Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Market of surrogate motherhood grows like a weed

43096.jpegIt seems that traditional family values are becoming increasingly trendier among the world celebrities. Getting wasted and flashing lack of underwear in front of paparazzi has become a mauvais ton. The trend of recent years is strong marriage and well-groomed kids. However, many, for various reasons, are unable to have kids on their own and resort to the services of surrogate mothers. The latter made Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, Elton John, and Ricky Martin happy parents. On Tuesday, January 18 the information was released that Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban have joined the list.

The first child was born by a surrogate mother in January of 1985 in the UK. Since then, the business has been streamlined. There are many companies that are engaged in mediation, and there is endless supply of women willing to carry someone else's child. However, is not so easy to become a surrogate mother as out of ten candidates only one or two are selected at best.

It is clear that women provide such services not out of love for their neighbor, but for reasons far more mundane. During pregnancy, prospective parents pay a surrogate mother adequate allowance for food, necessary medication, etc., and after childbirth the surrogate mother gets a substantial amount of money which varies by country and region. In Russia, surrogate mothers are paid from $20,000 to $33,000. In Ukraine this amount is considerably lower. Incidentally, people from Western Europe, where in some countries surrogacy is prohibited by law, often come to Ukraine for the service.

The situation is more complicated when it comes to Western surrogate mothers. Surrogacy is either prohibited in principle (Germany), or allowed on a non-for-profit basis. That is, the biological parents only pay a monthly allowance (in Britain, for example, from five to ten thousand pounds), but do not pay for the very fact of carrying a child. The most "hardworking" surrogate mother in the United Kingdom gave birth to 12 other people's children.

The woman claims that she is doing it in good faith and not for the sake of earnings. Another British surrogate mother who gave birth to nine kids while not having any of her own, said she just liked being pregnant. In Russia few women hide their true motivation for becoming a surrogate mother - they want to buy an apartment, start their own business or are simply unable to make money any other way.

The services of a surrogate mother are not cheap. You have to pay a mediator, the mother, as well as pay for the IVF service, which is not affordable of everyone. Yet, the desire to have a child is so strong that even ordinary mortals, not just celebrities, resort to the services of surrogate mothers.

As to the legal aspects of the issue, as expected, they are much weaker in Russia than in the West. Of course, a contract is signed by the surrogate mother and the biological parents, listing all possible scenarios, but at the legislative level none of the parties are protected. This is despite the fact that in Russia surrogate mothers give birth to approximately 500 babies each year.

Currently a surrogate mother may at any time refuse to give the baby to its biological parents, despite the preliminary agreements set forth in a formal contract. The court will be on the side of the woman who carried and gave birth to a baby.

Obtaining the consent of the surrogate mother is a major stumbling block, as there is no guarantee that she will eventually sign the actual abandonment of her existing parental rights.

Surrogate mothers are also at risk because biological parents can opt out of taking the baby for whatever reasons. This happened to Zinaida Rakova. The woman decided to become a surrogate mother to make some money to buy an apartment.

"The father - he was sitting in front of me - said: "We do not want this child and do not need a surrogate mother." I could not leave the child in the hospital. He had suffered enough," Zinaida told to "Mir" TV channel.

As it turned out, the couple commissioned another woman for a role of a backup surrogate mother. The "backup" surrogate mother had twins. At the last minute the biological parents decided to back out of the contract with Zinaida. Now she has five instead of four people in her crowded apartment. She was not able to abandon her surrogate child.

However, similar conflicts occur in the West as well. Some time ago, the biological parents from Canada demanded that the surrogate mother has an abortion because the tests indicated fetal Down syndrome. The woman resisted, but the dispute was resolved, as it often happens, with the help of money.

Under the agreement, during pregnancy the surrogate mother is required to maintain a healthy lifestyle, follow all doctors' recommendations, and if the baby suffers due to the woman's unhealthy lifestyle, she will not get paid. On the other hand, genetic diseases are the "responsibility" of the biological parents who may also require terminating pregnancy in case of a detection of an extra chromosome, for instance. If a woman is not ready to have an abortion, she can have the baby, but all expenses will be put on her shoulders.

However, despite all difficulties and pitfalls, the market for surrogate motherhood is growing by leaps and bounds. In Russia alone, according to official numbers, there are approximately six million infertile couples, and each of them may decide to resort to the help of a woman ready to give birth for money.

Ksenia Obraztsova

Read the original in Russian

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