An educational resource for those interested in becoming a recipient parent via surrogacy.

All About Traditional Surrogacy, The Hows, The Whys and the Why Not’s!

In honor of the electronic publication of my upcoming book “My Egg, My Womb, Your Baby! Tales of a 3x  Traditional Surrogate Mother,” I thought I would spend a bit of time shedding some light on Traditional Surrogacy. What it is, how its done, and the risks associated with doing Traditional Surrogacy.

Traditional surrogacy is very real and one of the oldest forms of surrogacy.  Traditional Surrogacy is where the surrogate mother is not only the carrier but the egg donor for the recipients for whom she is carrying. In a nutshell, your Traditional Surrogate is also your child’s biological mother.

Most experts believe it’s better emotionally for the surrogate mother if she isn’t biologically related to the child being created, and instead is a gestational carrier, where the surrogate mother’s role is only to carry the child, not to provide an egg or embryo for the create of the child.  This is why Traditional Surrogacy is illegal in many states.

The surrogate mother becomes pregnant either with a medical process called IUI (intrauterine insemination), or with a home insemination procedure where the recipient father creates sperm, puts it into a syringe similar to one that you use to give oral medicine, which is placed by the surrogate mother  from the syringe into her vagina.  After either the IUI or home insemination, the parties wait 14 days, then take a home pregnancy test or take a pregnancy test at the surrogate mother’s doctor’s office.

Traditional Surrogacy cost considerably  less expensive than IVF. Currently very few surrogacy agencies even offer Traditional Surrogate Mothers. IUI costs about $800 per cycle, sometimes less, while IVF is around $10,000 for a fresh cycle. With egg donation a booming and profitable business during the last 5 years, traditional surrogacy will likely be a thing of the past  within the next 5 years.

Why? Too much red tape! Many states that are now adopting surrogacy laws are banning Traditional Surrogacy, very few doctors are willing to perform IUI on surrogate mothers, and for legal reasons, home inseminations are no longer an option in most states. Traditional Surrogacy can be and is still done, but because of these factors, it can be a challenge.

Traditional Surrogacy is not without risks. Here are the main ones and why most experts believe Gestational Surrogacy is a better option.

Your TS could keep the baby. The main risk a recipient takes when entering a TS agreement is, unlike with Gestational Surrogacy, the traditional surrogate mother has the power to change her mind and exercise her parental rights as the child’s biological mother. This is the same risk which comes with adoption. Should the surrogate mother decide not to give the recipients the child, it will be up to a judge in a child custody hearing to decide what is in the best interest of the child.

You may not be able to get a Parental Establishment Order. This all depends on the state  in which the child is going to be born. While some states permit the courts to grant such agreements, other states do not have law permitting the issuance of Parental Establishment Order.   If you can not get the parental establishment,  you will be forced to adopt the child which was created in the surrogacy arrangement which can be a very long and costly process.

You may not be able to find a doctor to perform a IUI procedure on your surrogate mother and home insemination is NO longer an option even in liberal states like California. Five years ago, the contract used to say pregnancy can occur in the manner in which all parties agreed. Now it says pregnancy can only take place under the care of a licensed physician. Why the change? Without the doctors affidavit saying he performed the medical procedure which caused your surrogate mother to get pregnant, it’s nearly impossible to get a parental establishment order.

This arose when I did my last TS in 2010, after our lawyers filed those establishment papers with the Court. The judge initially rejected the paperwork, sending them back to the attorneys, who were asked to provide more information. I was called by the lawyer who was handling our surrogacy, and was asked in step by step detail how I became pregnant. I was asked who did what,  when, and why we opted not to use a fertility doctor. While I assume the judge wanted proof that this wasn’t a love child, we were able to prove we were creating  a surrogate child. Then the lawyers had to send everything back to the court and wait. Fortunately, we were granted the parental establishment and were able to move on. Use a doctor. It makes the whole process smoother.

If after reading the above risks, TS is something you think you would still like to explore, here are some tips to help you be successful.

Start by calling a reproductive lawyer who has done TS extensively. This should be done prior to finding a surrogate mother. The lawyer can tell you all the risks involved , if parental establishment is an option, what states are best for traditional surrogate mothers and recipients.  I can’t stress enough in any of the blogs I write how important it is to follow and get the appropriate legal advice.

Look for a doctor who preforms IUI on Surrogate Mothers. Home insemination, though nearly free, has LOTS of risks. What if you surrogate mother is supposed to do the insemination but in fact never does so? Obviously, your traditional surrogate is not going to get pregnant — ever! If you are paying her expenses, cycle allowance and insemination fees to her, you will be throwing your money away! Most recipients whose TS scams them often fake pregnancies and home inseminate. JUST USE A DOCTOR!

Screen Screen Screen Your Surrogate Mother. Psychological evaluation, full genetic screening, physical, background check. Leave no stone unturned! This person is the biological mother of YOUR child. Make sure she’s the right one long before moving on to the IUI. Get copies of everything, just in case you need them in the future legally or for your child’s medical records.

Don’t try to write your own contract to save money Most states that have surrogacy laws on the books have established Gestational Surrogacy laws! Those laws may not apply to traditional surrogacy arrangements. You need a lawyer to help navigate you through all the legal issues that can arise. Ask about putting additional protections in the contract for breach of contract in the even the surrogate mother changes her mind and attempts to keep the baby.

Look for a experienced TS with references. If you TS has been around the block before, you are less likely to have issues. This is the same with GS.

Be up front about afterbirth contact.  TS works best with recipients open to after birth contact. Most TS want to know the child is doing well and being cared for properly. This can include periodic pictures, social media and emails. Do you have to have your surrogate over for dinner? No,  if contact this isn’t something you are wanting to maintain after birth. Be upfront from the beginning. That way the TS  can make a the right decision for herself and find a couple who meets her expectations. Be honest about after birth contact and don’t try to dupe the traditional surrogate mother to avoid getting an egg donor.  

Communication is the key to success. TS arrangements will fall apart very quickly when their is no communication between the parties. I can not stress how important this is.

Even with all the risks, traditional surrogacy can be a wonderful option for recipients who are unable to afford gestational surrogacy. It’s something that needs a lot of planning and thought,  as well as the proper team of doctors, lawyers and psychologists and of course, the right surrogate mom. Not all women have what it takes to be a Traditional Surrogate. They are a very rare breed. Do your homework and don’t skip any steps! This is a situation where knowledge and communication is the key to success.


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