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Thursday, 08 March 2018 16:05

Complicated History of Surrogacy From 'Baby M' to Kim Kardashian and Kanye West vs the Stable History of Surrogacy in Ukraine

Introduction: Surrogacy has had a bumpy road in the US. When Ukraine became independent, the laws, nearly has they are today were enacted. Surrogacy has been regulated and the legislation has remained consistent for more than 25 years.

The Complicated History of Surrogacy From 'Baby M' to Kim Kardashian and Kanye West

Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West have announced that their third child, a daughter, was born on Monday via surrogate. “We are incredibly grateful to our surrogate who made our dreams come true with the greatest gift one could give,” Kardashian West said in a blog post sharing the news.

They are the latest celebrity couple to raise awareness about this method of having a child, in which a third party carries the pregnancy on behalf of the parents. It’s an idea with extremely old origins — as TIME has noted previously, the Old Testament story of Abraham and Hagar conceiving a child with his wife Sarah’s blessing is essentially a story of surrogacy — but it has only become more widely known and debated in the United States in the last three decades, thanks in large part to a controversial and headline-grabbing case that got the nation talking about the subject.

Here’s what happened: In 1985, a biochemist named Bill Stern and his pediatrician wife Elizabeth Stern, faced with the fact that Elizabeth’s multiple sclerosis would prevent her from carrying a pregnancy, hired a woman named Mary Beth Whitehead to bear a child fathered by Bill Stern via artificial insemination. (Kardashian West reportedly also chose surrogacy because of health concerns.) As TIME explained to readers as the case developed, Whitehead had come forward to be a surrogate out of a desire to help a couple facing infertility, and underwent testing and counseling before being matched with the Sterns, who agreed to pay her $10,000 along with other fees and payment to the clinic that arranged the surrogacy. When the baby was born, he or she would be the Sterns’ child.

But when the time came, it became clear that things were not quite so straightforward. Because laws about surrogacy at the time were not well developed, the rights of those involved were unclear.

“Whitehead began to have misgivings about handing over the girl she named Sara Elizabeth and the Sterns named Melissa Elizabeth,” TIME reported. “She refused the agreed-upon payment from the Sterns, so the money was put in an escrow account. A few days later the Sterns agreed to let Whitehead keep the baby for a short time. When the child was not returned after several weeks, the tug-of-war began.”

Whitehead and her husband eventually fled with the baby — known as “Baby M” — to Florida, where they were located months later by police so the baby could be returned to the Sterns. (Whitehead was granted visitation rights while the case was being decided.)

Surrogate mother Mary Beth Whitehead joins a group of women demonstrating on her behalf outside Bergen County courthouse on March 12, 1987, after the lawyers in the "Baby M" custody case delivered their summations. Bettmann—Getty Images

At issue was more than a fight between two families. As TIME summed up the decision a judge would have to make four months later, “He could treat the case mainly as a contract dispute, rule that the contract is valid and award the child to the Sterns. Or he could opt to treat it basically as a custody battle; then the best interests of the child would be the guiding principle.” The ethical questions would be harder for one judge to decide, as the story explained:

Has [society] imperiled its most venerable notions of kinship and the bond between mother and child? Has it opened the way to a dismal baby industry, in which well-to-do couples rent out the wombs of less affluent women, sometimes just to spare themselves the inconvenience of pregnancy? Yet if surrogacy is prohibited, has a promising way for childless couples to have families been denied them? And what if the truest answer to those questions is also the most problematical — yes to all the above?

In February 1988, the New Jersey Supreme Court ended up granting the Sterns custody, with Whitehead getting visitation rights that were expanded over time. But at the same time the justices voided the 1985 contract in which the Sterns agreed to pay Whitehead $10,000, concluding that paying women to be surrogate mothers was ”illegal, perhaps criminal, and potentially degrading to women.” As Chief Justice Robert Wilentz wrote: ”There are, in a civilized society, some things that money cannot buy.”

The fact that it happened in New Jersey, with New York City’s media hub so close by, is a big reason why this case got so much attention, argues Susan Markens, author of Surrogate Motherhood and the Politics of Reproduction and professor of Sociology at Lehman College. But the moment in time mattered as well.

“It’s after the women’s movement, a period of changing gender norms,” she explains, which meant changing conceptions of how to be a mother as well as “more awareness of a perceived sense of increased infertility.” Part of that had to do with the growing number of women joining the labor force and putting off having kids until later in life, when they might have greater difficulties with infertility. As a result, more people were wondering about alternative options.

So, somewhat ironically, even as the Baby M case raised awareness of the potential thorniness of surrogacy, it also raised awareness of the process as an option for people struggling to have a baby. According to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, 2,807 babies were born through surrogacy in the U.S. in 2015, up from 738 in 2004.

In the years since, the concept — paid and unpaid alike — has become more accepted. In addition, in vitro fertilization also started to take off around then, with the first IVF baby born in 1978, Markens notes, which made surrogacy easier in some ways. As TIME reported in 2015, while the New York State Assembly considered legalizing paid surrogacy, “Experts now recommend gestational surrogacy, where a surrogate fetus is implanted with an embryo made from donor sperm and egg — as opposed to traditional surrogacy, where the surrogate is inseminated with sperm. In the latter case, the carrier is genetically related to the child.”

After “Baby M,” New Jersey banned paid surrogacy. It remains one of just a handful of states that ban it, while nearly two dozen states are thought to allow the practice. Across the board, even if paid surrogacy practice is not illegal, the laws are still unclear and vary on exactly who is protected. And in some cases, the contracts that surrogate mothers sign with the baby’s parents “may not be legally binding,” as one Pew Charitable Trusts article notes.

