Even in ancient times people dreamed of reproducing an offspring, strived to have children of their own in spite of infertility which was incurable. The first surrogate mother in history is believed to have lived somewhere near the city of Hebron, the land of Canaan, two thousand years before the birth of Christ. Here is what the Bible says about this (The Genesis, 16). Sarah, elderly Abraham’s wife, was barren and hired her maiden Hagar to carry a child for her husband.
1 Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.
2And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.
3 And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.
4 And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.
5 And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the LORD judge between me and thee.
6 But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.
7 And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.
8 And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.
9 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.
10 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.
11 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction.
12 And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.
13 And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?
14 Wherefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.
15 And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son's name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael.
16 And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.
Abraham was 86 at that time, but he was still able to conceive a child despite his age.
Abraham and Isaac
In 1910 BC Hagar gave birth to a son called Ishmael. Sarah admitted him into the family by putting him in her lap as this required traditions. Ishmael was the first child in history born due to the so-called traditional surrogacy programme. By the way, the Arabs are believed to descend from Ishmael’s offspring, that is why they are sometimes called the Hagarenes or the Ismailites. It’s interesting that 14 years after the birth of Ishmael, in 1897 BC (the year of the Fall of Sodom and Gomorrah), Sarah managed to get pregnant by her spouse who was about 100 years old at that time.
The second surrogacy programme known to us was carried out in the Sumer Mesopotamia in the middle of the XVIII century BC. It’s worth mentioning that in the Sumer Mesopotamia surrogacy was generally recognized and was on absolutely legal grounds. Hammurabi’s Code (1792-1759) was drawn up in 1780 and was the first document to stipulate the principle of presumption of innocence (‘innocent until proven guilty’). That document required that an infertile wife wishing to reproduce an offspring should find a bondwoman for her husband. Additional bondwomen were only allowed in cases when the selected maid never delivered a boy. ‘Successful’ surrogate mothers were even entitled to certain social benefits.
§ 144. If a man take a wife and this woman give her husband a maid-servant, and she bear him children, but this man wishes to take another wife, this shall not be permitted to him; he shall not take a second wife.
§ 145. If a man take a wife, and she bear him no children, and he intend to take another wife: if he take this second wife, and bring her into the house, this second wife shall not be allowed equality with his wife.
§ 146. If a man take a wife and she give this man a maid-servant as wife and she bear him children, and then this maid assume equality with the wife: because she has borne him children her master shall not sell her for money, but he may keep her as a slave, reckoning her among the maid-servants.
§ 147. If she have not borne him children, then her mistress may sell her for money.
We do not know other Sumerian surrogate mothers’ names.
Bilhah, Rachel’s, Jacob’s second infertile wife, maid, became the second surrogate mother and bore sons Dan and Naphtali to Jacob.Here is what the Bible says: (Genesis, 30)
1 And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die.
2 And Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I in God's stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?
3 And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees that I may also have children by her.
4 And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her.
5 And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son.
6 And Rachel said, God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his name Dan.
7 And Bilhah Rachel's maid conceived again, and bare Jacob a second son.
8 And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali.
9 When Leah saw that she had left bearing, she took Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife.
10 And Zilpah Leah's maid bare Jacob a son.
11 And Leah said, A troop cometh: and she called his name Gad.
12 And Zilpah Leah's maid bare Jacob a second son.
13 And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher.
14 And Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them unto his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, Give me, I pray thee, of thy son's mandrakes.
15 And she said unto her, Is it a small matter that thou hast taken my husband? and wouldest thou take away my son's mandrakes also? And Rachel said, Therefore he shall lie with thee to night for thy son's mandrakes.
16 And Jacob came out of the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, Thou must come in unto me; for surely I have hired thee with my son's mandrakes. And he lay with her that night.
17 And God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived, and bare Jacob the fifth son.
18 And Leah said, God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband: and she called his name Issachar.
19 And Leah conceived again, and bare Jacob the sixth son.
20 And Leah said, God hath endued me with a good dowry; now will my husband dwell with me, because I have born him six sons: and she called his name Zebulun.
21 And afterwards she bare a daughter, and called her name Dinah.
22 And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb.
By the way, no matter how strange it might seem, surrogacy sometimes takes unexpected turns – after the birth of the baby or even during pregnancy the ‘client’ becomes pregnant herself. That’s what happened to Rachel, too.
