Types of Surrogacy: Which One Fits Your Family Building Goals?

Most people think that there is only one types of surrogacy, but this is incorrect – there are several forms of surrogacy.

Surrogacy can be classified by the presence or lack of genetic link to the baby, the number of professionals involved, location, surrogate compensation, and much more.

So, whether you are a surrogate or an intended parent, it’s critical that you understand how surrogacy types differ so you can choose the path that’s best for you. This is especially important when you consider that, in certain countries, some forms are allowed while others are forbidden.

What Are The Different Types of Surrogacy?

We can organize the different forms of surrogacy into five categories (video).

Types of Surrogacy: How Will the Embryos be Created?

When it comes to the way the embryos are created, there are two main types:

  • Traditional surrogacy.
  • Gestational surrogacy.

It is likely that is the common classification.

Traditional vs Gestational Surrogacy

These two types are each, in turn, divided into sub-types based on whether donated gametes are needed or not:

In total there are six different types of surrogacy arrangements:

  • Gestational surrogacy with own gametes:

This type of surrogacy occurs when the intended mother cannot carry a baby to term, but her eggs and the intended father’s sperm are used to create an embryo (via In Vitro Fertilization – IVF) which will be transferred to and carried by the surrogate mother (also called gestational surrogate or gestational carrier ).

With this type of surrogacy, the child will be genetically tied to both parents and not to the gestational carrier because her oocytes were not used.

  • Gestational surrogacy with donated eggs:

If there is no intended mother (i.e., gay couples) or the intended mother cannot provide her eggs, the gestational surrogate carries the embryo developed from a donated oocyte that has been fertilized with sperm from the intended father.

With this process, the child will be genetically tied to Types of Surrogacy: Will the Surrogate Be Compensated? The intended father (or, in gay couples, one of the intended fathers). The gestational surrogate will not have a genetic link.

  • Gestational surrogacy with donated sperm:

If there is no intended father involved (i.e., lesbian couples) or the intended father is unable to produce sperm, the gestational surrogate carries an embryo created from the intended mother’s egg (who is unable to carry a pregnancy herself) and donor sperm.

With this process, the child will be genetically tied to the intended mother. The gestational surrogate will not have a genetic link.

  • Gestational surrogacy with donated embryo:

This option is probably the least common and occurs when both prospective parents have infertility problems. In this scenario, the surrogate mother will carry a donated embryo. In most cases, the embryo is provided by couples who have completed IVF and have leftover embryos.

With this process, the child will not be genetically tied to the IPs. The gestational surrogate will not have a genetic link.

  • Traditional surrogacy:

This type of surrogacy typically involves Artificially Inseminating a traditional surrogate with the intended father’s sperm via Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), or home insemination. In addition to gestating the fetus, the surrogate will also donate her oocytes. With this process, the baby will be genetically linked to his/her father and the surrogate mother.

  • Traditional surrogacy with donated sperm:

This involves Artificial Inseminating a traditional surrogate mother with sperm from a donor via IUI, or home insemination. With this process, the baby will be genetically linked to the sperm donor and the surrogate.

Types of Surrogacy: Will the Surrogate Be Compensated?

From an economic perspective, surrogacy agreements can be classified into two categories:

  • Altruistic surrogacy.
  • Compensated surrogacy.

What is the difference?

Altruistic vs Compensated Surrogacy

  • Altruistic surrogacy:

In this form of surrogacy, a woman becomes a surrogate without any financial benefit. Nevertheless, it’s customary for the prospective parents to reimburse the surrogate for any pregnancy-related expenses.

As a result of the legal constraints of altruistic surrogacy, and a shortage of traditional surrogates, it usually takes a long time to find qualified surrogates.

Altruistic Surrogacy can apply to, both, genetic and gestational surrogacy.

Please note that this type of surrogacy is the only type allowed in countries like Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada.

  • Commercial Surrogacy:

In commercial surrogacy, a woman becomes a surrogate mother in return for monetary compensation or reward. Commercial agreements usually contain substantial compensation for the surrogate.

Commercial surrogacy is legal in the United States, Ukraine, Greece, and some eastern European countries; however, there are many countries that forbid compensated journeys.

To learn more about commercial and altruistic surrogacy arrangements and regulations related to reimbursements, you should get in contact with an experienced local lawyer who specializes in reproductive law.

Types of Surrogacy and Location: Where Will the Process Take Place?

A further category to consider is where the surrogacy journey will take place.

Surrogacy is an Assisted Reproductive Technique which is not allowed everywhere, so depending on where the intended parents complete the journey, surrogacy can be categorized into one of the following types:

  • International surrogacy
  • Domestic surrogacy

Domestic vs International Surrogacy

If the Intended Parents home country allows surrogacy, the process will be easy to pursue. On the other hand, if the IPs live in a country where surrogacy is illegal, they will have to pursue an international surrogacy in countries like Canada, the United States, or the UK.

It should be noted that even in countries that allow surrogacy, regulations can vary by state or region. Therefore, it is important for you to learn about local surrogacy laws. Also, if you are going to pursue international surrogacy, it is important that you learn about surrogacy laws in your home country.

Which Professionals Will You Work With?

Surrogacy can be classified by the types of professionals involved in the surrogacy journey. There are two options:

  • Agency surrogacy
  • Independent surrogacy

Independent vs Agency Surrogacy

Agency surrogacy is the process in which the intended parents and the gestational carrier pursue surrogacy with the help of an agency.

A surrogacy agency is a professional service that manages procedures ranging from recruiting and screening potential surrogates to coordinating clinical procedures or legal services.

Typically, agencies only work with gestational surrogates because traditional surrogacy can be legally complicated.

In contrast, independent surrogacy (also known as private surrogacy or Indy surrogacy) is surrogacy pursued without the assistance of an agency. Therefore, the intended parents and the prospective surrogate will only work with a family attorney and an IVF clinic to complete their journey.

Sometimes, private surrogacy is pursued when the intended parents and the surrogate know each other. Usually, they are family members or close friends. This kind of surrogacy is referred to as “Identified Surrogacy”.

Identified Surrogacy

Who Are The Intended Parents?

Surrogacy can be also classified by the type of intended parents. This may have implications in terms of who supplies the genetic material, however, both processes are similar.

In heterosexual surrogacy, both parents may have a genetic connection to their child if there are no medical problems that keep them from contributing sperm or eggs.

Gay surrogacy (also referred to as LGBT surrogacy) involves same-sex couples who use surrogacy to have a baby. Same-sex couples can only provide eggs or sperm, therefore, they require a sperm or egg donor.

LGBT Surrogacy

The Takeaway

Surrogacy is a big choice, therefore, every piece of information will help you understand (and feel more comfortable) with the journey. This post is intended to be a starting point concerning the different types of surrogacy. By reading it, we hope that you have a better understanding of how surrogacy works.

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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.
  1. I was not aware that there are so many types of surrogacy!

  2. I was aware that there are so many types of surrogacy!

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