Types of Surrogacy

What is Traditional Surrogacy, and How Does it Work?

Traditional surrogacy is another possible surrogacy path for women looking to be surrogates. While it is a much less common one than gestational surrogacy (for reasons we’ll discuss below), it may still be an option for you.

If you’re considering a traditional surrogacy, it’s important that you fully understand the realities and risks of the process before committing to this path. While many surrogacy professionals will not complete traditional surrogacies, they may be able to give you more information on what the process looks like, so you can make the best decision for your surrogacy goals and preferences.

To start, learn more about traditional surrogacy below, where you can find information that will help you make the best surrogacy choice for you.

The Traditional Surrogacy Definition

So, what is traditional surrogacy?

Traditional surrogacy — also known as “full surrogacy” or “genetic surrogacy” — is a surrogacy process in which the surrogate is genetically related to the baby she carries. Therefore, her egg is used to create the embryo, whether it’s done through the usual in vitro fertilization process or through a simpler process like intrauterine insemination.

A traditional surrogacy is more commonly used by intended parents who need to use an egg donor anyway to create their embryo — for example, single men or gay male couples or women who cannot produce healthy eggs. Often, a traditional surrogacy occurs between intended parents and surrogates who are related or have already established a close relationship in their personal lives.

The Traditional Surrogacy Process

In many ways, the traditional surrogacy process is not much different than the gestational surrogacy process, at least when it comes to the steps involved. However, because of the surrogate’s genetic relationship to the baby she carries, there will be additional legal and emotional complications to consider if you think you want to become a traditional surrogate.

As you consider traditional surrogacy, you’ll need to understand the answer to this question: How does traditional surrogacy work?

Here are the basics:

  1. You will need to find intended parents who are interested in traditional surrogacy and understand what their medical process will look like (for example, if they plan on using IVF or another process). This will help you determine if they’re the right match for you.
  2. You and the intended parents will need to complete a legal surrogacy contract with lawyers experienced in the traditional surrogacy process. Traditional surrogacy is much more legally complex than gestational surrogacy because of the surrogate’s genetic connection to the baby, so all necessary legal situations must be identified and addressed within this contract — including the steps the non-genetically related parent will need to take to establish their parental rights, like a stepparent adoption.
  3. Once the contract is complete and you and the intended parents have completed any necessary medical screening, the medical process of your traditional surrogacy will begin. Exactly what steps will be taken will depend upon the intended parents’ situation. You may be required to go through the steps of an egg donation to create an embryo for the IVF process, or you may simply undergo an artificial insemination with the intended father’s sperm. All of these details should be discussed and agreed upon when you and the intended parents are securing your match.
  4. After your pregnancy is confirmed, the next nine months will proceed as normal. However, you may consider taking extra steps to prepare for the emotional challenges that will emerge as you get close to giving birth and having the baby go home with the intended parents.
  5. Once you give birth, you may need to give your consent to have your parental rights terminated, depending on your state’s traditional surrogacy laws. Again, this will be discussed in your legal contract. You may experience some emotional difficulties as you adjust back to your everyday life.

Each surrogacy is unique, so your traditional surrogacy process may be a bit different depending on your and the intended parents’ surrogacy goals and preferences. It’s important to note that many surrogacy professionals will not complete traditional surrogacies because of the potential for complications, so you may need to complete some of these steps on your own, without professional guidance.

The Traditional Surrogacy Cost

Often, when surrogates ask about traditional surrogacy cost, it’s not because they worry about how much they will have to pay personally but because they want to reduce the costs that intended parents may have to pay.

In some cases, traditional surrogacy is cheaper than gestational surrogacy. Because the medical process can be simpler, intended parents may save money on this step — although the potential legal complications and additional steps for establishing parentage may cancel out those saved expenses. In many cases, the cost of traditional surrogacy may even exceed that of gestational surrogacy. Because many surrogacy professionals will not complete traditional surrogacies, intended parents may need to hire individual professionals for different steps of the process, which can quickly add up.

Remember, any kind of surrogacy will always be free to you as a prospective surrogate, and you may receive surrogate compensation, depending on your state’s traditional surrogacy laws.

Why Surrogates Choose Gestational Surrogacy over Traditional

Today, the majority of intended parents and surrogates chose to complete a gestational surrogacy rather than a traditional surrogacy — for many reasons.

As mentioned, there are several emotional and legal complications that arise from a woman being genetically related to the baby she is carrying. Not only does a traditional surrogate have certain inherent rights that a gestational surrogate does not (including parental rights to the baby she is carrying), but the emotions of giving a baby to intended parents can be heightened when there is a legitimate genetic connection.

There is also the issue of surrogacy professionals not completing traditional surrogacies. For many intended parents and surrogates, a surrogacy agency is an invaluable resource that handles all aspects of the surrogacy journey and allows them to focus on more personal details rather than logistic ones. However, because it’s rare for a surrogacy agency to complete traditional surrogacies, intended parents and surrogates who choose this path will need to manage their surrogacy case on their own. If you are considering a traditional surrogacy, you should also consider this fact, as you will likely need to complete an independent surrogacy, as well.

It’s mainly for these reasons that women today more often choose to be gestational surrogates than traditional surrogates, as it offers them a safer, more secure path to reach their surrogacy goals. If you are interested in learning more about the differences between gestational and traditional surrogacy to find the right path for you, please contact a surrogacy professional today.

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