Starting A Family Through Surrogacy
The concept of the surrogate can be traced back to as far as biblical times. Today, surrogacy is an effective way to help specific couples or individuals start or grow a family. Traditional surrogacies only involved artificial insemination. Thanks to technology, this has now evolved to gestational surrogacy or host surrogacy. A fertility clinic can use in vitro fertilization (IVF) to create an embryo outside the body. The embryo is then transplanted into the surrogate to carry and deliver the baby.
What is gestational surrogacy?
Simply put, a gestational surrogate is not biologically linked to the child in any way. Traditional surrogacies meant the woman’s eggs were used, creating a biological link. These surrogacies created emotional and legal hurdles. Today, a fertility clinic or agency can provide someone to carry the child. In some cases, the couple or individual will ask a friend or relative to have the child. The first gestational surrogate can be traced back to 1985, and this method is the preferred choice. Because of IVF, at least one parent will be genetically linked to the child.
Who benefits from gestational surrogacy?
Clinics used IVF to help people struggling with infertility. But for some, this procedure is not enough. There are special circumstances where a gestational surrogate is an excellent solution. In most cases, the intended mother is infertile or medically unable to carry the child to term. Now, gestational surrogacies extend to same-sex couples and hopeful single parents.
Finding the surrogate
So how does the process work? Gestational surrogacy is complex with medical, legal, and even emotional steps to undertake. The hopeful parent or couple must find a gestational carrier. Most surrogacies today are supported by an agency. Agencies are adept at finding the right person and managing the process. Some parents find someone independently and will approach a friend or family member. Independent surrogacies are a bit more stressful as the hopeful parent will need to manage the legal process.
Looking at the details
Ironing out the legalities of surrogacy is the most critical part of the process. Once the match is found, all parties must meet with an attorney versed in reproductive law. The lawyer helps create a necessary contract to cover the responsibilities of both parties. The parent must compensate the surrogate for the time, medical risk, and any further issues at delivery. The surrogate must do what’s necessary to protect the health and wellness of the baby. Once everything is agreed and the contract is signed, then the fertility clinic can take action.
Starting the IVF process
Now the fertility clinic and doctor can begin sourcing the egg and sperm to create the embryo. If the intended parent has viable eggs, the clinic will provide hormone medication to stimulate the ovaries. This process helps the clinic extract as many eggs as possible. A same-sex male couple, single man, or transgender woman will need donor eggs. The egg and sperm samples are passed to an embryologist who will create the embryos.
Transferring to the surrogate
Once the embryos are created, the next step is to transfer the viable embryo. The embryologist will create several embryos, freezing the rest for future cycles if necessary. The host surrogate will then visit the doctor for the transfer via a simple, non-invasive procedure. The doctor will transfer the embryo to the woman’s uterus using a small catheter. The process takes just a few minutes, and the surrogate may experience slight discomfort and light spotting. Within 10-14 days, the doctor will perform a pregnancy test to see if the transfer was a success.
Gestational surrogacy is a viable option
A successful pregnancy test is not the end but the start of a long road to childbirth. All parties will continue to work together to ensure a successful pregnancy. Even though the first gestational pregnancy happened almost 40 years ago, there is still more to be done. The laws are complex. There is also a considerable expense with IVF, legal fees, and the surrogate’s wellbeing. That said, gestational surrogacy is an excellent way for single persons, the LGBTQ community, and infertile couples to have a child. Not just any child, but one with a genetic link to the hopeful parents. Speak with a surrogate agency or fertility clinic for the proper guidance.