How Does Surrogacy Work and What It Entails?
Whether you are an Intended Parent trying to start and grow your family through the surrogacy process or a compassionate woman wondering how to become a Surrogate Mother, it is obvious that you have many questions regarding how does surrogacy work.
According to Marie Claire’s survey, 23% of today’s women would opt for surrogacy if natural pregnancy is not possible.
With the above statistics, it is safe to say that surrogacy is becoming a popular option among Intended Parents today. Much of its fame is owed to celebrities who have embraced this process to have children. The most notable example is Kim Kardashian who relied on surrogacy to have her daughter Chicago.
With that said, let’s see how the surrogacy process works and what are procedures followed.Schedule A Consultation
What is surrogacy? And who is a Surrogate?
The word “Surrogate” literally means a person who acts as a substitute in another person’s absence.
In medical science, Surrogacy is an arrangement where a woman carries another woman/ person/ couple’s baby to term. The woman who carries and delivers the baby is known as the Surrogate Mother or Gestational Carrier.
Who requires surrogacy?
Surrogacy can be used for a number of cases where assisted reproductive technology is required, such as:
- people struggling with infertility
- same-sex couple
- single parents
- women past the reproductive age
- hopeful parents want to have genetic bond to the baby, which is not offered in adoption
- women experiencing recurrent miscarriages
- women who have undergone hysterectomy or cancer treatment and is unable to safely carry a pregnancy to term
Types of surrogacy
In traditional surrogacy, the Surrogate Mother’s eggs are inseminated using either the intended father’s sperm or by using sperm from a donor. This ancient method is now very controversial. It raises many legal issues because the baby is genetically related to the Surrogate. As a result, it is now illegal in many states, while several others are in the process of banning it.
In gestational surrogacy, the child is not biologically related to the Surrogate Mother as her eggs are not used in the process. 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’s womb where the baby gestates.
Gestational surrogacy – a closer look
In gestational surrogacy, the Gestational Carrier may either carry an embryo created using donated eggs and/or sperm or Intended Parents’ own egg and sperm. It depends on the family preferences and the fertility issues they are facing.
“Surrogate” is more or less, an older term for such arrangements. “Gestational Carrier” is a preferred term since the word “Surrogate” implies that there’s a genetic link between the woman and the baby that she’s carrying. This actually happens in the case of traditional surrogacy.
For a couple with no experience and knowledge in this procedure, the very thought of considering surrogacy can be quite daunting. Therefore, experts advise that they visit a fertility clinic or a surrogacy agency.
Gestational surrogacy is sometimes also called “host surrogacy” or “full surrogacy.” In most cases, at least one Intended Parent is genetically related to the child. As the Surrogate Mother is not genetically related to the baby, gestational surrogacy is less legally complicated.
How does surrogacy work – steps and procedures
Finding a Surrogate
The first step is to find a Surrogate Mother who aligns with your preferences and parenthood goals. It is best to go through a surrogacy agency in order to ensure a safe and streamlined surrogacy process as the agency has the ability, outreach, and expertise to screen and match Surrogates with Intended Parents.
At Physician’s Surrogacy, finding the perfect Surrogate typically involves the following steps:
1. Preliminary requirements for the applicant
- Are at least 21 years old
- Have already given birth to at least one healthy baby
- A US citizen and resident of a surrogacy friendly state
- BMI in range of 25 – 33
We also confirm that she has had no complications during her last pregnancy
2. Surrogate Screening
Our surrogacy agency thoroughly checks the background of the prospective Gestational Carriers and performs stringent screening.
The screening includes:
- criminal record
- history of drug abuse
- previous pregnancy complications, etc.
Moreover, it will ensure that they live in a healthy and stable environment.
3. Medical Screening of the Intended Parent
The Intended Parents also need to undergo medical testing according to the guidelines of the FDA. A blood sample of both parents and a semen sample from the male partner is tested. In addition, a hormone evaluation of the female partner might be necessary.
In case the parents already have a frozen embryo ready, extensive testing won’t be needed.
After a match is found between a Surrogate Mother and the Intended Parents, fertility experts will re-evaluate the Surrogate to ensure she’s ready psychologically and medically to carry a pregnancy to full term.
The parents can choose to meet her to decide if they would like to move forward in the process.
The Gestational Carrier and Intended Parents will agree on a binding contract. The contract will determine the terms of medical care for surrogacy throughout the pregnancy along with surrogate insurance costs.
- This contract will state that the Surrogate has no legal right over the baby.
- The contract also mentions that the Surrogate Mother will get a certain amount of compensation for her services as per the base compensation determined by the agency.
The process of trying to conceive gets underway if the paperwork is complete, and all the medical clearances have been made.
The medical procedure of gestational surrogacy
1. Cycle synchronization:
The path to conception begins when the fertility experts place the Gestational Carrier on hormonal treatment medications. The Surrogate and the intended mother’s cycles are synchronized to ensure that the carrier’s uterus is prepared to receive the embryos at the proper time.
2. Ovarian stimulation and preparation of the uterus:
The Intended Mother begins the hormone therapy to stimulate multiple egg production while the carrier begins her medication and hormonal injections to prepare the lining of her (endometrium) in preparation for embryo transfer.
This is where the Surrogate starts receiving her compensation.
3. Egg retrieval and fertilization:
Then the eggs from the intended mother are harvested and fertilized in a laboratory and the blastocyst is created.
- embryo transfer
The resulting embryos are placed into the uterus of the carrier (embryo transfer).
- Pregnancy test:
Two weeks after the embryo transfer, a blood pregnancy test is performed to confirm the pregnancy.
- Pregnancy follow-up and monitoring:
The case manager will routinely follow up with the Surrogate throughout the pregnancy to check on her physical and emotional health. The weekly reports and status are shared with the Intended Parents and the fertility clinic.
There is no fixed price for the surrogacy process using a Gestational Surrogate and thus we can not pinpoint an actual surrogacy cost until the process is over. However, Intended Parents can expect a price range of anywhere between $65,000 to $150,000 including Surrogate compensation and the agency fees.
The cost structure may vary from case to case as it includes different types of fees paid to the agency. These fees can consist of the money paid to the Surrogate herself, travel costs, payment for fertility medications, and medical procedures associated with fertilization, egg retrieval, and embryo transfer. All of these vary depending on where you choose to get your services from.
The compensation received by Surrogate moms usually covers health-related expenses and an extra fee that has nothing to do with medical expenditures.
We hope the above break-down analysis helped you get a thorough knowledge about the gestational surrogacy process and how does it work.
Have more questions about the surrogacy process, how it works, and Surrogates Mothers? We are here to explain the process in detail.Schedule A Consultation