Parents through Surrogacy Guide – The Process Step by Step

By Babygest Staff
Last Update: 06/03/2020

Intended parents via surrogacy, also called prospective or commissioning parents, are those families who have decided to use a surrogate/gestational carrier to carry their baby. In most cases, surrogacy is a last resort option for them, an alternative for those who have no choice if they want to create a family.

Surrogacy is, however, a complicated fertility option, especially in financial terms. It involves a third party, the surrogate, who will carry the pregnancy for someone else during the 9 months of pregnancy. For this reason, one should think twice before deciding to become a parent through surrogacy, and be very careful at every step of the process.

Who can become parents?

Surrogacy, commonly referred to as surrogate motherhood, is a fertility option that, combined with IVF and other assisted reproductive technologies, gives all family types the chance to become parents.

Every person, regardless of his or her marital status (single, married, divorced, widowed), or sexual orientation, can become a parent via gestational surrogacy.

So, in short, the different family structures that can have a baby via surrogate include:

  • Heterosexual couples
  • Male same-sex couples
  • Female same-sex couples
  • Single females
  • Single males

From the moment they become parents, these profiles configure new family structures, which can be classified into:

  • Heterosexual parenting (traditional or nuclear type of family structure)
  • LGBT or same-sex parenting
  • Single parenting or single parent family

If you want to learn more about the requirements and circumstances whereby these family types may need to turn to a surrogate to have a baby, do not miss the following sections.

Heterosexual parenting

There exists a common belief that surrogacy is a treatment tailored exclusively for gay male couples. However, it is far from being the case.

Actually, the highest demand for surrogacy comes from opposite-sex couples with infertility issues.

As a matter of fact, the regulations governing surrogacy in various countries around the world establish that only heterosexual couples are eligible provided that they have medical justification. That is the case of Ukraine and Georgia (country).

It is also the case of other countries like Thailand and India since the latest amendments to their regulations on surrogacy came into force. These countries are no longer potential destinations for surrogacy abroad, though.

Read more: Infertility & Surrogacy – What Are the Medical Reasons for Surrogacy?

LGBT parenting

More often than not, when we refer to gay couples, people tend to think automatically of couples composed of two men. Perhaps it is due to the fact that, for gay dads, surrogacy is their only fertility option to have a baby they share a genetic connection with.

On the contrary, the fact that same-sex female couples have to turn to a gestational carrier to have a baby would mean that their fertility issues are so severe that neither of them is able to carry a pregnancy.

Statistically speaking, it is highly unlikely, although it is another possibility, and as such we must include it here.

Single parenting

Single parenting surrogacy is more common among men, again due to the fact that is it physically impossible for a man to get pregnant for obvious reasons. In fact, this non-traditional family type is becoming increasingly common thanks to surrogacy.

Depending on whether the intended parent is a woman or a man, he or she will need to use donor eggs or donor sperm, or even both in case she or he has fertility issues. This is the most obvious difference between single-parent surrogacy and surrogacy for heterosexual couples.

Your agency will help you find a donor and surrogate. Many single parents choose to work with a known donor, like a close friend.

In the United States, the laws governing surrogacy are the same for single parents as they are for couples. However, and given that the laws vary from state to state, we strongly recommend that you consult an attorney to better understand them.

The main con of single-parent surrogacy in the US is that it is expensive. This is the reason why many intended parents choose to work with a surrogate overseas, but not all countries allow single parents to have a baby via surrogacy. Read more here: International Surrogacy Guide.

The first steps

Embarking yourself on the surrogacy journey is a huge decision that cannot be made hastily. Moreover, it is a different kind of situation in which you will not experience the pregnancy personally, but through a third party.

The fact that another woman carries the pregnancy for the intended parents can cause them to have feelings of regret and guilt, or even feel as if the baby was not theirs, as the surrogate is, after all, an independent woman, with a family of her own, who often lives far from them.

Hopeful intended parents are strongly recommended to be emotionally prepared and convinced that they want to get started with this process. This is the reason why many surrogacy agencies perform a psychological evaluation before accepting a couple or a person as a potential intended parent.

The following two sections are intended to help you consider the most important aspects related to surrogacy.

Things to consider

Even though, from a general viewpoint, one may think that surrogacy is an assisted reproduction technique that one chooses to beat the hassles of pregnancy (a decision known as social surrogacy). But, in fact, surrogacy is rarely a method that one chooses for pleasure.

For a woman, not being able to carry a pregnancy on her own is a huge sacrifice in the majority of the cases. But, when no other medical options are left, some women are able to overcome feelings of frustration by thinking on how happy they will be when their son or daughter is finally born through surrogacy.

