Gestational surrogacy helps those who are unable to have children become parents. It’s a process that requires medical and legal expertise, as well as a strong support process throughout the journey.
Through IVF, embryos are created in a lab at a fertility clinic. Sometimes the intended parents use their own genetic material. Sometimes, an egg donor is required. At the fertility clinic, 1-2 embryos are implanted into a gestational carrier, who carries the baby(ies) to term.
There are two types of surrogacy — traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy.
In traditional surrogacy, a surrogate mother is artificially inseminated, either by the intended father or an anonymous donor, and carries the baby to term. The child is thereby genetically related to both the surrogate mother, who provides the egg, and the intended father or anonymous donor.
In gestational surrogacy, an egg is removed from the intended mother or an anonymous donor and fertilized with the sperm of the intended father or anonymous donor. The fertilized egg, or embryo, is then transferred to a surrogate who carries the baby to term. The child is thereby genetically related to the woman who donated the egg and the intended father or sperm donor, but not the surrogate. Some lesbian couples find gestational surrogacy attractive because it permits one woman to contribute her egg and the other to carry the child.
Traditional surrogacy is more controversial than gestational surrogacy, in large part because the biological relationship between the surrogate and the child often complicates the facts of the case if parental rights or the validity of the surrogacy agreement are challenged. As a result, most states prohibit traditional surrogacy agreements. Additionally, many states that permit surrogacy agreements prohibit compensation beyond the payment of medical and legal expenses incurred as a result of the surrogacy agreement.