People don’t often jump at the option of surrogacy. In many cases, they don’t consider it at all. For those who do, they often check into it after pursuing other, more commonly known options for getting to baby, like fertility treatments and adoption. We fall into the latter category. Surrogacy seems like a well-kept secret. Unlike other options, there aren’t billboards and commercials urging you to pursue it, and couples who have used surrogacy don’t usually broadcast this fact. It simply seems to exist quietly. Although there have been celebrities, like Sir Elton John, Martha Stewart’s daughter, and others, who have used surrogates, it still seems like an unknown option among non-celebrities.
To the uninitiated, it might sound scary — but surrogacy is just a variation of fertility treatment. Artificial insemination or In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) are still used — a different woman just carries the child. And although that might sound complicated, it can actually save tens of thousands of dollars and shave years off of your parenthood pursuit.
Although you might not hear much about surrogacy, there are well-established agencies out there that specialize in matching surrogates with hopeful parents. While surrogacy agencies are an easier way to match with a qualified surrogate, be prepared to pay high prices for the service — in most cases, more than $100,000 — some of which goes to the surrogate, but most of which goes to the agency. In these types of arrangements, you can opt to have limited contact with your surrogate, or none at all. You can also use the internet to try to match up with a surrogate on your own, which can not only save money, but also allow you to be more involved with your surrogate during pregnancy and delivery.
If you’ve pursued or just researched adoption, you know the process is regulated by dense and complicated laws. That’s not as true for surrogacy, although retaining good legal counsel and developing written contracts to cover logistics and contingencies is certainly advisable.
What kind of surrogacy arrangement would you prefer? A traditional surrogate uses her own egg and an intended parent’s sperm, while a gestational carrier is impregnated through In Vitro Fertilization with the intended parents’ sperm and eggs, or sperm and eggs of their choosing. The first of the two is less expensive, but the latter may be more appealing for some couples. Remember, if the surrogate uses her own egg, she has more legal standing to change her mind and choose to parent the child.
We examine the intricacies of surrogacy, which is the option that ultimately made us parents, in our book, “Getting to Baby.” Find details on what to expect and how to navigate the process there.