In today’s society, there are practically endless ways for families to be created and people to become parents. From fostering to adoption to IVF, there’s a route for everyone to become a mom or dad if they so choose. And surrogacy has recently become a top method for both moms and dads to become parents when it otherwise wouldn’t be possible. But why do moms choose surrogacy?
For some families, the reasons why they choose to pursue surrogacy are kept quiet. In some ways, parents may feel uncomfortable divulging their reasons for the seemingly unconventional choice—especially if there’s no biological reason for them to need a surrogate in order to become parents.
Plus, people will say “there’s always adoption” to couples (or singles) who struggle, making it even more difficult to be honest about reasons for opting for a gestational carrier rather than taking any other road to parenthood.
And while the decision to start a family—or not—comes down to each individual and couple’s preferences, motivations, and life goals, there are people who are open about their reasons for choosing surrogacy. Enough moms have been open about their journeys that it’s easier to understand where they’re coming from—even if not every other mom agrees with their decision or would choose it for herself. Here are just 20 of the reasons why moms choose surrogacy for themselves and their babies.
20 Past Pregnancy Conditions
Sometimes, moms decide to use surrogates for second or subsequent pregnancies, leaving spectators to wonder why. After all, if you’ve had one successful pregnancy, you can have another, right? This isn’t always the case though. For some moms, their pregnancies become increasingly difficult with every baby—up to and including the first.
For example, Kim Kardashian-West has explained that she and Kanye chose surrogacy for their third pregnancy because she experienced both preeclampsia and placenta accreta in her pregnancies with North and Saint. For many moms, serious health conditions make it unhealthy or just plain unsafe for them to carry another pregnancy.
19 Prior Pregnancy Loss
Another reason many women give for choosing surrogacy is that they’ve experienced pregnancy loss before. Some women try to start their families repeatedly with no success, and in fact only heartbreak. So after so many tries, it can feel exhausting to try again—expecting the same negative result.
Although a lost pregnancy seems like a small health issue, the lasting emotional effects can be significant. Therefore, some women choose to remove their bodies from the equation entirely—they may contribute genetic material, but they rely on another woman to carry the babies so that they are farther removed from whatever happens next.
18 Health Challenges Make It Dangerous
When I was pregnant with my first child, I binge watched A Baby Story on TLC and watched countless moms welcome their little ones. One mom on the show had a heart condition which made her pregnancy high-risk, and she was also carrying twins. When it came time to deliver, the mama was told to stay as calm as possible, and she had to rely on biology to get her baby out—no pushing. The idea that a mama was literally risking her own life to bring her babies into this world was nothing new, but the fact that her heart condition made it so touch-and-go means if she had had the option, she may have gone the surrogacy route for better odds.
17 Surgery Prevents Pregnancy
There are endless scenarios in which a woman who wants to have kids simply can’t because she’s had to undergo surgery that made it impossible. From scarring from certain conditions like endometriosis and PCOS to surgery to remove potentially cancerous or other ailing parts, many women have to have life-saving surgeries. And when it comes down to it, many of them don’t have a choice—leaving things as-is can mean not only will they not be able to have children, but their lives might be at risk, too. This means surrogacy may be the only way to carry a child, since mamas don’t have the means or the accommodations post-surgery.
16 Born Without The Parts
Whether a woman embraces the identity she was assigned at birth or not, there are a handful of scenarios in which a woman may not be born with the right biological equipment to carry a baby.
Genetics can be super tricky—a bit too much of one hormone or a bit too little of another while in utero can have tremendous effects on the baby inside. Therefore, when mom herself was in the womb, genetic and chemical changes could have made it impossible for her to carry her own children later in life. The good news is, surrogacy allows these women the opportunity to become mamas, regardless of what biologically originally offered.
