When a couple is infertile they must choose from a variety of options on how to achieve their dream of having a child.There are surgeries and procedures, supplements and injections, surrogacy or adoption, just to name a few. One of the options which is the least publicized is gestational surrogacy. What is it, how does it work and why choose this route?
What is a Gestational Carrier?
A gestational carrier, someone who carries YOUR baby for you, is one option that couples may choose. However, any couple looking into this decision needs to be aware of the high cost of this decision both financially and emotionally.
If your fertility issue lies with your uterus being an inhospitable environment for an embryo, then a gestational carrier may be your only option at having a child that is genetically yours. Other fertility issues such as sperm motility or PCOS may be treated with other options and may not be successful in a gestational carrier situation.
Why Choose Gestational Surrogacy?
If you are now considering this as an option for expanding your family unit, you may wonder why you should choose gestational surrogacy over adoption. Couples who choose gestational carriers do so in order to have their own biological child.
Many times it is often the same cost as adoption, depending on your state, agency and other conditions. Additionally, finding and being matched with a carrier can take as little as two weeks whereas it can take 2-3 years to be matched with an adoptive child.
An embryo will be created with your eggs and your partner’s sperm and will be placed in the carrier's uterus. If the implantation is successful she will then carry the baby to term and upon delivery, parental rights will be signed over to you and your partner. This is different from surrogacy in that the embryo is comprised of your egg and your partner’s sperm. The carrier has no biological link to the embryo through use of her eggs.
“Gestational carrier arrangements are usually set up either as independent adoptions, in states where they're legal, or more commonly by contracts arranged through agencies. Some physicians specialize in working with gestational carriers and can help you make an arrangement. Most likely, you'll be heavily involved in the pregnancy. You'll also probably pay the carrier's expenses, from doctor visits to housing, along with additional legal, agency, and service fees if a contract is involved.”1
“If you arrange a contract through an agency, it can cost well over $40,000, with $18,000 to $25,000 going to the carrier, $4,000 or more for insurance and legal expenses, and $15,000-plus to the agency. [This does not include] additional fees for the carrier's prenatal care and delivery if those fees aren't covered by her insurance.”1
Finding A Carrier
Regardless of where you choose your gestational carrier, whether online, through an agency, or a friend who would be willing to carry your child for you, you are required to begin the IVF and surrogacy screenings and exams before you can be paired with a carrier. Consider contacting agencies such as The Surrogacy Experience or Center for Surrogacy and Egg Donation if you believe this is the family planning option for you.
Once you have gone through the IVF and exams process you will be matched with a carrier or you may use a carrier of your own choosing. It is during this time that you will want to find a carrier who is similar to you in your beliefs about health and nutrition during pregnancy, exposure to toxins, and about delivery.
- Where to deliver - a birthing center or a hospital?
- How to deliver - naturally or with an epidural?
- Nutrition and health - are you okay with her drinking soda? Taking cough medicine when she's sick?
- Exposure to toxins - would you prefer she avoid any cosmetics/toiletries that may contain toxins?
Think about all of the questions and concerns you would have if you were carrying your baby and try to align your expectations with your carrier candidates. Remember, it is your baby but you are also choosing to spend the better part of a year supporting and joining in with this woman in growing your baby so you need to have a good relationship with her.
Finally, when you and your partner have agreed to begin your gestational carrier process, remember that while you are not carrying your baby, you are his/her parents! Start babyproofing your home, preparing the nursery, and registering for gifts! This is the most special time in your life, enjoy every moment as you prepare for your baby to be born!
Want more information about infertility? Read our post about Infertility Awareness.
1. Baby Center
2. Photo credit: Life Unexpected