I’ve been getting some emails from people lately asking me how I ever even figured out that gestational surrogacy was a possibility for us. My response to them and everyone else is that my wife is indefatigable in her efforts regarding our family, and she found an agency that helped us get the proverbial ball rolling in Ukraine. What’s implicit in those questions, though, is the notion that surrogacy births are still relatively unknown and under-reported. That’s changing quickly around the world.
The Foundation of What’s Happening
The underlying reason for this growth in surrogacy births is that people are waiting longer to have children. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, the mean age of a first-time mother in the United States in 1970 was 21.4 years old. By the year 2000, that number had risen to 24.9, an increase of nearly four years. In 2014, the mean age for first-time mothers in the United States was 26.3. This is a massive jump when one considers that nearly 4 million children were born across the country that year.
Another study from the CDC reveals that since 1990, the birth rates for women in the United States between the ages of 35 and 44 has risen markedly. Clearly, more people are trying to have children later in life, despite the fact that the older we get, the more challenges we face. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reports that after age 44, aspiring mothers who undergo in vitro fertilization with their own eggs have a success rate – meaning a successful pregnancy and live birth – of approximately one percent.
Turning to Alternatives
Society and nature are on a slow-moving collision course when it comes to childbirth in the United States. Mother Nature remains undefeated in all battles, so many who want to have children later in life must choose between several different alternative approaches. My wife and I chose surrogacy for several reasons based on aspects such as timing, cost and others.
A quick look at relative statistics reveals that we are not alone in pursuing surrogacy. Even though we went through the process in Ukraine, the CDC reports that 727 gestational surrogacy cycles occurred in the United States in 1999. That number nearly quintupled to 3,432 in 2013. The trend continues to this day, and given the presence of several factors, people’s perspectives are widening in terms of where these surrogacy births are occurring.
Those trends appear to be playing out across the world, although in terms of surrogacy specifically, it’s difficult to tell. There are few official statistics kept relating to gestational surrogacy in countries other than the United States. A Ukrainian official recently stated in a German publication that approximately 380 children were born in 2016 and 2017 combined as a result of gestational surrogacy. Our boys were two of them.
Thinking Behind Becoming Older Parents
My wife and I are older parents. Our six-year-old daughter was born in 2012, when Mommy and Daddy were 40. I remember my parents coming to see her in the hospital the day after she was born, and we got to talking. I realized then that when my parents were 40, I was finishing high school. They were 22 when I was born. When our boys were born, my wife and I were 45. When I was born, my maternal grandmother was 43. I’m a living case study on older parents these days.
We thought quite a bit about what we were actually doing having multiple children in our 40’s, and we came to several conclusions that led us to proceed with our efforts. Yes, we’re older, but we’re also wiser. Yes, we lack the energy levels of parents who may be in their 20’s, but I am definitely more even-keeled than I was 20 years ago. We’re more affluent and financially stable than we were in our 20’s, and finally, another statistic relating to life expectancy made a difference. In 1960, the average American lived for 69.77 years. In 2015, life expectancy had risen to 78.69. Assuming good health, we’ll be around for a while.
Here We Come
The bottom line? As people wait longer to have children, more of them are going to need help bringing those children into the world. Surrogacy will become more common. Our story about our boys’ births in Kyiv may be relatively rare now, but 10 years from now there will be many more of us. People who are struggling with having children should never forget that they are far from alone, and the number of people facing this challenge is going to get bigger by the day.