15 Structure Presents Problems
While some women are born without a uterus (or other equipment) entirely, others may experience some structural problems with their internal accommodations. Things like “cervical incompetency” mean that a woman can conceive a baby, but she has low odds of being able to carry that baby for the length of time it needs to be delivered healthily and safely. But this is one of those scenarios that doesn’t exactly advertise itself: moms may choose surrogacy because of their doctors’ recommendations or test results, so even though they appear “fine” to others, they simply can’t carry a child on their own.
14 Parenting Dreams After Unfortunate Circumstances
The diagnosis of cancer is another potential disruption in a woman’s baby planning timeline. And while some types of cancer are not life-threatening and therefore pose little risk to the woman’s health, these same cancers can cause her to be unable to carry a pregnancy. Very few are conditions people can just live with. And with chemotherapy, radiation, and other treatment, the woman may lose her ability to fall pregnant at all. Thankfully, many women who face a diagnosis decide to save their genetic material before undergoing treatment—so they can then have a surrogate carry a biological child for them later on.
13 Biological Necessity For Moms
If two partners plan to have a baby together, they’re sometimes limited by the availability of select genetic material. The thing is, even if a couple has genetic material to contribute, it’s not always possible for one half of the couple to physically carry the baby to term. Of course, this can be due to any of the other physical or medical reasons on this list.
In any case, the incompatibility of genetic material might be the thing that inspires couples (or singles) to turn to surrogacy to have a baby. Plus, surrogacy allows parents the intriguing opportunity to combine genetic material and still have the baby be related to one or both of the parents—just ask Neil Patrick Harris about his twins!
12 Past Mom’s Prime
As rude as it sounds, women who are pregnant over the age of 35 are technically termed “geriatric” in regards to their pregnancy age. And although plenty of mature mamas go on to have healthy and happy babies at age 35 and beyond (uh, Halle Berry?!), some moms opt for a surrogate instead. Whether they’ve carried biological children before and had it go poorly or they simply have “aged out” of the time span to undergo IVF or other assistive procedures, moms who are over 35 sometimes turn to surrogacy.
Some mamas even preserve their genetic material beforehand so they’re ready if they decide to have someone younger carry their babies later on in life.
11 Social Status (And Secrecy)
Some celebrities live their entire lives in the spotlight, and there’s not much opportunity for privacy when you’re a Hollywood starlet (or star). But some celebrity families turn to surrogacy to have children in an effort to keep the press from hounding them while they wait for baby. Of course, things don’t always go as planned—flying under the radar is difficult to with the world watching your every move. For many celeb moms, the news slips later—after the baby’s safe arrival—and at that point, they don’t seem to mind much. After all, hiding the pregnancy achieved the end goal of a safe and serene welcoming for baby!
10 Lifetime Link To Baby
For women who decide on surrogacy with their own genetic material, one of the perceived benefits is that they’re genetically related to their offspring. And even if a woman’s partner can’t contribute genetic material, the mom herself gets to have that unique link to her new tot.
Surrogacy can be an exceptional choice for moms who are told they can’t carry their own children, or that their partner can’t contribute to the process biologically. Of course, moms who can’t contribute their own material can still become moms via surrogacy—it’s just another way to reach the eventual destination of parenthood.
9 Genetics Play A Factor
Although direct adoption—whether domestic or international—and foster-to-adopt scenarios are ideal for many couples (or singles) wanting to have children, it’s not the only one. For some families, they have their heart set on babies with a genetic link to mom and dad—or both. For single moms, it may feel even more important for them to have a biological link to their babies. Unfortunately, society tends to tell moms they’re not “mom enough” if they “just” adopt.
Whatever the reason, many women opt for surrogacy when they can’t conceive because they still want their genes to live on—even if it takes a gestational carrier to get them delivered!
8 Job Demands Mean Business
For women with jobs that require long hours and even grueling physical work, it can be difficult to plan—and fully embrace—a pregnancy. If a woman knows she can’t take time off from work to rest and recover during or after the pregnancy, she might be reluctant to start trying for a baby, even if she feels like she’s ready otherwise. And in the event she has the money to invest in hiring a surrogate, this can be a simpler way of growing her family, without risking her entire livelihood to do so. It may be nontraditional, but it still results in a happy, healthy, and much-loved baby in the end!
