Understanding the Surrogacy Process: What It Is and How It Works
Surrogacy is life changing. Whether you are a hopeful intended parent or a prospective surrogate considering this journey, you probably have many questions about how this process works. Let’s look at the surrogacy process in chronological order.
Prepare for surrogacy
Before embarking on a surrogacy process it’s important to understand how surrogacy works, that way you can decide if it’s the right option for you and your family.
You need to learn about the different surrogacy agreements available. Here is a brief overview:
- Gestational Surrogacy: In this process, the eggs will be provided by the intended mother (or a donor) and fertilized with sperm from the intended father (or a donor). The surrogate’s eggs are not involved in any way, so the surrogate will not have a genetic link with the baby.
- Traditional Surrogacy: Is when the surrogate uses her eggs and is artificially inseminated with sperm from the intended father or a donor. Because her eggs are used, she will be genetically connected to the baby. There are several legal and emotional concerns with this form of surrogacy, therefore, it is not commonly pursued.
- Compensated Surrogacy: This is a surrogacy arrangement in which the surrogate is paid an agreed-upon amount for her services.
- Altruistic Surrogacy: Is when the surrogate is only compensated for surrogacy-related expenses.
It’s also recommended that you think about your goals and start drafting your surrogacy plan. When working on your plan, you will need to think about the kind of intended parents or surrogate you would like to work with, the type of relationship would you like to have once the baby is born, and much more.
Find a Match
Once ready, it’s time to find your ideal match. This phase is probably one of the most exciting parts of the whole journey.
It’s important not to rush, to make sure you find your surrogacy soul mate, because you will have a very close relationship with your surrogate/intended parents for at least twelve months.
When looking for intended parents or a surrogate, it’s vital that you define your expectations for the journey, and make sure that the other party has the same expectations. A good surrogacy plan will be a boon during this phase.
Medical and Psychological Screening
After the matching, one of the less pleasant phases begins. The surrogate will need to undergo a medical screening and psychological evaluation to confirm that she is in good shape and is psychologically ready to pursue a surrogacy journey.
Complete the Surrogacy Contract
While surrogacy is an exciting journey, there are always ups and downs to navigate; the surrogacy contract will help to protect all parties.
This legal document sets out the rights and obligations of, both, the surrogate, and the intended parents. The agreement also outlines the parentage to be assigned to the child once it is born.
Each party should have individual legal representation, so that they can receive personalized advice and protection of their rights. Once both parties agree, the contract is signed.
Fertility Treatment and Pregnancy
Once the surrogate has been cleared by the fertility doctor, and the contract has been drafted and signed, a nurse at the IVF clinic will schedule the various phases of the IVF cycle.
The treatment will vary depending on whether a fresh or frozen embryo transfer will be done.
- Fresh Embryo Transfer
For a fresh embryo transfer, the egg donor and surrogate will have to synchronize their cycles. After the egg retrieval, the eggs will be fertilized, and then an embryo will be transferred to the surrogate.
- Frozen Embryo Transfer
In a frozen embryo transfer, frozen fertilized eggs from a previous IVF are thawed and transferred to the surrogate.
About ten days after the embryo transfer, the surrogate will be tested (via blood test) to confirm pregnancy.
If pregnancy is confirmed, an ultrasound will be done about six weeks later to confirm the heartbeat. Normally, after this ultrasound, the surrogate will be released to her OBGYN to continue with the typical prenatal care, checkups, and ultrasounds. However, if there are complications, a different approach might be recommended.
Welcoming the New Baby
The most exciting moment of the surrogacy journey, the birth is truly a life-changing experience for, both, the prospective parents, and the surrogate. Typically, the parents will accompany the surrogate to the hospital or meet her there, per their arrangement.