Here is the compilation of the Twitter Chat with Dr. Adewumi Babatunde Enoch
Q1: First of all, What is surrogacy?
A1: Surrogacy is defined as the practice where a woman (a surrogate) carries a child for another person(s) (the commissioning or intending parents) due to a prior arrangement that the child would be handed over to the commissioning parent at birth.
Q2: What is the procedure for surrogacy?
A2: The first process is to select a surrogate and sign a contract. The surrogate must have already had at least one living child. A surrogate with no history of childbirth is ineligible.
Then ensure that all the blood works are clean in some climes they don’t allow people with some infectious diseases like HIV and Hepatitis B except the surrogate has the same conditions.
Although, some studies have shown it has no effect on the embryo or the mother.
Determine if the commissioning parents both have viable gametes. The gametes are withdrawn and artificially inseminated via IVF, once an embryo develops it is put in the surrogate who carries it to term. While they are followed up and watched carefully.
The method of delivery, for surrogacy, has to be CS. This is usually in the contract. The surrogate is well-informed before time. Notably, in the case, that the child does not survive to term. The surrogate is not of them died after three days.
Surrogates are not paid if the child is not carried to term. This is also included in the contract. There are cases where surrogates change their mind halfway and terminate the pregnancy that’s part of the shortfall on the side of the commissioning parents.
This reflects the absence of a legal framework guiding this high-risk venture in this country because once they there is no law that regulates surrogacy which creates loopholes that is some facilities use guarantors and they ensure the whole family is involved.
Q3: Is surrogacy currently done in Nigeria?
A3: Yes, it is currently done in Nigeria. But there is no established law to protect the surrogates and the commissioning parents. Meaning that as much as we try to have a proper legal backup or legal framework, because we have contracts that we tried to, like, cover all the loopholes, or all the possible bad scenarios that could come up, but something could go wrong, and it could blow up in the faces of either the surrogates would be at loss or suffer, or the intending parents in the case of if the surrogate decides to claim the child, if she goes to court to claim the child the court will agree, although as we both know now, as far as the commissioning parents own the egg & sperm, the child has no genetic connection with the woman. But there is no law to back anybody up for so if the surrogate decides to take the child, there is nothing you can do. This does happen. Although we have contracts where the surrogates would sign after delivery nothing that she would willingly give up the child. While we have put up a strong legal system to avoid problems. There are no acts or any legislation that covers surrogacy in Nigeria.
Q4: How are Nigerians responding to this method of having children?
A4: With mixed feelings and skepticism. Only a particular class of people have, or think about it even being in the system, I can tell you that even when it is suggested or when clinicals symptoms show that surrogacy is the next step.
Some of the couples want to make sure that they exhaust all possible options before they go for that option. To an average Nigerian, it sounds like an abomination. Even the parents that are involved themselves, we sometimes find it hard to convince them that child is not genetically connected to a surrogate mom. I will tell you, we’ve been in a system that most of our clients that actually opt for surrogates are Nigerians leaving from abroad. The ratio of clients from abroad to clients based in Nigeria is six to four or seven to three. Clearly, people don’t understand as much as they should about it yet. So I would say the reception is biased only people that are in the system understands it. Even among young people, you’ll be surprised at the reaction to things like this.
So, it is not even about a generational gap or something. It’s just information that people do not have. As such, it is very difficult for people to accept what they don’t understand in this part of the world.
So, I will say we are trying, but we’re not there yet, the reception is not as good as it should be.
Q5: What are the various reasons why couples opt for surrogacy?
A5: Not having a uterus as a result of a hysterectomy or being born without a functional uterus
Significant uterine abnormalities, including uterine scarring (Asherman’s Syndrome) and inability to develop a thick, supportive uterine lining.
Significant medical conditions that make carrying a pregnancy risky for a woman’s health (such as hypertension)
Chronic reproductive loss
Some people don’t want to carry pregnancy for personal reasons.
Q6: What are the cultural misconceptions and misinformation surrounding surrogacy?
A6: Many people believe that it is not a natural means of conception and as such it is tampering with nature People feel they won’t bond well with the children because they didn’t carry them.
Traditionally people believe that infertility is a curse and if they don’t bear their children it means they are cursed. They feel the children will carry the traits of the surrogate and not the biological parents. They can also be stigmatized.
Q7: Is surrogacy the same as adoption? If not, how so?
A7: Surrogacy is not the same thing as adoption. In adoption, the child is not biologically related to the parents while in surrogacy they carry the genes of the parent.
Q8: Why are people usually reluctant to explore surrogacy?
A8 : As mentioned earlier, some people do not understand because they feel like another person that they don’t know would carry their child, and you know this thing about women carrying their own children. It is special.
