Requirements for Becoming a Surrogate Mother in South Africa
It is indeed a wonderful and altruistic deed to become a surrogate mother in South Africa. You may have a family member or friend who struggles to become pregnant or to carry a baby and successfully give birth to a child and may feel the need to assist through surrogacy.
In South Africa, you are not allowed to benefit commercially from being a surrogate mother. This means a potential surrogate mother can only receive financial compensation for costs directly associated with the surrogacy. Such costs include compensation for income loss if the surrogate has to take time off from work, because of the strain that the pregnancy puts on her health, costs related to travelling to and from the hospital, doctor, social worker, psychologist and lawyer. Other expenses covered by the commissioning parents include the medical treatments, tests, hospitalisation, and maternity clothes.
Becoming a surrogate mother in South Africa is thus not something to consider as a way to earn money. Specific requirements must be met and if you consider this act of love, it will be essential to take good care of your health. You must be in excellent health, able to carry a child for the period and to successfully give birth. You will have no parental rights to the child and only if the commissioning parents so agree in writing will you and your family be allowed to have contact with the child.
You will be expected to undergo several assessments, including medical tests to determine whether you are healthy enough for the pregnancy. You cannot be a smoker, drug user of any kind, may not consume alcohol and any long term usage of medication may affect your chances of becoming a surrogate mother in South Africa. You must be 21 years or older, since you must already have successfully given birth to a healthy child of your own and must have at least one living child. In addition, should you be married, you will need the consent of your partner, except if your partner unreasonably denies consent. In the latter instance, the court will consider the circumstances.
You will also need to undergo psychological assessments to determine mental and emotional stability, since this will affect your ability to hand over the child to the commissioning parents. The tests are furthermore important to determine whether you will be able to handle the emotional strain of such a pregnancy and understand the conditions of surrogacy.
A social worker will assess your financial circumstances, home stability, and the possible impact that such a surrogacy may have on your family life, determining if the necessary support structure is in place to help you through the process.
Apart from the above requirements, you must reside in South Africa at the time of signing the agreement and at least one of the commissioning parents must also reside in the country. Note that at least one commissioning parent must provide the gametes for the fertilisation.
Surrogacy may not commence before the approval of the surrogate agreement by the South African High Court. Failure to comply with this requirement will mean that the surrogacy is illegal and the surrogate mother will be the parent of the child. You also need to enquire about the right to terminate the pregnancy and the cost implication of such.
Speak to Adele van der Walt as an experienced surrogacy attorney in South Africa to help you avoid common pitfalls, review the surrogacy agreement and ensure that your rights as surrogate are respected.