Also, the current social debate on surrogacy can be intimidating for some commissioning parents to some extent. These feelings of awkwardness cause them to postpone the treatment, as they are afraid that their child or children will suffer from discrimination in the future.

The good news is that surrogacy is becoming increasingly popular among the society in general, partly thanks to its use by a number of celebrities.

The surrogacy agreement

To put it simply, there exist two main types of surrogacy agreements whereby one can become a parent with legal guarantees:

Commercial surrogacy agreement
The surrogate receives financial compensation to cover the potential inconveniences caused and any risks she has faced.
Altruistic surrogacy agreement
No economic compensation is paid to the surrogate, except for the potential expenses incurred during the course of pregnancy.

Those who decide to become parents through surrogacy should be aware of the regulations governing it in the US state chosen. And the same would apply should they decide to undergo surrogacy overseas.

The involvement of the gestational carrier complicates the overall decision-making process throughout the surrogacy journey, which leaves the parties involved no option but to schedule every aspect related to the pregnancy, including:

  • The prenatal visits
  • The daily routine at each state (e.g. diet and physical exercise)

These are the main reasons why signing an agreement is crucial to ensure that the process will lead to a successful outcome. It helps the parties to establish the conditions to meet, as well as to make relevant decisions in advance.

The process

If you are decidedly ready to embark yourself on the surrogacy journey, the next step is to contact a surrogacy agency, who will begin with an initial consultation to explain how surrogacy works. Most agencies require you to complete a basic questionnaire so that they can customize a surrogacy plan that meets your specific needs.

If you need a gestational surrogate to start a family, we recommend that you find out about the prices beforehand to avoid any surprises when the moment of truth arrives. In addition, understanding the budget is essential before making a decision.

During these initial consultations, you are strongly recommended to meet with an attorney to review the different programs and options offered by the agency or agencies of your choice. It is essential to learn all the details of the matching process with a donor and/or a surrogate, as well as the legal implications, costs, insurance details...

Once you have decided to work with a particular surrogacy agency, you will be assigned a program coordinator (PC), whose role is basically to guide you through the process. The first stage of your PC's role is to choose an IVF clinic as well as an egg donor if needed. Then, next step will be to find a suitable gestational carrier. Completing these phases takes an average time frame of 1-4 months approximately.

When the matching process is finished, your real surrogate pregnancy journey begins. Find more details about the subsequent stages below.

Pregnancy & getting home

The pregnancy stage starts upon the official confirmation of fetal heartbeat by means of ultrasound, usually during the 6th-7th week of pregnancy, until delivery. Your PC and legal teams will be in close contact with you at this point.

The tasks that should be completed now include contacting the hospital 1-2 months prior to delivery and completing the legal documentation for the baby or babies. These are key steps to make sure that everything is working it should.

Following birth, your attorney will work in order to ensure that the process ends with the right documentation for your home state or country, in case you are an international intended parent.

Domestic intended parents are able to travel home within 1 day or 2; international parents often require to remain in the state of birth for 2 to 4 weeks approximately.

FAQs from users

Can two males have a biological child with the DNA of both in a single pregnancy?

By Mark P. Trolice MD, FACOG, FACS, FACE (gynecologist).

Currently, fertilization of an egg only occurs by one sperm cell that is produced from one man.

Does a surrogate baby look like the parents?

By Natalia Álvarez (project manager).

It depends on whether they can use their eggs and sperm or not, if we are talking about heterosexual couples who work with a gestational surrogate. As for gay male couples, they can mix their sperms and fertilize the egg without knowing which one of them is the actual biological father, which means that at least will look like one of them.

Can a single man hire a surrogate?

By Natalia Álvarez (project manager).

Yes, surrogacy is a widely used method among single males who want to create a family. In this case, there is no alternative but to use donor eggs, which will be fertilized using the intended father's sperm.

Is gestational surrogacy possible with an embryo from both intended parents?

By Natalia Álvarez (project manager).

Yes, but only in the case of opposite-sex couples. In the case of single parents and gay couples, they have to turn to donors to create the embryo that will be transferred into the surrogate's uterus.

Suggested for you

Throughout this post, we have seen how the process works for intended parents, but what do you actually know about surrogacy? Learn more about this technique here: What Is Surrogacy & How Does It Work?

Also, we have made reference to two different types of surrogacy agreements: commercial and altruistic. These are two types of surrogacy aside from gestational and traditional surrogacy. Get more info about each one of them here: What Are the Different Types of Surrogacy?

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