Is using a gestational carrier, or surrogate, the right choice for your family? If you are struggling with infertility or are a same-sex couple, surrogacy might be a great choice to help you grow your family. Learn more about the process of surrogacy, the types of surrogacy, and the potential pros and cons of surrogate parents to determine if this process is right for you during your fertility journey.
Types of Surrogacy
Traditional surrogacy refers to when a surrogate’s biological eggs are used to conceive and deliver the baby for another couple. In this scenario, the surrogate would be genetically related to the baby. In this process, the surrogate is artificially inseminated with the intended father’s sperm, and once pregnant, she then carries and delivers the baby.
Before assisted reproductive technology provided in vitro fertilization (IVF), traditional surrogacy was the only way to complete a surrogacy. Traditional surrogacy can lead to many legal and emotional struggles with the surrogate. Because of this, this type of surrogacy is much rarer now and is illegal in some states.
Now that donor eggs and IVF can be used, gestational surrogacy is often preferred and much more common within the fertility industry. Gestational surrogacy requires more medical appointments and noninvasive procedures, making it more expensive than traditional surrogacy. However, because the gestational carrier is not genetically related to the baby, there are fewer legal issues involved and many intended parents and surrogates feel much more comfortable with the process.
Gestational surrogacy requires 3 main steps:
- Egg donation or retrieval
- Fertilization of the embryo
- Embryo transfer
The Surrogate Process
Every surrogacy process is different. It is a process that involves not only you and your partner but also someone who is going to carry your baby until they are born. It is important to find a setup that works for and is well understood by all three of you. The basic steps involved in the surrogacy process include finding a surrogate, finding a lawyer, and finding your family.
Finding a Surrogate
There are two ways to go about finding a surrogate. First, you can find your own surrogate. The positive side of this is that the person is normally a close family member or friend. This means that you will usually be more closely involved in the progression of the pregnancy.
The negative side is also that the person is normally a close family member or friend. This means that once the baby is born there is less separation between the surrogate and the new family. This can be confusing and painful for both the surrogate and the family.
The second option for finding a surrogate is to go through a surrogate agency. A surrogacy agency not only offers a degree of separation between the surrogate and the parents-to-be, but it also offers the benefit of extensive physical and mental health testing of the surrogate to make sure that she is going to be able to physically and mentally handle being a surrogate mother for another couple’s child.
This testing becomes especially important when the surrogate mother supplies the egg as well as carries the child. Surrogates found at an agency will also give the parents updates on all doctors’ appointments and may even allow the parent to be present during these appointments.
Finding a Lawyer
Legal issues are a big concern for many people who are considering the surrogacy process. There are laws in place to protect both the future parents and the surrogate. These laws are not overruled by a previous arrangement between parties. Having a lawyer is imperative to protect you and your future child.
A lawyer will be able to explain to all parties what the process will be like, what their rights are, and what types of consequences there are for each person who does not uphold their side of the bargain. Most surrogacy agencies require that you have a lawyer, and many have legal services as part of their processes and fees.
Finding Your Family
No matter how you find your lawyer or your surrogate, what matters the most is preparing for your new baby. It can feel very strange to not be pregnant and then one day suddenly have a baby in your home. Just like any other parents-to-be, parents going through the surrogacy process should start to prepare themselves mentally and emotionally for the changes to come. Staying involved in and informed about the pregnancy of your surrogate can be a helpful way to feel connected to your baby throughout the entire process.
The Pros & Cons of Surrogacy
There are many pros to choosing a surrogate parent for your fertility journey. It can help you become one step closer to growing your family, allows for higher chances of conception, includes a comprehensive screening process for egg donors, decreases the physical wear you have to endure, and gives you access to expert advice from fertility experts throughout the process. However, there are cons as well. Surrogacy can be an emotionally taxing process as you give up much of the control you would otherwise have with pregnancy. The process can also become expensive with medical care for the gestational carrier, and in rare cases, it can become legally confusing.
Luckily, there are plenty of resources available to help you navigate the process of surrogacy and growing your family! If you think using a gestational carrier is the right path for you, or if you would like to learn more, schedule an appointment with a fertility specialist at Red Rock Fertility Center. We can help pair you with the ideal surrogate and get you one step closer to your dreams!