In our blog last month, we talked a little bit about surrogacy and briefly touched on gestational surrogacy. In this month’s blog, we’d like to expand on this topic by answering some common questions that arise around gestational surrogacy.
Q. What is gestational surrogacy?
A. In this arrangement, the surrogate or gestational carrier isn’t biologically related to the baby she is carrying and will deliver for the intended parents. The parents-to-be can be at the birth of the baby and will be the parents after the child is born. The embryo is created through the process of in vitro fertilization, or IVF. It is done by taking the eggs and the sperm of the donors (who will be the parents) and transferring them to the surrogate (carrier).
Q. Who can opt for gestational surrogacy?
A. Those who are having problems conceiving, for example, you don’t have a uterus or have problems with your uterus, same-sex males, those who are single, those who can’t safely carry a pregnancy to term, and those who don’t want a genetic connection between their baby and the surrogate.
Q. How is this facilitated?
A. While most couples opt to work with a full-service surrogacy agency to locate their gestational carrier, some opt to find a surrogacy using an attorney who specializes in assisted reproductive law. Either way, after a couple or parent-to-be has been matched with a surrogate, each will work with their attorneys to understand their risks, responsibilities, and agree on compensation to the surrogate, after which they will sign the contracts. One of the reasons this type of surrogacy is helpful when it comes to custody issues is the fact that at least one of the parents is genetically related to the child.
Q. How does the embryo transfer work?
A. The gestational surrogate will receive an embryo in one of several ways. Via IVF, fertilization transpires once the eggs and sperm are combined in a laboratory and is then transferred over into the surrogate’s uterus. This can be the eggs and sperm of the intended parents, and this means both are related to the baby. If the sperm from the intended father fertilizes a donated egg, the father will be genetically related to the baby. If the egg of the intended mother is fertilized by donor sperm, she will be genetically related to the baby. And if donor eggs and donor sperm are fertilized, neither intended parent will have a genetic relation to the baby. Once the surrogate is impregnated, she will carry the baby until birth upon which the intended parents will have full legal custody.
Q. What are the upsides of gestational surrogacy?
A. It can help those who could not otherwise have a family and does so with a genetic link. It also allows the parents to get to know that surrogate and have a relationship throughout the pregnancy. It’s also the least complicated way to engage a surrogate because there is no relation to the gestational carrier, so it is least complicated legally.
Q. What are the downsides to gestational surrogacy?
A. While it is the least complicated form of surrogacy, it is still legally complicated and costly. For the intended parents, you will not be fully in control of the pregnancy process as your surrogate carries the pregnancy. Fertility treatments will be needed for the mother to be if she is donating her own eggs.
As you can see, you do have options when it comes to genetically carrying on your family with the help of a gestational surrogate. If you would like to find out more about this option, or if you have any questions about IVF, please contact our team in Idaho Falls at (208) 529-2019 or to schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified Reproductive Endocrinologists.