Surrogacy can help couples struggling with infertility, single people, and members of the LBGTQ community to become parents when they might not otherwise be able to have children. It’s also an option for women with medical conditions that prevent them from carrying a pregnancy.
Traditional surrogacy involves the use of IUI to fertilize a surrogate’s eggs. Gestational surrogacy involves the use of IVF to create embryos that are transferred to a surrogate’s uterus; the surrogate is not genetically related to the child.
Surrogacy gives intended parents the opportunity to be genetically related to their child through one or both parents. It also allows them to be involved in the pregnancy and meet their baby at birth.
18,400 infants were born by gestational carrier cycles between 1999 and 2013*
*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). ART and Gestational Carriers. Key Findings: Use of Gestation Carriers in the United States. 2016.
Choosing a surrogate
It is important that the intended parents and the surrogate share similar understandings and expectations of the relationship.
The American Society of Reproductive Medicine recommends surrogate carriers:
- Be at least 21 years of age and healthy
- Have a stable social environment
- Have had at least one pregnancy with no complications that resulted in the birth of a healthy child
A surrogate may be someone you know—like a family member or friend, which is known as “identified surrogacy”—or someone you do not know. A surrogacy agency can help match you with a potential surrogate, as well as coordinate services, mediate contact with your surrogate, and provide support throughout the surrogacy process.
Your surrogacy professional—either a surrogacy agency or a surrogacy attorney—will recommend screenings for the carrier. These may include:
- Medical, social, and drug history for the surrogate and her family
- Birth records from previous deliveries
- Medical workup to confirm reproductive health
- Drug tests for the gestational carrier
- Background checks to ensure no prior criminal activity that could impact safety
- In-home assessment to discuss motivation, concerns, and her partner’s commitment
- Counseling and support
For more information on the screening process for specific agencies, visit surrogate.com.
In surrogacy, steps must be taken to ensure fair treatment of the gestational carrier. Before the process begins, an attorney will become involved to educate and discuss financial compensation, escrow accounts, insurance, and parentage.
The attorney will also create a legal surrogacy contract, which is usually one of two types:
- Compensated contracts
The surrogate is paid for her time in addition to all incurred expenses.
- Compassionate contracts
The surrogate, typically a family member or friend, accepts no financial compensation, but intended parents pay medical and legal bills.
You can read more about other aspects to consider for surrogacy here.
Counseling is an important part of the surrogacy process for everyone involved. Typically, you and your surrogate (along with her partner if appropriate) will meet separately with a counselor for psychological assessment. Later, a group session is conducted to discuss roles, expectations, and potential outcomes.
If financial gain is the only motivation for your surrogate, this should be a concern.
Before you begin, confirm surrogacy is possible in your area and determine which laws will apply to your situation.
3 facts to know about surrogacy
Fact #1: You don’t need to be wealthy to use a surrogate
The cost of surrogacy differs drastically depending on the situation. You may be able to reduce cost by using a friend or family member and her own eggs, or a surrogate who has access to surrogacy healthcare coverage.
FACT #2: You will create lasting bonds with your baby
Bonding doesn’t begin during pregnancy—it begins at birth, with those who love and nurture the child. Your baby will be handed to you immediately after being born, and the bonding process will begin to form.
FACT #3: Surrogates do not have parental rights to your child
Your fertility clinic may require that the intended parents and the surrogate (and their partner/spouse, if applicable) undergo a psychological evaluation before entering into a surrogacy agreement. Your reproductive law attorney provide guidance about the surrogacy laws of your state and ensure compliance. Traditional surrogates and gestational carriers are aware from the start that they have no legal parentage rights to the child.
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