New survey reveals how surrogates feel about pregnancy termination, carrying a child for same-sex-couples and more
Want to know what surrogates think? New survey results are eye-opening.
Surrogacy has become a hot topic over the past few years, thanks to celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Gabrielle Union talking openly about their experiences with having another women act as a gestational carrier.
But a lot of the conversation around surrogates comes from parents. Now, results of a new "State of Surrogacy" survey from surrogacy agency Surrogate First show just how surrogates feel about the process, along with what they are — and aren't — OK with while helping people become parents.
"In the field of surrogacy, there just isn't a lot of data or research that's been conducted on what surrogates think," Jeff Hu, CEO of Surrogate First, tells Yahoo Life. "We want to provide a safer and better surrogacy journey for surrogates. These results can help us to really understand the areas where they need help or have challenges."
The survey polled 168 surrogates earlier this year and asked them about a range of preferences they have, along with challenges they face. Here's what they shared.
About half of surrogates are willing to work with LGBTQ couples.
Nearly half of surrogates — 49% — said they would work with a same-sex couple, although only about 17% has done so. This has been increasing over time, Hu says. "Some people also only want to carry for single parents," he says. "They understand that these intended parents have no choice except to seek help from someone else, and a lot of surrogates feel the calling to help."
Hu says this is an important question that's asked of surrogates during the pre-qualification process. "It's very important to understand the preferences of the surrogate and match those with the preferences of parents," he says. "It's a two-way street."
They have strong views on pregnancy termination.
About a third of surrogates (34%) would agree to a pregnancy termination at the discretion of the intended parents. Half of surrogates would allow intended parents to terminate a pregnancy only for major, life-threatening medical reasons upon the recommendation of a doctor. The survey also found that 3% would allow for a termination for cosmetic reasons, like a baby missing a limb or having a minor deformity, and 13% would not terminate a pregnancy at all.
Hu says this finding was not surprising to him. "A lot of these surrogates are evangelical Christians," he says.
Dr. Jane Frederick, a reproductive endocrinologist and the medical director at HRC Fertility in Orange County, Calif., tells Yahoo Life that she always talks to surrogates about what could happen during the pregnancy and how they would feel if things didn't go according to plan. "I ask the question, 'What would you do if the top of the baby's brain or skull is missing? Would you abort this child, because ultimately that baby will not survive?'" she says. "If the surrogate says, 'I'm against abortion for any reason and I'm going to make this couple have a baby that's going to die at birth,' that's not fair to the couple."
Because of this, Frederick says it's crucial to ensure that answers to questions like this are include in legal documents with a surrogacy agreement.
Surrogacy costs and benefits have increased by up to 35%.
The survey found that surrogacy benefits — which include things like maternity clothes, as well as financial rewards for milestones, like when the surrogate becomes pregnant — rose 35% from $9,100 in 2019 to $12,300 in 2023. The expected base salary compensation also rose 22%, from $50,000 to $61,000.
"There are a lot of different non-cash and cash components involved," Hu says. "Non-cash is life insurance, health insurance and legal fees. For-cash areas include bonuses for injection shots, when you become pregnant and if you pump breast milk."
Surrogacy "involves a lot," Frederick says. "It's very expensive and has gone up in price," she continues. "I tell my patients to expect to end up paying between $100,000 and $150,000 to complete the entire cycle."
Surrogates are an under-vaccinated group.
According to the survey, surrogates are typically vaccinated at a lower rate than the U.S. adult population, at 67% vs. 79.1%. However, about half of the unvaccinated surrogates said they would be willing to get vaccinated if it was requested by intended parents.
Hu says his team "saw this a lot" during the height of the pandemic, noting that many surrogates are still asked to get the COVID-19 vaccine if they haven't already. "Most surrogates will take the COVID vaccine if the intended parents request them to, but there is still a large population of surrogates that don't want to be vaccinated," he says.
Most surrogates don't experience postpartum depression.
The survey found that 75% of surrogates did not have postpartum depression or emotional challenges after giving birth, and 83% said that they would consider surrogacy again.
That's not shocking to Frederick. "Surrogates have to undergo a psychiatric evaluation," she says. "They are also always people who have children. If they were going to have postpartum depression, they probably would have had it already and been screened out."
The majority of surrogates want to stay in touch with intended parents.
According to the survey, 99% of surrogates said that they wanted "some to frequent" communication with their intended parents 12 months after the baby is born.
That's important to figure out early on, Hu says. "The majority of surrogates want to have some type of relationship — they want to help a family," he says. "In some cases, they become part of the family. They'll do baby pictures together and become lifetime friends."
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