Types Of Surrogacy: How To Choose The Right Path

While many couples throughout the world will start their lives as a family by letting the woman in the relationship get pregnant, not everyone has this option. For same-sex couples, this may be medically impossible, and for heterosexual couples, medical considerations, or even post-surgical consequences, have rendered pregnancy either extremely hazardous or no longer viable.

Surrogacy, however, is a solution for many of these couples. This is where another woman agrees to become pregnant on behalf of a hopeful couple. Once a formal, legal contract has been negotiated and signed, she undertakes the pregnancy and, when the baby is born, unites it with the new parents.

Hopeful families need to understand that there are different types of surrogacy to consider, which is why a lot of thought must be put into this choice. The type of surrogacy a couple decides on will determine the entire path of the surrogacy journey.

Financial Categories Of Surrogacy

Surrogacies have different classifications, and one of the first that couples should consider is the financial category they want to utilize for their surrogacy. There are two primary choices here, which are:

Altruistic Surrogacy

Altruistic surrogacy, as the name suggests, is an extraordinary act of generosity. Here, a woman who is medically suitable for safe pregnancy volunteers to become pregnant. Of course, she doesn’t pay for her medical treatment or the living expenses that will be required as the pregnancy progresses, and she’s unable to work. The hopeful family will provide this financial support.

However, that is the extent of the money the surrogate mother receives in this scenario. Because this is an act of extreme charity, few women are willing to undertake it. This often means that there are far fewer women willing to take on this role, and the search and wait times for a willing surrogate can usually be very long.

Compensated Surrogacy

On the other end of the spectrum is compensated surrogacy, which is much more costly. Here, as with an Altruistic Surrogacy, the hopeful family will provide financial support for the surrogate mother’s living and medical expenses as the pregnancy progresses.

However, on top of that, there is also a significant amount of financial recognition for the critical role the surrogate mother plays. In other words, she is amply paid for her contribution. The cost for a compensated surrogacy is typically, at minimum, in the tens of thousands of dollars and can even be much more than that in first-world nations such as the United States. The con here is, of course, the considerable added expense. That is balanced, however, by the biggest pro, which is that when compensated surrogacies are available, many more suitable surrogate mother candidates are available to choose from, meaning that a couple may not have to wait years to find a surrogate mother to partner with.

However, not all countries permit compensated surrogacies. Countries like the United Kingdom and Canada, for example, only allow altruistic surrogacies. So, depending on where a couple lives, it may require travel to another country to secure a compensated surrogacy.

Medical Categories Of Surrogacy

In addition to the types of financing a surrogacy requires, couples are also faced with a choice of what kind of medical process they want to undertake for their surrogacy. This once again divides into two common types:

Traditional Surrogacy

The traditional surrogacy is the oldest and most straightforward. Here, the surrogate mother’s egg is used for fertilization, and donor sperm is inserted in the uterus via artificial insemination. In the past centuries, this type of surrogacy could only occur with sexual intercourse, but today, well-established medical techniques mean this is no longer necessary.

Gestational Surrogacy

The other type of surrogacy is called gestational surrogacy and uses a process known as in vitro fertilization or “IVF.” This is a much more demanding process, where the donor egg and sperm are fertilized in a lab. The egg, upon confirmation of fertilization, is then implanted in the surrogate mother.

If there’s additional need and investment, multiple eggs can be fertilized and screened for congenital disorders passed down along family lines, such as cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia. This ensures that only a healthy fertilized egg is used during pregnancy, giving the baby the best possible start in life, but of course, this comes at an additional cost. 

With the IVF technique, it’s even possible to have eggs and sperm that have been stored cryogenically to be used. Examples of this need are if a man or a woman was advised that surgery to fight cancer was required, but it would come at the cost of removing the reproductive capacity. In some cases, these people have had their remaining egg or sperm removed and stored for future use. The IVF procedure is one such scenario.

Any of these needs can be addressed by the surrogacy agency if you are careful about finding an experienced, reliable group to work with.