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Surrogacy & Gestational Care
Surrogacy or gestational care is a family building option for those who want a child with genetic ties and have not had success with other “first-line” assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatments. Surrogacy, in which a woman carries and gives birth to another woman’s baby, has a long history, dating back as far as the Old Testament story of Sarah and Hagar.
Traditional and Gestational
Two types of surrogacy - traditional and gestational - are practiced today. In traditional surrogacy, a woman called a “surrogate mother” carries an embryo conceived with her own egg and the sperm of a male who, with his partner, wants a baby. In gestational surrogacy, the surrogate, called a gestational carrier, gives birth to a baby conceived with an egg and sperm of a couple or a donor egg or sperm. The majority of surrogates today are gestational carriers.
Traditional surrogacy can be done via intrauterine insemination IUI or in vitro fertilization (IVF). With gestational surrogacy IVF is used to fertilize the eggs in a laboratory. If the fertilization is successful, a doctor transfers some or all of the resulting embryos (often 2 or 3) into to the surrogate’s uterus. If all goes well, the surrogate/gestational carrier delivers the baby and immediately relinquishes him/her to the parent(s).
IVF, which came into practice in 1978, transformed surrogacy into a popular practice today.
Who Uses Surrogacy?
Candidates for surrogacy are:
- Couples and single women who have had multiple miscarriages, or difficulty conceiving and/or carrying a fetus to term. Surrogacy enables them to have a child genetically related to one or both.
- Gay male couples who want a child with a genetic connection to one partner.
- Couples or single women in which the woman has no uterus or a congenital anomaly of her uterus but has intact ovaries.
What to Consider
Surrogacy involves many legal, ethical and financial considerations. Usually potential parents pay the surrogate a fee for carrying the child, along with her medical expenses. Costs can start at $20,000 or more, up to $120,000. Legal contracts are required before the process begins to protect the rights and responsibilities of the parents, surrogate, and intended child. Both the third party and intended parents should have separate legal counsel.
Finding a Surrogate
Most people locate gestational carriers/surrogates through fertility clinics, websites, lawyers, and private agencies. Most agencies require that potential surrogates already have had a child/children of their own, are healthy medically and emotionally, and are not motivated solely by financially considerations.