Surrogacy is an option for couples in which the woman cannot carry a baby to term. Instead, another woman undergoes the pregnancy. This woman may be called a surrogate or a gestational carrier (GC), depending on the type of arrangement.
A surrogate carries an embryo created from her own egg and a man’s sperm. She is the biological mother of the child and, therefore, a genetic relative.
A GC does not contribute her own egg. Instead, couples contribute their own gametes, which are fertilized in a lab. The resulting embryo is then transferred to the uterus of the GC. The child is considered the biological offspring of the parents, although the GC might be called the birth mother.
In both scenarios, the couple usually adopts the child at birth. Sometimes, a declaration of parentage is made beforehand.
Using a surrogate or a GC can be an emotional – and costly – route. Agencies can assist in finding a suitable third party, although some couples choose to have a friend or family member carry the baby. Surrogates and GCs should be carefully evaluated for any medical or psychological issues, as well as for drug and alcohol use.
Emotionally, all parties should be on board with the plan, including the surrogate’s partner, if she has one. They will need to decide how to handle any complications during the pregnancy, such as medical issues, treatments, or loss of wages if the surrogate is unable to work. In addition, they will need to think about how involved the surrogate will be involved in the child’s life.
Couples should be counseled on the expenses involved with this type of family building. They may need to consider whether their surrogate will be compensated or if they will pay for expenses incurred during the pregnancy.
Finally, couples should be aware of legal issues that may develop during the pregnancy or even afterward. For example, considerations must be made if there are multiple births or if fetal reduction is needed. For all aspects of the arrangement, parties need to agree on who the decision makers are.