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Understanding Surrogate Carriers: Assisting Parenthood through Gestational Surrogacy

August 10, 2023

Parenthood is a deeply personal and cherished experience for many individuals and couples. Some people face challenges in conceiving and carrying a pregnancy to term. Surrogate carriers, also known as gestational surrogates, offer a unique solution by carrying and nurturing a pregnancy on behalf of intended parents. In this blog, we will explore the concept of surrogate carriers.

What is a Surrogate Carrier?

Gestational surrogacy: Gestational surrogacy is when a woman, called the gestational carrier, carries a baby who is not biologically related to her. In gestational surrogacy, your embryo — formed in vitro with your eggs or with a donor’s eggs and your partner’s or a donor’s sperm — is transferred to the gestational carrier’s uterus, where it grows until the baby is ready to be born. The gestational surrogate has no genetic relationship to the child.

A couple speaking to a therapist

The Process of Gestational Surrogacy:

Gestational surrogacy involves several stages, including the selection of a surrogate carrier, medical procedures, legal agreements, and emotional support. Initially, intended parents work with a surrogacy agency or fertility clinic to find a suitable surrogate. Extensive screening processes assess the surrogate's physical health, mental well-being, and ability to commit to the process.

Choosing a relative or friend to be your surrogate mother has some benefits. You already know a lot about the woman who will be carrying your baby and likely already have a rapport with her. But you should still go through a screening process, follow all the mental health evaluation guidelines and meet all the health requirements that an agency would advise and that laws may mandate.  Once a surrogate is chosen, the intended parents and the surrogate enter into a legal agreement that outlines the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved. This agreement addresses important aspects such as compensation, medical procedures, and parental rights.

Consider:

  • A woman between ages 21 and 45 with a healthy BMI,
  • Has a healthy lifestyle (no smoking, no drugs and a willingness to abstain from alcohol during the pregnancy),
  • Is in a stable living situation, and
  • Has already given birth to at least one healthy baby.

Medical Procedures in Gestational Surrogacy:

Before the embryo transfer, both the surrogate and the intended mother (if her eggs are used) undergo medical procedures. The intended mother may undergo ovarian stimulation to produce multiple eggs, which are then retrieved and fertilized with the intended father's sperm or a donor's sperm in a laboratory setting.

Once all surrogate systems are go, the embryos are created, and one or more are transferred to the surrogate's uterus through a minimally invasive procedure called embryo transfer.  The surrogate then carries the pregnancy to term, providing a nurturing environment for the developing fetus.

Emotional Considerations and Support:

Gestational surrogacy involves complex emotional dynamics for all parties involved. The surrogate may experience a range of emotions, including the awareness of carrying a child that is not biologically hers. Open and honest communication, counseling, and ongoing support are essential for all parties to navigate the emotional aspects of the surrogate pregnancy.

A couple signing a form with pregnant woman

Legal Considerations:

Legal regulations regarding gestational surrogacy vary from state to state. It is required that intended parents and surrogates work with legal professionals experienced in reproductive law to ensure that all legal aspects are addressed, including parental rights, financial agreements, and the establishment of legal parentage.

Financial Considerations:

Surrogate mother costs vary depending on where you and the surrogate live — and choosing a friend or relative to be your surrogate can be less costly than going through an agency — but you can expect to pay anywhere between $70,000 and $150,000 (and sometimes as high as $200,000).  These costs include:

  • The price of IVF and egg donation, if needed
  • Payment to the surrogate mom, if needed
  • Agency fees
  • Legal fees
  • Medical expenses (including, possibly, health insurance)
  • Food so she can eat well while she’s expecting your baby
  • Travel costs associated with getting to and from appointments
  • Maternity clothing

Ethical Considerations:

The use of surrogate carriers raises important ethical considerations. It is crucial to prioritize the well-being and autonomy of all parties involved, including the surrogate, the intended parents, and the child. Consent, fair compensation, informed decision-making, and ongoing support should be at the forefront of the surrogacy process.

In vitro fertilization closeup of cell

Benefits and Challenges of Surrogate Carriers:

Gestational surrogacy can provide an avenue for individuals or couples who are unable to carry a pregnancy due to medical conditions, infertility, or other personal circumstances. It allows them to experience the joy of parenthood and create a genetic connection to their child. However, surrogacy also poses challenges, including the financial costs, legal complexities, emotional considerations, and the potential for unforeseen complications.

Surrogate carriers play a significant role in helping individuals and couples achieve their dream of parenthood. Through gestational surrogacy, intended parents can experience the joys and challenges of pregnancy and childbirth, even when faced with medical limitations. It is important to approach surrogacy with careful consideration of the medical, legal, emotional, financial, and ethical aspects involved. The decision to pursue gestational surrogacy should be made after thorough research, consultation with healthcare professionals, consultations with legal professionals, and an understanding of the rights and responsibilities and privileges of all parties involved.

The information is presented as a general guide to present information on understanding surrogate carriers.  It is for informational purposes only.  The information provided is not intended to be the only information available about understanding surrogate carriers. The material provided is not expected to be a substitute for advice or information from your physician or health care provider.

If you have any questions, concerns, fears, apprehensions, unease, or worry about understanding surrogate carriers health care provider immediately.

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