What is Gestational Surrogacy?
Unfortunately, there are a lot of men and women who want to be parents but can’t bear children of their own. It’s unfortunate when this happens because it leaves what would likely be good and loving parents without a child to raise. Fortunately, there is a viable solution for people who want a child and need a little help making it happen. It’s called surrogacy.
In the sections below, the discussion is going to focus primarily on gestational surrogacy and potential gestational parents. There will also be a brief discussion on traditional surrogacy for comparison reasons.
What is a Surrogate?
The standard definition of a surrogate from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is “one appointed to act in place of another.” In terms of childbirth, a surrogate would be a woman who serves the function of carrying a child to term on behalf of an intended parent or parents who cannot or choose not to go through the pregnancy process on their own.
Types of Surrogacy
There are two types of surrogacy: traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy. What defines the difference between these two types of surrogacy is the biology behind the pregnancy.
A traditional surrogate would be a woman who provides the egg cell and also carries the child through pregnancy on behalf of an intended parent or parents. In other words, they will have a genetic connection to the child. Many times, the sperm donor is the intended father, though the sperm could be provided by a donor. Either way, it’s the surrogate mother who provides her own egg cell and gets pregnant through natural means or artificial insemination.
A gestational surrogate (gestational parent) has no biological connection to the child. Through in vitro fertilization, a fertility specialist places a fertilized egg in the womb of the gestational carrier. The surrogate carries the child to term on behalf of the intended parent or parents.
In almost all cases, the egg cell comes from the would-be intended mother, though using an egg donor is possible. The sperm cell can come from the would-be intended father, though the use of a sperm donor is also commonplace.
The Gestational Surrogacy Process
The gestational surrogacy process usually starts when wanna-be parents discover they won’t be able to go through a traditional pregnancy process. For the deserving people who really want to experience parenthood, gestational surrogacy becomes a viable option.
Once intended parents decide to pursue the gestational surrogacy option, they will typically contact a gestational surrogacy agency. Such agencies are licensed to serve as intermediaries between the gestational mother and the intended parent or parents.
The agency’s primary responsibility, for which it charges a fee, is to match a gestational parent (mother) with a client (the intended parent or parents). The agency will also serve as an intermediary with the fertility clinic the parties will use, though most agencies are directly connected with a specific fertility clinic.
Sometimes, the intended parents will approach the agency with a specific gestational carrier in mind. As long as the requested surrogate meets the agency’s requirements, this is a viable option.
Each prospective surrogate must go through a rigorous medical/psychological examination process. They must also meet certain requirements related to the following:
- Age must be between the ages of 21 and 40)
- Must have successfully delivered one child without complications + no history of pregnancy complications if other children were delivered
- Must have a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 20-32
- Must live in a stable home environment with stable finances
- Do history of illicit drug use or felony convictions
- Last pregnancy must be at least six months removed while a woman currently raising a child is highly preferred
Also, the gestational parent must have a willingness to serve others. It’s a process that will place a physical and emotional burden on them. When a surrogate is giving of themselves for the benefit of intended parents, the process has a great deal of meaning to everyone involved.
Once a good match between a gestational mother and intended parents has been determined, all parties enter into a surrogacy contract. As part of the contract, the total gestational surrogacy cost is laid out for the intended parent or parents. As part of that cost, the surrogate’s fees and reimbursable costs are made clear.
How much does the typical gestational surrogacy cost? How much do surrogates get paid?
In both cases, the amounts can vary from one state to the next and one agency/fertility clinic to the next.
At the Surrogacy Center of Philadelphia, the current agency fee is $21,000, which can be paid in three installments. After factoring in the compensation that will go to the surrogate mother, the average total fee is approximately $86,000.
As for the surrogate’s compensation, it starts with a base fee of $35,000 for first-time surrogates. The base fee can exceed $40,000 for experienced surrogates. Other fees and reimbursements include:
- A monthly allowance of $200 for incidentals
- Embryo transfer fee of $1,000 after successful transfer
- Clothing allowance of $500 or more
- Coverage of medical insurance, medical costs, and life insurance policy during pregnancy
- reimbursement and compensation of $500 for each extra invasive medical procedure that is required
- Compensation for lost wages while attending schedule appointments
- Additional compensation of #3,000 for a Cesarean section delivery
- Reimbursement for childcare costs and weekly housekeeping if necessary for health reasons
- $150 for breastmilk pumping and storage (optional)
Note: Some of these compensations are made prior to pregnancy, during pregnancy, and after a successful delivery. It’s also noteworthy that some things are negotiable and the final compensation guidelines will be laid out in the surrogacy contract.
The Human Factor
So far, the gestational surrogacy process might seem very biological and financial in nature. However, there is a very important human factor connected to this process.
For the surrogate, it’s a wonderful opportunity to fulfill the parenthood dreams of good people who might not otherwise ever get the chance to raise a child. It’s a selfless act that warrants respect and admiration for any woman who is willing to serve as a surrogate.
It’s important to remember that surrogates have to endure the nine months of pregnancy, knowing they will be turning the child over to the intended parents immediately after the child is born. It’s hard to imagine the emotions that come into play when this happens.
For the intended parent or parents, gestational surrogacy is an opportunity to make a dream come true. In many cases, the intended parents have gone through the disappointment of knowing they can’t bear children on their own. When they realize surrogacy is a viable option, the excitement can be overwhelming.
During the pregnancy, intended parents are left to sit and wait for the arrival of the child. There is nothing left for them to do but be supportive of the surrogate mother throughout the process. On the day of delivery, the excitement and nervousness for all vested parties are palpable. Once that beautiful child arrives, the intended parents’ dream becomes a reality.
If you have an interest in gestational surrogacy as a surrogate or intended parent, we encourage you to give us a call. We will do our very best to answer your questions and make you feel comfortable with the process.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: Why the age limitations on the surrogate?
A: Experience has taught us that women between the ages of 21 and 40 have the physical and mental maturity to deal with the surrogacy process without enduring significant problems.
Q: Is the surrogacy fee negotiable?
A: The agency fee of $21,000 is not negotiable. As far as the surrogate’s compensation is concerned, some fees and reimbursements are subject to discussion and agreement.
Q: Can the surrogate use their own Gynecologist?
A: After the embryo has been successfully implanted, the surrogate has the right to consult with their own doctors.
Q: Can intended parents reject suggested surrogates?
A: Absolutely. Intended parents do not have to contract with a surrogate until they are satisfied it’s the right one for them.