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Surrogacy is the incredible process of one person carrying and giving birth to a baby for another couple who wishes to become parents. Embarking on the surrogacy journey can be both exciting and complex. One of your earliest decisions is choosing what type of surrogacy is right for you. Choosing the right type of surrogacy is a crucial step that can dramatically impact your experience, including the medical procedures required and legal considerations. With insight into the key differences between forms of surrogacy and expert guidance every step of the way, you can feel confident pursuing the ideal arrangement for you.

While at Joy of Life, we specialize in gestational surrogacy, where surrogate mothers are generously compensated, we believe it’s important for potential surrogates and intended parents to understand all of the different types of surrogacy available.

Gestational vs. Traditional Surrogacy

The two most common types of surrogacy are traditional and gestational surrogacy. Choosing between these two types is one of the earliest decisions you will make in the surrogacy journey. While both arrangements come with their considerations, the critical difference between traditional and gestational surrogacy lies in the genetic relationship between the surrogate and the baby.

Traditional Surrogacy

In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate provides her egg, which is fertilized using sperm from the intended father or a donor. The traditional surrogacy process usually includes artificial and intrauterine insemination (IUI), but does not require extensive fertility treatments for the surrogate. However, traditional surrogacy can bring up more complex legal considerations and emotional dynamics since the surrogate is biologically connected to the baby.

Gestational Surrogacy

Gestational surrogacy is the more common form of surrogacy and does not involve the surrogate’s eggs. Through the process of in vitro fertilization (IVF) an embryo is created using an egg from the intended mother or an egg donor, along with sperm from the intended father or a donor. A gestational surrogate has no biological connection to the baby. IVF is more complex than IUI, but many surrogates prefer gestational arrangements to avoid forming a genetic bond. Intended parents also often prefer it to have a biological connection to the child.

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Altruistic vs. Commercial Surrogacy

While traditional vs. gestational surrogacy determines the genetic relationship between the surrogate and the baby, there are also different types of financial surrogate arrangements. One of the most personal decisions in surrogacy is whether to pursue an altruistic or compensated (commercial) arrangement. Both paths have their pros and cons.

Altruistic Surrogacy

An altruistic surrogate mother receives no compensation beyond reimbursement for pregnancy-related expenses in this arrangement. She carries the baby out of love or a desire to help. Many altruistic surrogacies involve relatives or close friends. While more affordable, altruistic surrogacy can risk straining relationships. Resentment could build if the surrogate feels taken for granted.

Commercial Surrogacy

In a commercial surrogacy arrangement, surrogate mothers receive payment for their time and services in addition to having their medical costs covered. This arrangement can help avoid potential feelings of obligation on either side. Compensated surrogacies often involve matched parties who did not know each other prior. While more expensive, compensation ensures the surrogate’s rights and interests are protected.

Other Types of Surrogacy

While we’ve covered some of the major types of surrogacy (traditional, gestational, altruistic, and commercial), there are a few other common forms and definitions of surrogacy to consider.

Domestic Surrogacy

If you live in a country like the U.S. that allows and regulates surrogacy, domestic surrogacy is usually the best and safest option. It allows intended parents and surrogates to meet easily, build a relationship and stay in contact throughout the process. It also avoids complex legal proceedings required to bring a baby born abroad back home.

International Surrogacy

Surrogacy laws vary significantly around the world. Intended parents in countries that restrict surrogacy may pursue international surrogacy in more surrogacy-friendly nations. This allows access to the process in a safer, easier way. For surrogates, carrying for international intended parents can provide high compensation when accounting for exchange rates and living standards.

Agency Surrogacy

With agency surrogacy, intended parents and surrogates work with a service guiding the process from start to finish. Agencies facilitate screening, matching, legal paperwork and more. They also provide counseling and mediation support. Agencies remove much responsibility from the intended parents’ and surrogate’s hands. Those needing help connecting with a match or handling logistics may prefer the benefits of an agency’s experience and comprehensive guidance.

Independent Surrogacy

In independent surrogacy, intended parents work directly with a lawyer and fertility clinic. Independent parents who already have a surrogate match may be considering this option. While potentially more affordable, the intended parents take on more coordination of the process and relationship themselves.

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Choosing a Type of Surrogacy

Pursuing surrogacy as a surrogate mother or intended parent opens up an incredible, life-changing path. With so many forms of surrogacy to consider, it can take time and research to determine the ideal type of surrogacy for your unique needs. To get a better understanding of which form of surrogacy would be best for you, it’s a good idea to discuss your options in-depth with a surrogacy professional.

Our team here at Joy of Life® is always happy to help. As one of the leading surrogacy agencies in Southern California, Joy of Life excels at ensuring all feel empowered, supported and confident at every step of the journey ahead. We specialize in gestational surrogacy, where surrogate mothers receive generous compensation and perks.

When you are ready to begin, we are here with the knowledge and care to make your surrogacy experience everything you hope it will be! Reach out to our passionate team today to learn more.

Joy Millan

Author Joy Millan

I’m Joy, the founder and CEO of Joy of Life. With a professional background as a fertility clinician, I’ve spent thousands of hours working with surrogates and intended parents alike. As a mother of two, I often wished for more support and a deeper commitment to care for those embarking on non-traditional family-building journeys. This is why I established Joy of Life: to create a more robust, compassionate experience in parenthood for both parties involved with surrogacy. In 2021, I stepped back from daily operations at Joy of Life to fight cancer. Fortunately, the combined 20 years of experience from our incredible team has allowed me to focus on my health & recovery. I continue to provide company guidance and serve as the head liaison for our network of doctors, clinicians and caregivers.

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