So Markens explains, in terms of meaningful laws, not too much has changed. After all, despite greater awareness, many of the deeper questions that floated around Baby M still persist. As Markens puts it, “There’s no social cultural consensus on the issue, so it’s hard to get anything passed.”

But, with the West family welcoming one of the new most famous faces of surrogacy, awareness of the option is only bound to increase.

For the best service, medical facilities and affordable surrogacy with strong legal protections for the intended parents from inception, contact us at Delivering Dreams. Learn if we can help you grow your family through Ukrainian Surrogacy. 908-386-3864 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., international-surrogacy.com.

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We have been very satisfied, I have been comfortable at the clinic and with my doctor. I was heard. I could ask any questions. I like you have hu-mor, despite the circumstances. Great clinic. Your service has been very good. You have been a huge support and very spacious. You have been available 24 hours a day. You have the answer to all the questions we have been asked. You have accommodated our nervousness, you have rejoiced with us, you have been there throughout. I could not have wished ...
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The communication with surrogate is easy and better than what we expected. The updates are provided as scheduled with occasional surprises
S
The support was great. It was easy on us that the coordination was done by the delivering dreams team while being completely transparent with us on the progress. The communication with the delivering dreams team was always fast, responsive, and easy.
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Doyles
I loved working with Susan and her team and highly recommend them to anyone considering her services. She's is great at every aspect of a process and knows how to handle delicate matters.
Diana Lyakhovetska
Susan truly understands the needs of parents using surrogacy, and offers comprehensive emotional support to parents as they experience the journey!
Christine Hughes Pontier
The team at Delivering Dreams is amazing! Their attention to detail and ability to put your mind at ease while growing your family is like none other. They handled everything for us, and I never once doubted they would help us accomplish our dreams.
Margaret Jones
I’ve known Susan for several years now, and I’ve always been impressed by her attention to her clients’ needs. I’ve known her to work ardently and diligently to solve whatever challenges, no matter how unique, that prevent her clients from completing their families. She is a problem-solver, and she earnestly believes in providing the best options and in making surrogacy opportunities realities: this is not merely a business for Susan. She will help customize the process for your needs and to ...
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Mary Woods
Susan has a keen sense of business and goes to the max to solve her clients’ problems. She is super knowledgeable on business, laws and how things work in surrogacy in general, and specifically on Ukrainian surrogacy. She is an advocate for transparency in a market that’s often opaque and full of hidden risks. I really enjoyed working with Susan. She really pays attention to detail and was always looking out for my best interest above all. Highly recommend!
Laurie Tham
Delivering Dreams goes above and beyond what other surrogacy agencies offer. After speaking with Susan, I see how they anticipate every part of the process, down to details that I had never even considered. I didn’t know what I didn’t know! Surrogacy can be really complicated and confusing. What an amazing sense of relief to have a company so dedicated to managing the WHOLE process and taking away as much of the stress as possible.
Kate Varness
I have gotten to know Susan through a group where we are members. I have found her to be a genuine and caring person. Her consideration for others and love of her work with Ukrainian surrogates and parents-to-be are evident in all her decision making. She is passionate about being a force for the greater good and helping where she can. I have been amazed at the way she is able to smoothly navigate the complicated maze of requirements in the surrogacy process. I am happy to give her my highest...
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Rose Anne Barbour Huck
Susan Kibler is kind.  She clearly loves those she works with and loves what she does.  Susan listens deeply and compassionately and can make you laugh all in the space of one conversation.  She is wonderful!  If you are feeling worried, she'll hear you.  If you have questions, she will find answers for you. If you need help, she does her very best to support you.  I feel so fortunate to have found her and imagine you will too.
Frances Russell
Susan has the ability to really connect on a personal level quickly.  I have found her easy to talk to and have been so grateful for her guidance.  She is one of those people who offers so much to her clients.  She sees the big picture and has a heart for the most intimate concerns.  She is highly skilled and able to manage what can certainly be challenging and uncomfortable experiences, making them feel easier.  She will take charge at the perfect times and guide you when you really need her...
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Susan Seare
The international surrogacy world is complicated. Susan Kibler knows its ins-and-outs. She knows the people and outfits you can trust and the ones to avoid. She insists on the best for her clients and handles the details so they don't have to worry about them. If you want to take the international surrogacy journey, you can trust Delivering Dreams International Surrogacy Agency to guide you on that path.
Nancy Linnerooth
My friend and I had a positive experience working with Susan. Susan is always super responsive and caring. She is very professional, helpful and reliable. My friend has soo much troubles trying having a baby for many years. My friend and her husband were about to give up their dream of having a baby. Susan Kersch Kibler found the way to help. She has unlimited energy, attentive to detail and super efficient. Great to work with!
Polina Clend
Susan is passionate about helping people become families. She is a trustworthy confidant to have on your side.
Kristen Ancker
Our experience with Delivering Dreams has been overwhelmingly positive. The team seems to be genuinely dedicated to helping us to realize our dream of having a child. The constant communication leading up to the trip and the numerous touch points made us feel comforted in what has been a very challenging and uncomfortable situation. We always had streamlined communication through the group chat and was frequently checked on during our stay.
Marilyn

Under Ukrainian law, surrogacy is a legal affordable option for traditionally married couples to have children using their own embryos, or with either an egg or sperm donor. There must be a medical reason you can’t carry a child. You are also able to participate if you have had 4 unsuccessful IVF attempts.

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Under Ukrainian law, surrogacy is a legal affordable option for traditionally married couples to have children using their own embryos, or with either an egg or sperm donor. There must be a medical reason you can’t carry a child. You are also able to participate if you have had 4 unsuccessful IVF attempts.