General FAQ

Surrogacy is a reproductive option where a woman carries and gives birth to a baby for another individual or couple, typically due to infertility or medical conditions.

Surrogacy is an arrangement where a woman, the surrogate, agrees to carry and give birth to a child for another person or couple, known as the intended parents. The process involves either traditional surrogacy, where the surrogate’s egg is fertilized with the intended father’s or a donor’s sperm, making her the biological mother, or gestational surrogacy, where an embryo created via in vitro fertilization (IVF) using the egg and sperm of the intended parents or donors is implanted in the surrogate’s uterus, meaning she has no genetic link to the child. Surrogacy allows individuals and couples to become parents when they otherwise could not be due to health, infertility, or other reasons.

There are two main kinds of surrogacy: Traditional and Gestational.

Surrogacy can be classified into two main types based on the genetic relationship between the surrogate and the child she carries:

Traditional Surrogacy:

  • In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate is also the biological mother of the child. Her own eggs are used in the process, making her genetically related to the baby.
  • Fertilization usually occurs through artificial insemination using the sperm of the intended father or a sperm donor.
  • This type of surrogacy is less common today because it presents more complex emotional and legal challenges due to the genetic link between the surrogate and the child.

Gestational Surrogacy:

  • Gestational surrogacy involves the surrogate (also called a gestational carrier) carrying a pregnancy but having no genetic link to the child. The embryo implanted in her uterus is created using an egg and sperm from the intended parents or donors (this could involve donor eggs, donor sperm, or both).
  • The process involves in vitro fertilization (IVF) to create an embryo that is then transferred to the surrogate’s uterus.
  • Gestational surrogacy is the more common form of surrogacy today as it avoids the legal and emotional issues associated with the surrogate being genetically related to the child.

Both types of surrogacy require careful legal arrangements to define the responsibilities, rights, and expectations of all parties involved. These arrangements help to ensure that the process is conducted ethically and legally, protecting the rights of the surrogate, the intended parents, and the child. 

A surrogate is a person who carries and delivers a child for someone else.

A surrogate is a woman who agrees to carry and deliver a child for another person or couple, known as the intended parents. The surrogate can be involved in one of two types of surrogacy:

Traditional Surrogacy:

  • In this arrangement, the surrogate is also the biological mother of the child. Her own eggs are fertilized using artificial insemination with the sperm of the intended father or a sperm donor. Traditional surrogacy is less common today due to the emotional and legal complexities that arise from the surrogate’s biological connection to the child.

Gestational Surrogacy:

  • More commonly used today, gestational surrogacy involves the surrogate having no genetic link to the child. An embryo created via in vitro fertilization (IVF), using the egg and sperm of the intended parents or donors, is implanted in the surrogate’s uterus. The surrogate then carries the pregnancy to term but is not biologically related to the child.

Surrogate undergo a comprehensive screening process, which often includes medical examinations, psychological evaluations, and legal counseling to ensure they understand the terms of the surrogacy agreement. This agreement outlines their compensation, the medical care they will receive, and the legal obligations related to the transfer of the baby to the intended parents after birth.

The reasons for choosing surrogacy can vary, but often involve situations where the intended parents cannot conceive or carry a pregnancy themselves due to medical reasons, are a same-sex couple, or are single individuals wanting to have children. The use of a surrogate can be a deeply rewarding experience for all parties involved, but it requires careful consideration of the emotional, ethical, and legal issues associated with surrogacy.

Surrogacy involves an agreement where a surrogate carries a child to term for intended parents. The process typically involves in vitro fertilization (IVF), where the embryo is created in a lab and then implanted into the surrogate’s uterus.

In medical terms, surrogacy is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedure in which a woman (the surrogate) agrees to carry and deliver a child on behalf of another individual or couple (the intended parent[s]). The surrogate may become pregnant through artificial insemination, using the intended father’s or a donor’s sperm (traditional surrogacy), or through in vitro fertilization (IVF), where an embryo created using the egg and sperm of the intended parents or donors is implanted into her uterus (gestational surrogacy). Gestational surrogacy, where the surrogate has no genetic link to the child, is the most common and medically advanced form of surrogacy.

Couples or individuals facing infertility issues, same-sex couples, individuals with medical conditions preventing pregnancy, or those seeking genetic connections to their child may consider surrogacy. 

