For many, the path to parenthood is not always how they may have envisioned, especially after experiencing a long road of infertility or in some cases knowing from the start there will be difficulty. An option often overlooked, is surrogacy. A variety of issues, such as absence of a uterus, impaired uterus, a chronic health problem, or cancer make it impossible or unsafe for the intended mother to carry a child. It is also an option for gay couples who want to have at least one partner to have a genetic tie to their child. In the process, the person or couple called the intended parent(s) or (IP(s)), contract with a surrogate or gestational carrier to carry the pregnancy. Simply defined, a surrogate is a woman who carries a pregnancy for another person or couple.
Are there different types of surrogacy arrangements?
Yes. There are two types of arrangements: traditional and gestational
Traditional surrogacy is when the surrogate has a genetic tie to the child she carries. She is artificially inseminated with the sperm the male intended parent. Due to various legal reasons, this family building option is not as common or recommended as frequently as gestational surrogacy typically would be.
Gestational surrogacy is when the surrogate or gestational carrier in this case, does not have a genetic tie to the child she is carrying. The intended parents undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF), provide the egg and sperm and create an embryo to transfer to the gestational carrier. There are also other circumstances where one of the intended parents will contribute their egg or sperm but a sperm donor or egg donor or even a donated embryo is used in the process.
Need help explaining surrogacy? Share this surrogacy graphic.
Are there different forms of contractual agreements?
Compensated agreements are contracts where the surrogate or gestational carrier will receive financial compensation over incurred expenses that come along with the process and the gestation. Some of these costs (not all) include: fertility costs, medical costs during the pregnancy, legal fees, lost wages and any other incurred costs related to the surrogacy.
Compassionate surrogacy agreements are those where the surrogate, usually a close friend or family member, offers to carry a pregnancy less the surrogate fee. The intended parent(s) will cover all of the incurred expenses that go along with a surrogate agreement but there is no financial compensation provided to the surrogate.
It is also extremely important to know that each state is different in regards to the legality of a surrogacy arrangement. In some U.S. states commercial surrogacy is illegal and/or the contracts that that define the parentage of the intended parents are not recognized or enforceable. This is why if you do consider to pursue surrogacy you will need to make sure you live in a surrogacy friendly state as well as work with a legal attorney who specializes in surrogacy, adoption or reproductive law.
To find one in your state, here is a link to our professional directory: