People who have struggled with infertility, hopeful single parents, same-sex couples, someone who doesn’t want a genetic link between the surrogate and their child, and anyone who is unable to safely carry a pregnancy to term often turn to surrogacy in order to have a baby. In gestational surrogacy, the child is not biologically related to the surrogate mother and this is not adoption. Instead, the embryo is created via in vitro fertilization (IVF), using the eggs and sperm of the intended parents or donors, and is then transferred to the surrogate.
The process of surrogate mother is, unfortunately, not something you can rush- although you are no doubt very excited to get it underway. There are various factors that can affect the length of the surrogacy process, but it generally takes anywhere from four to six months to locate a qualified surrogate. The best surrogate mother agencies will have many mothers to choose from, all of which will be very high-quality candidates. Assuming that your surrogate becomes successfully pregnant after the first embryo transfer, the whole process will generally take about a year and a half. So, what exactly does the process entail?
The first step depends on whether you personally know your surrogate or not. Intended parent(s) may know of or locate a surrogacy mother on their own and therefore pursue an independent surrogacy with an attorney specializing in assisted reproductive law. However, it is much more common that the intended parent(s) do not know the surrogate mother on a personal level and so most intended parents choose to work with a full-service surrogacy agency to help them find a gestational carrier.
Once a wonderful surrogate mother has been matched with a couple or single parent, the surrogate and intended parent(s) will each work with an attorney to discuss their legal risks and responsibilities. Once everyone is in agreement and the contracts are signed, a fertility clinic will handle the IVF and embryo transfer process. An embryo will be created and transferred to the surrogate using IVF. The exact method of IVF used will depend on whether the intended parents are providing both the egg and sperm, only one and a donor is used for the other, or both a donor egg and sperm and being used.
Now the exciting part really begins! From this point on, the surrogate will carry the baby as if it were any other pregnancy, and the intended parent(s) may be as involved or distant during the pregnancy as was previously agreed upon. Some like to go to doctor’s appointments and form a bond with the surrogate, while others choose not to for various reasons. In about 40 weeks, the intended parent(s) will welcome their child and have full legal custody when he or she is born.
This is only a general overview of the process. It is important to remember that surrogacy laws are determined by each state, and certain states do not allow surrogacy at all. Your chosen agency or attorney will help you understand gestational surrogacy laws in your state and help you complete the surrogacy process so you stay within the law where you live.