The process of having a child through gestational surrogacy is long and complex, but one that can be happy and joyful. Gestational surrogacy is defined when the child is not biologically related to the woman carrying the pregnancy often referred to as the gestational carrier. In the case of gestational surrogacy the embryo is created via in vitro fertilization (IVF) using the sperm and eggs of the intended parents or donors, then transferred to the gestational carrier (GC). Gestational surrogacy is an increasingly common form of family-building, and one that allows individuals or couples to become parents despite circumstances where carrying a pregnancy might be impossible, either medically or biologically.
Gestational surrogacy is is a life event for all parties involved and should be both embraced and enjoyed.
Here are 6 ways to make your gestational surrogacy journey a happy one:
- Find the right IVF partner clinic – You will need an IVF clinic with experience beyond regular IVF. Rather, you will need an IVF clinic that works closely with a surrogacy agency. This keeps the process well in hand, organized, and seamless with the various transitions over the time it takes to medically screen and treat the intended parent(s), donor (as applicable), create embryos and to prepare the GC for embryos transfer and upcoming pregnancy.
- Your surrogacy agency is your 9-month lifeline – You will need a surrogacy agency with a point-person responsible for finding your surrogate. Going out and finding your own surrogate can become confusing, cumbersome and frustrating. It is relevant to know that only 2-3% that apply to be GCs pass all the screening necessary to be approved. Furthermore, you need a surrogacy agency to manage the relationship, and with nearly 40 weeks of pregnancy, the surrogacy agency will navigate the myriad of things that come up over that 9-month period.
- Your legal journey can be a smooth one – A reproductive attorney is essential. Your reproductive attorney is the one who will assign parentage and will be aware of the different parentage laws that are individual to each state. For example, LGBTQ+ people need to be aware of second-parent adoption, which is adoption of a child by the intended parent who is not genetically related to the child born. This allows a second parent to adopt the child so they have equivalent rights as a parent as the genetic or biological parent. Second-parent adoption and step parent adoptions legal processes are unique state by state.
- Your gestational carrier is a happy partner for life – Recognize that a prerequisite for being a GC is that they have had at least one child with a good pregnancy course and a healthy outcome. Gestational carriers have their own children and do not want your child. Rather, the surrogates are typically very care-giving people who take real joy in your success. It is more often the case that they desire to build a relationship moving forward to stay in the life of your growing family.
- Transparency will make your family whole – It is important that you remain transparent about your family-building through surrogacy. At some point in time your children are going to ask questions and they need to know that they were carried by another woman who cared for them, on your behalf, for 9 months, and that this woman is potentially still part of their life. This will help your children put their own sense of self together.
- The finances are manageable! Family building through in vitro fertilization and surrogacy is a significant financial burden, but it is also a long process, which allows you to cover those costs over a period of 2-3 years. While the all-in costs for IVF and surrogacy transfer are more than 6 figures this includes the cost for in vitro fertilization, mental health screening of the surrogate, finding a qualified surrogate, compensation of the surrogate,medical costs of the pregnancy and the commensurate legal fees associated with contractual arrangements and assigned legal parentage.
While the idea of gestational surrogacy can seem overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. If you embrace the journey and feel good about the team you’ve chosen, the process can be not only joyful but incredibly rewarding over a lifetime.
Written by Dr. Mark Leondires