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By Robin von Halle

You’ve decided to be a surrogate. One of the parent candidates your agency presents to you is a 42-year-old single who doesn’t currently have a partner but is anxious that the biological clock ticking.  With your help, he will be a single father.

It’s not so unusual as it might sound. The New York Times says 2 million households in the U.S. are currently managed by single fathers, up from 1.8 million in 2000 and 1.2 million is 1990.

Nor is it necessarily just a gay-man phenomenon. Even recent adoption statistics show men 18 to 44 are the most likely to adopt. The number of single, straight men looking to have a biological child is steadily increasing.

The trend is more evident than ever before thanks to celebrity involvement. Last month, Latino singer Ricky Martin became a father of twins through surrogacy; he said he never intended to have a partner as a co-parent.

We at ARR don’t have one definition for a family. We currently have a single father awaiting the birth of his twins through surrogacy, and we’ve seen single men be the most loving, caring and attentive parents anyone could hope for. Some agencies, unfortunately, relegate single men to the bottom of the surrogate waiting list just for being a man who wants children. And many surrogates won’t carry a child for a single man.

Just as egg donors shouldn’t be “paid” for desirable genetic attributes (they’re paid for their time and effort in donating), men shouldn’t be punished for wanting a child without a partner to help. They’d rather be judged on their parenting potential and their support system than their gender. The New York Times article also cites sociologists as saying their capabilities should come as no surprise: Current generations of men grew up in a society of gender equality.

So what do you think? Should single men – gay or straight – who can adequately provide for a child, be given the chance to have a family through surrogacy?

By Mary Ellen McLaughlin

A 61-year-old Japanese woman serves as a surrogate for her daughter. A 59-year-old in France gives birth to triplets via egg donation.

Women’s health today is better than ever, but where do you draw the line on age when it comes to surrogacy and egg donation?

It’s wonderful that a mother was able to help her daughter have the family she always wanted. But choosing an older woman to carry your child comes with risks. The same goes for much older women accepting donated eggs. (Most agencies have a cut-off age for those accepting the donated eggs because of the pregnancy risks involved.)

Older women have a higher risk for complications during pregnancy, including high blood pressure, diabetes and even heart attacks, due to the body’s increased blood supply. And that extends to the delivery. Many deliver via cesarean section, and recovery takes longer.

One of our requirements for gestational surrogates (which is the case with most agencies) is that they be between the ages of 21 and 39.  However, those between the ages of 35 and 39 must be in exceptional health.

Pregnancy and delivery for older women are not ideal, and I’d have a hard time advocating for it. Still, these particular women were able to have healthy pregnancies and babies, so let’s wish these new families the best of luck moving forward!

What do you think? How old is too old to be a surrogate or give birth via egg donation?

By Mary Ellen McLaughlin

Picture this: You want to become a surrogate. You do some research on the Internet for an agency. You’ve briefly spoken with the agency and set up a meeting. To your surprise, the meeting is at someone’s house in the basement office. Now ask yourself, is this really the type of “professional” agency you want to work with?

I have been in the surrogacy business for more than seven years and have seen some 40 babies born. This “basement agency” is a story I’ve heard many times and is one of the potential red flags that can be raised in your search.

If you know what to look for, you’ll easily spot the wrong ones and your choice will become easier. Here are a few key questions to guide you on your way.

  1. How long has the agency been in business? Are you willing to trust your surrogacy journey to a new operation with little or no track record of success? Make sure the agency has been around long enough to understand the nature of the business.
  2. Where is the agency located? Some agencies are one-person shops that work out of their homes. This is a very personal, important decision you are making. Do you really want to be meeting in someone’s basement? Or at the corner Starbucks? You’ll want to see an office or a neutral zone where you and the intended parents can meet.
  3. Are references available? Talk to the agency’s current and past surrogates and intended parents to learn about their experience, and if there were problems, how they were handled. Also talk to fertility clinics about their experiences with the agency.
  4. What are the agency’s statistics? Find out how many babies have been born from the agency’s matches, how many matches it has done, and how many current matches it has.
  5. Does the agency have staff to support current matches? The agency has to be there for you when you need it and not let you go any part of it alone. Also find out if trained professionals are on staff. Do they have backgrounds in infertility? Also, make sure the agency’s psych and legal referrals are well versed in this area. You do not want to be working with a real estate attorney, but rather someone who specializes in reproductive law.
  6. What is the interview process like? Make sure the agency interviews you as much as you interview them. The entire process should be explained, from medical procedures to psychological exams to what to do after the baby is born. Agencies will want to review your health records and social history. Be aware that there are times the surrogacy may be delayed, due to divorce or a death for example. A good agency will take notice of this and ask you to take some time before making a commitment.

Five years down the road, the physical aspects of surrogacy – the morning sickness and labor pains – will have faded. But the emotional consequences, the joy of giving someone a baby, can be long-lasting if you are prepared. The right agency is a key part of that process.

Visit our Web site at www.arr1.com.

About Us

Conception Connections is a blog about alternative paths to family creation. It is maintained by Alternative Reproductive Resources. Contributors include intended parents, egg donors and gestational surrogates in addition to ARR staff. Our goal is to facilitate conversations about trends, issues, current events, technology and personal stories surrounding infertility, egg donation and gestational surrogacy. If you'd like to contribute, please e-mail shodge@hodgemediastrategies.com. We also welcome your comments and suggestions. Note: Comments are moderated and posted on approval.

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