We have already written that such an important and necessary technology as surrogacy is still surrounded by myths that have nothing to do with reality. Some of them are related to the belief that a surrogate mother is genetically related to the child. It is fair to say that these misconceptions have a basis. One of the two types of surrogacies really implies that the surrogate mother and the baby are related. Except that in Ukraine and most other countries, this kind was and is banned. But let’s talk about it in order.
Surrogacy is conventionally divided into traditional and gestational surrogacy. Traditional surrogacy, as the name itself hints at, has its roots in the distant past. The first references to surrogate mothers are found in very ancient texts, including the Old Testament (Sarah, the wife of the aged Abraham, suffered from infertility and hired her maid Hagar to bear the patriarch’s child). Clearly, before the advent and development of reproductive technology, all of this assumed natural conception. Now, any substitute motherhood with a genetic link between the baby and the woman carrying it is considered traditional. Fertilization can take place in any of the possible ways – naturally, through intrauterine insemination, or through IVF. But this type of surrogacy is banned almost everywhere in the world. It is also illegal in our country. If a couple uses the services of a surmother, her eggs cannot be used for conception. The prohibition has its origins in moral and legal aspects.
The word “gestation” means pregnancy. Gestational surrogacy means carrying a child to whom a woman is not genetically related. It is a prerequisite in our law (read more about the legal side of the issue here). Fertilization during gestational surrogacy is always in vitro. Three options are possible:
- IVF using the gametes of both parents-to-be. In most cases, the genetic connection between the child and the parents is complete. Couples resort to surrogate assistance when the couple is unable to bear a child by themselves.
- IVF using oocytes of the future mother and donor sperm. In this case genetic connection is considered incomplete or truncated, since the embryo is genetically linked only with its biological mother.
- IVF using donor oocytes and sperm of the future father (by law, the surrogate cannot donate eggs). Another option is incomplete genetic bonding of the baby to the parents, the genetic relationship exists only with the father.
IVF with donor eggs and donor sperm is extremely rare. It is important to know: even if there is no genetic connection between the embryo that is donated to the surrogate and the future parents, they are still considered the father and the mother of the child.
To summarize. Traditional surrogacy, which implies a genetic link between the child and the woman who carries him, is now an anachronism. In Russia and other countries with well-developed reproductive medicine one may only turn to the services of a gestational surrogate. So, the myth about the kinship of the surrogate mother and the child has long ago lost its foundation. Besides, surrogacy is regulated by law, and it is clearly stated in the law that the biomaterial of the woman who will carry the child cannot be used.