SURROGATE AGE REQUIREMENTS
Nothing is more beautiful than one person giving of themselves to help another person. Nowhere is that more evident than when a woman agrees to become a gestational carrier or surrogate mother for a woman, man, or couple who isn’t able to produce a birth child.
This is a grand gesture of the heart. The promise of compensation should not detract from what is really taking place. It’s all about one woman agreeing to give the gift of parenthood to prospective parents and the gift of life to a beautiful child.
Given the vast importance of the decision to become a surrogate, both the government and the nation’s leading fertility clinics have very stringent rules regarding the process of becoming a surrogate. The discussion below is going to focus on that.
Guidelines for Prospective Surrogates
Keep in mind, rules regarding surrogacy could vary slightly from one state to the next based on state laws. They might also vary slightly from one fertility clinic to the next. However, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, a very prestigious group, has set forth reasonable rules and guidelines that are designed to protect everyone involved in the process. That includes the surrogate mother, the prospective parents, and the beautiful outcomes of these heartfelt agreements.
As a point of reference, here are a few of the rules or guidelines fertility clinics are using:
- Surrogate mother age has to be between 21–38
- Surrogate must not be a smoker or illicit drug users
- Surrogate must have already carried at least one child to term without complications
- Surrogate cannot have given birth to another child within six months of the proposed surrogacy
- Surrogate must not be receiving government assistance
- Surrogate cannot have any felonies on a criminal record
- The use of certain prescription medications is not permitted
This is but a shortlist of the stringent guidelines as set forth by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. With that said, all of the guidelines being used are in place for the protection of everyone involved in the surrogacy process.
One of the key rules on this list is the rule regarding surrogate age requirements. This is an important issue because it places restrictions on the possible population of potential surrogates. Let’s have a discussion about why there need to be rules regarding a surrogate age limit.
Support for Surrogate Mother Age Requirements
Every year, a lot of younger women show an interest in becoming gestational carriers. Yes, a lot of these younger women are under the current minimum age requirement of 21. Their motives for wanting to be surrogate mothers should not be considered. The only thing that should really matter is the mental, emotional, and physical capacity of a woman to go through the rigors of the surrogacy process as a prospective surrogate mother. That’s exactly why there are standards in place.
To go through the mental process of carrying a child and eventually turning it over to the surrogate parents is difficult. It takes a mentally tough and disciplined woman to do that. She will have to have the mental fortitude to follow important rules.
A lot of experts agree that a woman needs to be mentally mature in order to handle the surrogacy process. They need to have an understanding of what exactly is going to take place. They need to have the mental capacity to make the decision to go forward based upon their ability to understand the intricacies of the process.
In general, society accepts the fact that women under the age of 21 lack enough life experience to always make sound decisions. By the way, this isn’t a sexist jab at women. Men under the age of 21 also lack life experience. It’s just that a man’s life experience is irrelevant here because they obviously can’t be surrogate mothers.
Back on point, what women lack in life experience affects their level of knowledge about things like the law and a person’s rights. It also affects their ability to extrapolate the repercussions that could occur in the future from decisions made today.
Anything to do with the birth of a precious child is going to involve emotions on the part of everyone involved. What a lot of women under the age of 21 lack is the ability to manage and cope with their emotions. In these surrogate relationships, the test of a woman’s emotional capacity will come when the baby has to be delivered to the parents.
For any woman, it would be hard to dismiss the fact they would be responsible for carrying an innocent child to term. Even if the child is not biologically theirs, it’s still growing inside of them. A woman would have to be emotionally disconnected to not experience some level of emotional bonding.
It’s that bonding that could present problems for an emotionally immature woman. Yes, some teenagers are very emotionally mature. However, the risk is always higher that a younger woman will be more predisposed to emotional immaturity. Whether it’s fair or not, experts agree that most women reach emotional maturity no sooner than the age of 21.
While a woman’s mental and emotional capacity to deal with being surrogate mother matters, surrogate age requirements really point mostly to the physical capacity of a woman to serve in the process.
For instance, the medical profession believes a woman’s body does not reach full physical maturity until around the age of 21 years old. That’s a long way (seven years) from 18 years old.
Here is another consideration based upon the aforementioned surrogate age requirements. Not a lot of women have had a child without complications before the age of 21 years old. For the ones that have been through childbirth as teenagers, it’s near impossible to state whether or not their immature bodies will be able to withstand the rigors of another pregnancy. If there are any doubts, it’s best to err on the side of being too cautious.
As for the maximum age requirement, it really is a focus on the health of the prospective surrogate mother. There is evidence that women are at higher risk during pregnancy as they approach the age of 40.
Everyone involved in a surrogacy agreement is highly vested. Time and money are always involved in the process. So is the emotional well-being of everyone involved.
With so much at risk, it’s proper to make sure everyone involved in the process is protected. Most importantly, the well-being of the surrogate mother and the child warrants all due consideration. That’s why these rules and guidelines exist. If the experts believe the whole process is best served by making sure prospective surrogate mothers fall with a certain age range, that’s where the lines should be drawn.