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Surrogacy can be a little confusing at times. There are so many terms and concepts that may be foreign to intended parents or surrogates. 

Plus, there are different kinds of surrogacy, which can further complicate your understanding of the process. Are you asking yourself if the surrogate mother shares any DNA with the baby? Is it unclear if they’re genetically related? 

In this article we’ll go over everything you need to know!   

How Does DNA Work? 

DNA (officially known as deoxyribonucleic acid) is the large, complex molecule that stores all of our genetic information and is responsible for the development and function of a human being. It’s kind of like a chemical blueprint – it determines our physical traits and appearance, including everything from height to eye color. When combined with environmental factors, it also influences the development of characteristics like personality type or intelligence level. 

Each baby’s DNA is made up of equal parts of DNA from the biological mother’s egg and the biological father’s sperm. It’s created during the initial fusion of the egg and sperm, a process that’s otherwise known as fertilization. This fertilization creates an embryo, and this embryo has the baby’s genetic information in the form of DNA.  

After this point, the DNA copies itself in each one of the baby’s cells – this means that no DNA is ever contributed to the baby after the initial fertilization. Additionally, DNA allows genetic information to be passed from one generation to the next, which is why you’ll see characteristics from both the biological mother and biological father in the baby as they grow older.

Is The Surrogate Genetically Related To The Baby? 

It depends on the type of surrogacy that’s being used. Remember, there are two basic kinds: traditional surrogacy versus gestational surrogacy

Let’s take a look at each and break them down to answer the question: 

  • Traditional surrogacy. With this type of surrogacy, the baby is genetically related to the surrogate mother. This is because the surrogate’s actual egg is being fertilized with the sperm from the intended father or a sperm donor.
  • Gestational surrogacy. Here, the baby is not related to the surrogate mother. This is because the embryo is created from an egg from the intended mother or donor plus the sperm from the intended father or sperm donor. 

 

It’s important to note that gestational surrogacy has become far more common than traditional surrogacy. It’s just psychologically and legally easier for the surrogate mother to not be genetically related to the baby. There’s also a much lower chance of the surrogate getting emotionally attached to the unborn child, which could complicate the entire surrogacy process

As a result, the vast majority of surrogacy agencies in this day and age only work with gestational surrogacy. 

Who Does The Baby Get Their DNA From? 

newborn surrogate baby

As we mentioned above, a baby’s DNA comes from the egg of the biological mother and the sperm of the biological father. In this context, a biological parent is the one who simply contributes their genetic material to create the child’s DNA. 

In conventional conception, this would simply be the child’s mother and father. However, surrogacy is different – it’s an alternative form of family building. That being said, let’s take a look at the potential sources of the baby’s DNA. 

First of all, the sperm can come from either the intended father or a sperm donor. This sperm is used to fertilize the egg, which can come from one of three sources: 

  • The intended mother. This means that the intended mother combines her own eggs with the sperm to create a viable embryo that is then transferred to the surrogate. 
  • An egg donor. This means that a third-party donates her eggs to be fertilized with the sperm. This is common if the intended mother has fertility issues or is too old to produce viable, healthy eggs.
  • The surrogate mother (if it is a non gestational surrogacy). This means that the surrogate’s own eggs are combined with the sperm. Remember, this is traditional surrogacy and is rarely used anymore.     

 

During surrogacy, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is the process of combining sperm and eggs in a laboratory setting to create a viable embryo. This embryo is then implanted into the gestational surrogate via a process known as embryo transfer. If this embryo transfer is successful, then the surrogate is officially pregnant and can then carry the fetus to term! 

Remember, no additional DNA is contributed to the baby after the fertilization, so this logically means that none of the gestational surrogate’s DNA is contributed to the baby’s DNA

Can The Surrogate Mother Pass DNA To The Child During The Pregnancy? 

cheerful pregnant woman

No, if the surrogate does not donate her own egg, then there is no DNA transmission from the surrogate to the baby. Remember, this is only the case if gestational surrogacy is used – traditional surrogacy is different since the surrogate’s eggs are used. 

The gestational surrogate does not transmit any of her own DNA to the child because of one important anatomical structure: the placenta. It acts as a barrier between the gestational surrogate and the unborn child. 

The placenta is an organ that develops in the surrogate’s uterus during the pregnancy process. Not only is it an effective DNA barrier, but it provides oxygen and nutrients to the growing baby while removing harmful waste from the baby’s blood via the umbilical cord. It attaches to the wall of the uterus and encases the baby, keeping it safe and protected.

This is why it’s so important to screen the gestational surrogates and make sure that they meet all the necessary requirements for surrogacy. To ensure a safe and successful pregnancy, the gestational surrogate must be healthy and capable of carrying a baby to term. 

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Will The Baby Look Like The Surrogate?

No, but only if gestational surrogacy is used. This means that the surrogate mother does not contribute her own egg to be fertilized by the sperm. 

As we mentioned above, physical characteristics are passed down from generation to generation via DNA. Each baby’s genetic profile is a combination of DNA from the egg and the sperm. After fertilization occurs, an embryo is created that has its own unique DNA sequence, separate from the genetic information in the egg and sperm. 

If the intended mother contributes her own egg, then the baby will look like her. If the egg is donated, then the baby will have some physical characteristics of the egg donor. Of course, there will be some physical characteristics that come from the DNA in the sperm, whether it’s given by the intended father or a sperm donor.

For most intended parents, having the baby look like them can be a wonderful experience. However, if the baby doesn’t have any DNA from either the intended mother or the intended father, it still won’t dampen their love for their newborn miracle. At the end of the day, holding the tiny infant in their arms and bringing them home will make it feel like it was always meant to be and that this baby is perfect for them!

Finding the right surrogacy agency is a crucial part of this family-building journey. Surrogacy By Faith is a California-based agency that works with surrogates and intended parents from all over the country. We take the time and effort to match hopeful parents with highly-qualified and experienced surrogates, resulting in a harmonious relationship and a successful pregnancy. 

If you’re interested in working with us, fill out our inquiry forms for Intended Parents or Surrogates right away!