Traditional surrogacy uses the third party’s eggs for conception. In contrast, gestational surrogacy involves the transfer of embryos made through IVF to the intended surrogate.
Benefits of Choosing Surrogacy to Grow Your Family
Being a parent is a highly rewarding endeavor. For the normal couple, the process can be tumultuous filled with nerve-wracking ups and downs. Unfortunately, some women are unable to naturally go through the gestation period due to recurrent pregnancy loss, poor obstetric history, or excessive maternal risks. Additionally, some couples will have undergone repeated IVF failure or have contraindications to pregnancy which makes surrogacy a viable option. Additionally, same-sex couples might want to grow their own families with surrogacy.
Besides, surrogacy allows for genetic connection in that one or both parents (referred to as the intended parents) maintain a biological relationship with the child. As it pertains to relationships, surrogates can (dependant on the legal agreements between the intended parents and the surrogate) maintain a relationship with the intended family and the child even after birth.
As it pertains to the legality of the procedure, surrogacy involves fewer surprises. Everyone negotiates expectations and puts them on paper prior to the embryo transfer. All factors considered surrogacy has a greater track record of carrying healthy pregnancies.
How Surrogacy Works
While it is relatively simple to understand what surrogacy is, understanding the process involved can be a bit tasking. We break down the complex process into six simple steps to help you navigate each of the milestones.
Conceiving the Embryo
The initial step of this journey is achieving conception either by obtaining eggs and sperm from the intended parents or from an egg and or sperm donor. The chance for success is maximized by increasing the number of eggs through the use of fertility drugs that stimulate the ovary. Successful ovarian stimulation results in many mature eggs, that can be subsequently fertilized and grown in an incubator for about five days. Usually only one or two embryos are transferred into the surrogate’s uterus with the rest frozen for future use and based on the intended parents’ wishes. Additionally, some patients will opt for genetic analysis of the embryos to assess for abnormalities before they are transferred back to the uterus or frozen.
Finding A Surrogate Mother
Finding the right surrogate mother, also referred to as a gestational carrier, is challenging. This step requires great caution to ensure you find a good carrier clinically and psychologically sound.
Note that to protect you, your unborn child, and the surrogate mother, the latter will have to meet strict qualifications put in place by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). You will need to first find a surrogacy agency that can present to you a pool of qualified surrogate candidates and shepherd all parties through the medical and legal requirements for the process. Note that this process will attract a charge from the agency, which varies depending on the agency itself and may or may not include the surrogate’s fee.
Some intended parents might opt against this option and instead leverage the power of social media to find a surrogate. This process referred to as independent surrogacy, can, at times, belong and disheartening. Additionally, your surrogacy lawyer will need to draft clearance letters stating that the arrangement you expect to have with your surrogate candidate is in line with available mandates.
The Embryo Transfer
The embryo transfer follows a successful fertilization process. In this step, the fertilized embryo(s) is transferred to the surrogate’s womb. This follows fertility treatments to prepare the surrogate’s uterine lining suitable for the transfer. A pregnancy test two weeks following the transfer is routine. Usually, the best embryos are used for the transfer while the rest remain in frozen storage in the event that the embryo does not attach, surrogate’s stimulation protocol fails to take effect or is successful and available for future attempts.
The Surrogacy Pregnancy
The successful transfer of the embryo marks the beginning of the surrogacy pregnancy. The surrogate mother manages her own pregnancy using their OBGYN of choice. However, the fertility doctor many times will monitor the surrogate during the first trimester to establish a healthy pregnancy and manage the supplemental hormones the surrogate will be taking. The intended parents often accompany the surrogate to her clinic follow-up assessments. For those intended parents who live out of state or the country, this may include video calls or infrequently visiting the surrogate.
Birth and Becoming a Parent
At the end of the final trimester, you can look forward to welcoming your new son or daughter. You want to have a delivery plan in place, including where you intend to deliver the child, who will cut the umbilical code, who gets to hold the baby first, and of course, the names.
Depending on how friendly the jurisdiction is to surrogacy, your names as the intended parents will be indicated on the birth certificate. According to the contract between you and the surrogate, the mother loses her right to the child the moment they are born. You might choose to have the surrogate involved in your child’s life or removed. Still, this begins your journey of being a parent, and you can now embark on further bonding with your child.
Pregnancy and gestation using surrogacy involve legal procedures for parenthood that might prove cumbersome for the parties involved. Besides, pregnancy and gestation can cause great psychological burdens and health risks to both the child and the surrogate. Finding the right reproductive specialist and clinic who have the expertise assisting you in screening any potential surrogate you may be interested in utilizing is of utmost importance If you believe that surrogacy is the right option for you and your family, reach out and schedule a consultation. We are more than happy to discuss your needs and concerns while providing you with a sensitive, empathic, and personalized approach to surrogacy.