Surrogacy 101

What You Need to Know About This Growing Reproduction Option

Whether you are interested in hiring a surrogate or becoming one, this opportunity to help families grow is increasing in popularity across the United States. At the most basic definition, surrogacy is when a woman carries and delivers a baby for another couple. However, that really is an oversimplification of multiple vast and rewarding reproductive options.

If you are on this page it means you have been drawn to surrogacy for one reason or another. Maybe you and your partner have struggled to conceive by traditional means but want to experience the pregnancy journey and have a biological baby. Perhaps you are on the other end and want to help another couple grow and build a loving family. Either way you have questions, and we’re here to provide you with some basic answers.

What is surrogacy?

Surrogacy, a type of reproduction option rapidly growing in the United States, helps intended parents start or add to their families. The rates of surrogacy have skyrocketed in the last few decades, increasing by 89 percent from 2004 to 2008. A surrogate mother is implanted with a fertilized embryo and then carries and delivers a baby for the intended parents. The surrogate waives all legal rights for the baby and has no legal claim as a parent.

Is the baby biologically mine or the surrogate’s?

For many heterosexual couples, the egg from a female parent and the sperm from the male parent are fertilized in a lab and then implanted in a surrogate mother who carries and delivers the baby. In this situation, the baby is 100 percent biologically the intended parents. If the carrier is a gestational surrogate, then her egg is the one used and therefore she is the biological mother of the child. For singles or same-sex couples, an egg or sperm donor will be needed in order to fertilize the embryo. It’s uncommon for the surrogate to provide the egg. In some cases, for both heterosexual and same-sex parents, egg donors and sperm donors may be needed in addition to the surrogate.

What is an egg donor and how do I become one?

Donating eggs for surrogacy can help make a dream come true for many intended parents. An egg donation is a way for intended parents to have assistance in how they build their family, and for an egg donor to help families grow while being financially compensated. There are many different kinds of egg donation situations, such as known (where the donor and intended parents interact with each other), semi-known (where some information is shared through a third party) and anonymous (where the intended parents and egg donor have no knowledge of each other). To become an egg donor, you must meet certain requirements for age, weight, education, family health history and more.

What kinds of interactions will I have with my family’s surrogate?

Working with a surrogate mother is a process that starts before conception and, in some cases, can extend beyond a baby’s birth. Many parents and surrogates develop a bond and deep friendships during the surrogacy process, often choosing to stay in each other’s lives. Others, while grateful for the experience, prefer to move on. When intended parents work with a gestational surrogate, one who is biologically related to the child, they often want to maintain a relationship for the emotional and physical well-being of their child. However, as the intended parent, you have the legal right to your child and the ability to decide what kind of relationship to have with the surrogate before, during and after the pregnancy.

Different surrogacy agencies will offer various packages catered to the kind of experience you want, from very basic interactions to a concierge experience. Your desires and goals, along with your budget, can help inform the kind of relationship you and your family have with the surrogate.

Surrogacy is a beneficial experience for everyone involved, from intended parents and surrogates to egg and sperm donors. Understanding what you can expect from the experience is instrumental in making sure everyone feel respected and elated for the journey ahead.

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