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Apr 25, 2021

What is gestational surrogacy?

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Getting pregnant naturally isn’t always easy. Around 1 in 7 couples in the UK may have difficulty conceiving naturally. Several methods are used to overcome fertility struggles, such as in vitro fertilisation, intrauterine insemination and various medications. However, there is another option for those struggling to have a family of their own and that is gestational surrogacy.

Gestational surrogacy in the UK is the most common type of surrogacy and has helped thousands of couples and individuals grow their families. But what is gestational surrogacy and how does it work?

The different types of surrogacy

If you are looking into surrogacy, it is important to know that there are two possible routes you can take – gestational and traditional surrogacy.

Traditional surrogacy: Traditional surrogacy involves the surrogate using her own egg. This means that, if you choose to go down the route of traditional surrogacy, the surrogate will be the biological mother of the child. Traditional surrogacy often comes with a lot of legal and emotional challenges. So, if this is the route you want to take, it is important you are prepared for all possible outcomes.

Gestational surrogacy: Gestational surrogacy uses the intended parent(s)' eggs and sperm to create an embryo that is then transferred into the surrogate’s uterus. This process involves IVF treatment and means that the surrogate is in no way related to the child.

What does gestational surrogacy mean?

This is a question we get asked often. Gestational surrogacy is where a woman carries a pregnancy and gives birth to a baby for another woman or couple. The difference between gestational surrogacy and traditional surrogacy is that gestational surrogates have no biological relation to the child.

Instead, the embryo is created by means of in vitro fertilisation, using the eggs and sperm of the intended parents or donors, and the resulting embryo is then transferred into the surrogate.

Gestational surrogacy is also widely referred to as “host surrogacy” or “full surrogacy.” Gestational surrogacy is less legally complicated than traditional or other forms of surrogacy because the surrogate is not biologically related to the child, negating the need for second-parent adoption.

Who might consider gestational surrogacy?

If you’re unsure whether gestational surrogacy is for you, the following people commonly consider gestational surrogacy to start or grow their families:

  • Couples or individuals struggling with infertility

  • Single parents unable to conceive

  • Same-sex couples

  • People who don’t want a genetic link between the surrogate and their child

  • Anyone who is unable to carry a pregnancy to full term

  • Women who don’t have a uterus or their uterus is damaged

  • A medical condition that makes pregnancy unsafe for the mother.

Gestational surrogacy and the UK laws you need to know

The laws around gestational surrogacy are still relatively new; therefore, we recommend that both the intended parents and the surrogates have their own legal representation. This will ensure professional and expert representation will be available to guide individuals through the process and ensure each person’s rights are properly protected.

While surrogacy laws can be complicated, in gestational surrogacy at least one parent will be genetically related to the child. This simplifies a lot of custody issues. However, it is important to employ the help of an expert who can help you understand the gestational surrogacy laws in your area and help you complete the surrogacy process regardless of where you live.

How much does gestational surrogacy cost?

Many people considering surrogacy want to know, first and foremost, how much gestational surrogacy costs. Often, the surrogacy process can be long and demanding on both the surrogate and intended parents.

In the UK, it is illegal to pay a surrogate to carry a child. However, you are legally responsible for reimbursing the surrogate for any reasonable expenses that may occur during her pregnancy, such as medical appointments, travel expenses to the doctor, maternity clothes, and so on. What’s more, you may be responsible for covering the loss of any professional earnings during the time of her pregnancy.

Although gestational surrogacy compensation will vary in the UK, Surrogacy UK states that surrogates will typically receive around £10,000 – £15,000. Of course, this sum will increase, and extra expenses may apply if your surrogate becomes pregnant with multiples.

What is the process of gestational surrogacy?

Gestational surrogacy is the most common type of surrogacy in the UK. However, while this is the case, many people don’t know what the process involves. So, let’s look at the process of gestational surrogacy.

Meet a surrogate or the intended parent(s)

There are a number of ways you can meet a potential surrogate. However, we recommend that anyone looking for a gestational surrogate do so through a professional organisation, such as Surrogacy UK.

The surrogate call

Once a surrogate has decided she would like to get to know an intended parent or parents better, she will contact Surrogacy UK. Once she has made contact, Surrogacy UK will get in touch with the intended parent(s) on her behalf and will also share a copy of the surrogate’s profile. If both parties are happy and wish to get to know each other a little bit better, we move into the “getting to know each other" stage.

The “get to know each other” stage

It is at this point that both the surrogate and the intended parent(s) really take the time to get to know each other. This should last at least 3 months and will involve a significant number of phone calls and face-to-face meetings. Getting to know each other during this period ensures that you are all happy to move forward with your surrogacy plans.

The surrogacy agreement stage

Once both parties have taken the time to get to know each other, we come to the Agreement Stage. This stage must be overseen by a Surrogacy UK Mediator. The mediator will take the time to talk through every possible situation with both the surrogate and the intended parent(s). This is important as it helps ensure everyone understands the process completely and fully agrees with everything.

The gestational surrogacy treatment process

When it comes to gestational surrogacy, it is important to remember that the surrogate is not genetically connected to the child conceived. During the treatment process, the intended parent(s)' embryos are transferred via IVF into the surrogate. The embryos are either made using the intended parent(s)' eggs and sperm or made up of one parent's genetics plus the donor eggs or donor sperm. The treatment process you will undergo will depend on your clinic preference, fresh or frozen transfers, natural or unmedicated cycles, embryo availability and so forth. All of these options will be explored during your first appointment at TFP, and we will ensure you understand every aspect of the treatment process.

What's the difference between traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy?

The main difference between traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy is simple: traditional surrogacy means the surrogate’s eggs are used. This means that she not only carries the baby but is also genetically related. Whereas, gestational surrogacy means the gestational carrier has no biological link to the baby whatsoever.

There are several implications that prospective parents should take into consideration when comparing the differences between traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy. If you are unsure which type of surrogacy is right for you, talk to our experts at TFP today. We can help advise you on the best option for your situation.

Frequently asked questions regarding gestational surrogacy

While surrogacy definitely has its advantages, every person’s situation is different, and it is therefore very difficult to conclude that one form of surrogacy is better than the other. Instead, it is up to the intended parent(s) to decide which type of surrogacy would suit their needs best.

If you are considering gestational surrogacy, here are some questions to consider:

  • Do you feel confident and comfortable knowing your baby is being carried by a surrogate?

  • Have you considered the costs involved?

  • What kind of relationship do you want to maintain with the surrogate following the birth?

  • Are you comfortable with the length of the process and the emotional stress that may be involved?

  • Will you be using your or your partner’s eggs, or will you use an egg donor?

Find out more from the experts at TFP

As you can tell, there are many things to consider with gestational surrogacy. However, here at TFP, we are here to help support you every step of the way. So, if you have any questions or you would like to know more about the gestational surrogacy process, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

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