I understand that sometimes the women find it difficult to agree to surrogacy because they’ll feel like they missed out on that bond. So even when that child is carrying their Gene 100% they find it difficult to bond with the child because somewhere at the back of their head they were not the one that carried the child they may be feeling like the child is not their child. The connection a reason why people are reluctant, the fear of not being able to connect with the child. It happens actually but for a little while.
Q9: What are the cost implications of surrogacy?
A9: Well, let me just say, within the range of two to 5 million naira depending. It can even be more than that. Because the way surrogacy works, if you’re using an agency or even if you’re working directly with the IVF clinic and you get your surrogate.
First thing, you are supposed to put these surrogates up, give the surrogate accommodation. However, this depends on how the surrogate was gotten because you must get the surrogate an accommodation.
You have to pay surrogate stipends monthly for the surrogate to be able to feed, and then you have the final bulk sum that is paid to the surrogates. I have had within the range of 1 million to 3 million naira. Depends on your negotiation power, and depends on the agency
Why I said, 5.5 million, 5 million, because the cost implication for the IVF procedure is also part of it. So if you’re going to take up a surrogate, you have to pay for the IVF procedure, you have to pay the surrogacy agency.
Q10: What obligations do intending parents owe the surrogate mother and vice versa?
A10: The first obligation, the intended parents owes the surrogates is to be medically clean. Also, the surrogate has to be medically clean because you know that even if genetically they are not connected there are some infections that will still cross from a mother to child.
Then another one is the contract that you sign, the surrogate is supposed to sign a contract to agree that at the end of the pregnancy, she is going to hand over the child to the commissioning parents.
Because trust me, some of these surrogates, they used to get emotionally attached, but hardly shall because in this part of the world, for a woman to agree to do surrogacy most likely for a woman to agree to do surrogacy most likely she needs the money.
Then I mentioned this earlier, now the commissioning parent has to provide the surrogates accommodation, because of cultural norms and all these things, sometimes the lady when she’s pregnant, she may not want to stay in the place where she’s leaving, because everybody will see she’s pregnant. And then after she delivers, she kind of has to explain why she doesn’t have a child anymore.
Also, the provision of accommodation for the surrogate is part of the contract agreement, because in my agency, we have surrogates that are married, and their husbands are their surety. For these ones, we still give them accommodation money and it is up to them to do whatever they want to do. So, accommodation is one of the things that is required, then a stipend you have to give the surrogates feeding money every month so that your child will be born healthy. So that surrogates can feed optimally, you know, then of course, before all of these, even before he gets all of these, they would have agreed upon final payments. Some surrogates are very lucky. They actually have intending parents that take them abroad to go and give birth.
Q11: What is your advice to intending couples who want to explore this option?
A11: For intending couples who want to explore this option, It is not a crime especially, if your doctor recommends that as your last resort, I think it’s something that should be explored, especially if both couple have viable gametes.
I think it is something that should be explored. The child is still yours You just have to break that mental barrier. the child is very much your child. I think it’s an option that should be open for exploration. people need to talk about it more.
Q12: What role can the media and health advocates play in educating and enlightening people so as to keep them informed on this issue?
A12: The media needs to start putting out the right information. The media needs to start demystifying surrogacy and call out baby factories. They need to be stopped. Because those ones are crimes against humanity.
Sometimes the women that are involved in those things did not do it willingly. So, when people speak up more, especially, people that have used surrogates in Nigeria. If they can speak up more about it, I think it would gradually become more acceptable.
We can raise conversations about the stigmatization of surrogacy and artificial reproductive systems in general. The more we begin to talk about these things the more acceptable they become.
As it is, infertility is gradually becoming a choice because there are solutions for everyone today. The only limitation is the cost of funding surrogacy.
9 thoughts on “Debunking Surrogacy Myths – A Twitter Chat with Dr. Adewumi Babatunde Enoch”
Surrogacy is one of those topics discussed in hushed tones in Nigeria. We could attribute this attitude to the conservative nature of traditionalist African society, which places high value on a woman’s ability to procreate. Religion also influences how we view surrogacy, and that’s why you hear statements like, ‘…you will deliver like the Hebrew women’.
I recall conversing with one of my friends about my fears of getting pregnant and my decision to opt for a surrogate. The backlash I received was unexpected- he summed my worries as being ‘woke’ or ‘lazy’ and that it wasn’t my decision to make. I laughed and told him the only thing that would hinder me was finance and that if my partner were not receptive to such ideas, then we would have to end the relationship. I am not ready to compromise on anything that would affect my health, i’ve seen what pregnant women go through and I shook my head in despair.
