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, read on.
Historical Significance of Surrogacy
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 donor 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 unfair.
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 and empowerment.
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.