Surrogacy

Surrogacy is a method of assisted reproduction that involves a woman agreeing to carry a baby for an aspiring parent or family. 

Surrogacy is an excellent option for those who are unable to carry a child and need assistance starting a family of their own.


What is surrogacy?

Surrogacy is a highly successful legal option of reproduction in Canada in which a designated surrogate carries a child full term for an aspiring parent or couple, who may not be able to reproduce themselves or need assistance creating a family of their own.

There are two types of surrogates: Gestational and Traditional. 

Gestational surrogacy is the most common type of surrogacy - the baby is not biologically linked to the surrogate.

Traditional surrogacy involves artificially inseminating a surrogate with the intended father’s sperm. The child will then be genetically related to its father and the surrogate mother. Traditional surrogacy is less common than gestational surrogacy.

download surrogacy brochure


Who can access surrogacy?

There are many reasons why a family might not be able to reproduce which is what makes surrogacy a normalized process in Canada. Surrogacy is an excellent option for those who have attempted to become pregnant, either naturally or artificially, and were not successful.

There are many reasons to consider surrogacy, including:

  • Limited success with In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatments
  • Health problems that affect reproduction
  • Conditions that make pregnancy a risk or prevent it
  • Same-sex couples
  • Unexplained infertility
  • Maternal age 
  • Personal choice 

How does surrogacy work?

A surrogate mother is a woman who carries a baby full term for aspiring parents who are unable to create their own family. A useful first step of the surrogacy process for couples who want to use a surrogate is to create a profile with a surrogacy agency. The surrogacy agency will help them meet and match with potential surrogates. 

Once a couple has found a surrogate, the next step is a medical and psychological screening. A legal contract will be written up after the surrogate has passed the medical screening. The intended parent(s) and the surrogate will have separate legal representation, which is paid for by the intended parent(s). It is a legal requirement to have written contracts. Also, the contract ensures that the surrogacy process goes smoothly and both parties are in agreement with the terms of the process. The next steps will be cycling and embryo transfer for the surrogate to become pregnant.

In British Columbia, the contract must be written up before 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.

What are the different types of surrogacy arrangements?

Surrogacy is not dependent upon the gametes provided by the intended parent(s). There can be donor sperm and eggs as required by the individual process. The most common types of arrangements are:

Gestational Surrogacy (most common procedure):

  • The intended mother’s egg and the intended father’s sperm are used to create an embryo (via IVF) that will be implanted into and carried by the surrogate mother.
  • The child will be genetically related to its parents with no genetic relation to the surrogate mother. 

Traditional Surrogacy:

  • The intended father’s sperm is artificially inseminated into the surrogate mother via intrauterine insemination, IVF, or home insemination. 
  • The child will be genetically related to its father and the surrogate mother.

There are, of course, other variations that involve donor sperm and egg donation which will be further explained by a fertility team if the intended parent(s) choose those options. Consultation with a medical and legal team is always strongly recommended prior to engaging in any process.

How do I find a surrogate?

There are several ways to find a surrogate in Canada. The most common way is through an agency. Surrogacy agencies connect surrogates with an intended parent or parents. Another option is asking a friend or family member to be a surrogate. Connecting with people you know and trust may be preferred for some intended parents.

There are certain qualifications in Canada for a woman to become a surrogate. They include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Must be at least 21 years of age required by the AHR Act
  • Must have had at least one prior pregnancy 
  • Must have no prior reproductive complications
  • Must have no known health problems
  • Must be in good mental, physical, and emotional health

Read more qualifications at surrogacy.ca.

How long does the surrogacy process take?

It can take between six months to one year to find a surrogate in Canada. Parents who have no specific requirements for their surrogate may find a match quickly. Parents who are looking for specific characteristics such as ethnicity, lifestyle, age, etc. may take longer to find a surrogate who fits their preferences.

Typically, it can take between 1 to 2 years to have a baby after finding a surrogate, medical screenings, and the cycling process.


What do I look for in a surrogacy agency?

There are many factors to consider when choosing the surrogacy agency that is right for your family. The most important factor to consider is experience. Your surrogacy agency will guide you through the process every step of the way which is why it’s important to select one that has sufficient knowledge, expertise and credibility. 

Communication is another key factor. Surrogate agencies act as a liaison between intended parents and the surrogate. They will also help you negotiate and confirm your surrogacy agreement, so ideally, you will want an agency that communicates reliably and quickly.

Read more about getting started with surrogacy in our PDF brochure.


How much is surrogacy in Canada?

Surrogacy is an expensive process and couples who are interested in moving forward with a surrogate should be prepared financially. Surrogacy Canada Online recommends that the intended parent(s) have a budget of $80,000 for a gestational surrogacy. IVF treatment costs alone can range between $10,000 - $20,000. 

If you already have frozen embryos then you should have a budget of approximately $60,000. The average cost of a gestational surrogacy is between $32,000 to more than $78,000. 

Expenses during and after the pregnancy including travel to clinics, childcare, medications, clothing, etc. can cost between $11,000 and $28,000. Legal expenses can range up to $10,000.

There are many factors that will determine how much your surrogacy arrangement costs. Other determining factors are the locations of the surrogate and intended parent(s), clinic choice, number of cycles, and expenses claimed by the surrogate.

Does my insurance cover surrogacy?

Most insurance plans will not cover surrogacy, but some expenses may be partially covered. Most fertility treatments are considered third party medical treatments and will not be covered by insurance or provincial health care plans.

Provincial health care plans will cover birth-related medical expenses for Canadian surrogates including prenatal care and delivery. Sensible Surrogacy outlines that certain costs won’t be covered for the child of international parents. If the baby arrives prematurely, the costs of NICU or an incubator will not be covered ($10,000 plus per day in NICU), and the average cost of the hospital stay per day is $500. There are insurance companies that may offer some protection for international intended parents.

What happens after birth?

Each province has its own set of rules regarding the birth registration process, therefore the intended parent(s) should discuss this with a lawyer in their own province.

Immediately following birth, the surrogate relinquishes custody of the child to the intended parent(s) pursuant to the surrogacy contract. At this point, neither party can withdraw from the agreement and the surrogate must give written consent to surrender the child to the intended parents shortly following birth. 

There is also the possibility for the intended parent(s) and the surrogate to agree that the surrogate is a legal parent. The BC Family Law Act states that it is possible for a child to have up to 5 legal parents.