Gestational surrogacy, in which the surrogate is not related to the child she is carrying, is the most common type of surrogacy today. While gestational surrogacy statistics are difficult to find, this path to parenthood has helped thousands of couples and individuals grow their families, and it is becoming increasingly common.
If you are interested in beginning your gestational surrogacy journey, read on to learn more about how it works, what it costs and how it might be an option for your family.
Gestational Surrogacy Definition
In gestational surrogacy, the child is not biologically related to the surrogate mother, who is often referred to as a gestational carrier. Instead, the embryo is created via in vitro fertilization (IVF), using the eggs and sperm of the intended parents or donors, and is then transferred to the surrogate.
This form of surrogacy is sometimes also called “host surrogacy” or “full surrogacy.” In most cases, at least one intended parent is genetically related to the child, and the surrogate is not. This makes gestational surrogacy less legally complicated than other forms of surrogacy because stepparent or second-parent adoption is not required.
The following people might consider gestational surrogacy:
- People who have struggled with infertility
- Hopeful single parents
- Same-sex couples
- People who don’t want a genetic link between the surrogate and their child
- Anyone who is unable to safely carry a pregnancy to term
How does gestational surrogacy work?
Because gestational surrogacy is the most common type of surrogacy in the United States today, most articles you read about the surrogacy process refer to gestational surrogacy. In general, the gestational surrogacy process involves finding a surrogacy opportunity, completing legal contracts and transferring the embryo to the surrogate.
Intended parents may locate a surrogacy opportunity on their own and pursue an independent surrogacy with an attorney specializing in assisted reproductive law. However, most intended parents choose to work with a full-service surrogacy agency to help them find a gestational carrier.
Once a match has been identified, the surrogate and intended parents will each work with an attorney to discuss each party’s legal risks and responsibilities, as well as surrogate compensation. Once everyone is in agreement and the contracts are signed, a fertility clinic will handle the IVF and embryo transfer process. An embryo will be created and transferred to the surrogate using one of the following:
- The eggs and sperm of the intended parents, in which case both intended parents will be genetically related to their child
- A donated egg fertilized with sperm from the intended father, in which case the intended father will be genetically related to the child
- The intended mother’s egg fertilized with donor sperm, in which case the intended mother will be genetically related to the child
- A donor embryo or an embryo created using donor eggs and donor sperm, in which case neither intended parent will be genetically related to the child
From there, the surrogate will carry the baby as if it were any other pregnancy, and the intended parents will welcome their child and have full legal custody when he or she is born.
The gestational surrogacy process may vary somewhat based on your state’s laws, your individual circumstances and more. Read our surrogacy process article and talk to your surrogacy professional for more information about how surrogacy works.
Gestational Surrogacy Laws
Surrogacy is relatively new, and laws are currently fairly unsettled and complicated. It is recommended that intended parents and surrogates each have their own legal representation to guide them through the process and protect their rights.
While surrogacy law can be complicated, the legal process for gestational surrogacy is often less complex than for other forms of surrogacy. In gestational surrogacy, at least one parent is usually genetically related to the child, simplifying custody issues.
Surrogacy laws are determined by each state, and certain states do not allow surrogacy at all. Your professional or attorney can help you understand gestational surrogacy laws in your state and help you complete the surrogacy process regardless of where you live.
How much is gestational surrogacy?
Gestational surrogacy costs depend on a number of factors. Surrogacy can be a long and demanding process that involves many types of professionals, advanced medical technology and a yearlong commitment from a woman who is willing to carry a baby for another family.
In general, the total cost of gestational surrogacy can range from $75,000–$150,000. This total cost accounts for all necessary medical expenses, attorney fees, counseling costs, agency fees, and surrogate living expenses and compensation. Many of these expenses are variable; for example, the surrogate mother’s monthly allowance may vary based on where she lives, and attorney fees may differ depending on state laws and legal processes.
In addition, insurance may not cover the medical expenses for intended parents and their surrogates, and there are fewer financing options available to intended parents than to adoptive families. Intended parents should work closely with their surrogacy professional to determine a more accurate figure of the cost of their surrogacy, and budget accordingly.
Pros and Cons of Gestational Surrogacy
Gestational surrogacy has many advantages that make it a popular choice for intended parents, but there are some disadvantages to take into consideration. Here are some of the most common benefits and challenges of gestational surrogacy:
- Gestational surrogacy allows infertile couples, single parents and members of the LGBT community to complete their families.
- Gestational surrogacy allows intended parents to maintain a genetic link to their child.
- Surrogacy gives intended parents the opportunity to create a meaningful relationship with their surrogate.
- Gestational surrogacy is the least legally complicated form of surrogacy because the baby is not related to the gestational carrier.
- Surrogacy is generally a legally complex and expensive process.
- Gestational surrogacy requires intended parents to relinquish some control as someone else carries the pregnancy for them.
- If the intended mother is using her own eggs in the surrogacy process, she will have to undergo fertility treatments and other medical procedures.
Many of the pros and cons of gestational surrogacy apply to other forms of surrogacy as well. Prospective intended parents should compare the different types of surrogacy and carefully weigh all of the benefits and challenges before beginning the gestational surrogacy process.
While gestational surrogacy can be a long and somewhat challenging process, it is a rewarding an exciting way for hopeful parents to expand their families and experience all of the joys and challenges of raising a biological child.
The following resources provide additional information for people interested in growing their families through surrogacy:
- American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technologies
- Resolve – The National Infertility Association
- American Society for Reproductive Medicine
Are you interested in learning more about surrogacy or starting the process? Complete our form to request free surrogacy information now.