There are many ways to have children these days. And as technology advances, so do the options. More and more people are turning to surrogacy because it can help couples experiencing infertility issues, as well as for others who want to have biological children and are in other situations, to achieve their aim.
If you’re having health issues that prevent you from getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term, you can benefit from surrogacy.
There are two scenarios to surrogacy. Surrogacy that involves a gestational carrier carrying pregnancy for you as an individual or couple using an egg that is not the carrier is known as gestational surrogacy. The egg may come from either the intended mother or a donor. Likewise, sperm may come from the intended father or a donor. Pregnancy is achieved through in vitro fertilization (IVF).
A traditional surrogate both donates her own egg and carries a pregnancy for you either as an individual or as a couple. The pregnancy is usually achieved through intrauterine insemination (IUI) with sperm from your husband who is the intended father. Donor sperm may also be used.
Gestational carriers are more common than traditional surrogates because since a traditional surrogate donates her own egg, she is technically also the biological mother of the child. This can create complex legal and emotional issues.
You can find a friend or family member who’s willing to serve as your surrogate or you can consult with a fertility centre or surrogacy agencies to find a good match. Candidates are screened to ensure they meet the criteria that is associated with the process. Then they cross-match your own wants/needs to find the best situation for your family.
The qualifications for being a gestational surrogate involve things like age, reproductive background, lifestyle, good physical and mental health among others.
As the intended parents, you need to produce your complete health histories and physical examinations to ensure you can successfully go through with the IVF retrieval cycles and have proof of testing for certain genetic diseases that could be passed to a child. Mental health counseling is also recommended to cover things like expectations from surrogacy, addiction, abuse, and other psychological issues.
Once you’ve found a surrogate, prospects of achieving pregnancy differ depending on what type of surrogate you use. With gestational carriers, you simply choose a surrogate and create a legal contract.
Then comes the egg retrieval process (if using intended mother’s eggs) or obtaining donor eggs, creating embryos using intended father’s sperm or donor sperm. Afterwards is the transfer of embryos to the gestational carrier (surrogate) and then, if the pregnancy sticks, follow it up. . If it doesn’t work out, you and your spouse (the intended parents), and the surrogate, may pursue another IVF cycle. When the child is born, you would obtain full legal custody as outlined in the legal contract.
Traditional surrogates, on the other hand, are also donating their eggs, so IVF is usually not involved in the process. For this, you choose a surrogate, create a legal contract and have it reviewed, go through the IUI process using the intended father’s sperm or donor sperm, then follow the pregnancy or — if the first cycle doesn’t work out — try again.
When the child is born, the surrogate may need to legally terminate parental rights to the child, and the intended parents may need to complete a stepparent adoption in addition to any legal contract set up in earlier stages of the process. However, this process may be different depending on the clinic or country in which you live.
The costs associated with surrogacy also depend on the type and where you live. In general, the costs for a gestational carrier often take into account the compensation, health care costs, legal fees and other situations that may arise. Contact fertility centres where surrogacy is provided for details and full explanations on the fees.
Surrogates usually ask for compensation but there are altruistic surrogates who may be a relative or a friend. Costs may also include special circumstances, such as canceled IVF cycles among others. There are legal fees involved, from drafting and reviewing a surrogacy contract to establishing parentage and trust account management.
Costs may be lower with traditional surrogacy because there’s no IVF involved, but when the surrogate is also the biological mother, things can be particularly complicated. When planning surrogacy, everything may seem quite straightforward. However, it’s important to note that as with most things in life, issues may arise and make things tricky.
Note that IVF or IUI isn’t a guarantee of pregnancy. Sometimes these procedures don’t work on the first or even subsequent tries. You may need several cycles to achieve pregnancy, and even if pregnancy occurs, miscarriages are possible.
While surrogacy may not always be simple or straightforward, more and more people are choosing this route. It’s an involved process but certainly one worth investigating.
If surrogacy seems like it might be a fit for your family, consider contacting a fertility centre near you to go over the timeline, costs, and other considerations that may be specific to your own journey. There are many great ways to become a parent, surrogacy is certainly one of them.