There are two types of surrogacy: gestational surrogacy and traditional surrogacy. Surrogacy provides options for those who wish to be parents, but who need the help of some of the most caring and giving women: surrogate mothers. Surrogacy is complex, and while is a viable means to building a family, it’s still not widely known. The following is a guide to help you understand the different types of surrogacy.

The definition of surrogacy is the involvement of a woman who carries a child to term and relinquishes her rights to said child over to the intended parent(s).

How gestational surrogacy works.

Gestational Surrogacy is the most popular type of surrogacy. In gestational surrogacy, the biology is provided by the intended parents or donor (not the surrogate mother), and therefore the surrogate is not biologically related to the baby.

Gestational Surrogacy involves a process called In Vitro Fertilization, where the eggs are extracted from a woman’s ovaries, either from the intended mother or an egg donor, and the eggs are then fertilized with sperm from the intended father or a sperm donor. Once the eggs are fertilized, they are considered embryos. These embryos are then implanted into the uterus of a woman who will carry the child to term (the gestational surrogate).

Once created, embryos may be frozen and stored in a lab, which provides a safe, stable environment. For those using an egg donor, most intended parents create embryos and freeze them for use later.

Before embryos can be created, legal contracts will need to be put into place between the intended parents and the surrogate and egg donor (if needed). The egg donor contract helps ensure that the donor has no rights to any child resulting from the embryos created with her genetic material.

Before transferring the embryo into the uterus of the gestational surrogate for implantation, a written contract needs to be drafted between the intended parents and the gestational carrier. This is done by a lawyer who specializes in Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) law. This contract confirms the gestational carrier’s intention to relinquish any rights to the child she may have simply as a result of her birthing the child. Also, she acknowledges that the intended parents are in fact the legal parents of the child.

To learn more about the gestational surrogacy process, read more on our process page!

How traditional surrogacy works.

In Traditional Surrogacy, the surrogate mother uses her own egg, becoming pregnant via an insemination process where the sperm of the intended father, or that of a sperm donor, is transferred to her uterus. In this case, the surrogate mother is genetically linked to the child she is carrying, and shares DNA with the child.

Once the child is born, the surrogate mother must relinquish her parental rights, usually through an adoption hearing, so that the child can be raised by both the intended father and his partner or wife.

The process used for traditional surrogacy is known as intrauterine insemination (IUI). As part of the IUI process, semen from either the intended father or from a donor is collected and washed carefully in a laboratory. The semen needs to be specially washed to ensure the sperm is concentrated; the more concentrated it is, the higher the rate of pregnancy. This concentrated sperm is then transferred into the uterus of the surrogate. Insemination can take place in either a sterile medical facility, where it is constantly being monitored, or in a home setting.

Traditional surrogacy vs Gestational Surrogacy

Today, intended parents interested in pursuing surrogacy through a surrogacy agency, will likely do gestational surrogacy, as it is the more commonly practiced type of surrogacy. Many agencies only do gestational surrogacy.

Your surrogacy agency will be able to help educate you on the gestational surrogacy process, what to expect along the way, and what surrogacy costs might be. Full-service surrogacy agencies usually have lawyers on staff who will assist intended parents with all legal matters for surrogacy and egg donation. If a surrogacy agency does not have lawyers on staff, they may be able to connect intended parents to a lawyer with which they can work.

Surrogacy is an emotional, financial and legal process by which to grow your family. Having the right guidance along your journey will be key in ensuring your success.

Surrogate vs Surrogate Mother vs Gestational Carrier

You’ve likely heard the terms surrogate, surrogate mother and gestational surrogate or gestational carrier. So which term is correct? The woman who carries a baby for intended parents in gestational surrogacy is a gestational carrier, because she is not biologically related to the baby (she’s not the baby’s mother).

However, while the term “surrogate” can refer to a woman who is biologically related to the baby, using the words “surrogate” or “surrogate mother” has become a common practice. It is not uncommon to conduct research and see the words surrogate and gestational carrier used interchangeably. If you are pursuing gestational surrogacy, the woman who will be carrying the baby will NOT be genetically related to the child, whether you call her a surrogate mother or a gestational carrier.

Are you interested in becoming a gestational carrier or learning more about the process of becoming a surrogate, we encourage you to learn more on our website or apply today!