal custody, with Whitehead receiving visitation rights. However, when Baby M turned 16 she petitioned the court to be emancipated and when granted, she asked her mother, Mrs. Stern to adopt her so that the names of William and Elizabeth Stern would appear on her birth certificate before she turned 18 year old!
Though AI or traditional surrogacy is rarely used because of the complexity of the matter, gestational surrogacy is often used, as a result of the technology using in vitro fertilization or IVF, created shortly before the matter of “Baby M.” With all of the changes in surrogacy, there have been many court cases that have settled in the favor of the intended parents rather than the surrogate, assuring intended parents that if something goes wrong, their child will be their child.
In the U.S. surrogacy is legal in many states and people from all over the world come to America due to favorable laws and excellent healthcare. In recent years, many international couples have traveled to the US to achieve their dream of having a child. Generally, surrogacy is permitted in Russia, Ukraine, India, and a variety of states in the U.S. But many countries ban the practice of surrogacy altogether, including most of the countries in Europe and both China and Japan. Australia, Canada, the U.K., and Sweden only permit the practice of altruistic surrogacy, meaning that couples can only have a surrogate if they offer to do it for free. Some of the struggles today with surrogacy, then, are ensuring that couples aren’t breaking any laws. Though California, where CSP is located, is one of the friendliest states toward surrogacy. There are a lot of states that aren’t friendly towards surrogacy and ban it, like Arizona, North Dakota, Michigan, Washington, D.C., and Indiana. If your state or country bans compensated surrogacy, there is the option to go abroad for surrogacy, but be very careful because countries like Australia, have penalties of up to 3 years of imprisonment.
Today, surrogacy is becoming a much more acceptable practice throughout the world, especially in the U.S., and gay couples have certainly contributed to the proliferation of the practice of surrogacy. Because of the state of California protects an intended parent’s right during and after the surrogacy process, many couples who need the help of a surrogate mom, come to CSP. In the same year as the “Baby M” case, Bill Handel opened the Center for Surrogate Parenting, making it one of the first surrogate parenting agencies in the world. Today, CSP has over 36 years of experience and provides one of the best surrogacy experiences in the world, due to their collaboration with a team of professionals including doctors, psychologists, psychotherapists, attorneys, and an agency staff that has helped hundreds and hundreds of intended parents build their families.
Though many people are still uncertain about surrogacy, there are many in the world that appreciate the technology and the people that make it possible to have a child despite ones inability to conceive on their own, whether through illness, infertility, or otherwise.
Here at CSP, we have a worldwide reputation of being the leader in the field of surrogacy. If you have questions about surrogacy, the process of becoming a surrogate, or the process of becoming intended parents, feel free to contact CSP at our West Coast or East Coast offices. We look forward to bringing the gift of a baby into your home.