How Does Surrogacy Work? 8 Steps to the Surrogacy Journey

f you’re wondering, “How does surrogacy work?” and considering it as a way to start or expand your family, then you’re in the right place. Surrogacy can be an intricate and complex process, but with the right approach and guidance, it can also be a fulfilling and rewarding experience for all involved parties.

In this blog, we will delve into the eight crucial steps that will guide you towards a successful surrogacy experience. We’ll cover everything you need to know, from understanding the surrogacy process to finding the right surrogacy professional for your needs, and more.

So, whether you’re new to surrogacy or already have some knowledge of it, join us as we explore the ins and outs of this life-changing journey.

steps to the surrogacy
Step 1: Decide If Surrogacy Right for You

If you’re considering surrogacy, the first and most crucial step is to determine if it’s the right option for you. So, how does surrogacy work, and how do you decide if it’s the right path to parenthood for you?

First, start by educating yourself about the basics of surrogacy, including the medical and legal aspects of the process. Understanding what surrogacy demands of you from an emotional, legal, medical, and economic perspective is essential to making an informed decision.

In this blog, we’ll dive into the critical factors you need to consider when deciding if surrogacy is right for you. We’ll provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision and help you navigate this complex and emotional journey.

In addition, women wanting to become a Surrogate mother need to keep in mind that all IVF clinics have certain requirements that need to be met in order for them to qualify. These requirements may vary depending on the fertility clinic, the most common ones are:

  • being of legal age
  • being in good health
  • having had at least one full term and healthy pregnancy
  • being a non-smoker
  • residing in a surrogacy-friendly location


Step 2: Create Your Surrogacy Plan

Once you have decided to start your journey, you should think about what your expectations are, list your preferences, and secure the necessary surrogacy experts. The goal is to draft a plan of what you want your journey to look like.

The first thing to do when creating the plan is to decide whether you want to proceed with a traditional surrogacy (also called straight, partial or IVF surrogacy) or a gestational surrogacy (also called host or full surrogacy). The main difference between these two forms of surrogacy is whether the Surrogate’s eggs are used.

In gestational surrogacy, the gestational Surrogate (also known as gestational carrier) will become pregnant after receiving an embryo created through IVF. The Surrogate’s eggs are not used in the IVF process, so the baby is not genetically tied to her. In other words, the gestational carrier’s role is limited to gestation and childbirth.

The next step in understanding how surrogacy works is to decide whether you want to work with a surrogacy agency or pursue an independent process. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to educate yourself on the differences to make an informed decision.

Working with a surrogacy agency can provide invaluable support and guidance for both prospective parents and surrogates, particularly if it’s your first journey. However, it’s essential to research the costs and services offered by the agency and reach out to references to ensure that it aligns with your needs and expectations.

If you choose to go the independent route, a surrogacy attorney is a must-have to handle all the legalities and paperwork involved in the process.

Take your time with this step and define your objectives and preferences before moving forward. In this blog, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of each option and provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision that fits your unique situation. So, let’s explore the next steps of the surrogacy process and help you understand how does surrogacy work.

Step 3: Find Your Match

Finding the right match can be one of the most challenging steps of the journey but also be very exciting. Don’t be surprised if a lot of conflicting emotions emerge during the search. Remember to stay calm and to be patient. (Certainly not this easiest thing to do in this situation but it is, nevertheless, necessary.)

Finding Surrogate or intended parents can take weeks and months or it could take a matter of days. If you are choosing to go the independent route to surrogacy, then your options of finding a match are the online communities: Facebook, classifieds, or recommendations from relatives and friends.

On the other, if you choose to work with an experienced surrogacy agency, you will probably match faster because you will be able to take full advantage of the agency’s pre-established networks.

Regardless of the path you choose, remember that you must already know what you are looking for in a Surrogate mother or prospective parents – religion, education, location, or marital status, amount of contact, etc. – before you start your search.

Having access to all this information will help you choose the right person.

how much surrogate get paid

Step 4: Go Through the Screening Process

Once you choose your match, both parties must undergo a psychological evaluation (performed by a licensed therapist) and medical screening to verify that both, the prospective parents, and the Surrogate mother, are in a healthy place mentally and physically.

There will also be a medical screening that will include bloodwork and a physical exam. This will be performed by the medical staff at the IVF clinic.

Typically, the IVF clinic will be chosen by the prospective parents. If you’re working with a surrogacy agency, they can recommend some reputable IVF clinics as well as therapists who specialize in third party reproduction. However, it’s perfectly acceptable for you to choose your own fertility clinic and/or therapist. Before you choose your medical specialists you must do your own research. The goal here is to learn about their success rates, procedures, and fees. You may also want to look for referrals.

