How does surrogacy work?
Surrogacy has both medical and legal aspects, each of which have 2 general types. The traditional surrogate model uses a woman not involved in the parenting couple who is artificially inseminated with the father’s sperm. The traditional surrogate is both the birth mother and biological mother, as it is her egg that’s fertilized. This may create a complex legal picture, particularly when compared with the second type of surrogacy.
Gestational surrogates are mothers who have no genetic involvement with the child. Eggs may be harvested from a woman in a parenting couple, and fertilized in vitro using sperm from either the father in the parenting couple or a donor. The fertilized embryo is then implanted in the surrogate, who becomes the birth mother, but not the biological mother. This creates a less complex legal picture, since the baby is genetically tied to the intended parents and not to the surrogate.
Who uses surrogate mothers?
A woman with medical complications that interfere with pregnancy, such as post-hysterectomy, heart disease, or uterine problems, may opt to use surrogacy. If the woman still produces viable eggs, she may be able to donate these for in vitro fertilization and implantation into the surrogate. Men, single or in same-sex couples, who wish to be fathers may also opt for surrogacy. Both traditional and gestational surrogacy are possible, though gestational surrogacy requires donated eggs. Couples who are unable to adopt due to marital status or age may have options available through use of a surrogate.
How are surrogates chosen?
While there are no regulations surrounding surrogacy, there are a few generally accepted characteristics. Surrogates should:
- Be at least 21 years old and previously delivered 1 or more healthy children
- Agree to sign a contract agreeing to certain roles and responsibilities, including giving up rights to the baby
- Receive medical screening for infectious diseases, immunities, and drug use
- Receive psychological screening for potential mental issues about giving up a child after birth
Surrogacy is legislated at the state level, and laws vary from state to state. Global Fertility & Genetics can assist you with legal planning and locating donor eggs and gestational carriers.