Zilpah, Jacob’s first wife Leah’s maid, became the third surrogate mother. She bore four sons to Jacob and then became temporarily barren. Zilpah gave Jacob two sons: Gad and Asher. After that, Leah became fertile and bore another two sons (Issachar and Zebulun) and a daughter Dinah to Jacob.
The holy book tells us about the so-called traditional type of surrogacy when due to poor reproductive technologies the surrogate mother was artificially inseminated and thus acted as a donor and surrogate mother at the same time. From the legal point of view, however, those boys were recognized as biblical prophets’ and their spouses’ own children.
Surrogacy was quite common in Ancient Egypt. Many of Egyptian Pharaohs asked their concubines to help them in producing an offspring. The ancient rulers of Egypt were believed to directly descend from the God of Sun Ra. To avoid mixing blood of the Sun with ordinary blood, Pharaohs married their sisters. No need to say that their children were not too healthy and there were a great number of miscarriages. For example, Amenhotep I, the Pharaoh who reigned in the XVI century BC, did not have a successor and that’s why he had to ask one of his maids to bear a child for him. However, even though children delivered by maids were treated as Pharaohs’ children, they were a little bit infringed in their rights and could pretend to the throne only when there were no other ‘nobler and more legal’ pretenders to it. Amenhotep’s son Thutmose reigned over the Kingdom for 30 years, conquered half of the ancient world, led thousands of hundreds of slaves to Egypt… but was toppled from the throne by pagan priests when his stepsister and wife the Empress of Sun died in 1490 BC. A more legal Pharaoh’s daughter ascended the throne then – it was the sixteen-year-old Hutsepshut who became the first female ruler in history. She came to the throne even though Thutmose had a son from a maid – the thirty-year-old Thutmose II – and a grandson who had also been delivered by a surrogate mother – the future warrior Thutmose III, Amenhotep’s II father. Egyptian rulers ascended the throne in accordance with the so-called ‘sun’ female blood line and a Pharaoh’s son could come to the throne only if he married his stepsister or half-sister.
Surrogacy was also common in ancient Greece and Rome. Plutarch tells us the story of King of Galatia Deiotarus and his infertile wife Stratonica who personally picked a beautiful concubine Electra for her husband among his prisoners and brought up their children as if those ones ‘were hers, with love and generosity’.
Traditional surrogacy in which the surrogate mother acts as the biological mother of the baby is quite common in surrogacy-friendly countries even nowadays.
Trishala and her son Mahivara
There is a very interesting Indian legend saying that a thousand years after the biblical events mentioned above, in 599 AD, the 24th Tirthankar was born after an embryo had been transferred from one woman’s womb to another one’s. That Tirthankak is the last 24th Jain Buddha, one of the key figures of the Jain Mythology Mahivara (in Sanskrit this name literally means ‘Great Hero’). He was destined to become great and, consequently, be born in a family of the legendary Kshatriya (warrior) caste. However, Mahivara decided to change his destiny and so he was born in Brahma’a caste (the priests’ caste). He changed the life karma he had had before his rebirth and incarnated into a fetus into Brahmin Devananda’s womb. According to the legend, Devananda, wife of a Brahmin named Rishabhdeva, conceived him. The gods, ingeniously, transferred the embryo to the womb of Trishala. According to Swetambara sect the expectant mother was believed to have seen 14 auspicious dreams. And according to Digambara sect it was 16 dreams. The Astrologers interpreted these dreams, stated that the child would be either an emperor or a Teerthankar. Trishala and Devananda, whose deliveries were on the same day, became the first women who had carried other people’s baby, that is, the first surrogate mothers in the modern meaning of this notion.
Concubines were also quite common in the medieval Europe. Charles le Grand became a widower in 800, and he had a few concubines then, but children delivered by these women were treated as illegal. However, they managed to become highly-respected priests: Drogon became the Archbishop of Metz, and his younger brother Hugh (Hugo) – the abbot of Saint-Quentin. Their high-ranking posts are mainly accounted for by the education their father had provided them with.
