Surrogacy is a process that helps many aspiring parents overcome fertility challenges to grow their families. Surrogacy can be a complicated and lengthy process, especially for those who may not be familiar with it. Surrogacy in Canada is legal, but regulations vary by province. The first step that couples, or intended parents, should take is finding a surrogacy agency. Surrogacy agencies are a useful tool in the surrogacy process and help the intended parent(s) match with a surrogate that meets their needs.
The intended parent(s) will next need to determine which type of surrogacy, gestational or traditional, is right for them. In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate becomes pregnant through intercourse or artificial insemination with her own egg. Gestational surrogacy is a relatively new process, where the surrogate has no genetic connection to the embryo. In this case, the intended parents can use their egg and sperm or they can use a donor egg and sperm.
The next steps after matching with a surrogate are routine medical and psychological screenings to determine if the surrogate is fit to continue with the process. A legal contract will be written once the surrogate is cleared to ensure the remainder of the surrogacy continues without any issues.
Surrogacy arrangements made between the surrogate mother and the intended parents must respect the AHR Act (Assisted Human Reproduction Act) and provincial and territorial laws. This prohibits paying a surrogate mother for her services. However, it is legal to reimburse a surrogate mother for reasonable expenses incurred as a result of the surrogacy, including legal costs. The Act also governs how intended parent(s) and surrogate mothers find each other, so it is worth contacting a fertility lawyer early on in the process. In British Columbia, the contract must be written prior to conception for the arrangement to be considered surrogacy. If an arrangement is made after the child is conceived then an application to court must be arranged after birth for the intended parents to be identified on the birth registration. Once the intended parent(s) and surrogate have agreed to terms of the surrogacy and signed the contract, the process can begin.
It’s important to note that the surrogacy process is lengthy and expensive. It can take two to three years from the beginning steps of finding a surrogate to the birth of the child, and costs upwards of $60,000 depending on the type of surrogacy and number of treatments. However, a successful outcome will be the gift of parenthood for the intended couple/parent from a compassionate surrogate.