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What Is Surrogacy? Learn All The Facts

What Is Surrogacy?

Surrogacy is a complicated and emotional, yet exciting and joyful, process that can be intimidating for both intended parents and surrogates. For intended parents, the process of surrogacy often involves a great deal of scrutiny toward their personal lives and financial stability. Intended parents can feel overwhelmed by the legal and medical requirements too.

For surrogates, the process can be equally intimidating. Surrogates may worry about the physical and emotional toll of carrying a baby for someone else, as well as about the stigma that is sometimes associated with surrogacy. They may also have concerns about the legal and financial implications of the arrangement, along with fears over how other people, like family members, may react to it.

Overall, the conversation surrounding surrogacy can be challenging because it touches on sensitive topics such as fertility, parenthood, and relationships. As a result, open and honest communication between intended parents and surrogates is important. Understanding how the surrogacy process works can also help alleviate some of the concerns around it

Surrogacy Definition

For people who want to grow their families but are unable to get pregnant or don’t wish to be pregnant, surrogacy is an option. Surrogacy is a type of assisted reproduction involving a contractual arrangement between two parties, where signing on the dotted line helps a family achieve their goals of parenthood. In surrogacy, a person or couple, known as the intended parents, works with a person, known as a gestational surrogate, who will carry a pregnancy to term for them. Surrogacy goes beyond the concept of “carrying someone else’s baby.” It is a deeply personal and intimate experience that involves both the intended parents and the surrogate developing a close bond over the course of the surrogacy journey.

Is Surrogacy a Modern Innovation?

Surrogacy has a long and complex history, dating back to ancient civilizations where surrogacy was used as a means of continuing a family line. However, the modern concept of surrogacy as we know it today is a relatively recent development.

In the 1970s and 1980s, surrogacy gained attention with the advent of assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). This allowed intended parents to have a biologically related child, even if they could not carry the pregnancy themselves. Surrogacy became more widely known and accepted, leading to the establishment of surrogacy agencies and the growth of the commercial surrogacy industry as we know it.

In recent years, advances in medical technology have allowed for greater medical control over the surrogacy process, resulting in higher success rates and improved outcomes for both intended parents and surrogates. With these advancements, surrogacy has become a more accessible option for those seeking to start or grow their families.

Learn more about how far we’ve come with surrogacy.

Is Surrogacy Legal?

Surrogacy laws can vary widely from state to state, and they can even be different within a single state. In the United States, surrogacy is regulated at the state level; there is no federal law regulating surrogacy. This means that each state has its own set of rules and regulations surrounding surrogacy, and these rules can differ from state to state by quite a bit.

For example, some states, such as California and New York, have laws that are relatively permissive and allow for both commercial and altruistic surrogacy arrangements. In these states, intended parents and surrogates have a more freedom in negotiating the terms of their arrangement, and the process is generally straightforward.

In contrast, other states, such as Michigan and Louisiana, have laws that are much more restrictive, and surrogacy arrangements may be illegal or heavily regulated. In these states, intended parents and surrogates may face challenges when trying to secure the legal rights of the child, and the process may be more complicated.

Due to the complex and varying nature of surrogacy laws, it is important for intended parents and surrogates to carefully consider the laws in their state and seek the guidance of a surrogacy attorney before entering into a surrogacy arrangement.

Learn more about the laws surrounding surrogacy.

Comparing the Different Types of Surrogacy

Traditional Vs Gestational Surrogacy

Traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy are two different types of surrogacy arrangements, with gestational surrogacy being far more common and less legally complex. Traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy differ in terms of the biological relationship between the surrogate and the child, as well as the medical process involved.

Traditional surrogacy involves the surrogate being artificially inseminated with the intended father’s sperm or a donor’s sperm. In this type of surrogacy, the surrogate is the biological mother of the child and carries the pregnancy to term. The child is genetically related to the surrogate and the intended father (or sperm donor).

Gestational surrogacy, on the other hand, involves creating an embryo using IVF, where the embryo is transferred to the surrogate’s uterus. In this type of surrogacy, the surrogate carries the pregnancy to term, but the child is not biologically related to her. The child is genetically related to the intended parents (or egg and sperm donors) and the surrogate is simply the gestational carrier.

In terms of the legal process, both traditional and gestational surrogacy can be challenging. However, gestational surrogacy is generally considered to be far more straightforward in terms of establishing the intended parents’ legal rights to the child. Traditional surrogacy tends to be prohibited in more states as well.

Learn more about what it takes to become a gestational surrogate.

Compensated Vs Altruistic Surrogacy

Compensated and altruistic surrogacy are two different types of surrogacy arrangements that differ in terms of the financial compensation received by the surrogate.