Grand Prince St. Vladimir I, Equal-to-the-Apls (955-1015), the one who christened Kievan Rus in 988, had more than 800 concubines before the Christianization and entered into five official pagan marriages (including a marriage with a Czech princess and Bulgarian tsarevna). However, he wanted to have as many male successors as possible, that’s why he took a Greek woman, his own brother Yaropolk’s widow, as a concubine. In 978 the notorious Sviatopolk I Vladimirovich (Sviatopolk the Accursed) was born. Vladimir recognized him as his lawful successor, Sviatopolk yet insisted on his uncle Yaropolk’s paternity (there were rumors that Yulia (his mother) was already pregnant when Yaropolk died). It was Sviatoslav, born as people said then ‘from two fathers’, became Knyaz of Kiev after the death of his father in spite of Vladimir having elder and more lawful male children. He was later dethroned by his stepbrother Yaroslav Mudry (Yaroslav the Wise).
Cultural and religious peculiarities were not an obstacle for implementing a traditional surrogacy programme in the Medieval era in China, Korea and Japan. One of such cases which became a precedent in history is described in a brilliant movie ‘The Surrogate Woman’ by a famous Korean film director Im Kwon-Taek. A member of a noble Lee family married an infertile woman and hired a minor country girl for her to carry a child for him. By the way, the actress interpreting the surrogate mother’s role won the Best Actress Nomination at the Venice Film Festival.
Artificial insemination has been studied for several centuries already. In 1677 the inventor of microscope, the Dutch scholar A. Leeuwenhoek examined human semen and was the first to detect spermatozoons. He made a suggestion that a spermatozoon was a kind of seed, and a woman’s uterus created a favourable environment for its ‘sprouting’. In 1790 a distinguished Scottish surgeon and venereologist John Hunter (1728-1793) injected a man’s semen into his wife’s vagina with a syringe to overcome infertility. By doing this, he implemented the first artificial insemination in history. Due to his experiment, the woman became pregnant and later gave birth to a healthy child.
In 1880 the first IVF attempt in history was tested on guinea pigs. 11 years later, in 1891 a French scientist Heape was the first to carry out a successful IVF by transferring an embryo from one guinea rabbit to another one, thus making it the first ‘surrogate mother’ in history.
In 1893-97 V. Gruzdev (1866-1938) suggested a theory of importance of egg’s maturity for conception to take place and he was also the first to apply his patented method to rabbits. Later on his theory laid down the principles of GIFT (gamete intrafallopian transfer; egg cells are removed from the woman's ovary, mixed with sperm, and introduced into one of her Fallopian tubes).
Starting with the 1920th, artificial insemination by the husband’s or a selected donor’s sperm has become widely-spread in infertility treatment.
The first IVF involving human reproductive materials was conducted in 1944 by Harvard gynecologists J. Roach and M. Minkin. They cultivated a human egg and inseminated it in vitro which resulted in the development of a 2-cell embryo.
Despite all these early discoveries, the IVF fathers are considered to be two distinguished and famous British researchers – biologist Robert Edwards and gynecologist Patrick Steptoe. Edwards had his first success in fertilizing a human egg in vitro in 1967. The first ‘alien child’ pregnancy (which unfortunately turned out to be extrauterine) was registered in 1976, following 9 years of continuous research and experiments. On November 10, 1977 when the amount of IFV failures had exceeded 600, the doctors carried out an 8-cell embryo transfer after which the embryo was finally accepted by the mother’s organism. And, finally, the world's first 'test tube' baby was born just before midnight on 25 July 1978 at Oldham General Hospital in England. Reproductologists and embryologists could consider this date as their professional holiday. It took more than 600 IVF attempts for Louise to make her historic entry into the world. You can find some more information and details about Louise, her birth and all the things that preceded it in the article made up by the embryologists themselves and published in Lancet journal (Steptoe PC, Edwards RG. Birth after the implantation of human embryo. Lancet 1978;2:366).
Another ‘test tube’ baby followed soon after. In 1980 in Melbourne (Australia) after 8 years of intensive research in Carl Wood’s and Alex Lopata’s laboratory a ‘test tube’ boy was born, and in 1981 the first IVF programme was implemented in the US.
The first successful human egg fertilization attempts in the Soviet Union were made at the end of the 1960s by B. Leonov in Moscow and A. Nikitin in Leningrad.
The first Soviet ‘test tube’ baby Lena was conceived in Leonov’s laboratory in Moscow and born in February 1986 just a few years before the famous Perestroika. In a few months another IVF child Kirill was born in St. Petersburg.
