About Surrogacy

What is Traditional Surrogacy?

While not as common as gestational surrogacy, traditional surrogacy is still an option for intended parents and prospective surrogates.

In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate mother uses her own egg and is artificially inseminated using sperm from the intended father or a donor. The surrogate carries and delivers the baby, and then, because she is the child’s biological mother, must relinquish her parental rights so that the child can be raised by the intended parents.

Traditional surrogacy is now much less common than gestational surrogacy, primarily because of traditional surrogacy’s legal and emotional complexities. However, it is still a viable option for some intended parents as they grow their families. Learn more about the traditional surrogacy process and its many benefits and challenges below.

Traditional Surrogacy Definition

Traditional surrogacy is sometimes also called partial surrogacy or genetic surrogacy because of the surrogate’s biological link to the child she carries. While this genetic relationship may legally and emotionally complicate traditional surrogacy, the following people may consider traditional surrogacy:

  • Single men
  • Same-sex male couples
  • Intended mothers who cannot produce healthy eggs

Heterosexual couples and women who can produce healthy eggs but cannot safely carry a pregnancy to term are more likely to choose gestational surrogacy, as this option allows these intended parents to be genetically related to their baby. Single men, same-sex male couples and women who cannot produce healthy eggs may choose traditional surrogacy because they will need a donor’s eggs anyway; in traditional surrogacy, the surrogate doubles as the egg donor.

Because the surrogate is the child’s biological mother, many traditional surrogates are close friends or relatives of the intended parents.

How Does Traditional Surrogacy Work?

The traditional surrogacy process differs from the gestational surrogacy process in a few key ways.

First, the intended parents will not need to identify an egg donor because the surrogate’s eggs will be used instead. This means the family only needs to be matched to a surrogate who is willing to complete a traditional surrogacy.

Once the intended parents have found a traditional surrogate they would like to work with, legal contracts must be drafted and signed. It is very important to work closely with an attorney experienced in traditional surrogacy agreements throughout this stage of the process. Traditional surrogacy is much more legally complex than gestational surrogacy because the surrogate is the biological mother of the child. In order for both intended parents to have parental rights for the child, the non-biological intended parent will likely need to complete a stepparent adoption following the baby’s birth.

Once contracts have been signed, pregnancy can begin. While gestational surrogacy uses in vitro fertilization (IVF) to create an embryo that is then transferred to the surrogate, traditional surrogacy uses intrauterine insemination (IUI) to artificially inseminate the surrogate mother using the intended father’s sperm. IUI is less complicated, less expensive and involves fewer medical procedures than IVF, and this process can be repeated several times until a pregnancy is achieved.

From there, the surrogate will carry the baby as if it were any other pregnancy. When the baby is born, the surrogate will be the biological mother and therefore has parental rights. Additionally legal procedures will be necessary to terminate her parental rights and legally adopt the baby.

Because of the legal and emotional complexities of the traditional surrogacy process, many professionals work only with surrogates and intended parents pursuing gestational surrogacy. Your state’s laws and your individual circumstances will determine which process is best for you.

Traditional Surrogacy Laws

State laws regulate surrogacy, and in some states, surrogacy is not legal at all. Traditional surrogacy may be illegal even in some states where gestational surrogacy is legal.

Even in states that do recognize and allow surrogacy contracts, surrogacy is a legally complicated issue, and in many cases, laws are vague at best. Traditional surrogacy includes additional legal complications and processes, such as termination of parental rights and stepparent adoption. For these reasons, it is very important to consult with an experienced attorney through every stage of the traditional surrogacy process.

Traditional Surrogacy Cost

The cost of traditional surrogacy is dependent on a number of factors, including the professional you work with, the many services you use throughout the process, and the needs of your surrogate. In general, intended parents will be required to pay the following expenses:

  • Surrogate medical expenses, including IUI
  • Attorney and agency fees
  • Counseling costs
  • Surrogate monthly allowance
  • Surrogate compensation
  • Other surrogate-related fees

Many of the above expenses are variable. For example, a surrogate’s monthly allowance and additional compensations may vary depending on your surrogate’s location, and attorney fees can differ substantially based on state laws and legal processes for your specific circumstances.

While surrogacy is generally expensive, traditional surrogacy is often more cost effective than gestational surrogacy. In traditional surrogacy, intended parents will not need to pay an egg donation fee, and IUI is much less expensive than IVF.

To fully understand the estimated cost for your surrogacy, speak with your professional to discuss your specific situation.

Pros and Cons of Traditional Surrogacy

Traditional surrogacy is a complicated process with many benefits and challenges to consider. Here are some of the most common advantages and disadvantages of traditional surrogacy:

  • Traditional surrogacy is usually less expensive than gestational surrogacy.
  • Intended mothers do not need to undergo medical procedures because their eggs will not be harvested to create the embryo.
  • Traditional surrogacy is banned in many states.
  • A traditional surrogate is the biological mother of her child, meaning she has parental rights and the power to change her mind and keep the baby. The intended parents would then need to go to court to gain custody of the child.
  • In some cases, intended parents will need to complete a stepparent adoption to both be recognized as the child’s legal parents.
  • Many surrogacy professionals do not offer traditional surrogacy programs, and many surrogates are more comfortable with gestational surrogacy than traditional surrogacy.
  • Intended mothers do not have the option of being biologically related to their children in traditional surrogacy.

While there are many challenges with traditional surrogacy to consider, it can be and still is done. It is up to every intended parent to weigh the risks of traditional surrogacy before deciding to pursue this option.

Final Thoughts

While traditional surrogacy can be considerably less expensive than other forms of surrogacy, it involves many more legal and emotional complexities that make the process much more challenging. Most intended parents today choose gestational surrogacy, using donor eggs if necessary, to simplify the process and ensure they have sole parental rights before the baby is born.

However, if you are able to find a willing traditional surrogate, as well as an agency and attorney with extensive experience completing traditional surrogacies, you may be able to successfully add to your family through traditional surrogacy.

Are you interested in learning more about surrogacy or starting the process? Complete our form to request free surrogacy information now.