How to choose between traditional and gestational surrogacy

Intended mothers may look into surrogacy because of uterine issues, a high age, having had a hysterectomy, a history of multiple miscarriages, or other health issues. Single or gay men often turn to a surrogate to help them build a family. No matter what a person’s reason for considering surrogacy, both potential surrogates, and intended parents must realize the differences between traditional and gestational surrogacy and how it affects the entire surrogacy process.

The most major difference between traditional and gestational surrogacy is that in traditional surrogacy, the surrogate is biologically related to the child. In comparison, a gestational carrier has no genetic relation to the child. This difference has a ripple effect on the surrogacy process in many significant ways.

How does the medical process differ for traditional versus gestational surrogacy?

Traditional and gestational surrogacy uses different medical procedures to impregnate the surrogate. Most commonly, traditional surrogacy uses intrauterine insemination (IUI). During IUI, sperm cells are put directly into the surrogate’s uterus around the time she is ovulating. This may involve a small number of fertility medicines to help stimulate ovulation prior to the insemination.

For gestational surrogacy, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is used. Rather than the gestational carrier’s eggs, this process uses eggs from the intended mother or a donor. These eggs receive fertilization outside of the surrogate’s body with sperm from an intended father or donor. The embryo is then transferred to the surrogate. Prior to the transfer, the gestational carrier will need to take more hormonal medicines than are required IUI. From a medical standpoint, IVF is a more complicated process than IUI. However, success rates for IVF are higher and this can reduce intended parents’ nervousness during this phase.

Can you work with an agency for both traditional and gestational surrogacy?

Most reputable agencies will only work with gestational carriers because of the legal complexities and possible emotional issues involved with traditional surrogacy. Working with an agency means you’ll receive help matching with a physically and emotionally qualified surrogate, useful recommendations, and mediation services. Many find working with agencies to be comforting and believe it makes the process more relaxing.

If you choose to go with traditional surrogacy and don’t already have a close friend or family member who has volunteered to be your surrogate, you’ll likely have a more challenging time finding a surrogate. This increases your wait time before you can begin the surrogacy process with a willing surrogate and you’ll have to navigate everything without the help of an agency.

What are the legal differences between traditional and gestational surrogacy?

Gestational surrogacy is legal in several states where traditional surrogacy is not. In general, traditional surrogacy is more complicated. It involves more legal actions since the surrogate is biologically related to the child. Typically, the traditional surrogate’s parental rights aren’t fully eliminated until after birth. In some states, the intended parents may need to complete stepparent adoption to establish their parental rights.

It’s extremely rare for any type of surrogate to try and obtain custody of the child. However, the risk is greater with traditional surrogacy. Because of this possibility, intended parents might feel stressed or nervous over the possibility of a legal battle. In contrast, working with a gestational carrier requires fewer legal hoops. Many parents are able to receive a pre-birth order that establishes their parental rights before the child’s birth. No matter which type of surrogacy you pursue, it’s essential to work closely with a surrogacy attorney.

What is the cost difference between the two?

Traditional surrogacy is usually less expensive than gestational surrogacy. The price difference is mainly a result of IVF costing more than IUI. For IUI, the intended parents don’t need to pay for egg donation or fertility treatments for the intended mother since her eggs are not used. Money saved from using IUI over IVF may show up in other costs. Costs such as extra legal fees or advertising costs to find the surrogate. Speak with a surrogacy professional to determine more accurate prices for your specific situation.

What are the emotional differences between traditional and gestational surrogacy?

A traditional surrogacy tends to hold more emotional weight for both the surrogate and intended parents. It can feel uncomfortable and risky knowing your surrogate is genetically related to your child. Gestational carriers often think of themselves as babysitters during pregnancy, but this is more difficult for traditional surrogates.

Relationships between surrogates and intended parents vary greatly based on preferences and connections. However, traditional surrogates often want a more involved relationship than gestational carriers. When deciding between traditional and gestational surrogacy, consider how involved you want the surrogate. Do you want involvement with you during pregnancy or at all with the child after birth?

While there are many similarities between traditional and gestational surrogacies, the differences can have a significant impact on the process. Traditional surrogacy involves simpler medical procedures and is often the less expensive option. Gestational surrogacy allows you to work with an agency. It also has fewer legal complexities, and typically takes less of an emotional toll. Discuss with your family or a surrogacy professional the best option for you.

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