Welcoming a child into the world is something many of us hope and dream about. However, there may be various reasons why intended parents turn to surrogacy to make this dream a reality.
Surrogacy refers to an arrangement, usually accompanied by a legally binding agreement, in which a woman (the surrogate or carrier) agrees to carry a child for an intended parent. Once the surrogate mother gives birth, the intended parents will welcome the child as their own. Now let’s go over the two types of surrogacy: traditional and gestational.
What’s The Difference Between Gestational and Traditional Surrogacy?
Both traditional and gestational surrogacy are viable forms of building a family. However, due to a variety of factors, gestational surrogacy has become much more common and the preferred method for family building via surrogacy.
Also known as straight surrogacy, this is when the surrogate/carrier does the following:
- Donates their egg (also known as a donor egg).
- Carries the pregnancy to its full term.
As a result, the child is genetically related to the surrogate. As a procedure, this is achieved by using intrauterine insemination (IUI) from the intended father or from another donor. This process of insemination results in the surrogate having her egg (remember that she donates the egg as well) fertilized and a pregnancy developing.
Since the surrogate both donates the egg and carries the pregnancy, traditional surrogacy is usually the best choice for:
- Intended mothers who cannot produce healthy, viable eggs.
- Single men who can either donate their sperm via IUI or use a sperm donor if they have fertility issues.
- Same sex male couples – either male can donate sperm or they can both donate sperm via IUI
Because of the genetic connection between surrogate and child, traditional surrogacy is much more complicated legally. Additionally, there is always the risk of the surrogate becoming emotionally attached to the unborn child, further complicating the entire process.
The other option is gestational surrogacy, in which the surrogate does not donate her egg. Unlike traditional surrogacy, the surrogate has no genetic link to the child. Instead, the intended mother’s eggs (donor eggs) will be fertilized via in vitro fertilization (IVF) and then – upon successful fertilization – the embryo will be transferred to the uterus of the surrogate/carrier.
Gestational surrogacy has become much more common, with most surrogacy agencies only offering this form of family building. This is largely due to its significant benefits, including:
- Intended parents will have a genetic link to the child.
- Legal issues and parentage are much less complicated.
- Surrogates/carriers find it easier since they won’t have a genetic link to the child.
- Traditional surrogacy is not legal in all 50 states.
As a result, Surrogacy By Faith only offers gestational surrogacy for intended parents. On the other hand, the greater number of medical procedures make this form of surrogacy more expensive than traditional surrogacy.
Additionally, it’s a complex process with a lot of moving parts. For instance, the basic steps of gestational surrogacy are:
- Match the surrogate/carrier to intended parent(s).
- Have the carrier undergo medical evaluation and clearance by physician.
- Choose a fertility clinic and determine if donated embryos are used or if intended parents’ genetic material will be used.
- Determine compensation for the surrogate/carrier, review her potential expenses, and check her insurance coverage.
- Sign a surrogacy contract that’s been drafted by an attorney.
- Send legal clearance to the fertility clinic and have the surrogate/carrier undergo IVF.
- Attend pre-birth or post-birth court hearing and obtain parentage order and birth certificate with intended parents listed.
- Welcome the baby!
As you can see, there’s a lot that must be done! Between the medical procedures and legal issues, it can be easy to get overwhelmed or even miss a crucial step. That’s why intended parents use a surrogacy agency like Surrogacy By Faith to guide them through the process, including matching them with the perfect surrogate/carrier and handling all medical/legal issues. This is especially helpful since surrogacy laws are so complicated and vary widely from state to state.
How To Choose Between A Traditional and Gestational Surrogacy?
For intended parents, there are various reasons for choosing either traditional or gestational surrogacy. Let’s go over each of the main issues and break them down, step by step.
Your Goals As Intended Parents
Deciding on traditional or gestational surrogacy will depend on your goals as intended parents and the reasons for why you’re using surrogacy to build a family. Remember, each surrogacy journey is different, and what works for one intended parent may not work for others.
There are a number of reasons why intended parents choose this model for family building. For instance, intended parents who use the surrogacy model include:
- Couples who have struggled with infertility and conceiving naturally.
- Intended mothers who are – for health reasons – unable to carry a child.
- Intended parents who do not want to pass a health condition or genetic defect to their biological children.
- Same sex intended parents or a single male who want to be genetically related to the baby.
With any type of surrogacy, the genetic link with the child is incredibly important to intended parents. That is why they choose surrogacy rather than adoption.
The Cost of Surrogacy
Both traditional and gestational surrogacy are medical and legal procedures that require a variety of costs. It may seem like a lot, but for many intended parents the idea of building a family is priceless.
While it’s difficult to place an exact dollar amount, you can expect to pay anywhere from $70,000 to $130,000 in total. This will vary from situation to situation, including whether it’s a traditional surrogacy or a gestational surrogacy. Keep in mind that traditional surrogacy is almost always cheaper because there’s no in vitro fertilization (IVF) involved – this medical procedure can increase the overall price considerably. It also depends on the surrogacy agency you decide to go with and the state laws where you are located.
Compensation for the surrogate/carrier is usually the largest expense for intended parents. Pregnancy can be hard on anyone, and surrogates tend to be selfless women who effectively alter their entire lives to help intended parents build the families of their dreams. In the past, surrogates have been exploited by being underpaid, so the current industry standard is to pay the surrogate anywhere from $50,000 to $60,000.
