How Does Surrogacy Work & How Do You Prepare For It?

For Parents

Not every couple can start a family the conventional way of letting the woman in the relationship become pregnant to give birth to a baby nine months later. Some couples have medical considerations, such as a heart condition that would put both mother and child at risk. Others have surgery as an obstacle because a uterus was removed during a hysterectomy to prevent the spread of cancer.

Fortunately, there are solutions for these couples who still want a baby in their lives. Adoption is, of course, an age-old alternative, but for couples that would prefer a newborn, surrogacy is a better option. But how does it work, and what do you need to do if you want to pursue this?

Another Woman Takes The Role

With surrogacy, a woman that has been medically evaluated to be suitable for a successful pregnancy agrees to take on the role of a surrogate mother. She becomes pregnant on behalf of a couple wanting to start a family. Once the pregnancy has run its course, and the baby is born, the newborn is then united with the new, intended parents, and life together as a family can begin.

There are two different ways that surrogacy is classified. The first is by financial means, which plays an important role in the overall cost of surrogacy.

Altruistic Surrogacy

This is a very common type of surrogacy, and in many countries, such as Canada, the only kind of surrogacy is legally permitted to be carried out. Altruistic surrogacies mean that a surrogate mother candidate is taking on this role for voluntary reasons. Aside from some financial coverage she may receive for living expenses and medical expenses during pregnancy and delivery, she gets no other form of financial reward.

Many women will only agree to do this for couples they are close to, as it is an enormous sacrifice, so those potential candidates willing to take on this role for strangers tend to be very small.

Compensated Surrogacy

On the other hand, those countries that permit compensated surrogacies tend to have a much higher list of suitable candidates available at any given time. As expected, compensated surrogacy is one where the surrogate mother’s critical role receives significant financial recognition. 

The result is that many more women medically evaluated as suitable are willing to undertake this effort when they know their efforts will be rewarded.

Once you know whether you would prefer to have an altruistic or compensated surrogacy, the next step is thinking about the next categories of surrogacy and the type of surrogacy that makes sense for you. The primary categories are:

Traditional Surrogacy

This is where the surrogate mother’s egg is used, while sperm from a donor—typically the hopeful father, though other options can also be used—fertilizes the egg. Artificial insemination is now widely practiced and a fast, efficient, low-cost procedure. In some cases, it can even self-administered.

Gestational Surrogacy

This is now an extremely popular option, though it significantly raises the cost of surrogacy. Gestational surrogacy uses a donor egg and a donor sperm. The most common type of gestational surrogacy involves the egg of the hopeful mother and the sperm of the hopeful father. This results in a child that, genetically speaking, is a true descendant of the hopeful couple, the only difference being that the baby gestated in another woman’s womb.

Domestic Or International

Your choices on the type of surrogacy you want may influence whether you undertake surrogacy in your country of residence or invest in international surrogacy abroad. For example, countries where only altruistic surrogacies are permitted, may make you decide that your desire for more choice will take you to another country.

In the same way, the total cost of surrogacy may make a couple decide to invest internationally. American couples, for example, can make their dollar go a much longer way by taking advantage of currency differences surrogacy offers in other nations, such as Georgia, in Eastern Europe.

The Surrogate

The next step is finding a surrogate mother to work with when you’ve settled on the type of surrogacy you would like. While it’s possible to do this by looking up candidates, interviewing them, and getting them medically evaluated, the speed and success rate are much better when working with a surrogacy agency or clinic.

This is especially important for couples considering international surrogacy, as foreign laws and languages will have a bearing here. The safest and easiest way to ensure a safe, legal surrogacy is to deal with agencies and clinics that have experience working with international clients. They can communicate your preferred language while establishing a professional rapport with the available candidates. They can also coordinate and schedule meetings with the surrogate mother, assist in additional procedures such as donations for IVF if required, and ensure that legal preparations are in order when the time comes for a newborn to return to the country of residence and receive citizenship.