If you aren’t familiar with it, surrogacy can seem like a mysterious way to start or grow your family. However, a little bit of knowledge can help illuminate important surrogacy facts. Keep reading to learn five things you didn’t know about surrogacy and become more familiar with this family-building option.
1. There are two types of surrogacy
You aren’t alone if you didn’t realize there are different types of surrogacy. Many people think surrogacy just consists of having a woman carry a baby for someone else. However, there are two types of surrogacy.
- Traditional surrogacy doesn’t require an egg donor because the surrogate also provides her egg for the pregnancy. To achieve pregnancy, the surrogate undergoes either artificial insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF) using sperm from the intended father. To avoid ethical dilemmas, traditional surrogacy is not permitted in many states.
- Gestational surrogacy is the type of surrogacy that many states permit. In this arrangement, the surrogate does not provide her egg. She only carries the pregnancy. Instead, the intended mother or an egg donor provides the egg, and IVF helps the surrogate conceive.
In summary, gestational surrogacy is a family-building option where the surrogate does not provide her egg for the pregnancy. In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate provides her egg and carries the pregnancy.
2. Only 1% of applicants qualify to become a surrogate
Generous women who love being pregnant and helping others often apply to become a surrogate. However, not every woman who applies will qualify to help someone conceive using surrogacy. In fact, only 1 out of 100 women will qualify to be a surrogate.
According to Carrie Bedient MD from fertilitycenterlv.com – Reproductive endocrinologist from The Fertility Center of Las Vegas “Many women want to become a surrogate to help someone else experience the joy of parenthood. However, our job as fertility doctors is to ensure each surrogate is medically able to have a healthy pregnancy and delivery.”
Men and women who are trying to welcome a baby using surrogacy have typically been on a long and arduous journey with infertility. They shouldn’t have to face another roadblock, which is why fertility clinics and surrogacy agencies often have strict surrogate requirements. For example, a surrogate should have already had one successful pregnancy and vaginal delivery.
If the surrogate meets the initial requirements, she’ll need to undergo comprehensive screening.
- Physical screening to ensure she’s healthy enough to carry a pregnancy to term
- Psychological screening to confirm she’s mentally ready to be a surrogate
- Infectious disease testing to ensure she and her partner don’t carry an infectious illness
- Background checks to confirm she and her partner don’t have a criminal record and are not on government assistance
Only after a surrogate passes this rigorous screening will she be able to carry a baby to make parenthood possible for someone else.
3. Surrogacy laws can vary from state to state and country to country
Surrogacy involves complex medical procedures and screening processes, and the varying surrogacy laws add another wrinkle to the process.
Each country has its own surrogacy laws, and in many nations, surrogacy is either illegal or is only legal in very limited circumstances. Additionally, each state in the United States has its own surrogacy laws.
- Surrogacy is illegal in some states and only legal in certain situations in others. In contrast, some states like Nevada are very surrogacy friendly. As a result, gestational surrogacy is permitted for all kinds of parents.
- Each state has a different process for gaining parental rights and getting the parents listed on the birth certificate. In Nevada, the courts will grant pre-birth orders and list both parents on the baby’s birth certificate.
“Because the surrogacy laws can vary, it’s important to work with an experienced attorney who is well-versed in surrogacy law. This type of attorney can help make sure that your surrogacy arrangement is legal and enforceable,” Dr. Bedient says.
4. Your fertility clinic and surrogate don’t have to be in the same state
You might think that your surrogate needs to be in the same city or state as your fertility clinic. However, it can be difficult to find a fertility clinic that has experience doing lots of surrogacy cases. It can be even more difficult to find one near your chosen surrogate. As a result, many families work with a surrogate who doesn’t live near their clinic.
In the case of gestational surrogacy, IVF plays a big role in making conception possible. As such, your surrogate will need to travel to your fertility clinic for screening and embryo transfer. However, many of the other steps can happen without her visiting the clinic.
A surrogate can receive monitoring at another clinic near her while she takes the medication to prepare her uterus for embryo transfer. Additionally, she’ll need to visit this local fertility clinic for monitoring after she conceives and before she moves to her OBGYN.
“Surrogates come to us from all over the United States and even Canada. We complete their initial screening and the embryo transfer at our clinic, and we coordinate the rest of their care with a monitoring clinic in their hometown,” Dr. Bedient explains.
5. There are two types of payment situations for surrogacy
Just as there are two types of surrogacy, there are two types of payment situations for this family-building option.
- Altruistic surrogacy is a type of surrogacy that doesn’t involve payment. The surrogate simply offers to carry the pregnancy out of the goodness of her heart. This type of arrangement is most common among friends and family members.
- Commercial surrogacy involves compensating the surrogate for carrying and delivering the baby. In this situation, the intended parents typically select a surrogate from an agency and agree to pay her for helping them become parents.
In summary, altruistic surrogacy involves no compensation for the surrogate, while commercial surrogacy involves paying the surrogate for her role in making parenthood possible.
Learn more things you didn’t know about surrogacy
The best way to become well-versed in all things related to surrogacy is to do your research. Reaching out to a fertility clinic that has extensive experience with surrogacy is a great place to get started. You can also research surrogacy agencies to determine which ones have the best reviews and the most expertise.