There are many ways to classify the different types of surrogacy, and these will impact your surrogacy process.
Sometimes, intended parents and surrogates feel confused at the start because they do not know that there are so many choices to be made. In this post, we will explore the four main categories: carrier type, pay model, advocacy style, and relationship. Choosing between each of these types of surrogacy is an entirely personal choice, and the first step is to understand what each type entails.
There are two main divisions in the category of carrier type—Traditional Surrogates and Gestational Surrogates.
Traditional surrogacy happens when the woman carrying the baby also provided the egg to be fertilized; however, this type of surrogacy is becoming rarer and rarer.
It is considered traditional surrogacy because, from the beginning of time, it was the method used when one woman carried a baby for another couple. This can be seen as early as the biblical stories of Sarah and Abraham and happens still today. Up until just over forty years ago, this also meant that intercourse was to take place between the male partner and the surrogate. This changed with ethical and medical advancements throughout history. It was not until the late twenty-first century that ethical artificial inseminations began to be more common.
In the 1980s, however, the Case of Baby M would put a damper on traditional surrogacy. This case involved a traditional carrier who did not want to give her maternal rights up for the intended parents. As a consequence of this case, laws have evolved to protect all parties entering into traditional surrogacy contracts, but some places currently prohibit this practice.
Gestational surrogates only provide the uterus for intended parents to grow their baby(ies). The egg and sperm must come from a donation. The sperm donation may be from the intended father, and the egg can be from the intended mother. Sometimes the intended parents provide all of the genetic material because the mother is unable to carry a child to term due to physical problems with her uterus or hormone production, but she can still produce good quality eggs; in other situations, an egg donor or sperm donor is needed. It is entirely dependent on the intended parents’ situation and their preferences.
When deciding to become a surrogate, it is important to understand whether or not compensated or commercial surrogacy is allowed in your region. Canada prohibits paid surrogacy beyond typical pregnancy-related expenses, while a majority of US states and territories permit surrogates to be paid a fee. It is imperative that potential surrogates and intended parents understand the regulations related to surrogacy in their area.
These surrogates are not permitted to be paid beyond regular pregnancy-related expenses. What can be considered a regular pregnancy-related expense may vary from place to place, but some typical fees that are paid in many cases are: travel expenses, childcare fees for their other children during certain times, utilities, housing, food, medical expenses, lost wages, clothing, and other supplies they may need. They cannot use surrogacy to make a profit, but it can save them some money that they would normally pay out during those times.
Some locations will allow surrogates to be paid a fee. This fee can be as low as $20,000 in some places and as much as $85,000 for experienced surrogates in states like California. West Coast Surrogacy’s fee chart shows that their experienced surrogates can expect up to $60,000 for a base rate. This is in addition to other fees for multiples, cesarean sections, and those paid in altruistic surrogacy.
Even though surrogates can often make more than a year’s salary earned for working, they often have to be financially stable before becoming a surrogate. Even paid surrogates offer some level of altruism because not all women are able to be surrogates. It takes a physical and psychological toll on the surrogate, and she deserves to be compensated.
The surrogate and intended parents will always be their own advocates in many ways, but during this journey, some find it easier to work with an agency that will help coordinate their expectations while others value independent journeys.
Agency Supported Surrogacy
There are many reasons to choose an agency for a surrogacy journey. The agency is skilled in coordinating schedules, has reliable references for services such as family lawyers or fertility clinics, and already has a screening process in place. Surrogates and intended parents will have someone who can mediate when a problem arises, coordinate reimbursement of fees, and support them through their journeys. Their fees can be significant, though, and this can be a deterrent for some intended parents and surrogates alike.
This type of surrogacy does not involve an agency. The surrogate and intended parents negotiate fees, schedules, and other things privately. They will still obtain legal representation to draft and sign contracts, but they will do this on their terms without the help of an agent.
Often experienced independent surrogates are familiar with the journey and decide that they can do the things the agency does for themselves, and some intended parents prefer finding an independent surrogate because it reduces the fees. However, the choice is a personal one for both parties.
Surrogates and intended parents must decide what type of relationship they are seeking. They need to decide whether they will meet through this journey or if they are seeking someone they already know. Contracts and legal representation considerations may differ for the types of relationships.
Known Surrogate/ Intended Parents
Some surrogates already know their intended parents and have a family relationship or friendship. This type of relationship is okay, but it comes with a different set of concerns than an unknown relationship.
Some challenges have come from the surrogate not being able to separate her relationship with the child later. This may mean not wanting to give up custody for a traditional surrogate, or a gestational carrier sometimes feels she gets to help make decisions throughout the child’s life. This is more common if the surrogate is a family member.
For example, Jeanette is Lacy’s sister. Lacy needs a surrogate and Jeanette agrees. Jeremiah is Lacy’s husband and they are all very excited. After Marcus is born, Jeanette wants to decide his doctor, preschool, or discipline styles. Lacy and Jeremiah are the parents, but Jeanette cannot turn off her need to protect him as her own. This is uncommon but can present an issue.
Surrogate and Intended Parents Meet through Surrogacy
This is a very common type of relationship. Surrogates will sometimes carry for one couple more than once, but the only way she knows them is through surrogacy. This can be very comforting to some parents since she is not part of the child’s upbringing.
As you can see there are different types of surrogacy, whatever combination of the above that you choose for your journey should be carefully evaluated. You should make the decisions that meet your needs and desires in the best way. You are embarking on a journey to create a family where there previously may have been considerable roadblocks.