Surrogacy is now considered to be a viable
option for infertile couples. Surrogacy helps an infertile couple to experience
the joys of parenthood. Do you know about the history of surrogacy? What is the
reason for rise in cases of surrogacy? To get answers to all such questions,
Surrogate motherhood is gaining great prominence in the
recent times but the concept of bearing another woman’s child has been there
since the early days of human civilization. One can find the mention of
surrogacy in the form of regulations in the famous Code of Hammurabi. This
dates back to 1800 BC. Even in the Hebrew bible, surrogate and surrogacy
is found to be mentioned quite a number of times.
If you look into the 16th chapter of the Genesis,
you will find that Sarah and Abraham are suffering for being a childless
couple. Sarah is infertile,
but she wants to become a mother. So she acquires the service of her servant
Hagar, who agrees to be impregnated by Abraham and bears Sarah a child.
Then there is another instance where the two wives of Jacob,
Leah and Rachel are unable to bear a child. Here too Jacob begets children from
the two maids of his wives. According to this principle, Jesus can also be said
to be a surrogate child. An angel mediates the birth of Jesus and the real
mother or Mother Mary does indeed bears the child and rears him as well.
The First Documented
Instance of Surrogacy
In the recent times, the case of Baby M did make quite a
stir. In 1986, Mary Whitehead gave birth to
a child. She was twenty-nine years of age and she bore the child of an
infertile couple. In this case it was not artificial
insemination and Whitehead was the biological mother of the child as well.
The case got prominence as Whitehead did not want to hand over the baby girl
after birth but wanted the custody of the child. This led to a legal tangle
that went on for two years. Eventually she happened to lose the custody battle
but she was awarded with periodic visitation rights.
This is a very significant case as after this legal tussle,
it was decided in the subsequent surrogacy agreements that the surrogate mother
or the woman who agrees to carry the embryo will not be the one who is also the
of the egg.
The manner in which the surrogates are viewed by the society
is also not very casual. Often in films, we come across surrogates being
typically caricatured as ‘white trash’. This is absolutely prejudiced and
There is a general conception that surrogates are into the
job only due to the monetary aspect. This is true but not the only defining
truth. There are several other easier and convenient ways to earn money. There
are loads of alternatives that do not carry the risk of throwing up for weeks,
or bear the weight and other associated complexities attached to a life that is
growing inside the body.
The surrogate agencies are well aware of the women and their
reasons why they choose to become a surrogate in the first place. In a certain
study that deals with this issue, it has been mentioned that women earn barely
a minimum wage if the ‘work’ of surrogacy is broken down in terms of hours.
Albeit a wry observation, this is but a fact.
It has often been observed that the real reason apart from
the monetary benefits, the surrogate mothers experience a sense of self-worth
They feel that their life has so much meaning and they also
feel themselves blessed that they are able to help a childless couple
experience the joy of parenthood. Some of them also consider it being a sort of
spiritual service. And not to forget the most complex part of the entire
episode is the relationship between the surrogate and the genetic mother.