The first officially recognized surrogate arrangement was made in 1976, and since then hundreds of mothers have had children through surrogacy, including Hollywood starlet Elizabeth Banks.
Thirty-seven-year-old Banks, who stars in the highly-anticipated films The Hunger Games and What to Expect When You're Expecting, and her husband, producer Max Handelman, had a baby boy last year through a gestational surrogate. The new mom shared her feelings about the arrangement in a recent interview with Women's Health magazine.
"It helped that other moms had said that once they had their babies, they forgot they were ever pregnant," Elizabeth Banks told the source. "So once my focus became the baby and not the pregnancy, it was a very easy decision."
Surrogacy is legal in certain states but many, including New York, don't allow it. The ethics of this process is contentiously debated and often stirs strong emotions on both sides, especially concerning gestational surrogates who are the biological mothers of the babies they carry.
West's Encyclopedia of American Law defines surrogacy as "mothering by proxy," while others avoid connecting the term "mother" to the surrogate, solely identifying the woman who will raise the child as the parent.
The arrangement has worked well for several celebrity couples, such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, Robert De Niro and Grace Hightower and Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban. Several same-gender couples also have pursued this option including, most notably, Elton John and David Furnish.
Institutions that facilitate surrogate arrangements are known to come with a high price tag, creating the general public perception that it is a method largely employed by the wealthy. However, plenty of "average" couples are on the list, as well.
Should it be allowed to continue? The answer varies from person to person – for now, the number of children born through surrogacy steadily increases.