Surrogacy Pros and Cons: What You Should Know
Here at the Surrogacy Center of Philadelphia, we’ve seen a number of key changes that seemingly make the process a more viable option for both surrogates and intended parents. For many, surrogacy felt far out of reach for anyone other than celebrities or the wealthy. Now, surrogacy is more accessible than ever, and as a result, the demand for surrogacy has grown.
When intended parents cannot conceive traditionally, a big decision is whether to adopt or pursue surrogacy. As with any big decision, weighing the pros and cons is essential. The same can be said for those considering giving the gift of parenthood and serving as a surrogate.
Surrogacy is not a quick fix for family building or a way for a surrogate to make some fast cash. It’s called a journey for a reason. Just as you’d consult a map to determine the best way to get from point A to point B, weighing the pros and cons of surrogacy before you begin your journey ensures you can avoid surprises and make informed decisions for you and your family.
Types of Surrogacy
Surrogacy itself is not a new term. However, many are unaware that there are two main types of surrogacy – traditional and gestational – and each has pros and cons.
Traditional Surrogacy: The surrogate provides the eggs, and sperm comes from the intended father or a donor. The intended mother and the baby would have no genetic connection, and potentially, the intended father wouldn’t if a donor provided the sperm.
Gestational Surrogacy: The intended mother or a donor provides the eggs, and the intended father or a donor provides the sperm. The surrogate’s role would simply be to carry the baby to term. Either (or both) intended parents may have a genetic connection to the baby.
Depending on your circumstances, one type of surrogacy may be more desirable but impossible. Not all states have the appropriate legal environment for traditional surrogacy but do support gestational surrogacy. Regardless of your circumstances or the type of surrogacy, you feel is right, there are many positives to pursuing surrogacy. Let’s discuss some of the most significant rewards for intended parents and surrogates.
The Pros Associated with Surrogacy
I think we can all agree that a beautiful, healthy baby is the pro-est of pros, and delivering that baby into the hands of long-awaiting parents is the gift that keeps on giving.
The fulfillment of serving others
Surrogates are superheroes. Why? As a gestational carrier, you’d be helping fulfill others’ dreams of becoming a parent. It takes sacrifice, patience, understanding, and selflessness. That kind of caring is rare.
The chance to develop life-long relationships
While adoption is certainly an option for some intended parents who struggle with fertility, it can be filled with uncertainty and may not be an open adoption, limiting the contact and potential to develop a relationship with the carrier. Additionally, the parent(s) would lack a biological connection to the baby.
Surrogacy means all parties have a say in the journey. It’s a collaborative team effort between the intended parents, surrogates, doctors, lawyers, and more! Beyond just a biological connection to the baby, Intended Parents also get a chance to build a deep relationship with their gestational carrier. Often, that relationship extends beyond the baby’s birth.
Surrogates are entitled to compensation. At our surrogacy agency, gestational carriers are paid an average base fee of $40,000+, with higher compensations offered to those with prior surrogacy experience. Surrogates also receive allowances and expense reimbursements. Here is some of the additional compensation provided to surrogates at our agency:
- $250/month allowance
- Maternity clothing allowance of $500 or more
- Reimbursement for lost wages if bedrest is ordered, unpaid time off work for appointments, and travel expenses
- Compensation for extra medical procedures, including C-section delivery
- Life and medical insurance coverage during pregnancy
- An embryo transfer fee of $1,000
A surrogate’s total compensation package is often between $60,000 – $70,000.
Contractually secure process
The gestational carrier agreement protects both intended parents and gestational carriers well. This agreement clearly outlines the personal, clinical, and financial responsibilities of all participants in the surrogacy journey. It also states that the intended parents are the sole legal parent(s) of the baby.
High Success Rates
If you want to build your family through surrogacy, you’ll be happy to learn that success rates are quite high. On average, gestational carriers become pregnant 60% – 65% after a single embryo transfer. Nearly 80% are pregnant within two transfer attempts.
The Cons Associated with Surrogacy
Certain aspects of the surrogacy journey may create barriers or strain, and we’d be remiss not to cover them.
Cost of surrogacy
As the intended parent or parents, one of the first things you consider is the cost of surrogacy. It’s no secret that surrogacy is expensive, and not everyone can afford it. A complete surrogacy journey costs around $90,000, of which around half of this goes to the gestational carrier. Costs are spread out across a journey, which can help. Nonetheless, it is a major financial commitment. Surrogacy Center of Philadelphia does offer free financial advising to help intended parents set a realistic budget and identify financial resources to fund their surrogacy journey.
There are requirements that need to be met by both intended parents and surrogates. Intended parents must have created embryos that meet FDA requirements for transfer into a gestational carrier. They also should have completed psychological counseling regarding the use of third-party reproduction. Furthermore, they must not have a history of financial delinquency or criminal background.
For the surrogate, the medical and psychological requirements are significant to ensure safety and success. A gestational carrier may check all the boxes regarding the psychological requirements and feel a deep calling to help others build their families. Still, there are specific health criteria that may prevent someone from becoming a surrogate. Some of those physical requirements are:
- Age: 21 – 40 years old
- Physical Health: BMI between 20 and 32, good general health, no chronic conditions that are managed with medications contraindicated with pregnancy
- Complication-free Pregnancy and Delivery History: Including actively raising at least one child
- Home Environment: Surrogates do not have to be married. However, a strong support system and a safe home are a must!
There are health risks associated with surrogacy. In addition to general risks associated with pregnancy, a surrogate must take certain medications during the embryo transfer cycle that can increase the risk of more mild symptoms like tiredness, nausea, headaches, and weight gain, as well as very rare but more significant symptoms such as abnormal blood clotting and neurological symptoms.
Surrogate requirements are strict to help reduce the likelihood of complications that impact the health of the surrogate, pregnancy, or developing baby. These requirements are just one of the reasons intended parents and surrogates should work with an agency with established gestational carrier requirements and screening practices for the safety of everyone involved.
Potential for emotional strain
Family building is stressful. Pregnancy – whether traditional or via a surrogate – is emotional. Hormones are real. The stakes are high for all involved. Both intended parents and surrogates operate in a state of anxious anticipation, hoping everything goes smoothly.
This is why it’s essential to establish a strong communication plan and stay connected throughout the pregnancy, but also work with an agency to maintain healthy boundaries. It’s a journey you’re on together and one you’ll get through together.
Becoming a surrogate or building your family via surrogacy takes time. On the surface, it may seem like you apply, sign a contract, get pregnant, and deliver that beautiful baby nine months later. However, intended parents and surrogates should reasonably expect the journey to take at least 18 months from start to finish. Intended parents will spend time on a waiting list before matching, and surrogates have to undergo a significant screening process before matching that takes at least 3 months. Once matched, contracts and final medical clearance will take another 2 – 3 months. The embryo transfer cycle takes at least 2 months, then add on 9 months of pregnancy and 3 months of wrapping up the legal and financial aspects of the journey.