How Does Surrogacy Work?—Everything You Need to Know

Posted June 2, 2023 by in Health + Fitness

Surrogacy, a term frequently mentioned but often misunderstood, provides a unique path to parenthood for individuals or couples who are unable to conceive or carry a child due to various medical, biological, or personal reasons.

In simple terms, it’s a process where a surrogate carries a child for a couple or individual who will become the legal parents after the birth. Surrogacy is a complex journey involving multiple stages, from initial counseling and surrogate matching to in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures and legal agreements.

This blog aims to explain how surrogacy works, including the different types of surrogacies, the counseling required, the process of choosing a surrogate, the medical procedures involved, the legal aspects, and potential costs.

Types Of Surrogacies 

Would-be parents want a baby for many reasons. Some couples have tried for years and have undergone fertility workups without success. Others may have medical conditions or threats that preclude having a successful pregnancy. Gay couples and singles find surrogacy the least complicated way to complete their family outside of adoption.    

Surrogacy can be classified into two primary types:

  • Traditional Surrogacy: In this method, the surrogate is biologically linked to the child and artificially inseminated with sperm from the intended father or a donor. As the surrogate contributes her eggs, she is genetically related to the baby. 
  • Gestational Surrogacy: In gestational surrogacy, the surrogate does not donate her egg, so she is not genetically related to the child. This process involves In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), with donor sperm and egg, with the resulting embryo transferred into the surrogate’s uterus.  

Gestational surrogacy is most common today due to its legal and emotional clarity. However, some intended parents who lack financial resources may prefer traditional surrogacy. Surrogacy plans make this challenging but rewarding process easier for both the intended parents and the surrogate. 

Initial Considerations For Surrogacy 

Before embarking on their surrogacy journey, potential parents should seek counseling to understand the process, its implications, and potential challenges. It is essential to evaluate whether surrogacy is the right choice considering the emotional, financial, and legal aspects of bringing another life into this world. 

Choosing The Surrogate 

Many intended parents work with surrogacy agencies or professionals who can guide them throughout the process. They provide services like stringent screening processes for surrogate matching, coordinating medical procedures, and managing legal contracts. 

Besides this, below are some points to consider:

  • Surrogate Screening Process: The screening process for potential surrogates usually starts with filling out an application form to determine their health history, previous pregnancies, how they live, and why they want to become a surrogate. 

Those who meet the initial criteria undergo medical examinations to determine reproductive health. Would-be surrogates also undergo psychological evaluations to ensure they fully understand the emotional implications of surrogacy and can handle potential emotional stress. 

There’s also a standard background check to ensure the potential surrogate has no criminal record, which could cause problems during the surrogacy process. All these steps are taken so that everything is as safe as possible and to increase the chances of a successful surrogacy journey. 

  • Surrogate Matching Process: Matching a surrogate with the intended parents is vital to the surrogacy journey. Often, a surrogacy agency helps with this process, finding potential surrogates who meet the intended parents’ preferences.  

Once potential surrogates are found, a meeting is set up. If everyone agrees that they’ve found the right match at the end of this meeting, they can start the next steps of the surrogacy process. It’s important to remember that both the surrogate and the parents-to-be can say no to a match if they feel it’s not right for them. 

Medical Procedures In Surrogacy: IVF, Pregnancy, And Birth 

Once all the legal agreements are in place, the next step involves medical procedures. The surrogate begins by taking fertility medications to prepare her uterus for pregnancy.

In gestational surrogacy, the process includes a method known as IVF. During IVF, eggs and sperm are collected from the intended parents or donors, and these are combined in a laboratory to create an embryo.

The resulting embryo is then carefully transferred into the surrogate’s prepared uterus, marking the beginning of her pregnancy journey. Surrogacy accounts for approximately 2% of embryo transfers in the United States, according to research.

When the surrogate goes into labor, the intended parents are typically present during the delivery, eagerly anticipating the arrival of their baby. After birth, the surrogate receives postpartum care and support to ensure her well-being.

The newborn is usually handed directly to the intended parents, who become the child’s legal parents. Their journey as parents begin at this point, while the surrogate’s role comes to a conclusion.

Legal Aspects of Surrogacy 

Here are some key legal considerations in surrogacy: 

  • Surrogacy Contracts: This contract clearly outlines both parties’ responsibilities, rights, and expectations, including financial compensation for the surrogate, agreements on key issues like selective reduction and termination, and plans for potential complications. 
  • Establishing Parental Rights: Another critical legal aspect of surrogacy is establishing the intended parents’ legal rights to the child. Depending on the laws in the specific location, this might involve a pre-birth order, which can allow the intended parents’ names to go directly on the birth certificate or a post-birth adoption process. 

Surrogacy agencies play a vital role in navigating these legal intricacies. They often have experienced legal professionals on their team or partner with reputable law firms specializing in reproductive law. 

Potential Costs 

The cost of surrogacy varies greatly depending on various factors, such as the type of surrogacy, the location where it takes place, whether an agency is involved, and the individual circumstances of all parties involved. The costs can be broken down accordingly: 

  • Surrogacy agency fees 
  • Surrogate compensation 
  • Legal fees 
  • Medical expenses 
  • Psychological counseling 
  • Insurance and other expenses

Surrogacy works when there is a good match between a surrogate and a prospective parent, which an agency can facilitate. Medical costs, psychological tests, surrogate compensation, and other expenses exist, but a successful pregnancy and delivery are priceless.

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