Paris Hilton welcomed a baby via surrogate — here's how surrogacy works in Canada
Surrogacy has seen a dramatic growth in popularity recently, but the laws vary worldwide.
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Paris Hilton is officially a new mom.
The media personality, 41, welcomed a new baby son with her husband, Carter Reum, 41, via surrogate. On Tuesday, Hilton took to Instagram to post a sweet close-up photo of her newborn gripping her thumb.
"You are already loved beyond words," she captioned her post, along with a blue heart emoji.
The news was confirmed by People, which spoke to the new mother in an interview.
"It's always been my dream to be a mother and I'm so happy that Carter and I found each other," Hilton shared. "We are so excited to start our family together and our hearts are exploding with love for our baby boy."
In December 2022, Hilton opened up about expanding her family with her husband, after the couple tied the knot in late 2021.
The great-granddaughter of Hilton Hotel's founder Conrad Hilton mentioned that her and her partner began the in-vitro fertilization (IVF) process during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We started going and doing it like a few months in because the world was shut down," she explained. "We knew we wanted to start a family, and I was like, 'This is perfect timing. Usually, I'm on a plane 250 days out of the year, and let's just get all of the eggs stocked and ready,' and we have tons of them just waiting."
But the famed socialite isn't the only celebrity who's been open about having a child via surrogate.
"Pitch Perfect" star Rebel Wilson announced in November 2022 the birth of her baby girl, Royce, after shutting down rumours she was engaged to girlfriend Ramona Agruma.
Vancouver-born singer Grimes seemingly revealed by accident that she and Elon Musk had welcomed their baby girl, Exa, via surrogate during an interview with Vanity Fair in March 2022. She revealed that her first pregnancy with son X Æ A-12 was difficult because he was pressing on her nerves, forcing her to keep "collapsing" and even hemorrhage.
Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas also welcomed their baby girl, Malti Marie, via surrogate in January 2022. Talking to British Vogue this year, Chopra shared that surrogacy was a "necessary step" since she had "medical complications."
Other celebrity couples who've welcomed children via surrogacy include Kim Kardashian and Kanye West; Hilaria and Alec Baldwin; Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick; Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade; as well as Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban.
While there are no precise global figures on how many children have been born through surrogacy, there has been a steep increase in the practice in the past two decades.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of births via gestational surrogacy in the United States rose from 727 in 1999 to 3,432 in 2013.
A report from the University of Kent and non-profit My Surrogacy Journey also shows the number of parents having a baby using a surrogate in England and Wales has almost quadrupled in the 12 years leading up to when figures were released in 2020.
What is surrogacy?
Surrogacy is an agreement where a woman carries a pregnancy and gives birth for another couple or individual.
The method is most often used when someone cannot carry a pregnancy themselves due to health concerns, or when a same-sex couple wants a baby.
Typically, surrogacy is broken down into two types:
Gestational surrogacy: Also called host or full surrogacy, gestational surrogacy is when the eggs of an intended mother or donor are used, typically through in-vitro fertilization. While the gestational surrogate will carry the pregnancy, they have no genetic relation to the baby.
Traditional surrogacy: Also called straight or partial surrogacy, traditional surrogacy is when the eggs of a traditional surrogate are used to create the pregnancy. This means the surrogate is genetically related to the child, but they must surrender their parental rights.
What are the laws regarding surrogacy in Canada?
In Canada, the Assisted Human Reproduction Act (AHR Act) became law in March 2004. Its first principle notes that the health and well-being of children must come first. It also protects the health and well-being of women, and ensures that consent must always be given and no one using assisted human reproduction can be discriminated against.
It's illegal to pay a surrogate in Canada, but a surrogate can be repaid for out-of-pocket expenses — provided there's a receipt — directly related to their pregnancy, such as maternity clothes, food, travel for medical appointments and medications.
This is called altruistic surrogacy, where a surrogate cannot benefit financially for their services. It's permitted in countries like the United Kingdom, Denmark, Ireland, Israel and the Netherlands.
On the other hand, commercial surrogacy — where a surrogate can be paid for their services — is only permitted in some countries, including India, Ukraine, Russia and parts of the United States.
Some countries have completely banned all forms of surrogacy, including France, Germany, Italy, Japan and China.
If you break the AHR Act in Canada, you could be fined up to $500,000 or jailed for up to 10 years — or both. A woman must also be at least 21 to be a surrogate.
How much does surrogacy cost?
The cost of surrogacy varies across the world. It's also dependant on several variables, such as whether a person already has frozen embryos and if they require numerous cycles.
In Canada, it's recommended that intended parents have a budget of roughly $80,000. But that cost can drop to $60,000 if you already have frozen embryos, or rise to more than $90,000 depending on certain factors like fees and potential problems.
In other parts of the world, surrogacy costs can vary dramatically. In the United States, surrogacy can cost between $100,000 to $200,000. In countries like India, surrogate births can be as low as $30,000.
What is a surrogacy agreement?
To proceed with a surrogacy in Canada, it is legally required to have a surrogacy agreement. A surrogate must also have independent legal advice on the agreement; the intended family and the surrogate will usually have separate lawyers.
These agreements will outline all aspects of a surrogacy, such as time period, parental rights and reimbursement.
Not all aspects of a surrogacy agreement are enforceable. For instance, a surrogate has the right on whether to terminate a pregnancy and where they want to give birth. Regardless, a surrogacy agreement is still legally required.
What happens after birth?
Each province has its own rules regarding the birth registration process. Intended parents should speak with their lawyer in their own province.
In Ontario, the "All Families Are Equal Act" makes this process simpler for families going through surrogacy, as they don't have to go through the adoption process to be recognized as parents. Up to four parents can be listed on a birth registration in Ontario.
According to the Association of Ontario Midwives, a surrogate is the primary decision-maker for their health and that of the unborn fetus throughout pregnancy. Once the baby is born, the surrogate and the intended parents share the responsibilities of parenting until the surrogate provides consent to give up their parentage, which can only be done once the baby is at least seven-days-old.
It's rare for a surrogate to change their mind after giving birth. There are also no cases of this happening in Canada.
If a gestational surrogate changes their mind, they would have all rights to the child at birth and intended parents would have to pursue legally. In traditional surrogacies, a contract would also be unenforceable, and a surrogate would have to be proven unfit for the child to be removed from them.
If the intended parents decide to change their minds, a baby would likely be put up for adoption.
Are surrogates entitled to benefits in Canada?
A maximum of 15 weeks maternity leave is available for mothers in Canada, including surrogates. However, surrogates do not receive parental benefits.
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