Boris Leonov was actually the founding father of IVF and reproductive technologies in Russia. In the period of Soviet stagnation, when there was no Internet and other communications means were quite poor, when the country was almost isolated from European countries and the information flow was more than poor, he managed to understand and make up the principles of IVF basing on his scattered knowledge about IVF attempts in the West, and he did his best to start implementing similar programmes on the territory of the USSR. He actually applied himself to a ‘start-up’ field in the Soviet science. It is his persistence and ability to persuade people that made it possible to open the first Soviet IVF clinic – the Ministry of Health allocated $500.000 (a hefty sum of money at that time) to do it. So, it is no one but B. Leonov who should be considered as godfather of thousands of IVF children who made their entry into this world due to his programmes and techniques.
Speaking about surrogacy itself, it was a Michigan lawyer Noel Keane who became the pioneer in this field. He is the founder of the first surrogacy agency in the US (1976). His first programmes were based on the so-called traditional type of surrogacy, that is the surrogate mother’s egg was fertilized in vivo by the biological father’s sperm. By 1988, due to the enthusiastic lawyer’s efforts, 302 babies had been born.
The first coordinated traditional surrogacy programme in the US (and in the world) was successfully implemented in 1980 by Richard M. Levin’s Surrogate Parenting Associates, Inc. company in Louisville (KY, US). Medical screening and various legal regulations before the start of the programme took them long 9 months. However, the pregnancy itself was achieved at the first attempt and resulted in the delivery of a healthy boy. Five days after the delivery, the surrogate mother gave up her rights to the baby in favour of the biological father. That was actually the first case of coordination of the traditional surrogacy programme in the world. Surrogate Parenting Associates, Inc. has helped in delivering more than 500 children so far, and Dr. Levin, as well as Mr. Keane, have become famous people and distinguished specialists.
The first gestational surrogacy programme (in which the surrogate mother carries the biological parents’ embryo) was implemented in Ann Arbor (MI, US) in April 1986. The girl was conceived in vitro with the sperm and egg of the biological parents. The IVF was conducted at the Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation in Cleveland by Dr. Wolf Utian. The 37-year-old biological mother had her uterus removed, that’s why she asked her 22-year-old friend, who had already delivered two children, to bear her daughter. The legal part of this programme was taken care of by Noel Keane and one of its major conditions was to keep everything confidential.
48-year-old Patricia Anthony delivered three grandsons for her 25-year-old daughter
The first surrogacy programme implemented among relatives, when 48-year-old Pat Anthony successfully bore and delivered three grandchildren for her own 25-year-old daughter Karen Ferreira-Jorge, was carried out in South Africa in October 1987.
Karen and her 33-year-old husband Alsino already had a son at that time, but the couple was dreaming of four children. Karren, who had her uterus removed because of a heavy postnatal bleeding, thought that their dream would never become true. After learning about surrogacy, the couple selected a potential surrogate mother but had to give up her services for fear that she should keep the babies to herself. Then Karren’s mother Patricia decided to help her daughter and her son-in-law. She almost insisted on taking part in an IVF programme. The enthusiastic lady had four out of eleven embryos transferred into her womb, and three of them were successfully accepted by the surrogate mother’s organism.
The birth was given by cesarean section and the delivery was filmed by British journalists who paid $500.000 for the exclusive permission to do it. The babies were called David, Jose and Paula. According to the Child Status Bill which was in force in South Africa at this time, Miss Anthony was treated as mother of triplets, that’s why she had to give up her parental right for her daughter and son-in-law who then adopted their own children.
Relatives become surrogate mothers quite often. In North Caroline (US), a woman who had been trying to treat infertility for 6 years asked her sister to bear a child for her, and in May 1994 she had her baby born. In Great Britain Edith Jones had her own daughter’s embryo transferred into her womb because the latter was not able to maintain pregnancy on her own. In 2005 in South Africa the daughter-in-law of a prominent cardiosurgeon Susan Vosloo bore two twins for her: two girls called Nina and Lila.