I think it is essential that we discuss this more often, and have surrogates or intending parents share their experiences, so people know it’s an option they can consider. However, the financial cost could be a deterrent. The absence of legal backing puts parties at risk and could lead to the exploitation of poor women. I have heard stories of awful practices done by agents that recruit surrogates for intending couples. I believe reviewing our sexual and reproductive health laws would not only improve the acceptability of surrogacy but curb unethical practices that affect people’s lives. Religious leaders also have a role to play in removing the stigma associated with surrogacy.
I remember listening to a radio program where the subject of Surrogacy was discussed, and from that discussion, it was concluded both by the host and the callers that Surrogacy is “not of God” and our culture does not accept this.
We are very quick to condemn what we do not understand, and we have also refused to be open to new ideas and topics.
This topic needs to be discussed often because there is no shame in it. A couple can’t testify in their place of worship that they had their baby through surrogacy. Surrogacy is a legal solution to a problem, so why should anyone be shamed for it? Women are always shamed for one reason or the other, if she is ‘unable’ to have a child, she is shamed, now women are also shamed for using surrogates, it is never-ending.
There should be community and religious dialogue about what Surrogacy is. In hospitals and clinics, there can be different pictorial banners explaining surrogacy.
The shortfall is the absence of a legal framework in the constitution which I hope both our national and state lawmakers will look into. This is needed to curb any form of abuse, exploitation, or taking of undue advantage by the surrogates, intending couple, and even the agencies.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with surrogacy, though quite expensive which many may not be able to afford, regardless, I’m glad it is an option available, and people can have access to it if they desire to.
“Debunking Surrogacy Myths; A Twitter chat with Dr Adewumi Babatunde Enoch”
The concept of surrogacy is not openly discussed in Nigeria due to the social and cultural perceptions surrounding infertility and the high value placed on natural conception. Women are defined by their ability to bear children and a woman is considered as adulterous or cursed when she fails to get pregnant. However, in order to allow women who are going through a form of infertility or a couple in need of a child in their homes to have one, surrogacy is advised.
As a woman, can I willingly allow another woman carry my child? Will she try to take on parental custody of my child? Or would I have trouble bonding with my baby? These are some of the many questions that women thinking about exploring the world of surrogacy struggle with.
Bonding with the baby after birth is something most intended parents worry over. However, nuturing the baby after birth is more important to the bonding process than physically carrying the baby.
Another myth surrounding surrogacy is that the surrogate may try to take on parental custody of the child. This is not true. Surrogates are aware from the onset that she will not parent or have legal parentage rights of the child. Even though this may seem tricky in a country like Nigeria where there is no legal framework regulating surrogacy, there’s however a system of arranged third party reproduction that protects intending parents.
Nigeria is already on the right path with the National Health (Amendment) Bill 2016 and Assistive Reproductive Technology Bill 2016. ART should be recognized and efforts should be made to ensure the Bills are adopted.
Surrogacy arrangements are emotionally, medically, financially, and legally complicated with enough reasons so. Initially, before understanding what this task was about, I assumed I was to create a write-up on my own and that led me to a lot of research. After surfing through the internet and compiling everything, I decided to search for the topic on social media, understand what people were saying about it on social media. I found this blogpost on twitter, and I must admit. It was such an insightful read. No amount of research I did on the internet provided me with firsthand knowledge about the surrogacy and its motions in Nigeria.
Having been exposed right from time through novels and televised shows, the structure of surrogacy was not new to me. Infact, I found it beautiful that despite the complex emotions experienced in human dealings, no matter their reasons, there were people willing to help others in this way. I never really thought ill of it especially in the lines of culturally unacceptable.
I decided to run a survey on my whatsapp contact list, and on analysis, majority of them understood who a surrogate was but draw the line at entertaining the idea of having one. It symbolized reproductive issues or irresponsibility for those who are body conscious or scared of conceiving. The worse idea was even being a surrogate. Minus the stigma of carrying a baby that is not yours as highlighted in the tweet chat, a lot of them felt weird that something foreign would be introduced into their body, they would have to go through the motions of pregnancy, give birth through a caeserian operation, all these are enough to take a double take and make them come to the conclusion that only for family members they love and a tangible amount of money would make them do this.