This base compensation depends on a number of factors, including the surrogate’s experience, her insurance coverage, and the course of the pregnancy. For instance, if a twin pregnancy develops, the surrogate will be compensated more. Additionally, any complications, like an ectopic pregnancy or a caesarean section (C-section) also result in higher compensation.
In addition to this base compensation, a monthly allowance is usually provided and all of the surrogate’s legal, medical, counseling, and travel expenses must be covered. In some cases, the intended parents will need to also cover the surrogate’s lost wages.
As with any pregnancy, there are some risks to the surrogate/carrier. These are the same as any other pregnancy, including mild side effects like morning sickness, discomfort, water retention, swelling, and soreness. Plus, some of the surrogacy medications can cause minor side effects.
However, there are more serious potential complications, including:
- Gestational diabetes
- Damage to kidneys or liver due to hypertension (preeclampsia)
- Damage to reproductive organs
- Preterm labor
- High blood pressure
- Iron deficiency (anemia)
- Miscarriage (loss of pregnancy)
These can all be managed or minimized by providing the surrogate/carrier with medical care from a certified OB/GYN physician. Additionally, some surrogates also like to have a doula on hand to avoid other potential complications.
Pregnancy and birth are not the only parts of the process with potential complications. In vitro fertilization (IVF) also carries some inherent risk, including slight bleeding and cramping as well as – in rare cases – infection.
Family building and pregnancy is a complicated process with lots of emotions and complex dynamics. Even in the best of scenarios, emotional difficulties might occur.
Surrogacy isn’t just a medical procedure – it’s a personal journey that ends with a new family made whole. However, there are some potential emotional risks for the surrogate/carrier, including:
- Postpartum depression
- Emotional attachment to the fetus resulting in feelings of loss following the birth
- Tension with other family members, including intended parents or the surrogate/carrier’s partner/spouse
- Differing views on how best to carry out the pregnancy
If necessary, counseling can be provided during the surrogacy process, although all expenses will be covered by the intended parents. Additionally, interpersonal tension can be diminished or controlled by matching up surrogates with compatible intended parents.
With Surrogacy By Faith, the decision to work with intended parents – both individuals and couples – is always mutually agreed upon. We take this process very seriously, providing profiles to each party so that they can be matched with the right surrogate/intended parent.
This is a complicated area in surrogacy, so it may require some extensive consideration from the intended parents. It’s important to know that there are no federal laws that deal with surrogacy – only state laws cover surrogacy cases. As a result, the laws can vary from to state, sometimes considerably.
However, it’s important to point out that if you’re an intended parent, you can become a parent no matter what state you live in. It’s the laws in the state where your surrogate lives that matter – those are the ones that apply to the case.
Currently, most US states recognize gestational surrogacy, even though most of them regulate it to some degree. These regulations can vary from highly “surrogacy-friendly” to complex and convoluted. In a handful of states, surrogacy contracts are actually “illegal” – in other words, they’re unenforceable and cannot be legally binding.
Since the legality of commercial surrogacy is so complicated due to various state laws, working with a surrogacy agency can help you clear these potential legal hurdles.
From a legal standpoint, traditional surrogacy is far riskier for the intended parents. This is because the surrogate gives birth to the baby and is genetically related to him or her. As a result, if she changes her mind – regardless of what contracts have been signed beforehand – the situation can become massively complicated. This is one of the prime reasons why gestational surrogacy has become the preferred method.
Finally, because there are no federal laws regarding surrogacy, legal fees will vary from state to state and depend on the type of surrogacy (traditional versus gestational). Here are just a few of the basic expenses you can expect to encounter:
- Drafting a surrogacy contract ($2,500)
- Reviewing a surrogacy contract ($1,000)
- Establishing parentage ($5,000 to $7,000)
- Trust account management ($1,000 to $1,500)
There are lawyers who specialize in all the necessary paperwork and procedures, usually known as reproductive lawyers or fertility/surrogacy attorneys.
Questions To Ask Yourself About What Type of Surrogacy To Choose
Deciding between traditional and gestational surrogacy can be challenging since each has their pros and cons. However, given that gestational surrogacy is legally and emotionally less complicated than traditional surrogacy (although it’s medically more complicated), it’s become the preferred form of family building.
Still, if you or your partner are weighing your options, you can ask yourself the following questions to see which form is better for you:
- Can my partner or I donate an egg to the surrogate?
- Do I want the surrogate/carrier to be genetically related to my child?
- What kind of relationship do I want with the surrogate/carrier?
- Can I afford the additional costs of gestational surgery?
- Is traditional surrogacy allowed in my state?
Finding A Gestational Surrogate With Surrogacy By Faith
Family building via surrogacy can be a challenging process – that’s why Surrogacy By Faith is here to help you. We are a Christian surrogacy agency, although you don’t have to be Christian to join us!
Because of our faith, our Christian values drive everything that we do. The surrogate/intended parent relationship is extremely important to us – we want it to be human rather than “transactional” or commercial. Additionally, our surrogates are motivated by family values and a desire to help intended parents build their perfect families, not just money. The agency and our surrogates are here to help you.
We also take the time to build our relationship with the surrogate, so she feels supported and heard every step of the way. Pregnancy can be a stressful or draining journey, so we do everything we can to make it easier.