For many couples struggling with infertility issues or conditions that make a normal pregnancy impossible, surrogacy is the way. It gives these couples an alternative to adoption and possibly having their own biological children. It is estimated that almost 750 children born in the US were conceived via a gestational surrogacy process.
Before we discuss gestational surrogacy, let’s understand the concept a bit better and also the different types of surrogacy. Gestational surrogacy is different from traditional surrogacy. In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate mother is also the egg donor and hence the genetic mother of the child. Usually, the donor sperm or the sperm of the intended father is harvested and used to fertilize the surrogate’s own eggs through Intrauterine insemination (IUI). However, in gestational surrogacy, the intended parents are the genetic parents as well in most cases. The egg and the sperm are harvested and fertilized using in-vitro fertilization(IVF). The embryo is then transferred into the gestational surrogate’s uterus.
Unlike traditional surrogacy, gestational surrogacy is much cleaner from a legal standpoint, and there are some advantages for the intended parents as well as the gestational carrier. It is, however, still a complex procedure requiring the help of fertility experts as well as legal experts.
Who Should Opt for Gestational Surrogacy?
Gestational surrogacy is an option for many couples who need infertility treatment or otherwise can’t conceive naturally. Unlike traditional surrogacy, since the surrogate is not genetically related to the child, it avoids legal complications that could arise.
Gestational surrogacy is ideal for
- Couples with infertility issues
- Intended mothers who cannot carry a pregnancy to term due to health complications
- Same-sex couplescouples
- Transgender couples
- Single men who want to start their family
- People who have undergone a hysterectomy or were born without a uterus
In short, gestational surrogacy is an option for anyone who wants to have children but cannot conceive or carry a pregnancy to term due to various complications.
What Are the Requirements To Be a Surrogate and an Intended Parent?
While there are no overarching regulations in place, medical experts have developed criterion that needs to be met for someone to be a surrogate. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the Department of Health’s surrogacy screening guidelines, a surrogate must be between 21 and 45 years old with a history of at least one full-term pregnancy without complications.
The guidelines also call for complete medical screening of the potential surrogate, including blood tests to rule out infectious disease. It is also required that the prospective surrogate be vaccinated against diseases such as measles, rubella, polio, and more. Psychological screening is also recommended to ensure that the potential surrogate does not have mental health issues that could complicate the surrogacy process. Many people choose a family member or relative to be a surrogate.
It is of course also necessary for intended parents to go through a medical screening process before undertaking the surrogacy journey. The intended father or the sperm donor and the intended mother or the egg donor are all screened for medical conditions and genetic conditions which may affect the child.
A psychosocial assessment is also carried out to make sure that the intended parents are prepared and ready for the surrogacy process.
How Does the Gestational Surrogacy Process Work?
The process of gestational surrogacy takes time and you would need help from a fertility clinic and a reproductive health specialist. You would also need the help of a surrogacy agency and lawyers to help you with the legal processes including the surrogacy contract. Dreams Fertility reproductive specialists have been working with intended parents for many years, helping them achieve their family-building dreams through surrogacy. Here’s how we work with our clients to help them have a smooth surrogacy.
Needless to say, you have to be fully prepared before embarking on this journey. Visiting a fertility center is the first step in the process. Getting your medical screening done as well as having a conversation with family therapists will help you understand the process and the risks involved.
At Dreams fertility, we work with leading surrogacy agencies to help you prepare both legally and medically for the process of surrogacy. You will have to submit an application with a surrogacy agency of your choice, discuss the legal processes for the surrogacy, and also undergo medical evaluations to understand the potential risks involved.
Finding a Surrogate
How to find a surrogate is one of the big questions in this process. If you can find a surrogate among your friends or family, this can streamline the process..Many couples have been fortunate to take this path in their surrogacy journey. However, given that there are possible legal complications that can be involved, it is advisable to seek the advice of a surrogacy law expert before you make a decision..
Surrogacy agencies are the safest and most reliable option to find your surrogate. They take care of most of the legal concerns as well as match you with the right surrogate as per your requirements and also conduct background checks to make sure the surrogate is a good candidate. Even if you find a surrogate yourself, it is always advisable to run proper background checks to ensure the safety of your unborn child.
Getting the Legalities Sorted
Gestational surrogacy is still a complex arrangement because three people are involved in the pregnancy, from which came the term “third party” fertility treatment. Understanding surrogacy laws in your state and drawing up a legal contract that covers and protects the interests of all parties is mandatory before you undertake the process.
You would need separate legal representation for you and the surrogate. This helps in having a smoother legal process and ensuring that the interests of both you and the surrogate are covered. Even if the child is genetically yours, some states require an adoption process after childbirth to complete the process. Other states just require a declaration of parentage. A properly executed surrogacy contract helps ensure that you, the surrogate, and the child are all protected and that there are no issues once the child is born.
Medical Procedures for Gestational Surrogacy
. Assisted reproductive technology advancements and especially fertility treatments make it possible for doctors to harvest healthy eggs from the intended mother and sperm from the father even when there are some infertility issues that have to be dealt with.
The egg is harvested from the intended mother or an egg donor. Frozen eggs can also be used in a gestational surrogacy case. Sperm is collected from the intended father or a sperm donor, depending on the case. Once this is done, the egg can be fertilized with the sperm using IVF to produce embryos.
Frozen embryo transfer (FET) is the next step in the process where the embryo is transferred to the uterus of the surrogate.
Once the embryo transfer process is completed and the pregnancy is confirmed, the gestational surrogate carries the pregnancy to term. Further monitoring and prenatal care is provided to the surrogate to ensure a healthy pregnancy and childbirth. Gestational surrogacy has a birth rate of over 50% per embryo transfer when the eggs are harvested from women below 35 years of age.
How Much Does Gestational Surrogacy Cost?
Another common question regarding gestational surrogacy is the cost involved. Surrogacy arrangements involve medical and legal expenses along with the compensation for the surrogate. It can be difficult to gauge how much a surrogacy cycle will cost without understanding the details of all the variables. For example, surrogacy agency fees vary depending on which agency you use. If you are matched with a “proven” surrogate – meaning she has successfully carried a pregnancy to term for another couple, then the cost may be higher. There will be additional costs if a multiple pregnancy is involved as well as a c-section which may necessitate the surrogate missing work or being unable to resume normal activities for a certain period of time. In general, surrogacy averages between $85,000 – $150,000 depending on t various factors and what is specified in the surrogacy contract.
Gestational surrogacy involves legal issues and expertise as well as experienced fertility specialists to assist with the sophisticated medical procedure and help guide you on this very special path to parenthood. You and the surrogate should be completely educated and prepared for this journey. Working with reproductive experts and surrogacy agencies gives all parties involved the best chance for success!
Want to know if gestational surrogacy is the right option for you? Our experts at Dream Fertility are happy to help! Schedule a consult today!
Dr. Luis Murrain joined Dreams Fertility in 2021, providing specialty services in Fertility and Reproductive Genetics. With a shared vision that everyone deserves to have the family of their dreams, we are dedicated to helping all of our patients. We believe that families come in all shapes and sizes, and all of them are beautiful. We are proud to have a long history of providing services to all, including gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals and couples on their road to parenthood.