Surrogacy can be considered by a wide range of individuals and couples for various reasons, including:

  • Couples facing infertility: Those who have struggled with infertility and have perhaps tried other fertility treatments without success might consider surrogacy as a way to have a biological child.
  • Single individuals: Single men and women who wish to have a child but do not have a partner may choose surrogacy to become parents.
  • Same-sex couples: Male couples, and sometimes female couples who face specific health or fertility issues, may opt for surrogacy to have a child that is biologically related to one of the partners.
  • Women with medical issues: Women who have medical conditions that make pregnancy risky or impossible, such as severe heart problems, kidney disease, or who have had a hysterectomy, may consider surrogacy to have a child.
  • People who have had multiple miscarriages: Couples or individuals who have experienced multiple miscarriages and the emotional and physical toll that comes with them may see surrogacy as a safer route to parenthood.
  • Older parents: Older individuals or couples who decide to have children later in life and may face increased fertility challenges or health risks associated with pregnancy may look into surrogacy.

Surrogacy laws vary by country and state. In some regions, surrogacy is fully legal, while in others, certain restrictions or regulations may apply.  

The legality of surrogacy varies significantly around the world and even within countries, often depending on the type of surrogacy (gestational or traditional) and the arrangement specifics. Some countries and states have specific laws that allow, regulate, or prohibit surrogacy:

  • Legal and regulated: In some jurisdictions, surrogacy is legal but subject to strict regulations. These laws might dictate who can use surrogacy services, the legal relationship between the intended parents and the surrogate, and the compensation for the surrogate.
  • Legal with restrictions: Certain places allow surrogacy but place restrictions on aspects of the process, such as banning commercial surrogacy (where the surrogate receives payment beyond medical and other reasonable expenses) while allowing altruistic surrogacy (where the surrogate is not paid).
  • Illegal: In other jurisdictions, all forms of surrogacy are illegal, and engaging in surrogacy arrangements can result in legal penalties for the parties involved.
  • No specific laws: There are also countries and states where there are no specific laws regarding surrogacy. In these places, the legal status of surrogacy can be ambiguous, which might lead to complex legal challenges, especially concerning the parental rights over the child born through surrogacy.

Risks of surrogacy may include medical complications, legal challenges, and emotional stress. Benefits may include the fulfillment of parenthood dreams, genetic connection to the child, and the opportunity to help others. 

Surrogacy, like any significant medical or emotional journey, comes with its own set of risks and benefits for both the surrogate and the intended parents. Here’s a breakdown:

For the Surrogate
Risks:

  • Medical Risks: Similar to any pregnancy, surrogacy carries risks such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and complications during delivery.
  • Emotional Risks: Surrogates may experience emotional challenges, including attachment to the child, stress from the surrogacy process, or difficulties in their personal relationships due to the surrogacy.

Benefits:

  • Emotional Rewards: Many surrogates feel a deep sense of satisfaction and joy from helping others create or grow their families.
  • Compensation: In cases of commercial surrogacy, surrogates are compensated, which can be significant financial support for the surrogate and her family.

 

For the Intended Parents

Risks:

  • Legal and Financial Risks: Surrogacy arrangements can be legally complex and costly, involving legal fees, agency fees, and medical expenses.
  • Emotional and Social Risks: Intended parents may face emotional stress due to potential complications in the surrogacy process, relationship dynamics with the surrogate, and societal stigma or misunderstanding about surrogacy.

Benefits:

  • Parenthood: Surrogacy offers a path to parenthood for individuals and couples who are unable to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term, including those with infertility issues, same-sex couples, and single parents.
  • Genetic Connection: Through gestational surrogacy, at least one parent can maintain a genetic link to their child, which is important for many families.
  • Control and Involvement: Surrogacy often allows for greater involvement in the pregnancy process than adoption, such as being present at the birth and making decisions about prenatal care.

The surrogacy process can vary in duration based on several factors and typically ranges from about 18 months to 2 years. 

The surrogacy process can vary in duration based on several factors, including the type of surrogacy chosen, the legal requirements, and the medical procedures involved. Here’s a general timeline of the surrogacy process:

1. Initial Consultation and Matching (1-6 months):

  • Consultation: Intended parents and surrogates begin by consulting with surrogacy agencies, attorneys, or fertility clinics to understand the process, expectations, and legal requirements.
  • Matching: The time to find a suitable surrogate can vary. Agencies help match surrogates with intended parents based on compatibility, legal requirements, and mutual expectations.

2. Screening and Legal Agreements (1-3 months):

  • Screening: Once a potential surrogate is identified, she undergoes medical and psychological screenings to ensure she is fit for surrogacy.
  • Legal Process: Simultaneously, legal contracts are drafted and reviewed by attorneys representing both parties to ensure that all legal aspects are covered, including compensation, parental rights, and procedures for various potential outcomes.

3. Medical Procedures (several months to over a year):

  • Medical Preparation: The surrogate undergoes several medical procedures to prepare her body for pregnancy, including hormone treatments and other fertility-related medications.
  • Embryo Transfer: In gestational surrogacy, an embryo created via IVF (using the intended parents’ or donors’ sperm and eggs) is transferred into the surrogate’s uterus.
  • Attempts: It may take several attempts for a successful pregnancy to occur, each cycle taking about a month or two.

