Did you know there are many different types of surrogacy? As a complicated medical process, surrogacy can be completed in several ways, tailored to everything from who will be genetically related to the baby to what kind of relationship intended parents and surrogates want to have with each other.
The different types of surrogacy can be overwhelming when you’re first learning about this method of assisted reproduction, but they actually help to make sure that intended parents and surrogates choose the kind of surrogacy that’s perfect for them. Surrogacy is not one-size-fits-all, and a surrogacy professional can help you choose the process that’s right for you based on what you desire from your surrogacy experience.
To help you understand the various surrogacy types and assist you in your decision, we’ve explained some types of surrogacy here and given you some tips on which might be best for you.
Genetic Relationship: Gestational vs. Traditional Surrogacy
When it comes to creating an embryo, there are two types of surrogacy to contemplate: traditional and gestational. In a nutshell, here’s what you need to know about these types of surrogacy.
In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate’s egg is used to create the embryo of the child she is going to carry (either through intrauterine insemination or in vitro fertilization.) In gestational surrogacy, the intended parents create an embryo using their own egg and sperm or using donated egg or sperm.
While traditional surrogacy was the only way to complete a surrogacy throughout most of history, over the past 30 years, gestational surrogacy has become the more popular of the two types of surrogacy. Not only does it allow both parents of a heterosexual couple to be biologically related to their child, but it also helps eliminate some of the legal and emotional struggles that come with a surrogate being genetically related to the child she’s carrying.
So, how do you know which of these surrogacy types is right for you? It’s always best you confer with your surrogacy professional, but here are some reasons why people may choose traditional or gestational surrogacy:
- If the surrogate is related to one of the intended parents, traditional surrogacy can provide a genetic link that would not have been possible with a donated egg. If the intended parents are a same-sex male couple, a single male or a heterosexual couple where the woman is unable to use her eggs, traditional surrogacy may give them the genetic link they desire.
- For intended parents who cannot find an egg donor they like, don’t want an anonymous donor or are looking to reduce the cost of their surrogacy, traditional surrogacy may be best for them.
- Intended parents and surrogates who are wary of the legalities and emotions involved in traditional surrogacy will want to choose a gestational surrogacy.
- If traditional surrogacy is outlawed in the surrogate’s state, she and the intended parents will need to pursue a gestational surrogacy.
- Gestational surrogacy allows many intended mothers to be related to their child.
- Intended parents who have remaining embryos from past IVF treatments can use those in a gestational surrogacy.
Payment for a Surrogate: Compensated vs. Altruistic Surrogacy
Another factor that creates different types of surrogacy is the compensation that a surrogate is paid to carry the intended parents’ child.
When a surrogate is given base payment for carrying the child (beyond reimbursement for pregnancy-related expenses), this is known as compensated surrogacy. If a surrogate does not receive any additional payments, she will complete an altruistic surrogacy.
So, how do you decide between these two types of surrogacy? Here are some factors that may apply to your situation:
- If intended parents feel uncomfortable asking a friend or family member to become an uncompensated surrogate, a commercial surrogacy may help eliminate the feeling of indebtedness that they could never pay back.
- For intended parents and surrogates who don’t know each other prior to the matching process, a compensated surrogacy protects both parties’ interests and rights in the surrogacy process.
- Surrogates may come to feel resentful or taken advantage of during the altruistic surrogacy process, so for women who are unsure, a compensated surrogacy is usually the way to go.
- If a surrogate’s state outlaws compensated surrogacy agreements, she and the intended parents will have to complete their surrogacy altruistically.
- For some intended parents and surrogates who are friends or family members, a compensated surrogacy is unnecessary; a surrogate will want to carry their baby because of the love between her and the intended parents.
- Because surrogates are unpaid, an altruistic surrogacy might help intended parents reduce the cost of their surrogacy.
Where It’s Completed: Domestic vs. International Surrogacy
Surrogacy is an ART process that’s completed around the world. However, many countries have strict laws regulating this process, so depending on where you live, you may have the choice between two types of surrogacy: domestic and international.
If you live in the United States, your best option will likely be to complete a domestic surrogacy because of its thorough legal regulations (other countries may be more ambiguous or restrictive in their laws). If you live in another country, it’s important that you explore different countries’ laws regarding surrogacy before deciding to pursue an international surrogacy.
Here are some reasons why people choose between these types of surrogacy:
- If your country allows surrogacy and regulates it properly, it’s usually cheaper and safer to complete a domestic surrogacy.
- This type of surrogacy allows intended parents and surrogates to meet, establish a relationship and more easily stay in contact during the whole surrogacy process.
- A domestic surrogacy eliminates the legal processes that occur with bringing a baby born abroad back into their parents’ country.
- For intended parents who live in a country that restricts or outlaws surrogacy, completing an international surrogacy in a surrogacy-friendly country like the U.S. is safer and easier.
- Surrogates who carry a child for an international intended parent can receive a base compensation that, due to exchange rates and different standards of living, can drastically change their life situation.
Who You Work with: Agency vs. Independent Surrogacy
Another factor that will play a role in your decision between the different types of surrogacy is which professional you choose to help you complete your process — if you work with a professional at all. Generally, there are two types of surrogacy when it comes to working with a professional: an agency surrogacy and an independent surrogacy.
In an agency surrogacy, intended parents and surrogates work with a surrogacy service or agency from the beginning to the end of their surrogacy process — from the initial screening and matching to mediation of contact to the finalization of compensation and parentage. In an independent surrogacy, intended parents and surrogates usually only work with a surrogacy lawyer and a fertility clinic to complete their surrogacy process.
Typically, surrogates and intended parents will choose between these types of surrogacy for certain reasons:
- If intended parents and a surrogate have not found one another yet, they’ll usually work with a trusted surrogacy agency or similar service to safely find the perfect match.
- For intended parents and surrogates who aren’t comfortable handling and taking charge of all the aspects of their surrogacy, a surrogacy agency or program will take the majority of the responsibility out of their hands.
- If intended parents are working with a surrogate they know (usually a friend or family member), they may feel comfortable without the mediation services offered by a surrogacy agency. Because they will already be matched, they may just need a surrogacy lawyer and fertility clinic to handle the legal and medical aspects of the surrogacy.
- For intended parents who are looking to save money on their surrogacy, an independent surrogacy may be the cheaper option between these two types of surrogacy.
Deciding Which Type of Surrogacy is Right for You
These are only a few of the types of surrogacy available to you as an intended parent or prospective surrogate. For example, if you’re an intended parent, your surrogacy process may also fall underneath the categories of single parent surrogacy or LGBT surrogacy.
Remember, your surrogacy will be tailored to you and your individual situation — and you’ll need to decide what’s best for you and your family as you move forward. It’s recommended that you speak in detail with a surrogacy professional or your fertility clinic to find out what types of surrogacy are available to you and the pros and cons of each to determine what the perfect fit is for you.
Are you interested in learning more about surrogacy or starting the process? Complete our form to request free surrogacy information now.