Thanks to medical advancements, hopeful parents nowadays have a plethora of options and a wide variety of different types of fertility treatments to expand their families, including having children through traditional or gestational surrogacy methods. Continue reading to understand its full scope for best decision making.
For those parents who cannot carry a child to term themselves either due to medical reasons or because they are single or same-sex couples, surrogacy process may be the answer. In this family-building method, surrogate and intended parents both are involved throughout the surrogacy journey. One of the biggest challenges intended parents have with deciding to pursue surrogacy is giving up the chance that they might carry their child to themselves. However, it’s important to realize that being pregnant is not the goal, having a child is! You need to understand that surrogacy is an intimate partnership and you must be prepared for that before you begin the surrogacy procedure.
Surrogacy consists of a couple making legal arrangements for another woman called a surrogate, to get pregnant and carry a child to said couple after birth without reserving any parental rights. Hiring a surrogate may also be an option when same-sex couples or single parents want to have children, also when pregnancy could be endangering a woman’s life.
There are two types of surrogacy depending on whose eggs are used for fertilization: Traditional surrogacy and Gestational Surrogacy. The main difference between gestational and traditional surrogacy is simple: the surrogate’s eggs are used in a traditional type of surrogacy, making her the biological mother of the child she carries; in a gestational type of surrogacy, the surrogate has no biological link to the baby.
Note: A gestational surrogate is called the ‘’ birth mother’’ or gestational ‘’ carrier’’.
The most common form of modern surrogacy is gestational surrogacy and it is achieved with a gestational carrier. In gestational surrogacy treatment option, the egg either comes from the intended mother or a donor, and the sperm is either from the intended father or a donor. An egg or sperm donor is the person whose gamete is used to complete an embryo, this could be someone they know, or the intended parent may find a donation from an anonymous person through a gamete bank or surrogacy agency/fertility clinic. IVF is used to create the embryos, which are then transmitted into the surrogate’s uterus.
IVF stands for In vitro fertilization, it’s one of the most widely known types of assisted reproductive technology (ART) and it usually involves taking many healthy eggs retrieved via a transvaginal ultrasound-guided needle and placing them in a petri dish with specially washed sperms. In surrogacy, a fertility specialist will collect eggs and sperms from the intended parents or from a donor, fertilize the egg in a test tube and then implant this embryo into the surrogate’s uterus. IVF may be the first option if a gestational carrier is needed, if there are severe cases of male infertility, if a woman’s fallopian tubes are blocked and if an egg donor is being used.
Gestational surrogacy is right now the only choice with most intended parents and various factors contribute to its desirable demand that includes legal safeguards and the usage of donor eggs amidst them. It is also known as host or full surrogacy because at least one intended parent has a biological link to the child, resulting in this type of surrogacy being less legally complex than traditional surrogacy.
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Benefits of Gestational Surrogacy/ Host Surrogacy
The benefits of gestational surrogacy are that it allows individuals and couples from the LGBTQ community to start families and also it allows the intended parent to establish a genetic link with the baby. It is considered to be more legal than the traditional surrogacy method, thus, the benefits are higher. Gestational surrogacy is more commonly used and it’s been estimated that about 1400 babies are born each year through this form of surrogacy, in fact, some estimate that 99% of today’s surrogacy arrangements involve a gestational surrogate.
The following people might consider host surrogacy:
- Same-sex couples
- Hopeful single parents
- People who don’t want a genetic link between the surrogate and their child
- People who have struggled with infertility
- Anyone who is not able to safely carry a pregnancy to term
Traditional surrogacy is sometimes also called partial or genetic surrogacy because of the surrogate’s biological link to the child she carries, a surrogate is a woman who carries a baby to term for the intended parents. Traditional surrogacy is less expensive than gestational surrogacy, because of the differences in medical procedures and the requirements of egg donation, but keep in mind that this form of surrogacy poses a higher emotional risk than gestational surrogacy as a traditional surrogate mother is more likely to bond with the baby emotionally. If you opt for traditional surrogacy, you are choosing to have your surrogate act as both the carrier and the egg donor, meaning that she is the genetic mother to the child.
Note: Some states do not allow traditional surrogacy due to its potential complications, also as it is now much less common than gestational surrogacy, primarily because of traditional surrogacy’s legal and emotional complexities.
The Main Difference Between Traditional and Gestational Surrogacy
The main difference between traditional and gestational surrogacy is whether the surrogate mother has a genetic link to the baby. Both forms of surrogacy offer unique benefits as well as some drawbacks.
With gestational surrogacy, couples don’t have to spend months or possibly years finding a surrogate willing to enter into this type of surrogacy agreement. The waiting time is less when compared with traditional surrogacy. Intended parents who choose traditional surrogacy may have more difficulty finding a willing surrogate, increasing their wait time, as many surrogates too nowadays prefer gestational surrogacy.
Egg Donor: A traditional surrogacy doesn’t need egg donation as the surrogate acts as both the egg donor and the actual surrogate, but with gestational surrogacy, the process of egg donation is required to create the embryo the surrogate mother carries. Same-sex couples, single men, and heterosexual couples and women who cannot produce healthy eggs commonly require the assistance of an egg donor in a gestational surrogacy arrangement.
