Pregnancy with a Surrogate or Gestational Carrier
A surrogate is a women who agrees to help another individual or couple have a baby by achieving a pregnancy using her own egg and carrying a pregnancy to term. A gestational carrier is a woman who performs the same service using an embryo created with another woman’s egg. As a result, while a surrogate has a biological link to the baby, a gestational carrier does not. Both surrogates and gestational carriers are used by many gay couples or single men who want to have a baby, but they are also sometimes used by women or straight couples where the woman is unable to achieve a pregnancy using her own egg and is unable to carry a pregnancy to term. The use of surrogates and gestational carriers has become much more common in recent years, however, at GayParentsToBe, in partnership with the Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT), we only utilize gestational carriers, not traditional surrogates.
When gay men choose to have a baby using a surrogate or gestational carrier, pregnancy is usually achieved through in vitro fertilization (IVF). During the IVF procedure, sperm (usually from one of the male partners but sometimes from a donor) is combined with the egg to produce one or more embryos. To produce multiple eggs for use in this procedure, the donor’s ovaries are stimulated with the help of fertility medications. The eggs are harvested and combined with sperm to produce embryos, which are then transferred into the woman’s uterus to achieve a pregnancy. (For information about success rates in IVF, visit here.)
Surrogacy/Gestational Carrier Arrangements
In some cases, gay men choose a woman they know to be their carrier. Others are able to identify a carrier using agencies or attorneys that specialize in this service, or even via websites that link prospective parents with women who want to be carriers. In these agreements, the gestational carrier is usually paid a negotiated fee and is also reimbursed for related out of pocket expenses.
The decision to have a baby using a surrogate or gestational carrier should be made thoughtfully and after careful consideration. The RMACT consulting team is available to provide important advice related to the use of surrogacy by gay men. We also strongly recommend that all patients work with an experienced reproductive attorney to provide counsel and prepare the necessary legal agreements related to the use of a surrogate, even in cases where a friend or relative serves as a gestational carrier.
Choosing a Gestational Carrier
Couples and solo parents-to-be have a few options when it comes to choosing a gestational carrier. In some cases they choose to use a friend or relative as a gestational carrier. Many agencies are also now available to help identify women willing to serve as gestational carriers. Ideally, gestational carriers are women who have had a previous uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery, and who are medically and emotionally healthy as well as financially stable. At RMACT, both the intended parents and the gestational carrier undergo a comprehensive medical and psychological evaluation prior to finalizing the arrangement. We also require that all parties work with an attorney to address any legal issues and needs. The use of a gestational carrier also requires the use of an egg donor.
There are many important legal issues associated with the use of a surrogate or gestational carrier, and the laws governing these relationships can differ from state to state. As a result, it is very important to work with a knowledgeable attorney when choosing this option. Your attorney will draft contracts, provide legal counsel and coordinate the termination of parental rights for the surrogate or the gestational carrier and egg donor. Egg and sperm donors should also make sure that they understand and address any legal issues associated with their services.
RMACT is able to refer patients to experienced attorneys and legal practices that specialize in third party reproduction.