What Is Altruistic Surrogacy And How Does It Work?
What Is Altruistic Surrogacy And How Does It Work?

What Is Altruistic Surrogacy And How Does It Work?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Altruism as “unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others”.

Essentially, every surrogacy is an altruistic act because surrogates are invested both physically and emotionally in the long and complex surrogacy journey. But, the term ‘altruistic surrogacy’ refers to a specific surrogacy arrangement in which the surrogate is not compensated for her efforts and is only reimbursed for all the pregnancy-related costs. 

In most cases, an altruistic surrogacy arrangement is signed between family members or friends and does not involve an agency as the main service provider, which is why this surrogacy type is called independent surrogacy. 

When the surrogate is compensated for the time and energy she invests and the sacrifices she makes to carry the child for the intended parents, she enters into what is referred to as a ‘compensated surrogacy’ arrangement. 

The Process Of Altruistic Surrogacy

Generally speaking, an altruistic surrogacy journey is the same as a compensated surrogacy, with only a few differences.

In most cases, in altruistic surrogacy the intended parents already know the surrogate they’re working with and those women are usually close friends, siblings or other close family members. 

This type of arrangement is referred to as ‘identified surrogacy’, since the intended parents and surrogate already know each other. This means that the intended parents do not need to use the matching services of an agency or fertility agency to find a surrogate, and have already made their first step in the process.

Still, it is recommended to find the right professionals to work with because the surrogacy process has many moving parts. 

“I highly recommend finding a great team,” says Lisa Chiya, a founding member and a board member of nonprofit organization SEEDS (The Society for Ethics for Egg Donation and Surrogacy) and the founder and president of the Genesis Group agency. “If you can find a fertility coach that knows what they’re doing, preferably one with agency experience, that would be ideal.  

It’s also best to set yourself up with a solid team of seasoned professionals, e.g. doctor, clinic, attorney and mental health professional. Make sure you’re working with vetted professionals.”

The Costs Of Altruistic Surrogacy

As it eliminates the surrogate compensation component, altruistic surrogacy is generally less expensive than compensated surrogacy. 

Here is a general cost breakdown of altruistic surrogacy:

  • Medical expenses, such as IVF treatments, embryo transfer, fertility medication, delivery or hospitalization costs, etc.
  • Egg donor or sperm donor fees, when applicable.
  • Legal fees.
  • Miscellaneous expenses, such as maternity clothing, travel expenses to check ups and other appointments, etc.
  • Fertility coach or other surrogacy professionals fees.

The actual total cost depends on various factors, such as the local cost of living and the professionals you hire. 

Are There Disadvantages To Altruistic Surrogacy?

Altruistic surrogacy can be a beautiful, bonding experience for the surrogate and intended parents, but there are some challenges you should consider before you start your journey.

Here are the cons and pros of this type of surrogacy.

The plus side

  • Lower costs. As we mentioned earlier, altruistic surrogacy costs less than compensated surrogacy and that is a huge plus. 
  • Legislation. Altruistic surrogacy is legal in many US states and countries that do not allow compensated surrogacy.
  • Peace of mind. Many intended parents who enter into an altruistic surrogacy agreement feel safer throughout the process, because they already know and trust the woman carrying their child.

The downside

  • The negative impact. If the surrogate enters into such an agreement because she was pressured by family or friends, it might have a negative impact on her relationship with the intended parents. 
  • No payment, less control. The intended parents may feel they cannot interfere with the surrogate’s choices during the pregnancy, since she is not being compensated. For that reason, it is important to work with a surrogacy attorney beforehand and make sure all the details of the pregnancy and the intended parents’ preferences are clear to all the parties involved. 

A rarity. It’s extremely rare to be able to find an altruistic surrogate who is not a family member or a close friend.

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