4. Pregnancy (about 9 months):

  • Once a successful pregnancy is confirmed, regular medical appointments monitor the health of the surrogate and the fetus. This period lasts for the typical duration of a pregnancy.

5. Birth and Post-Birth (1-2 months):

  • The birth itself marks the culmination of the pregnancy phase. After birth, there may be additional legal and administrative steps to ensure the intended parents are recognized legally as the child’s parents.
  • Post-birth, there might be additional follow-ups for the surrogate to ensure her health and well-being as she recovers from childbirth.

Overall, the entire surrogacy process typically ranges from about 18 months to 2 years from start to finish, though this can vary significantly based on individual circumstances, the number of IVF cycles required, legal complexities, and other factors.

The establishment of legal parentage in surrogacy is a crucial aspect of the process and varies significantly based on the jurisdiction.

The establishment of legal parentage in surrogacy is a crucial aspect of the process and varies significantly based on the jurisdiction. Understanding and establishing legal parentage ensures that the intended parents are recognized as the legal parents of the child born through surrogacy, and not the surrogate. Here’s how parentage typically works in surrogacy:

1. Pre-Birth Orders:

  • In many places, intended parents can obtain a pre-birth order, which is a legal document issued by a court prior to the birth of the child. This order declares the intended parents as the legal parents upon the child’s birth, and it often specifies that their names will appear on the birth certificate.
  • The availability and requirements for obtaining a pre-birth order vary by state or country. Some regions readily grant these orders, while others may have more restrictive or different procedures.

2. Post-Birth Orders:

  • In jurisdictions where pre-birth orders are not available or not secured, intended parents may need to pursue a post-birth order. This legal process occurs after the child’s birth and involves the court confirming the intended parents as the legal parents.
  • This process might involve some form of adoption procedure or court declaration affirming parentage.

3. Surrogacy Agreements:

  • Before the surrogacy process begins, all parties typically enter into a surrogacy agreement. This legal contract outlines each party’s rights and responsibilities, including how parentage will be handled.
  • The agreement should be drafted by experienced attorneys to ensure compliance with local laws and to ensure the enforceability of the intended parents’ rights.

4. Step-Parent or Second-Parent Adoption:

  • In some cases, especially where local laws do not recognize the non-biological parent’s rights (such as in some same-sex couples), a step-parent or second-parent adoption may be necessary. This process legally establishes the non-biological intended parent’s rights.

5. Genetic Connection:

  • The legal process can also vary depending on whether there is a genetic link between the intended parents and the child. Some jurisdictions may have more straightforward processes if at least one intended parent is genetically related to the child.

6. Consult Legal Professionals:

  • Because laws vary so widely and can be complex, it is critical for intended parents and surrogates to work with legal professionals who specialize in reproductive law. This ensures that parentage is established correctly and legally from the start.

Surrogacy costs can vary widely depending on factors such as location, agency fees, medical expenses, and legal fees. On average, surrogacy may cost tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The cost of surrogacy can vary widely based on a range of factors including the country where it takes place, the type of surrogacy (gestational or traditional), agency fees, legal fees, surrogate compensation, and medical expenses related to the pregnancy. Here’s a general breakdown:

  • Agency Fees: When you go through a surrogacy agency, you can expect to pay fees for their services, which include matching you with a surrogate, coordinating the process, and providing support. These fees can range from $20,000 to $30,000 or more.
  • Surrogate Compensation: Compensation for the surrogate (in countries or states where it’s legal) varies significantly. In the United States, for example, compensation can range from $30,000 to $50,000 or more, depending on the location and the surrogate’s experience.
  • Medical Expenses: This includes costs for fertility treatments, embryo creation and transfer, prenatal care, and the birth. These expenses can vary greatly but may range from $50,000 to $100,000 or more.
  • Legal Fees: Legal expenses can include drafting and finalizing contracts, establishing parental rights, and other legal considerations. These costs can range from $10,000 to $20,000.
  • Additional Costs: Other costs might include insurance for the surrogate, travel expenses, and any necessary accommodations during the pregnancy or medical visits. These can add thousands of dollars to the overall cost.

Whether the surrogate is the biological mother depends on the type of surrogacy arrangement.

Gestational Surrogacy:

  • In this arrangement, the surrogate is not the biological mother of the child. The embryo is created via in vitro fertilization (IVF) using the egg and sperm from the intended parents or donors, and then implanted into the surrogate’s uterus. Because the surrogate does not provide the egg, she has no genetic connection to the child she carries and gives birth to. 

Traditional Surrogacy:

  • In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate is the biological mother because her own eggs are used in the conception process. The surrogate’s eggs are fertilized using sperm from the intended father or a sperm donor through artificial insemination. This means the surrogate has a genetic link to the baby.

