Surrogacy has given countless couples the opportunity to build their family. There are two types of surrogacy: Gestational and Traditional. The traditional type uses natural insemination and the eggs of the surrogate mother to successfully conceive. Gestational surrogacy is done through IVF (in vitro fertilization) or intrauterine insemination. The eggs or sperm to be used are taken from either the intended parents, or from a donor.
Surrogacy continues to grow in popularity, especially after key celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker, Elton John, and Nicole Kidman publicly admitted to also using surrogacy. Today, there are more than 35,000 families using surrogacy out of the 80 million people who are affected by infertility.
There are a couple steps that go into making sure the surrogacy process is as safe and smooth as possible. Here’s a brief rundown of each phase.
After intended parents choose a surrogate, either from a surrogacy agency or from their own source, the surrogate undergoes a screening process. This includes screening for compatibility, infectious diseases, psychological capacity and overall health. All parties are asked to sign a consent form concerning pre-conception, pre-birth and post-birth processes, including parentage on behalf of the intended parents. This ensures that the surrogate and intended parents are both in agreement and are fully aware of the procedure.
The surrogate mother is given medication before the IVF process to develop multiple eggs and increase the possibility of successful conception. When her follicles are mature, her eggs are removed from her ovaries to be fertilized in the laboratory with the sperm from a donor or the intended father. The embryos develop in the laboratory for 3-5 days and are transferred to the surrogate’s uterus for implantation.
After the IVF is successfully completed, the surrogate mother starts her pregnancy journey where she will need to follow the requirements of the intended parents that relate to the health and wellness of the baby. This includes the diet, doctors, and regimens that intended parents recommend. The surrogate is then compensated for her time and effort accordingly.
Laws on surrogacy related to parentage vary depending on the state. In some states where surrogacy is not supported, intended parents have to undergo the adoption process to gain legal custody of the child after birth.
In states where surrogacy is legal, intended parents are asked to file a pre-birth order known as a "declaration of parentage”. This allows the intended parents to take home the child after birth and be declared on paper as the legal parents.
Rights should be protected and prioritized for all parties concerned. It is important to make sure that contracts and agreements are carefully reviewed by lawyers who are well-versed in reproductive rights especially because surrogacy laws vary in every state. This allows both parties to consider the best options for them when potentially unexpected issues arise.
It is highly recommended that intended parents choose a surrogate who shares the same belief system as themselves. It may also be beneficial to find a surrogate that practices the same lifestyle choices as the intended parents as well.
Surrogacy in the US can cost anywhere between $100,000 to $250,000, depending on the level and history of the agency and potentially other unknown costs, such as high risk pregnancies, bed rest compensation and neonatal care. These costs include fees for the surrogate, agency, laboratory, medicines and hospital bills. There are a lot of important details on the line, not to mention lives involved, so it is important to consult with a reputable and experienced surrogacy agency.
Surrogacy can be an emotional journey, with its own unique set of challenges and obstacles. But no one goes through the process alone- there are thousands of communities set up to help and encourage surrogate mothers, parents, egg donors, and children. For more help, ConceiveAbilities provides a wealth of resources and information to guide you through your own journey.
All Things Conceivable is a blog dedicated to sharing the knowledge and expert opinions of the dedicated team at ConceiveAbilities, a Chicago-based egg donation and surrogacy agency.