Gestational carriers are necessary for certain medical conditions that prevent a woman from carrying a child. The most common use of surrogacy is male same-sex partners.
At a Glance
- A surrogate, more properly known now as a gestational carrier (GC) is a woman who carries a pregnancy for someone else because the intended parent is not capable of carrying a pregnancy
- A GC is most often compensated for the risks and expenses she incurs when she is pregnant
- If the gestational carrier is a relative or friend willing to be an uncompensated carrier, there still are some extraordinary expenses
- The most common single use of gestational carriers is male same-sex partners
What is a gestational carrier?
Commonly known as a surrogate, there are actually two classifications of situations. One is a gestational carrier, a woman who carries a pregnancy which is derived by in vitro fertilization (IVF) using the sperm and the eggs from the intended parents, although sometimes donor egg or sperm are needed. The carrier has no genetic relationship to the child. Since there is considerably less emotional attachment in these situations, this is the generally preferred method of surrogacy.
The other classification of surrogacy is when a “traditional surrogate” carries the pregnancy using her own egg and the sperm of the intended father. In Georgia, this situation presents legal challenges. Furthermore, it challenges the gestational carrier because of the possibility of psychological attachment to the child.
Gestational carriers or surrogates are compensated for the time, effort, and risk as well some of the living expenses incurred during pregnancy. Some recent estimates of compensation range from $20,000 to $40,000. Legal fees and the medical costs add considerably to the overall cost.
A compassionate gestational carrier is usually a relative or a very close friend of the intended parents. Sometimes they are reimbursed only for direct expenses such as rent, food, clothing, and medical bills.
Medical conditions that lead to use of a gestational carrier
A gestational carrier is appropriate only when the intended parent cannot carry a healthy baby to term. Some of the most common reasons for this are:
- patients who have had a hysterectomy and later would like to have a baby
- women born without a uterus at all (rare)
- severe fibroids and congenital birth defects of the uterus
- recurrent pregnancy losses for a variety of reasons
- heart disease, and other chronic illnesses which may worsen in pregnancy and threaten the life of the mother
- some maternal medical conditions that can put the child at risk during pregnancy and delivery
Male same-sex partners and surrogacy
The most common single use of gestational carriers is male same-sex partners where this is their only option to have a child. The partners make decisions about who will be genetically related to the baby. Sometimes the first baby is assigned to one partner and another baby later would be assigned to the other. Sometimes couples assign half of the egg donor’s eggs to the sperm of one partner and half to the other. Then they select the embryos to be replaced. This is a complex decision and is frequently part of the psychological counseling, which couples find to be very helpful in working through this process.
Choosing a gestational carrier
In our experience, the standard method to find a gestational carrier is through an agency made up of attorneys, social workers and experienced gestational carriers. Extensive screening is required. The agencies are very good at selecting reliable women who will be cooperative and mentally healthy. The carrier must have excellent personal history and obstetrical history. Attorneys can do a criminal background investigation as well.