All About Surrogacy

Depending upon how old you are, you might remember the plotline on Friends when Phoebe carried triplets for Monica and Chandler. Or maybe you caught 9 Months with Courtney Cox on Facebook, the second season of which featured a surrogacy story. In the event that pregnancy is not an option for you—for any number of reasons—but you’d like to have a baby, surrogacy might be a good choice.

Surrogacy, where the someone who is not the parent who will raise the child, carries the baby through pregnancy. As this blog post from The Pulse explains, there are two types of surrogates: traditional surrogates, who are also egg donors in that one of their eggs is artificially inseminated with the father’s sperm, and gestational surrogates, who carries a fertilized embryo created by the process of in vitro fertilization (IVF) to whom she is not genetically related. These days, gestational surrogacy is much more common. In this blog post, we’ll discuss surrogacy from the point of view of the intended parents and of the surrogate.

Surrogacy from the Point of View of the Intended Parents 

For many parents whose babies are born via surrogate, surrogacy is the only way they can have a child who shares a genetic relationship with them. Couples where there is an anatomical or medical issue that makes pregnancy unsafe or impossible or couples where neither partner has a uterus are good candidates to explore surrogacy. As mentioned above, it’s very likely that you’ll have a gestational carrier with an IVF conceived embryo generated from your egg and sperm or from a donor egg and sperm.

If you fall into one of these categories and would like to have a baby via surrogate, there are companies that match couples with surrogates who have been previously vetted or you can look for one on your own. Having a stranger has advantages and disadvantages, as does choosing a friend or family member as a surrogate. Regardless of who you choose, it’s important to investigate the laws of the state or country where the surrogacy agreement will be made. In order to make the surrogacy agreement, it is a good idea to engage a reproductive law attorney who is experienced in drawing up surrogacy contracts, which are essential to protect your family and your surrogate.

The other thing to mention is that enlisting the help of a surrogate is likely to be expensive. Expectant parents are expected to cover the legal costs, expenses related to psychosocial assessments, and medical costs associated with surrogacy. In some situations, surrogates are also compensated for their time and expenses, which is another thing to consider.

Becoming a Surrogate

If you are someone who has already had at least one child and is in relatively good health, surrogacy might be an option for you. It may be particularly appealing if you are someone who enjoys being pregnant, especially if you are finished having children of your own. Surrogates also are often able to connect with other surrogates, as it’s a fairly unique experience. And some surrogacy agreements are compensated, which might be a financial advantage for you.

You can sign up with any of a number of organizations that match surrogates with intended parents or be a surrogate for someone you know personally. Before you commit to surrogacy, it’s important to thoroughly consider what you are agreeing to. Surrogacy can be a more than year-long commitment, between psychological assessments and legal agreements, transferring embryos after IVF, and the time of pregnancy, birth, and recovery. Some surrogates also agree to pump breast milk for the babies they carried for some amount of time after birth.

Based on the commitment of time and emotional and physical investment, It’s not something that should be undertaken lightly. On the other hand, it can be an amazing gift to give a couple or individual who otherwise couldn’t have a baby who is genetically related to them.

If you’re open to it and are serving as a surrogate for someone who lives close by, it’s likely that you can be supported throughout your pregnancy by the intended parent or parents. The relationship that you make with your surrogacy family can be important and lasting for all of you.

Abby Olena
Dr. Abby Olena has a PhD in Biological Sciences from Vanderbilt University. She lives with her husband and children in North Carolina, where she writes about science and parenting, produces a conversational podcast, and teaches prenatal yoga.

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