These exams, medical and psychological, are mandatory. They are there to reduce the possibility of complications during the journey and help increase the odds of having a healthy full-term pregnancy.

Step 5: Create and Sign a Surrogacy Contract

From a legal standpoint, surrogacy regulations can be complex and confusing, especially because laws vary from country to country and even from state to state. For example:

  • In the US, there are no federal laws that govern the legal process of surrogacy. Each state has its own regulations, which seem to be geared toward commercial surrogacy.
  • Similarly, all surrogacy arrangements in Australia are regulated by the states.
  • Canada has a federal law that only allows for altruistic surrogacy. However, each province and territory has its own laws regarding the birth registration process.
  • In the UK, surrogacy must be altruistic, but surrogacy agreements are not enforceable by law.
  • Finally, in Ukraine, surrogacy is enforceable under federal legislation, but is limited to heterosexual couples.

As you can see, the legal aspects of the process can be quite confusing. Because these laws vary from country to country (and even region to region within the same country) it is important to have the guidance of an experienced lawyer who is acquainted with surrogacy laws specific to the region in which the process is taking place. This guidance will help you avoid potential missteps.

A surrogacy agreement is meant to guarantee that both parties—the prospective parents and the Surrogate—are informed of their rights and obligations. Your lawyer will oversee the process, and answer any questions you might have. This step also defines compensation as well as actions to be taken in case of emergencies or unexpected events.

During this process, all parties should have individual representation to ensure that their legal rights and interests are protected.

For prospective parents pursuing a surrogacy process abroad, professionals recommend seeking legal advice in, both, their home country and abroad, to ensure that they meet all the legal requirements necessary to register the birth of the child.

Step 6: Undergo the Surrogacy Medical Process

Are you curious about the medical side of the surrogacy process? Once you’ve made the decision to pursue surrogacy and have completed the necessary screenings and legal paperwork, you can move forward with the medical protocol. Here’s a breakdown of the five stages of the gestational surrogacy medical process, which most fertility clinics require a legal agreement to be in place before proceeding. Keep reading to learn more about how does surrogacy work from a medical perspective

  1. Create the Embryos via IVF with donor sperm or egg if needed.
  2. Prepare the Surrogate’s body for Embryo Transfer.
  3. Transfer the Embryo to the Surrogate’s uterus, following legal limitations.
  4. Confirm the Pregnancy by testing hormone levels ten days after transfer and performing an ultrasound six weeks later.
  5. Provide Prenatal Care including hormones and doctor appointments throughout the pregnancy.
  6. Prospective parents may participate in the process and support the Surrogate if agreed.

If you are considering traditional surrogacy, the process of getting pregnant will be different. It typically implies the artificial insemination of a traditional Surrogate with the intended father’s sperm (or donor sperm) via intrauterine insemination (IUI),

pros and cons of IVF and IUI

Step 7: Prepare for Delivery

As long as there are no complications, the delivery will take place at the agreed-upon hospital or birthing center. Most times, the prospective parents will be part of the delivery.

The Surrogate and prospective parents will discuss and agree upon the details of the birth plan during the legal agreement phase so that everyone is on the same page when the time for delivery arrives.

Step 8: Post-Birth

After the birth, a surrogacy lawyer will assist with the legal paperwork (DNA requirements, Declaration of Parentage, Birth Order, etc.). Once the intended parents have completed said paperwork, they will return home.

A common question is: What happens after surrogacy birth?

While there is no established set of rules surrounding communication between the Surrogate and IPs after the birth, this is typically discussed during the matching phase.

In some cases, Surrogates choose not to keep the line of communication open after the birth of the child, while in others, they will continue the relationship, sharing updates and photos of their families. Some Surrogates might even repeat the process again to provide a sibling for the child they previously gave birth to.

Final Thoughts

Certainly, surrogacy is a complex and lengthy process that requires proper preparation and understanding from all parties involved. As a prospective gestational carrier, traditional Surrogate, or hopeful parent, it’s essential to learn how does surrogacy work and what it entails.

Fortunately, there are numerous professionals in the surrogacy field who specialize in guiding individuals through the process. If you have any questions or need further information, do not hesitate to contact them. They will help you navigate the journey and make informed decisions every step of the way.

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Written by David
I work daily to make surrogacy available to as many intended parents, surrogate mothers and egg donors around the world as possible.

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