Since 1976 in the US only there have been more than 40,000 surrogate babies born. Most of them were conceived within the so-called traditional surrogacy programme. At present only 15 cases of surrogate mothers’ refusal to give up the baby for the intended parents are registered. The most notorious of them is the so-called ‘Baby M’ case which was heard in court in 1988 in New Jersey. Mary Beth Whitehead-Gould, the baby’s traditional surrogate mother, decided to keep the baby that she had borne for William and Elizabeth Stern. After the delivery the surrogate mother fled with the baby to Florida, but private detectives hired by the Sterns sought her and brought her back to NJ. The Supreme Court of New Jersey entitled Miss Whitehead-Gould with parental rights as the baby’s genetic mother. However, the custody of the ‘Baby M’ was given to the Sterns, the surrogate mother was entitled to occasional visits only.
Only four of these cases were won by the surrogate mothers and they managed to gain sole custody of their children. In one of the cases the intended parents decided to have only one of the twins delivered by the surrogate mother, but the court gave sole custody of both children to the surrogate mother in order to keep the twins together. Interestingly enough, but we know more than 50 cases when the intended parents gave up their own children carried for them by a surrogate mother. Usually the parents decided to give up the child because they managed to get pregnant themselves, or they did not want to have twins or triplets, or they wanted a girl instead of a boy (or vice versa), the child might be born with various physical defects and, finally, the intended parents might be just light-minded. However, 50 is a small figure against the total number of implemented surrogacy programmes – it makes only 0,125% of them.
By the way, 500,000 mothers leave their children in maternity hospitals annually in Russia, which makes 4% of all the children born in this country every year.
The first surrogacy programme in the USSR was implemented in Kharkov in 1995. The surrogate mother, as in South Africa, was a woman who successfully carried a baby for her own daughter whose uterus was entirely absent from her birth. So the lady acted both as the surrogate mother and the child’s grandmother.
The first Russian surrogacy programme was implemented in 1995 at the IVF centre at the D.O. Otta Institute of Obstetrics and Gynecology of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences in St.-Petersburg. One of the first patients of this centre was a young woman who had to have her uterus removed because of delivery complications (her child died the next day after the delivery by Ñ-section). The woman did not lose hope of having a child though. She already knew about successful surrogacy programmes abroad, but in Russia there were no doctors who could carry out such a programme, it was impossible to find a surrogate mother in this country. However, she somehow managed to persuade an unmarried 24-year-old friend of hers, who had never had children of her own yet, to become the surrogate mother for her child. The pregnancy was achieved at the first attempt and ultrasound scanning showed that she was pregnant with twins! The pregnancy period was quite difficult, the surrogate mother was even taken to hospital for several times to maintain the pregnancy. As it often happens in a multifetal pregnancy, the delivery was premature and the birth was given by Ñ-section. The 7-month-old girls weighed a bit more than 2 kilos at birth and were in quite good health. The surrogate mother was given a three-room apartment in St.-Petersburg for her services. By the way, the ladies managed to remain on good friendly terms, the surrogate mother often sees her friend’s children who treat her as their aunt.
Nowadays there are dozens of successful clinics, medical centers and laboratories who are involved in IVF. We can’t give you accurate figures here, but we are certain that 10 years of IVF practice have given birth to thousands of children.
There are no statistics on surrogacy legal cases in Russia. We can mention only three cases.
In 2004 a couple from Chita (a Russian city) hired a traditional surrogacy mother who was artificially inseminated by the genetic father’s sperm. The surrogate mother did not give up the child for the intended parents, but they did not intend to bring the case to court. The surrogate mother sought alimony and the court awarded her with it. That’s a classical case revealing all the mistakes committed by a couple who hired a surrogate mother on their own – they should have done IVF, not an insemination, and they should have used a donor’s eggs to avoid the genetic relation between the surrogate mother and the baby she carried. And there is no need to say that they should have drawn up a sort of contract to fix all the formal and legal details.
An interesting legal case was heard in court on-line in a popular TV-show ‘Chas suda’ (‘The Court Time’) on November 29, 2004. The surrogate mother bore a child with a heart disease for a couple. It was not said whether the surrogate mother was ‘traditional’ or gestational. The parents gave up their baby saying that they did not want a sick child. They also did not pay the money compensation they had promised to the surrogate mother before. She filed a suit in court for them to pay her the promised sum of money, but the court declined it saying that ‘the European Counsel suggests hiring as surrogates sisters, close relatives and friends of the infertile woman only’, reimbursing only the pregnancy expenses. Well, no comments are needed.