Compensated surrogacy is a surrogacy arrangement in which the surrogate is paid a fee for carrying and delivering the child. The amount of compensation can vary widely depending on the individual arrangement, but typically includes compensation for medical expenses, legal fees, and travel costs during the pregnancy.

Altruistic surrogacy, on the other hand, is a surrogacy arrangement in which the surrogate does not receive any financial compensation for carrying and delivering the child. Instead, the surrogate acts as a volunteer, and any expenses incurred during the pregnancy are typically covered by the intended parents.

In terms of the legal process, both compensated and altruistic surrogacy can be challenging, and it is important for intended parents and surrogates to carefully consider the laws in their state and seek the guidance of a surrogacy attorney. Both compensated and altruistic surrogacy have their pros and cons, and the choice between the two depends on individual circumstances and personal preference.

Independent Vs Agency-Assisted Surrogacy

Independent and agency-assisted surrogacy are two different approaches to surrogacy arrangements, and they differ in terms of the level of support and guidance provided to intended parents and surrogates.

Independent surrogacy involves the intended parents and surrogate finding each other and negotiating the terms of their arrangement without the assistance of a third-party agency. In this type of surrogacy, the intended parents and surrogate are responsible for coordinating all aspects of the surrogacy journey, including medical appointments, legal agreements, and financial arrangements.

Agency-assisted surrogacy, on the other hand, involves the use of a surrogacy agency that provides support and guidance to both the intended parents and surrogate throughout the surrogacy process. In this type of surrogacy, the agency typically acts as a facilitator, helping to match intended parents and surrogates, coordinate medical appointments, negotiate legal agreements, and handle financial arrangements.

In terms of the legal process, both independent and agency-assisted surrogacy can be challenging, and it is important for intended parents and surrogates to carefully consider the laws in their state and seek the guidance of a surrogacy attorney. However, agency-assisted surrogacy can provide more support and guidance to intended parents and surrogates, and may be a good option for those who are new to the surrogacy process or who want a more structured and organized approach.

What are the pros and cons of independent surrogacy?

How Much Does Surrogacy Cost?

The cost of surrogacy can vary widely depending on a number of factors, including the type of surrogacy arrangement, the location, the medical expenses, legal fees, and compensation for the surrogate.

In the United States, the average cost of a surrogacy arrangement can range from $110,000 to $200,000 or more, although costs can be significantly higher or lower depending on individual circumstances. Intended parents can finance their surrogacy journey in different ways, such as by fundraising from friends and family, looking into family-building grants, or financing through an agency.

Families Who Need Surrogates

Families With Health and Fertility Issues

Surrogacy gives many individuals and couples the opportunity to grow their families. For many, surrogacy is the solution to dealing with years of unsuccessful attempts to grow one’s family. A person may consider surrogacy if they:

  • Have struggled with infertility in the past.
  • Are unable to safely get pregnant and carry to term.
  • Carry a genetic defect or health condition you don’t want to pass down to a child

Single Parents

Pursuing surrogacy as a single parent can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience, but it can also be complex and challenging. One of the main challenges for single parents pursuing surrogacy is the legal process, as some states have laws that limit the eligibility of single individuals to become legal parents through surrogacy. It is important that a single person wanting to pursue surrogacy lives in a state that allows single, unmarried people to become parents through surrogacy.

The process of surrogacy for single parents is very similar to the process for couples. The main difference is that, for single men, donor eggs are used and fertilized with the intended parent’s sperm and, for single women, donor sperm is used to fertilize the intended parent’s egg. The resulting embryos are then transferred to the gestational surrogate.

LGBTQ+ Families

Families part of the LGBTQ+ population have many potential options to achieving parenthood through surrogacy. For same-sex couples, surrogacy can provide a way to have a biological connection to their child. In some cases, one member of the couple may provide the sperm or eggs, while the other member may carry the pregnancy. In other cases, both members of the couple may contribute genetic material through the use of assisted reproductive technologies.

For transgender individuals, surrogacy can provide a way to become a biological parent, regardless of whether they have undergone gender-affirming surgeries or not.

Regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, intended parents in the LGBTQ+ community should be prepared for the legal, medical, and emotional aspects of surrogacy, as well as the financial costs involved. It is important for LGBTQ+ intended parents to carefully consider the laws in their state and seek the guidance of a surrogacy attorney who is familiar with the rights and obligations of LGBTQ+ individuals in the surrogacy process.