When I was younger, I watched a Nigerian film, the child’s mother had post-partum depression and the nanny was coincidentally breast-feeding too. The issues the family members raised then involved how yorubaland recognized the woman that breastfed the child as the mother, highlighting a kind of bond that would exist between them, which was not true. The adequate nutrients in the breastmilk can be provided to the child by other means. This is not the simple case of surrogacy, but it still has to be taken into consideration when the baby is delivered. There is supplemental milk pumped out of the surrogate mother and fed to the child. Research is also well on its way to induce lactation in intending parents. In as much as the issues surrounding surrogacy arrangements are still controversial, the bane of existence is still our cultural beliefs. I support the notion wholeheartedly that the set of issues up for discussion with surrogacy are the financial and legal constraints, coupled with the pregnancy journey in its own right. Echoing the voices of the media house and the medial personnel in whatever little way I can.
“Debunking surrogacy myths; A Twitter chat with Dr Adewunmi Babatunde Enoch”
This has constantly been a subject of debate for me about it not being a terrible idea, whenever i hear people’s skeptical and negative thoughts about this carried out practice.
“How would another woman carry your own child.”
“So unheard of.”
“Whites and their ridiculous practices!”
Those were the remarks I’ve always heard, mostly from men and women who have had their own kids which really baffled me. I then proceeded to ask them questions, “If a surrogate machine instead of a breathing surrogate mother carries your child, does that mean the machine now owns your child? Something that has no life whatsoever and is being controlled?”
The answer was left hanging.
In my own opinion, checking a mother’s stability and ability to carry a child for those months during pregnancy, needs to be thoroughly checked. It is really going to reduce rate of mortality, among awaiting mothers that die during pregnancy or child birth, due to complications that could have been avoided.
There are mothers that actually look okay and fit for carrying a child, but face many difficulties when the child is been conceived, because of forced trials to do more than their bodies can carry.
Clamoring thoughts would then eat them up, when the advice for surrogacy is given to them by a legal practitioner, “What would people say?”
No woman should care about what people would say, when it comes to the safety of her life and that of her child’s.
I wish there would be lot of education and public awareness, about surrogacy and the firm knowledge that the child belongs to the parents, that put their gametes together to bring the child to life, regardless of whatsoever race of surrogate mum that carries the baby.
Misjudgements about surrogacy should be debunked, and there should be an agreement with the fact that, if a woman knows that she does not have the right constitution to carry a child, and can afford the costs, there should be no discrimination about such issues.
And Nigeria as a country, would do much better by legalizing and constituting a law, that governs law and proper orders concerning surrogacy. So as to prevent injustice against many to-be mothers, unborn babies and surrogate mothers.
We too can raise awareness in anyway whatsoever concerning this issues that really matters, through any media as it is the fastest medium to create awareness to people.
Debunking Surrogacy Myths – A Twitter Chat with Dr. Adewumi Babatunde Enoch
Surrogacy, in a society where a woman is recognized as a woman by her ability to reproduce, is hardly a welcome solution even when couples battle infertility.
Now imagine a lady voicing out her desire not to carry children in her womb but would prefer to have children via a surrogate. Even her mum will think she is demon-possessed.
Reading this beautiful piece reminded me of how my reaction to the Nollywood movie titled ‘Mama Drama’.
Before seeing Mama Drama, I had first been exposed to the concept via another movie, Desperate Housewives, when I was much younger. I never fancied the idea until I saw Mama Drama.
Mama Drama is one movie that got me thinking minutes after watching and that week, I did PowerPoint slides proposing a digital solution to help with the process.
I called my solution ‘Abiyamo’ , a Yoruba word that translates to Mother in English.
Mama Drama is a beautiful story of a couple’s search for a baby after years of fertility issues. As the audience of the movie, I could feel the pains of the bride enduring her mother-in-law’s ceaseless nagging up to a point when she hired her assistant as a surrogate, but things don’t go as smoothly as planned.
Then the movie got me thinking and for the first time, I intentionally did some research on surrogacy and I was dazed. That day, I wondered why surrogacy, as beautiful as it is as one of the solutions to infertility, is not receiving the attention and advocacy that it deserves.
To cap it all, there is no concrete law put in place to support and put some legal element in the process.
Reading this beautiful piece on your blog further strengthens my belief that people need to know more about surrogacy. It might take some time but there is power in communication, advocacy, and education.
Every single part of the chat resonates with me. However, Dr. Adewumi’s response to the roles of the media and health advocates in informing people of the beauty of surrogacy resonates more. We need to raise awareness and have continuous conversations as you had with Dr. Adewumi.
Gradually, I believe that the concept of surrogacy will be accepted and whatever myth or stigmatization that comes with it will be eroded. Couples and in-laws will also get enlightened that products of surrogacy belong to the couples as the babies’ genetic makeup is solely from.their parent and there are no interferences from the surrogate. No ‘bad blood’. Everyone at the end of the day gets what they want happily and couples, especially the brides are exonerated from any form of harassments
DEBUNKING SURROGACY MYTHS.