Most surrogacy arrangements today are gestational surrogacy due to fewer legal and emotional complications regarding the surrogate’s connection to the child. This setup helps clearly delineate the roles and reduces the likelihood of disputes over parentage after the child’s birth.

While age limits for intended parents may vary based on local regulations and fertility clinic policies, most clinics recommend that intended parents be under a certain age to increase the chances of a successful pregnancy. Age limits for intended parents can be a consideration in surrogacy, but these limits can vary significantly depending on the country, the surrogacy agency, and the legal requirements involved. Some factors that influence age limits include:
  • Legal Requirements: Some jurisdictions may have specific legal stipulations regarding the age of intended parents in surrogacy arrangements. These laws can vary widely from one region or state to another.
  • Surrogacy Agencies and Fertility Clinics: Many agencies and clinics have their own policies regarding the age of intended parents. These policies are often in place to ensure the well-being of the child and to consider the long-term health and stability of the parents. Agencies and clinics may set upper age limits for intended parents, commonly in the range of 50-60 years old, though this can vary.
  • Ethical Considerations: Ethical considerations also play a role in setting age limits for intended parents. Concerns about the long-term welfare of the child and the ability of older parents to provide care throughout the child’s upbringing are factors that agencies, clinics, and legal authorities may consider.
  • Health of Intended Parents: The health of intended parents is a crucial factor, and older intended parents may be required to undergo medical assessments to ensure they are physically and mentally capable of parenting a new child.

Surrogate age limits are typically set by fertility clinics or agencies, with most preferring surrogates to be between their early 20s to late 30s for optimal health and pregnancy outcomes.

There are generally age limits for surrogates, which are set to ensure the health and safety of both the surrogate and the baby. These limits can vary by country, agency, and clinic, but they typically fall within a certain range:
Minimum Age

  • Surrogates are usually required to be at least 21 years old. This minimum age requirement ensures that the surrogate has reached an adequate level of physical and emotional maturity.

Maximum Age

  • The upper age limit for surrogates is often set between 35 and 45 years old. This range is based on medical guidelines since pregnancy risks for both the mother and the baby increase with age. Some agencies or fertility clinics might have more stringent requirements, setting the upper age limit closer to 40.

Yes, same-sex couples can pursue surrogacy to fulfill their desire to have biological children. Gestational surrogacy allows one or both partners to contribute genetic material to create embryos.

Same-sex couples can and often do pursue surrogacy as a way to build their families. Surrogacy provides an opportunity for one or both partners to have a genetic connection to their child, depending on the specifics of the surrogacy arrangement. For male couples, gestational surrogacy, where an embryo created through in vitro fertilization (IVF) using one partner’s sperm and a donor egg is carried by a surrogate, is a common path. Female couples may also choose surrogacy if both wish to be involved biologically with their child, with one partner providing the egg and the other partner’s brother or a donor providing the sperm, for example.

Finding a local surrogate involves several steps and options, each with its own considerations.

Finding a surrogate involves several steps and options, each with its own considerations. Here are the primary ways to find a surrogate:
Surrogacy Agencies:

  • Surrogacy agencies specialize in matching intended parents with surrogate. They handle most aspects of the surrogacy process, including the screening of surrogates, facilitating the medical processes, managing legal contracts, and providing support and counseling services.
  • Using an agency is often the most structured and supportive option, as agencies are experienced in navigating the complexities of the surrogacy process.

Fertility Clinics:

  • Some fertility clinics offer surrogacy programs and can assist in connecting intended parents with surrogate. They also provide the necessary medical procedures, such as IVF and embryo transfer.
  • Clinics might work in partnership with surrogacy agencies or have their own network of surrogates.

Surrogacy Lawyers:

  • Surrogacy lawyers or law firms specializing in reproductive law can also help connect intended parents with surrogate. They focus primarily on the legal aspects but often have networks within the surrogacy community.
  • They ensure that all legal paperwork and contracts are in order, protecting the rights of all parties involved.

Online Surrogacy Forums and Social Media:

  • There are various online platforms and social media groups where intended parents and potential surrogates connect. These forums can provide a way for people to share experiences and find matches independently.
  • It’s important to proceed with caution when using these platforms and to secure proper legal and medical guidance.

Personal Connections:

  • Some intended parents find surrogates through personal connections, such as friends or family members who offer to carry a pregnancy for them.
  • This option can sometimes simplify the relationship dynamic but still requires careful legal and medical arrangements to ensure clarity and protect everyone’s rights and responsibilities.

No matter which method you choose, it’s crucial to have thorough screening processes, legal agreements, and professional guidance to ensure that the surrogacy journey is ethical, legal, and emotionally supportive for all parties involved.