How To Become A Surrogate

Becoming a surrogate can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience, but it can also be emotionally and physically demanding. Surrogates should be prepared for the medical and emotional aspects of the surrogacy process, as well as the legal and financial aspects. If you are interested in becoming a gestational surrogate, there are a few requirements you should know about first. These are the basic requirements that any person considering surrogacy will want to keep in mind:

  • Evaluate your eligibility: Some surrogacy agencies may have additional requirements, such as a minimum BMI, or a certain number of previous successful pregnancies, but most expectations for surrogates include the following requirements:
    • Be between the ages of 21 and 40
    • Be in good physical and mental health
    • Have no history of smoking or drug use
    • Have no criminal record
    • Have had at least one previous healthy pregnancy and delivery with no complications (e.g., pre-eclampsia, pre-term labor, etc.)
    • Live in the United States
    • Have financial stability
    • Be able to attend all of your appointments throughout the surrogacy process
  • Choose a surrogacy agency or attorney: You can work with a surrogacy agency, which can provide support and resources throughout the surrogacy process, or you can work with a surrogacy attorney, who can help you navigate the legal aspects of surrogacy.
  • Complete a medical and psychological evaluation: You will need to undergo a medical evaluation to assess your overall health and ability to carry a pregnancy. You will also need to undergo a psychological evaluation to ensure that you are emotionally ready for the surrogacy journey.
  • Match with intended parents: Once you have been deemed eligible to be a surrogate, you will be matched with intended parents who are seeking a surrogate. You can expect to have a number of conversations with intended parents, including phone calls and in-person meetings, to ensure that you are a good match.
  • Begin the medical process: If you and the intended parents agree to work together, you will begin the medical process of surrogacy, which may include taking medications to prepare your body for pregnancy, and undergoing in vitro IVF to transfer the embryo.
  • Carry the pregnancy: Once the embryo has been transferred, you will carry the pregnancy and provide prenatal care to ensure a healthy pregnancy and birth. You can expect to have regular appointments with your doctor to monitor the health of the pregnancy.

Find out more about the minimum requirements to become a surrogate.

Being An Intended Parent

Becoming an intended parent requires certain requirements to be met too. Meeting these requirements helps ensure that you’re ready to commit to the surrogacy journey. Some common requirements include:

  • Marital status: Some jurisdictions require intended parents to be married, while others do not. For example, in some states in the US, single intended parents can pursue surrogacy, while in other states, only married couples are eligible.
  • Financial requirements: Surrogacy can be an expensive process, and intended parents should have the financial resources to pay for the medical and legal costs associated with surrogacy.
  • Health requirements: Intended parents do not need to be at the same level of physical health as a gestational surrogate. However, mental health is very important for intended parents. Intended parents should be emotionally and mentally stable, and able to handle the emotional demands of surrogacy.
  • Time commitments: Surrogacy requires a lot of appointments. In addition to attending many doctor’s appointments, intended parents must also consider setting time aside to meet with the surrogacy agency and have legal discussions with attorneys. Intended parents must make sure that they are available enough to be able to commit to these appointments.

Why It’s Crucial to Find the Perfect Surrogate Match

No matter how intended parents and surrogates find each other, it’s important that intended parents and surrogates match based on their common interests and motivations. Finding the perfect surrogate match is crucial for several reasons:

  • Emotional connection: The intended parents and the surrogate will be working together for a year or more during the pregnancy and birth of the child. A strong emotional connection between them can help to build trust and ensure that everyone is working towards the same goal.
  • Communication: Good communication is essential for a successful surrogacy journey. A perfect match will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and that everyone’s needs and expectations are being met.
  • Health: The surrogate’s health is of the utmost importance during the pregnancy. The right match will ensure that the surrogate is in good health and that the pregnancy is as safe and smooth as possible.
  • Interests: Surrogacy can be a demanding process, both physically and emotionally. It is important that the intended parents and surrogate have similar lifestyles, interests, and priorities to ensure that they are able to work together effectively.
  • Support network: Surrogacy can be an emotional journey, and it is important that the intended parents and surrogate have a strong support network. A good match will help ensure that everyone has the support they need during the pregnancy and birth.

Work with Surrogacy Experts That You Can Trust

Working with Family Inceptions guarantees that you have access to all of the resources you need to have a successful surrogacy journey, whether you are an intended parent or a prospective surrogate. Our services are designed to bring intended parents, surrogates, and egg donors together to achieve their dreams of achieving and helping others achieve their goals of parenthood.

Start Your Journey with Us Today

Interest in becoming a surrogate or building a family through surrogacy? Learn about our process here.

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Eloise Drane
Eloise Drane, Founder

"I believe that we are all placed on this earth for a purpose. Each one of us has a specific calling in this world and although it is different for everyone, we are here to serve one another. My purpose is to help women who wish to become surrogates and egg donors and the hopeful parents who wish to partner with them. I feel very lucky to be living my purpose."