Medical procedures: Both gestational and traditional surrogacy involve different medical procedures. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is the medical procedure that traditional surrogacy uses to help the intended father’s sperm transfer directly into the surrogate mother’s uterus, whereas, in gestational arrangement, the intended parents generally use their own eggs and sperms, in which in vitro fertilization (IVF) is used to create an embryo, which is then transferred to the surrogate.
IVF can be used in traditional surrogacy as well, but more commonly it involves artificial insemination using IUI. IUI is a simpler medical process used to help a person who is struggling to conceive, IUI, and IVF both are fertility treatments. Intrauterine insemination is a simple procedure and does not require any fancy equipment or infrastructure.
Note: Intended mothers do not need to take fertility medications or undergo the egg retrieval procedure in traditional surrogacy, as their eggs are never used in the traditional surrogacy process.
Legal Process: On average, traditional or partial surrogacy cost is less costly than gestational surrogacy, primarily because of differences in the medical process, as IUI is much cheaper than IVF and intended parents do not need to pay for egg donation or for fertility treatments for the intended mother because the surrogate uses her own eggs.
When comparing two kinds of surrogacy, the most important thing is to be realistic and practical about the choices you make and also remember that there are only a few of the types of surrogacy available to you as an intended parent or prospective surrogate, if your surrogacy process falls underneath the categories of single-parent surrogacy or LGBTQ surrogacy.
A reputable surrogacy agency or fertility clinic will guide you through it and can find a solution for even the most challenging situation. A surrogacy agency is an organization that helps intended parents and surrogates through every step of the surrogacy method, it is commonly known as a one-stop shop for those entering the surrogacy process. It’s crucial to know that surrogacy agencies, surrogacy programs, and surrogacy centers usually offer the same services.
Traditional Surrogacy Cost
Traditional surrogacy cost is dependent on a number of factors, including the surrogacy professional you work with, your location, fertility clinic reputation, the many services you use throughout the process, and the needs of your surrogate. The estimated cost of traditional surrogacy may range between anything from $40,000 to $75000. Generally speaking, the intended parents have to pay for the following- Selected agency fees, if any, counseling costs, surrogate monthly allowance, attorney fees, intrauterine insemination medical expenses, and any other related price regarding the procedure.
Many of the above expenses are variable, so to fully understand the estimated cost for your surrogacy, speak with your surrogacy professional to discuss your specific situation. With the right surrogacy professional, your surrogacy journey will be smoother and more stress-free as possible.
Gestational Surrogacy Cost
The gestational surrogacy cost varies from place to place and on numerous factors including health insurance, the gestational surrogate’s expenses, and the cost of IVF. Without the use of a donor egg or donor sperm, gestational surrogacy cost is reduced. The cost can be broken down into two main categories: surrogacy agency fee and variable expenses. The total cost of any surrogacy process is mainly governed by the below main fee- surrogacy agency fees, legal fees for surrogacy agreements/ contract, medical procedure fee- IVF cycle, surrogate mother compensation (if allowed).
Gestational surrogacy price is a bit expensive when compared with traditional form of a surrogacy arrangement and actual surrogacy costs vary case to case and region wise. Gestational surrogacy IVF can cost up to $20,000, traditional procedure average around $12,500.
Be mindful of the fact that Agency Service should remain fixed, regardless of how long it takes to complete the surrogacy process.
Is Traditional Surrogacy Legal?
Traditional Surrogacy type of arrangement is not typical and not supported by most states and countries, as traditional surrogacy laws tend to be more complicated than gestational surrogacy laws. Many clinic/surrogacy agencies these days claim that traditional surrogacy is not legal and allow only gestational surrogacy practice. Also, for partial surrogacy there are no clear laws, so it is advised to take consultation with the family attorney for your specific case.
Our advice, when exploring your options, is to find information from credible sources, and ask accurate questions if something seems out of order or unclear and of course, keep in mind that traditional type of surrogacy includes additional legal complications and processes, such as termination of parental rights and stepparent adoption. For these reasons, it just makes sense to go for a safe and secure type of surrogacy, that feels like the right choice for you. Be sure to consult with an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer to help you navigate the process.
Interesting Fact: Until the development of IVF (in vitro fertilization) in 1978, traditional surrogacy was the only option for those struggling to conceive.
Why Surrogacy & Which Option is Right for Me and My Family?
When it comes to choosing how to build your family, the decision is ultimately a personal one as each type of surrogacy arrangement consists of many steps and unique advantages and there are potential reasons why you may be advised to opt for a surrogacy program. Alternatively, your fertility specialist will recommend and help you understand the type of surrogacy you should go for, as your surrogacy will be tailored to you and your individual situation.
What’s best for you and your family should be your priority and your surrogacy professional or fertility clinic will find out what types of surrogacy are available to you and the pros and cons of each to determine what the perfect fit is for you. While surrogacy can be a long and somewhat challenging process, it is also filled with joy and a fulfilling experience, both for intended parents and surrogates.
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