Probably, the most interesting case was heard in one of Moscow courts at the end of 2005. A Russian couple implemented a successful IVF programme in one of Moscow clinics. However, the surrogate mother, who had previously given her consent for bearing the embryos and putting the intended parents’ names on the child’s Birth Certificate upon delivery, tried to question the Birth Certificate after the document had been issued. She explained to the court that she had thought ‘she’d live with the baby’s father’, and there is no need to say that such a ‘marriage’ never came to the father’s mind. No matter how strange it can be (according to Paragraph 3, Article 52 of the Family Code of the Russian Federation, the surrogate mother is not entitled to question the Birth Certificate after this document had been issued), that suit was accepted and the court even arranged a few hearings of it. Eventually, this case was dismissed.
Alyona Apina (a Russian singer)
Usually, intended parents do not want to reveal the fact that their child has been carried by a surrogate mother. However, there are exceptions to this rule. The most ‘famous’ biological parents of Russia are the popular singer Alyona Apina and her husband Aleksandr Iratov. Having lost hope in having a natural child, they decided to hire a surrogate mother. So they found a well-educated provincial lady (mother of two children), who agreed to bear their child for a certain sum of money. After the delivery, Alyona took her daughter and the women do not keep contact at all now.
A famous businesswoman Olga Slutsker (the President of a chain of Wealth and Recreation Centres World Class) hired an American lady Lucy who became the surrogate mother for her son Misha. The two women got on very good friendly terms, they keep contact and have even become close friends
We can only admire people who do not keep their ‘surrogacy experience’ in secret. And then, they shouldn’t be afraid of being blackmailed that someone will ‘reveal their baby’s secret’ because, in fact, there is no secret at all.
Western ‘stars’ are usually not so overt when speaking about surrogacy.
In May 2005 Sharon Stone had her second son Laird Vonne Stone. She adopted her first son with her ex-husband Phil Bronstein. Some sources claim it is the actress’ biological child who had been carried by a surrogate mother from Texas. No one knows where the IVF programme was implemented and whom Sharon Stone had chosen as the sperm donor. The actress had to adopt the boy.
The birth of 47-year-old Prince Albert’s of Monaco black son is also covered with mystery. Some people believe that a 33-year-old Togolese Nicole Cost working as a flight attendant acted as a traditional surrogate mother. The black boy called Alexandre Eric Stephane was born on August 24, 2003. After the positive DNA test, the happy father officially recognized the newborn boy as his heir and gave his son and his mother an apartment in Paris, a BMW and allocated ˆ10,000 per month to cover their living expenses. Well, Alexandre Eric is probably unlikely to become Prince of Monaco (only if his father amends Act 1249 about the Succession of the Throne), but he will definitely inherit his father’s fortune, estimated at more than ˆ2 billion.
Michael Jackson was one of the few who openly declared that he had hired a traditional surrogate mother to deliver his third child - Prince Michael II. When selecting the surrogate mother, the singer was interested in her intellect only, other aspects such as her ethnic origin, age etc. were not important for him.
The famous Italian designers Dolce and Gabbana also said once that they were going to hire a surrogate.
Nowadays mass media speak more and more about surrogacy and newborn surrogate babies.
One of the most interesting cases took place in the US, where a gay family is bringing up five surrogate babies now. It was like this: in July 2002 two gay men (36-year-old lawyer Michael Meehan and his partner, 31-year-old stylist Thomas Dysarz) from Lexington (KY, US) had four children at once – three boys (Michael, Jacob and Tristan) and a girl named Taylor. They were born, as it usually happens in a multiple pregnancy, a bit premature – nine weeks earlier than the full term. They were delivered by a 23-year-old surrogate mother Verity Brooks who was also the oocyte donor. Michael acted as the biological father of the children by donating his sperm for the IVF. Both fathers were allowed to be present at the delivery. In January 2004 the same Verity Brooks carried another baby for the two fathers. This time it was Thomas who was the babys’ biological father. Both times Verity had four embryos implanted, but last time only one of them was accepted by the surrogate mother’s organism. According to the legislation of Kentucky, the surrogate mother can give up her maternity rights three days after the delivery. As the biological parents did not deny their paternity, they did not have to adopt the children. The only problem they faced was that the Kentucky law does not allow putting the names of two fathers onto the Birth Certificate.
