Surrogacy is the process of carrying a child for someone else. Surrogates typically carry for couples who struggle with infertility, same-sex couples, and single people. There are two types of surrogacy: traditional and gestational.
A traditional surrogate (TS) is a woman who donates her eggs and carries the baby. This method is typically used when the intended mother (IM) can not use her own eggs. Many times, the intended father’s (IF) sperm is used and therefore, the child will have the genetic material of the surrogate and the intended father. The TS may become pregnant using IUI or IVF. If they choose to use the IVF process, they may extract more eggs to be fertilized than they can put back into her body and in that case, the embryos are usually frozen for later use. Typically, 1-3 embryos are transfered during IVF.
A gestational surrogate (GS) only carries the baby. The embryos transfered to her body might be fresh or frozen and have either 100%, 50%, or 0% of the intended parent’s (IP) genetic material. If the IM is not using her own eggs, an egg donor will be needed. Likewise, if the IF is not using his sperm, a sperm donor will be needed.
A surrogate must be a healthy woman, typically in her 20′s or early 30′s, who is willing to forgo all parental rights once the baby is born. Many surrogates already have children. Surrogates must undergo a battery of tests, both physical and psychological. She will have to inject herself with hormones, potentially endure invasive medical procedures, and of course, will have to be pregnant and deliver a baby or three. Once “matched” the surrogate and IP’s must draw up a contract, usually covering a litany of “what if” circumstances. There are attorneys who specialize in surrogacy. Having an iron clad contract drawn up by a skilled attorney and both parties should protect everyone involved. Some states like New York outlaw surrogacy, while others, like California, a “surro-friendly.” The process can be done privately or through an agency. Surrogates are usually compensated by the IPs, unless they are doing an altruistic surrogacy (usually family members). If you are interested in surrogacy, here are a few resources:
SurrogateMother.com is an online community for surrogates. The forum allows people to share their experiences, get educated about laws, health insurance, and processes, and may even help someone find their “match.” ALERT: be wary of scammers!
Resolve, The National Infertility Association covers various ways of building a family.
The Human Rights Campaign highlights state laws and legislation.
Even celebrities are not immune to the need for surrogacy. Nicole Kidman, Elton John, Elizabeth Banks, Sarah Jessica Parker, Giuliana Rancic, Ricky Martin, Michael Jackson, Neil Patrick Harris, and Dennis Quaid all had the help of a surrogate to build their family! You can also see a modern family being built with the help of a surrogate in the tv sitcom The New Normal.