Surrogacy is one of the many topics that we from this part of the world don’t completely entertain. A lot of persons tend to have an idea about it but don’t resonate with the idea. As previously stated: To an average Nigerian it sounds like an abomination. This concept is most times frowned at from our social, religious and cultural point of view as great importance is placed on fertility.
The cause is not far fetched. What do we expect when this is coming from a:
* People who determine your womanhood by your ability to birth a child, If not you are regarded as something demeaning.
* People who will troll any lady who decides to be a surrogate as a woman that has nothing to offer asides the hole between her legs.
* People who see surrogates as morally deranged and lowlife ladies that exchange their life for money.
* People who breed the idea that those who can’t bear children are under a curse and shouldn’t be associated with.
* As a nation(Nigeria), there are no laws governing surrogacy hence many follow that route to term it illegal.
This process is physical, spirituality, psychologically and emotionally demanding. Anyone that goes through this process in this part of the world successfully is a strong individual I must say.
To debunk this myths appropriately, I recommend that public awareness organised by top medical experts as well as implementing a constitutional legal backup that supports surrogacy will go a long way in framing people’s mindset and ideologies.
Lastly I believe treating each other with Love and empathy as human beings irregardless of sociocultural and religious differences will facilitate acceptance as we would wear the shoes of others and understand how it feels to them.
Surrogacy is a concept that is still been frowned upon, constantly talked about in hushed tones, and mostly done in secrecy largely due to the socio- cultural and religious stigma surrounding the topic.
It comes as no surprise, as the highest point of a woman’s life has been pegged at her ability to procreate and bring forth children like the Hebrew women(the biological way). And when that doesn’t happen, the blame of that childlessness will be mostly heaped on no other person but the woman.
A good number of modern couples don’t even consider surrogacy an option at all, as the question of, ‘what will people say/think?’ continues to linger. Many believe it is an aberration to the natural order of reproduction. Many religious, and even non-religious couples will continue to ‘God forbid it’, and religious leaders will give every reason why it isn’t part of God’s promises and plan for His children.
All these subtle societal denouncements and more, add up to explain why I think this practice is largely frowned upon in our society.
However, I believe that as time goes on, things can get better. If we change our perspective and become more open to options available to us by science, we can become more accommodating of alternative choices.
Having said that, here are few of my proposed solutions to the stigma surrounding surrogacy in Nigeria.
-The media is a great tool to make a change. In 2022, we still have movies where screenwriters and directors shoot scenes of women) couples battling infertility going to only herbalists, pastors and imams to seek help. Inasmuch as I am not invalidating this approach, as it mirrors the reality to an extent, I think the narrative and the way the story is told can be changed/broadened. The media should educate viewers/listeners more, and explore other available options in conception.
-One thing we are also not talking about is how capital-intensive surrogacy is. If TTC couples could get financial help from charity organizations, government and even workplaces, this may embolden some to consider this as a viable option. Again, I think this is a big ask, but it can’t be completely ruled out.
– Lastly, it’s sad that surrogacy is highly unregulated in Nigeria. There’s the need for a holistic framework of law and policy that protects the various rights of everyone involved: The surrogate mother and the intending parents.
As an offshoot from the bias on the female gender and the African notion on women and womanhood, surrogacy has been a phenomenon having a high level of disregard and often shunned. A woman is considered a complete one if she can procreate according to the African society’s standard, and the opposite will mean that she is infertile and considered a failure. This is traced to the image of the woman which have been battered with the socio- cultural mentality. We can see surrogacy playing out in the case of Sarah’s maid and also through Jacob’s two wife who raised children out of their maid. Whether traditional or gestational surrogacy, much understanding, guidance and agreement is needed to maintain the process.
With different views and ideologies, we have often shifted our focus from the advantages and contributions surrogacy can provide, whether mentally, emotionally, physically and health wise, and have focused on the negative side which is only triggered by insecure and stereotype mentality. Laws should be made, in Nigeria to ensure the appropriateness of surrogacy and counsellors should be in handy. When right and helpful information are provided afore time, it helps to prevent problem and misunderstanding that could arise later on, between the couple and the surrogate mother.
Proper awareness also helps to eradicate the misunderstanding and misconceptions on surrogacy.
Stigmatization will dissipate when people learn to access and accept the right information and erase their bias on Surrogacy. Thus, surrogacy can aids the life and wellbeing of a woman, couple and give a surrogate mother a sense of responsibility and respect. Awareness in all the platform that reaches out to more people should be employed, through the media, entertainment industry, internet e.t.c. with much emphasis on love, tolerance and healthy living as regards Surrogacy.