Many couples find it devastating if they are unable to bear children on their own, but surrogate mothers around South Africa offer up their wombs for 9 months to give people the bundle of joy they are so longing for.
The act of surrogacy dated back to the days of the Bible, where women agreed to conceive a baby for an unfertile woman. The child would then be handed over from the surrogate mother to the adoptive mother once it was born. Today, there are official and formal processes safeguarding both surrogate mothers and commissioning parents in South Africa.
South Africa has strict laws regarding surrogacy, ensuring that the process of surrogacy is regulated and monitored. The Children’s Act 38 of 2005 came into effect on 1 April 2010, outlining new laws (the first!) regarding surrogate mothers and protecting the rights of the unborn child. The legislation lays out the responsibilities and requirements on both the surrogate mother and the intended parents.
The costs of surrogacy include legalities, fertility treatment clinic costs, court order preparation, as well as the costs of reimbursing the surrogate mother.
A summary of surrogacy legislation
Laws pertaining to the surrogate mother:
- The surrogate mother must reside in South Africa
- The surrogate mother must undergo both a psychological and medical assessment to see if she is a suitable candidate.
- The surrogate mother must have had at least one pregnancy that was successful and must have one child of her own.
- Commercial surrogacy is not permitted so the surrogate mother must be prepared to be a surrogate mother for altruistic reasons.
Laws pertaining to the intended parents
- Both intended parents must be South African residents.
- The intended parents will need to provide medical proof that they need the services of a surrogate mother.
- Both intended parents must undergo psychological assessments to check their emotional attitudes towards the surrogacy program.
- Either one or both of the intended parents must supply either eggs or sperm for conception.
- If both of the intended parents are to be male, they must show that there will be some kind of female influence on the child’s life.
- The intended parents cannot be discriminated against based on relationship status, race, or sexual preference.
- The intended parents are not permitted to advertise for the services of a surrogate mother.
Laws pertaining to the surrogacy agreement
- Some kind of surrogacy agreement must be drawn up.
- The agreement must be signed by the surrogate mother and her partner or husband as well as both intended parents.
- The surrogacy agreement must be presented to the High Court (with relevant supporting documentation) by a specially commissioned surrogacy attorney. The High Court may then grant permission for the surrogacy to proceed.
- The granting of the court order does not necessarily mean that the child must be adopted.
- Any agency dealing with matching intended parents and surrogate mothers may not accept payment for these services.
For more information about surrogacy in South Africa, visit the Surrogacy Advisory Group‘s website. The Surrogacy Advisory Group is the first surrogacy support programme in South Africa, operating form a non-profit basis. The group aims to give advice and support to both intended parents and surrogate mothers.
Another non-profit organization offering similar support is Gift Ov Life. This website outlines to surrogacy options for people intending to use a surrogate mother and allows potential surrogate mothers to contact the organization to offer their services to commissioning parents. The agency will also help to refer people to the relevant specialists that carry out the psychological, legal and medical requirements outlines in South Africa legislation.