7 PPD Pushes Mom To Reconsider
For mamas who have already birthed babies, the reality of postpartum depression can be intense. After all, society expects new mamas to be blissful and happy, if not a bit sore, and for some women, it doesn’t turn out that way. Instead, mamas with PPD can feel tremendously sad, unattached to their babes, and bogged down by daily life—even things like showering or feeding the baby can feel draining, if not impossible to begin with. And while not being able to fit a shower in is nothing new for most mamas, the limitations and severity of her past PPD may stop a mom from wanting to carry her own pregnancy the next time.
6 Can’t Stop Mom’s Meds
Although there are many meds that are perfectly safe for moms to continue taking while they’re trying to conceive, expecting, nursing, and beyond, some are simply not. And to avoid adverse effects for themselves and their babies, moms either have to stop taking their medication altogether or they have to find another way to safely carry their tots. In instances where mom’s medication is literally helping her survive every day, there’s no reasonable (or remotely safe) way to pause for a pregnancy. Instead, these mamas can continue being their healthy selves while waiting for their babes to arrive via surrogate.
5 “What If’s” Stop Her In Her Tracks
For many people these days, anxiety is an intimidating partner throughout their daily lives. And for many women, the mere thought of becoming pregnant can cause a spike in the condition. For one mom who began considering planning a pregnancy when she felt ready to start a family, the constant overanalyzing of every potential pitfall in pregnancy caused her to reevaluate motherhood entirely. The thing was, she wasn’t concerned about being a mom. She was stressed over the potential for being on bed rest or becoming ill while pregnant, she told Elle, and that was enough for her to start investigating surrogacy as an option.
4 Acting (And More) Means Income
While one mom began considering surrogacy because of stress over pregnancy and all its challenges, another was concerned about her income. A friend of the mom planning her surrogate pregnancy actually runs a surrogacy agency to connect women with surrogates and she told Elle that she’s had clients who worked in the entertainment industry who sought out surrogates. The reasoning? So they wouldn’t miss out on roles while expecting.
When it comes down to a mom’s livelihood, it’s often easier for her to schedule a surrogate pregnancy than pause her entire life—and job—and miss out on furthering her resume.
3 Emotional Scars Run Deep
Other mamas that Elle’s surrogacy agency contact worked with chose to do so because they weren’t willing to go through the emotional rollercoaster that is pregnancy loss. Giuliana Rancic, a US TV producer, has been very vocal about how tough it was for her and her husband to struggle through multiple pregnancies with no baby to show for it. Eventually, the couple selected a surrogate to carry their child for them, and son Edward was born in 2012 as a result.
For other couples who have had unsuccessful endings to their pregnancies, the emotional scars can prove to be too much to try again—so a surrogate is the only solution.
2 Not Wanting To Fall Pregnant
While society seems to think that every woman has an instinct to become a mother, that’s simply not the case. Many women don’t want to have children at all—an understandable and completely reasonable choice. But some other women do want kids—they just don’t want to carry them themselves.
And despite laws and guidelines on surrogacy (depending on the country and state), many moms without any pressing medical issue can still find a way to obtain a surrogate to carry their kiddos—and if the ladies who spoke with Elle on the topic are any indication, there are many out there who would rather not feel the baby kicking them in the ribs (or anywhere else).
1 Money Is No Matter
For plenty of moms, having kids is downright intimidatingly expensive. First there’s pregnancy care and the delivery—which, if you deliver in a hospital, can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on where you live and whether you have complications—and then there’s actually raising the kid! But for some moms, the money isn’t an issue. Think of your favorite celebrity mama: she probably has so much cash she can’t even decide what to do with it all, so paying a surrogate $30K or more doesn’t make a dent in her wallet. That means for women who would rather not carry the baby themselves or just have a condition that makes it impossible, a bit of cash can help them achieve their dreams of being a mom.