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Surrogacy and Selective Reduction: Being Flexible

Posted Jun 05 2009 5:06pm
Our application for surrogacy can be slightly more sensitive territory than the donor application. As a surrogate applicant, you are a woman who has completed her own family and is willing to offer a chance to bring another life into this world. But the road to success is paved with difficult decisions, and our application has to address those. The biggest issue on the application tends to be reduction.

Reduction is the process of removing one or more fetuses during a pregnancy for multiple reasons. It may be that an amniocentesis showed a congenital disease the intended parents are not able to deal with. It may be that an implantation of two embryos resulted in three or more fetuses. Our application asks if you, as a surrogate, are willing to 1) carry multiples, and 2) reduce for various reasons if the intended parents wish to do so.

We sometimes hit a bump in the road on these points. The first is an easy bump to explain: reduction is nearly impossible in the case of twins, and when going through IVF, there is a 50/50 chance that the result will be multiples. Flexibility in carrying more than one fetus is important, because we cannot guarantee that a multiple pregnancy will not occur.

The second bump in the road – that tricky issue of reduction – is more difficult to sort out. Some potential surrogates are morally opposed to aborting a fetus, and this belief is understandable and one we must respect. It is important to understand, however, that reduction is never a decision lightly made.

One reason for reduction would be an abnormal amniocentesis result. Intended parents have been through a lot of stress and emotional fatigue, fertility treatments, and spent tens of thousands of dollars, in the search to complete their family. Surrogacy is often a last effort taken, and it is a difficult decision to come to. Imagine knowing you cannot carry your own child. Imagine years of frustration and hard work, and looking forward to a final payoff. Imagine being told your final payoff would arrive in a way that would destroy the quality of life for both the child and yourself.

This is an issue some intended parents have to deal with. It is not an easy decision to abort a pregnancy after years of trying, thousands of dollars spent, and the final heart-wrenching decision to use a surrogate; but sometimes, that is the decision intended parents come to.

Sometimes the decision is less medically-based than that. Intended parents may feel they are not ready for quadruplets, and will want to reduce to twins.

Bear in mind, things like this rarely happen, and it is even rarer that a couple simply changes its mind halfway through a cycle.

So what am I trying to say here, surrogates? I am trying to explain that when filling out our application, please bear in mind that while you are the carrier of the fetus, ultimately the goal is to hand the child over to its rightful parents. Decisions they could make on their own should they be able to have a traditional pregnancy, are suddenly decisions they must run past a third party. They are grateful for your help, your selflessness, and for allowing them to essentially use your body as a warm, healthy incubator for nine months while you bring their child to term. But that means they are giving over some control of the pregnancy to you.

We ask that you be as flexible as possible regarding multiples and reduction. The intended parents regard this pregnancy as theirs, and they appreciate surrogates who are able to leave difficult decisions to them.

At the end of the day, if in filling out the application you cannot feel comfortable with reduction, we respect that decision. At Open Arms we will do our best to match you with intended parents who share similar views. We only ask that you take a moment to step outside your mindset and see this process from the other side; with that understanding, a surrogacy promises to go more smoothly for everyone involved
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