Surrogacy is a method of assisted reproduction that helps intended parents start families when they otherwise could not. Intended parents pursue surrogacy for several reasons and come from all different backgrounds. All intended parents work with a gestational surrogate, a woman who carries a child to term and today we had a chance to catch up with Dr. Marcy Maguire of RMANJ for some Q&A. Below you will find some great insight that can help most people understand how the process works.
What happens during the process?
First, there is a matching process wherein couples will evaluate and match with a gestational carrier (ie surrogate). This process includes thorough health and psychological evaluations of the carrier. Couples also interview the carriers directly prior to finalizing a match.
After a couple and their gestational surrogate has matched, an attorney reviews the contract between the couple and the carrier.
The female intended parent (the genetic mother of the child) then undergoes an in vitro fertilization cycle. IVF involves taking hormonal medication for approximately a week and a half to encourage a cohort of oocytes (eggs) to become mature. These oocytes are retrieved through a minor surgery done under sedation anesthesia. The oocytes are fertilized with the woman’s partner’s sperm and the resulting embryos are grown in culture for about 5 days. At that time, the couple may elect to screen their embryos for genetic abnormalities (such as Down Syndrome) if desired. The couple’s embryos are then cryopreserved.
Once a cohort of embryos has been cryopreserved, the gestational carrier’s portion of the treatment begins. She will take hormonal medication to prepare her uterus for implantation. After about two and a half weeks of hormonal medication, the carrier undergoes and embryo transfer. Within about 1 week the couple and the carrier will know if the carrier became pregnant from the transfer.
The couple will be able to follow the gestational carrier throughout her pregnancy. Typically the couple will be present at the time of transfer, during multiple prenatal visits and present for the birth of their child.
What are some important things couples should keep in mind when using a surrogate?
Because legal issues can arise when carriers deliver outside of the country or even in certain states within the US, it is important that prospective couple choose a reputable fertility clinic/gestational carrier agency to ensure the process runs smoothly.
Couples will often select gestational carriers who have had successful pregnancies in the past. This increases the chance that the carrier will be able to maintain a full term, healthy pregnancy.
How much does it typically cost?
$75,000 to $125,000 (includes medical and psychological screenings, legal costs, gestational carrier compensation, maternity insurance policy, IVF cycle and cycle medications). Learn more about affording fertility care.
What can women do to ensure that the surrogate doesn’t take their baby? (Are there legal documents that are signed in advance?)
There are very important legal documents to sign in advance. It is critical that couples select a carrier service that is well versed in the complicated legal issues surrounding gestational surrogacy. Couple should avoid carriers who plan to deliver the babies outside of the US. There are also certain states in the USA which are less favorable for delivery of a child through gestational surrogacy.