In April 2005 in the US a 25-year-old Therese Anderson who had been hired as a surrogate mother for Louise Gonzales and Enrique Moreno, a childless couple from Mexico, delivered five lovely boys - Gabriel, Xavier, Jorge, Enrique and Victor. These children were born healthy, though one of them had some heart disturbances. The surrogate mother received only $15,000 for her services, she did not insist on paying her extra for delivering several babies.
On December 14, 2005 in Ural a 35-year-old surrogate mother Tatyana delivered triplets for her sister Marina. Marina had had two attempts of transfer before, but they were not successful. Then Tatyana, who had already delivered two healthy children of her own, offered to help her. The two babies, even though premature, were able to breathe on their own. The biological mother, unable to ‘deal’ with three babies, asked the surrogate mother to keep two babies to herself. The relations between the sisters were not registered officially. They had a verbal agreement only.
Ekaterina Germanova and her son Andrei
Quite an interesting and actually unique in Russia surrogacy programme was implemented in November 2005. In this case, the dead biological father’s sperm was used for the conception to take place. Ten years before that a 19-year-old Andrei Zakharov was to follow a course of chemotherapy in Israel. Before starting the treatment, he, as it was required, left a sample of his sperm for cryoconservation. The course of therapy he had followed proved to be not really efficient, and in eight years Andrei died being childless. His mother Ekaterina Germanova set up her mind to have a grandchild from her son then. Reproductologists from the Ekaterinburg centre of Family Medicine helped Ekaterina in making her dream come true. Andrei’s sperm was delivered to Ekaterinburg where a gestational surrogacy programme (with an egg-donation) was implemented. By the way, his mother faced a lot of problems when transporting her son’s sperm to Russia. According to the law, only Andrei’s wife could use her beloved husband’s sperm and a special will was to have been made up then. Nevertheless, the Israeli authorities met this persistent lady’s wishes and allowed her to take all the 25 tubes with her son’s sperm sample. On November 16 a surrogate mother gave birth to a healthy boy! The surrogate mother got a one-room apartment in Ekaterinburg for her services. Now Ekaterina is the only guardian of her grandchild and she is going to pick him up for adoption soon. The court ruled that she could not be taken for the baby’s grandmother as the surrogate mother is his only relative. In this case, the refusal to register Ekaterina Zakharova as the baby’s grandmother was not legal. She should have acted in the following way: she should have established the child’s paternity, after what Ekaterina Germanova would have been automatically recognized as the child’s grandmother. As far as Germanova are planning to have more than one grandchild, we could advise her turning to competent law counsels in due time.
The Nirovs family
In February 2006 in Moscow a successful surrogacy programme was implemented by the Nirovs family. After numerous failures of IVF the biological mother, who was trying the last attempt, decided to implement a surrogacy programme just to be on the safe side. Both women had two embryos implanted. Both of them became pregnant, and both of them had twins! During pregnancy both women – Svetlana (biological) and Nadezhda (surrogate) – became almost close friends. The children were born nice and healthy and there were no problems when getting the documents.
The 41-year-old Englishwoman Carole Horlock is the leader among all the surrogate mothers. She started her ‘career’ in 1995 and since then she has delivered 12 children for childless couples – 8 girls and 4 boys, including twins and even triplets! A Greek couple has become Carole’s latest clients. The biological mother was seriously operated on two years ago and since then she is totally barren. However, she is still able to produce eggs. Horlock had 3 embryos transferred into her womb in 2007, and all three of them were successfully accepted by the surrogate mother’s organism. On March 15 the surrogate mother gave the Greek couple triplets. The delivery, as it often happens in a multiple pregnancy, was a little bit premature (at the 35th week), but the babies were quite plump and healthy. By the way, that’s the only surrogacy programme within which Carole carried children genetically related to other people. All the other children had been conceived by an artificial insemination, i.e. it was a traditional surrogacy programme in which the surrogate mother really has to give up her own child.
Isn’t it nice that parents can finally have their heirs who’ll make them happy and fill their lives with love and care? The more surrogate children are born in this world, the more happiness, love and joy will be in it!
By the way, one shouldn’t forget that surrogacy helps in solving one of the major social problems – the one of population reproduction, because death rate in Russia has been exceeding birth rate for more than 10 years already!