As the pathway to finding a surrogate differs for each family, so too do the surrogacy arrangements.
Gestational Surrogacy is the most common arrangement and involves the biological contribution of both intended parents. The intended mother’s egg and the intended father’s sperm are used to create an embryo via IVF that is then implanted into and carried by the surrogate mother. With this procedure, the future child will be genetically related to their parents with no genetic relation to the surrogate mother.
While they will not have the physical experience of pregnancy, intended mothers who choose gestational surrogacy can still find ways to be actively involved in those precious 9 months. Attending an ultrasound is a powerful and emotional moment for any parent. In the context of a surrogacy arrangement, intended parent(s) and surrogates should have clear expectations of everyone’s level of involvement during the pregnancy, labour & delivery, and post-birth. Surrogacy agencies can be incredibly helpful in negotiating arrangements between all parties at the beginning of the process. If the surrogate mother and the intended parent(s) do not live within an easy travel distance, part of the arrangement could include an agreement that the surrogate mother use video calling during her pregnancy wellness checks and ultrasounds.
Traditional Surrogacy is another option for intended parent(s). In this arrangement, the child is genetically related to their father and the surrogate mother. For the procedure, the intended father’s sperm is artificially inseminated into the surrogate mother via intrauterine insemination, IVF, or home insemination.
Intended parent(s) considering the Traditional Surrogacy route may want to consider the role of the surrogate mother in the child’s future. Will the surrogate mother be an active presence in the child’s life? Curiosity about parental origins is a natural human inclination. While genetics alone do not define a parent, they are a strong factor in an individual’s sense of identity. Adopted children, even in the most loving and fulfilling homes, will inevitably reach an age where questions about their birth parents will surface. If the surrogate mother is already part of the intended parent(s) circle of close friends, for example, then all parties should be prepared to answer those natural questions from their child.
When moving through the surrogacy process, a helpful exercise is to imagine explaining the birth story to a future child. This will likely be a developing story as a child grows older and their comprehension deepens. A toddler’s understanding of surrogacy will be vastly different from that of a teenager, but there are still ways to expose young children to the concepts and terminology of surrogacy. Studies over the past decade found that an early introduction of the surrogacy story to children is a far healthier approach than withholding information until a child is older. This article compiles a wonderful list of children’s books all centered around explaining surrogacy to children. While the details of the birth story may fill in over time, the surrogacy choices made by the intended parent(s) should be ones they are comfortable sharing with their future child.
Each surrogacy journey is unique. With the scientific advancements over the past several decades, the pathways to parenthood have continued to expand. Whether it be Gestational or Traditional surrogacy, intended parent(s) and surrogates can take comfort in the knowledge that the procedure alone does not define the whole surrogacy experience. The science may be straightforward, but there are many opportunities beyond that to make the surrogacy experience special for every individual involved.