Getty Images / Sandy AKNINE
Olivia Harvey
January 11, 2018 9:00 am

Thanks to modern medicine, couples struggling to become pregnant can choose from several different methods to start a family of their own. One such method is surrogacy, in which a woman, a third party to the parents, carries and delivers said parents’ baby. You may have recently heard about this thanks to Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. But how does the process of enlisting a surrogate mother work? Parents must first choose which type of surrogacy they’d like to participate in — either traditional or gestational.

In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate mother acts as both the egg donor and embryo carrier. Her egg becomes fertilized by way of intrauterine insemination (IUI) with sperm from the intended father. This means that in the case of traditional surrogacy, the surrogate mother is the biological mother of the child.

With gestational surrogacy, the embryo is first created using the intended mother’s egg and the intended father’s sperm through a process called in vitro fertilization. The embryo is then placed in the surrogate mother’s uterus, and she will carry the child until birth.

There are several factors that surrogacy agencies take into consideration when reviewing surrogate mother applications. For example, agencies like Modern Family Surrogacy Center and Circle Surrogacy and Egg Donation both require potential surrogates to be between 21 and 41 years old, to be free from state financial aid, to have U.S. citizenship, and to be in a stable living situation.

Circle Surrogacy even requires their surrogates to be within a specific BMI range, have delivered a child of their own, and to be currently parenting at least one child.

Something important to keep in mind is that surrogacy laws vary from state to state, depending on the type of surrogacy and the state’s view of LGBTQ+ parents. A legal contract must also be made between the surrogate mother and the parents to clarify any gray areas regarding custody of the child.

The intended parents usually pay for all medical expenses if the surrogate’s insurance doesn’t cover them. They’re usually required to send the surrogate monthly checks for food, travel, and prenatal care.

A surrogacy agency will be able to walk both surrogate mother and intended parents through the selected process. Seeking out a great attorney who is familiar with surrogacy is also recommended.

Surrogacy is an amazing alternative for parents who cannot carry a child themselves. Not only are parents able to have a child this way, but they’ll create a lifelong bond with their surrogate mother.

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