Step By Step: How Does Surrogacy Work?

For many couples, a natural step in the progression of a lifelong relationship is the decision to start a family. The traditional way for most is to allow the woman in the relationship to become pregnant and give birth to a baby nine months later. Unfortunately, for some couples around the world, this may not be a viable option.

Some couples have serious obstacles getting in the way, such as age or even specific medical considerations that may put a baby at risk or may even be impossible for conception to occur, as surgery to fight cancer may have negated normal reproduction.

Fortunately, in the 21st century, alternatives do exist for couples in this situation. One of the more time and money-intensive solutions is surrogacy. But how does surrogacy work

Another Woman’s Womb

Surrogacy is the process of working with another woman who agrees to become pregnant on behalf of a hopeful couple. Once the pregnancy is confirmed, it progresses normally, with regular medical checkups to ensure the health of the mother and the baby. Upon the baby’s birth nine months later, the child is introduced to the intended parents, and a new life together as a family begins.

This process, however, has many steps between deciding to go the surrogacy route and the first day as a new family. Here are some of the steps involved.

Deciding On A Surrogacy Financial Type

The first decision couples will have to make is going to affect every other decision in the future, and that is committing to a specific type of surrogacy. There’s more than one kind, and couples will first need to look at altruistic or compensated surrogacies and decide which one is for them.

An altruistic surrogacy takes place on a voluntary basis for the surrogate mother. She decided to donate her time and body for the sake of helping another couple, with no expectation of a financial reward. Of course, in this scenario, a surrogate mother is not paying for her medical expenses or living expenses as the pregnancy progresses. These are still covered by the couple, as a surrogate mother attempting to do all this herself may place herself and the baby in both financial and medical peri.

A compensated surrogacy, on the other hand, is where a couple invests a significant amount of money in financial recognition of a surrogate mother’s crucial role. Here, the surrogate mother does receive payment, in addition to living and medical expenses being covered. Unsurprisingly, this compensation is a major investment.

Altruistic surrogacy has its pros and cons. On the pro side, it is significantly cheaper, and many countries around the world permit this type of surrogacy. On the con side, few women are willing to volunteer themselves for such a demanding process, severely limiting the number of available candidates.

For compensated surrogacies, many more women are willing to take up this role due to the financial recognition. However, not every country permits this type of surrogacy, which may require couples to travel.

Deciding On A Surrogacy Process

The next step is deciding on the medical technique to be used in the surrogacy. The traditional surrogacy process is artificial insemination. Here, the surrogate mother’s egg is used while the donor sperm fertilizes it in the uterus. This is both a lower cost and a more traditional way of doing things.

The other alternative is “gestational surrogacy,” using the In Vitro Fertilization of IVF technique. Here, a donor egg and sperm—typically from the hopeful parents—are fertilized in a lab. Upon confirmation of fertilization, the egg is then implanted in the surrogate mother. This technique, while more expensive, allows hopeful parents to have a baby that is a direct genetic descendant of both of them, exactly as in a traditional pregnancy.

Finding An Agency

The next step once the surrogacy types have been determined is to find a surrogacy agency to work with. This is an important step, as the surrogacy agency has the contacts, experience, and expertise to handle most of the tasks that would otherwise take too long for a couple to do on their own. For example, if a couple decides to go to another country for an IVF surrogacy, they would have to learn the language of that other country if it’s not their own, find and communicate with various surrogacy candidates, negotiate with a candidate, and then book and schedule medical care and visitation with that surrogate mother.

Conversely, when finding a surrogacy agency, all of these needs are addressed by the agency, often in the preferred language of the hopeful parents. 

Perhaps most importantly, by working with the right agency, especially in another country, hopeful parents can also ensure that legal considerations—such as citizenship for the new baby—are properly addressed so the child will be granted entry into the intended country of residence after birth, instead of being barred from entering.