We have all heard by now that Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West have welcomed their latest bundle of joy into this world. It’s been all over our social media feeds and trending online on many blogs since the news broke on the 16th of January 2018. But what was the real story here? The influential couple are already parents to two children; North West and Saint West and have now added their third child to their family via surrogacy.
So what made them go the surrogacy route? Well, before we cast our judgements – Kim has reported a life-threatening condition that prevents her from being able to have a safe pregnancy and delivery. As much as we are aware of many women across the globe suffering from pregnancy-related health issues or infertility problems, we often shy away from talking about this openly.
So what is different here? Is it because Kim Kardashian West and many other celebs over the years have openly talked about their health struggles when it comes to pregnancy? Can we now have an open conversation about what it means to seek a surrogate or admit to family/friends that you are struggling to conceive as a couple? There are countless women suffering from infertility issues but do we make it easy for that person to deal with their experiences?
Before we go any further on that train of thought – let’s discuss what surrogacy actually means and the associated issues it can bring up for a couple that chooses to go down this route.
So what exactly is surrogacy and how does it work?
Surrogacy is often referred to as a ‘’painless pregnancy’’. Critics call it manufactured babies but for some families, it’s their only chance at having a biological child together. This unique pregnancy entails a woman carrying and giving birth to another person’s baby. Upon giving birth there is an expectation that the surrogate mother gives the baby up at birth so it can be raised by the couple who have asked her to carry the baby for them.
COTS charity (Childlessness Overcome Through Surrogacy) have categorised two different types of surrogacy;
- Traditional surrogacy: When the surrogate uses her own egg fertilised with the intended father’s sperm. The egg is artificially inseminated using a syringe.
- Gestational surrogacy: The surrogate carries the intended parent’s genetic child conceived through IVF, for which specialist doctors are needed.
Whatever type of surrogacy a family chooses it’s important to note that it’s still a very emotional decision and can come with a range of psychological turmoil for both the surrogate mother as well as the couple desperately wanting their baby.
So where does the UK law stand when it comes to this complex pregnancy?
This may come as a shock to some readers, but after the surrogate gives birth to the baby, she is regarded as the mother in the eyes of the law. If she has a partner or husband, they are also legally seen as the father.
In some cases, the surrogate is single, which allows the genetic father to be named on the birth certificate. After welcoming their surrogate baby to the world, parents are required to apply for a Parental Order. Have a look at Surrogacy UK’s website for more information on the steps parents need to take to be recognised as the parents of the surrogate child.
As it’s illegal in the UK to pay someone to act as a surrogate, many couples who hope to start a family will approach an agency that vets potential parents and surrogates.
As previously mentioned, infertility is not a foreign phenomenon that only a handful of women or men experience. We know that it’s still a deeply personal and often difficult topic to talk about. Especially amongst newlyweds who feel pushed in the corner when they get questions like ‘So when are you going to have babies?’ or ‘How many children do you plan on having?’ This expectation that many cultures commonly place on a woman’s shoulders can be hurtful when a couple is struggling with infertility.
Today we see celebrities openly talk about their experiences through social media and reality TV shows. For instance, supermodel Tyra Banks, TV host Jimmy Fallon and YouTube personality Glozell Green, are all celebrities who have had surrogate children.
I guess the question here is; do celebs such as Kimye make surrogacy or infertility issues in general acceptable for conversation? Do they make it trendy to talk about in today’s world? Or have they simply allowed people to openly discuss their fertility problems and taken the stigma away from being a woman that cannot have a child for whatever reason?
Whether you are Keeping up with the Kardashians or not, feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts or experiences on this topic.