We're headed to Portland for our 20-week appointment today, so I thought it would be an appropriate time to write the 411 on surrogacy. Since choosing surrogacy, I've learned so much lingo I've never heard of before, that I'm hoping helps others when explaining the surrogacy process. I've also been fortunate enough to meet some great people who have helped us out along the way with questions and letting us know about their experiences. Most commonly, people use surrogacy because of medical conditions, infertility, age, or sexual orientation.
There are two types of surrogates: Gestational surrogates and traditional surrogates.
Gestational surrogates (or gestational carriers) are not biologically related to the baby that they are carrying. They may be carrying an embryo that is biologically related to the intended parents, a donated embryo, an embryo created by the intended mother's egg and donor sperm, or a donor egg with the intended father's sperm.
A traditional surrogate uses her own egg and the intended father's sperm (or donor sperm). She is biologically related to the baby, and undergoes artificial insemination to become pregnant.
Surrogates unfortunately don't fall out of the sky. Some people may have a family member or friend who is willing to carry for them. Others will seek the help of an agency to help match them with a surrogate. There are also several surrogacy forums that allow you to place classified ads where you can find a surrogate (which is what ended up working for us). If you're not with an agency, many people use the term "going indy" or independent.
Most agencies will recommend that a surrogate is over 21, has already had a healthy child, passes a medical and mental health exam, and understands that she will need to stay healthy throughout the pregnancy. Some contracts have certain clauses that say that the surrogate will avoid certain foods during the pregnancy, stay away from chemicals, or not lift weight above a certain amount. It's recommended that a lawyer prepare the contracts for both sides to decide on.
Some states prohibit any surrogacy contracts. It's actually a felony in Michigan to enter into a surrogacy agreement. There are also many countries where surrogacy is forbidden. On the flip-side, many Americans choose to go abroad for surrogacy. India has become a very popular place for surrogacy clinics in the past few years.
I'm by no means a surrogacy expert, and hope that anyone interested in surrogacy does their research and finds the best possible way for them to complete their family.