Ronke and Mide had been married for 25 years and in spite of attending fertility clinics over the years, they were yet to have the much-desired child. All attempts to have a child of their own had proven futile and in the last five years, all three attempts at In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) had ended unsuccessfully. The counsel of friends and family members to legally adopt a child had also fallen on deaf  ears for two principal reasons:

  1. Clinical results showed that both of them were fertile and should be able to conceive.
  2. They were concerned that they would not know or understand the genetic makeup of the adopted child and the inherited traits and diseases.

Their doctor had therefore invited them over to discuss another viable option open to them…SURROGACY.

Surrogacy is the process by which a woman is contracted to carry and deliver a child for a couple through In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) or Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). The method to be used is determined by the type of surrogacy – IVF for Gestational Surrogacy and IUI for Traditional Surrogacy. Both types however require a legal contract between the couple and the surrogate mother prior to commencement to tie up all loose ends. There are two things that distinguish the options of surrogacy. i) With Traditional Surrogacy, the egg used is that of the surrogate mother which makes the surrogate the birth mother. The sperm used may be that of the male parent or a donor. However, with Gestational surrogacy, the egg is not that of the surrogate but is donated.

ii) Traditional surrogacy could lead to complications as there is a genetic bond between the surrogate mother and the child with the child and if she decides to withhold the child, it could result in knotty legal issues. Usually, Traditional surrogacy is rare because it can be fraught with complications and so is usually contracted with family or close friends who do it for altruistic reasons. This does not however arise with Gestational Surrogacy which is seen merely as rendered service for which the surrogate receives compensation.

Dr. Bentley’s recommendation to Ronke and Mide is as follows: “It is best you consider a Gestational Surrogacy where a neutral carrier would be sourced purely on a contractual basis. This would undoubtedly carry a financial burden of compensation in consideration for the services to be rendered in carrying the baby to term/delivery in addition to all the medical bills and associated pregnancy costs. This option is recommended especially since you both have healthy eggs and sperm and the only problem is the susceptibility of your womb to miscarry. That way, both your egg and sperm will be united and the ensuing embryo transferred by In Vitro Fertilisation into the uterus of the surrogate and she will be monitored until the child is delivered and given to you. Of course, a legal document detailing the steps and all that pertains to the contract must first be agreed and signed. Please go and consider it thoroughly and if found a viable option for you to pursue, give me a call. Are there any questions that may help your decision-making?

Ronke exhaled with a deep sigh and said in a quiet voice: “Doctor, I have a number of questions.

  1. Will the child carry some of the DNA of the Surrogate mother?
  2. Can she under any circumstances lay claim to the child?
  3. What happens if she miscarries or if the child is stillborn?
  4. What happens if the child is born with a disability?
  5. Can the child be breastfed by her after delivery or how does that play out since we take delivery of the child immediately after he/she is born?
  6. How can we be certain that she would take proper care of the foetus during the pregnancy and not subject it to harmful or dangerous exposure?
  7. What happens if she dies during childbirth”?

Doctor Bentley replies “Rest assured sir and ma that the screening process is thorough and the potential surrogate’s age, lifestyle and medical history will undergo scrutiny. The Legal contract will also address the issue of ownership of the child, what happens in the event of miscarriage or stillbirth and breastfeeding among others. You can never be held liable for her death as she would be made to understand that she is taking a risk that could result in fatality although you may be required to take out life insurance for her in that regard. The draft contract will be vetted and agreed upon by both parties prior to execution and commencement of the contract, so you must read and agree to the terms first. Also, the surrogate is merely a vessel of delivery and her DNA cannot be transferred to the child. The child’s DNA will only relate to those who own the egg and sperm used which in this case will be yourselves. I hope I have answered your questions, so I look forward to hearing from you after you have made your decision”.

It is indeed heartwarming to know that strides in science and technology have made it possible for couples desiring to have children but who are constrained by challenges regarding fertility, to have increasing options, the latest being surrogacy. Havilah applauds the development and salutes all scientists who strive daily to improve our choices.




I want to thank all who took the time to send in advice for Mami’s consideration towards assisting with Paula’s dilemma last week. There were suggestions for her to go either way – follow her heart, or stick with her husband. However, the resonating word was “happiness”. She should go with what gives her happiness.

Havilah’s take is that “Happiness comes from within”. She needs to find her happiness and peace by connecting with God.

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