When a woman is unable to carry a child, whether due to to medical, genetic or social reasons, the couple or single woman may choose to find a surrogate mother who can carry the baby.

Medical circumstances that may prevent a woman from carrying a child:

  • Recurrent abortion or premature labor
  • Dangers to the life of the Intended Mother - for example, severe heart, kidney or respiratory disease, unstable diabetes, or severe high blood pressure.

Genetic diseases in which there is a significant risk of an abnormal gene being passed on to the fetus can be avoided either by surrogacy or by IVF using a donor egg.

When the genetic disease needs to be carried by both partners in order to be of significant risk, AID - artificial insemination using donor sperm can also be an option.

The baby born by surrogacy may be the biological child of:

Both parents - the egg is retrieved from the IM - intended mother and joined with sperm from the IF - intended father. This is known as Gestational Surrogacy (the surrogate mother has no genetic connection to the child).

Mother & sperm donor - the egg is retrieved from the IM - intended mother and joined with donor sperm. This is another type of Gestational Surrogacy.

Surrogate mother & IF (intended father) - the surrogate mother goes through a process of AI (artificial insemination) using the IF's sperm. This is known as Traditional Surrogacy (the surrogate mother is biologically the mother of the baby).

Neither parent - often also referred to as embryo adoption. The surrogate mother may or may not be a biological parent in this case.

The biological background of the child, and not its surrogate mother, determine the baby's genetics -- the way the baby will look, its blood type, height, and all other physical traits.

Additional Issues

Payment is frequently given to the surrogate mother. Fees are intended to cover all medical costs incurred throughout the pregnancy and for payment to the surrogate mother. This is known as surrogacy compensation.

In all surrogacy situations, legal issues are an important issue to consider. Make sure any arrangement is as safe as possible for both sides.

There are many agencies worldwide that specialize in surrogacy arrangements. Investigate the agency you choose and make sure to get recommendations from other couples who have used it.

Summary of surrogacy laws by state in the US.

This site presents stories both of surrogate mothers and of intended parents.

Sherrie's Story (TS)
Stephanie's Story
Rosie's Story
Beth's Story

Michelle's Story
Lia's Story
Katherine's Story (TS)
Holly's Story (GS)

Also see: Poems for a Surrogate Mother.
New! Questions to Ask a Potential Surrogate

Publication by HFEA (UK) - Egg Donation and Egg Sharing

Here are some questions and answers about surrogacy that might interest you:

Q - Please could you help? Me and my husband we have been trying for a baby for 6 years but due to me having problems we can not have a child by ourselves. We would very much appreciate it if you would send us some information on how we start going about surrogacy.

Q - Where do I start in the progress of finding a surrogate mother to carry a baby for me as I have had a hysterectomy and am in a new relationship where we would like a child.

Q - I am a mother of a beautiful and very healthy bouncing baby boy. I had an almost perfect pregnancy. I had morning sickness from about 5 weeks till my 16th week of pregnancy but after that it was smooth sailing from there and the delivery went so quickly and smoothly that I would love to have another baby. My partner and I have decided not to have another child for a while but I really do want to be pregnant and give birth to another baby. I have been considering being a surrogate mother since the day I had my son. If you could suggest where to start in researching being a surrogate mother I would be forever greatful.

A - Fertility Stories is not associated with any agency. There are a few links on this page that might be able to help you. I highly recommend reading other women's experience, to get some insight about the process & then the list of questions, to which I'm sure you'll want to add many of your own.

My main piece of advice is to try to take every possibility into account (bed rest, twins, birth defects, etc.) so that all scenarios are accounted for in the legal contract that you make with the surrogate mother.

Q - I'm just wondering if you could please help us with a question I have?? It's can you explain the advantages and problems of surrogacy. Explain the long term effects of such an arrangment on the offspring and the legal parents.

A - I think the information on this page should answer most of your questions.

In brief -- the big advantage of surrogacy is that it allows a couple who otherwise could not carry a baby to have a biological child of their own (gestational surrogacy). The problems with surrogacy are connected to the fact that an outsider is involved with your child -- there are a variety of possible conflicts, e.g., she drinks while she's pregnant; she needs to be on bed rest but decides that it's OK for her to go ice skating, etc... or more subtle problems that can arise during such a stressful & emotional time.

A baby born using your egg & sperm is your biological child & the surrogate mother has no effect on the baby's genetics.

Surrogacy should always be done using legal, binding contracts & then, when the baby is born, you are listed as the birth parents of the baby.

Q - I would like to know if I have another woman have my child, will the child have my blood or the blood of the surrogate?

A - If another woman carries your child, using your egg, the child will be completely yours genetically, exactly as if you had carried it.

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