Surrogacy & Gestational Carriers

A gestational carrier (or gestational surrogate) and a traditional surrogate are significantly different: a GC is not genetically related to the baby in any way as the GC’s eggs are not used to create the embryo.

Loving and raising a child can be one of life’s greatest hopes and dreams. If someone is unable to carry a child to term themselves, they often explore gestational surrogacy as an option. Gestational surrogacy occurs when a woman carries and delivers a child for Intended Parent(s) in which the genetic material does not belong to the gestational surrogate. This differs from traditional surrogacy in which the egg belongs to the gestational surrogate. This is not a recommended approach as it creates more challenging legal position for the Intended Parents.

Gestational surrogacy allows potential parents to experience pregnancy and grow their families through their surrogates.

What is the difference between a gestational carrier and a traditional surrogate?

A gestational carrier (or gestational surrogate) and a traditional surrogate are significantly different: a GC is not genetically related to the baby in any way, as the GC’s eggs are not used to create the embryo.

In the case of a gestational surrogate, eggs will be retrieved from one individual, fertilized in the laboratory, and the resulting embryo is transferred to the GC’s uterus through in vitro fertilization (IVF). Embryos are transferred into the recipient’s uterus within three to five days after the eggs are fertilized in the laboratory.

A traditional surrogate is a woman who donates her egg and carries the resulting pregnancy for another person. This biological relationship creates an increased potential risk for the intended parent(s) who need to adopt the child after birth.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), does not recommend the use of traditional surrogacy.

Reasons for working with a gestational surrogate

There are many different reasons that individuals and couples choose to work with a gestational surrogate to start or grow a family.

  • Individuals who do not have a uterus or have an abnormal uterus may not be able to carry a baby
  • When the Intended Parents are a gay couple or a single male
  • Individuals with chronic medical conditions such as lung or heart disease that may make it dangerous for them to carry a pregnancy
  • Lack of success with IVF using one’s own uterus
  • Advanced age may make carrying a baby not recommended
  • Personal reasons for not wanting to carry a baby

How does gestational surrogacy work?

A gestational surrogate is impregnated through the use of an embryo transfer. In this process, an embryo is created by fertilizing eggs from either the intended parent or an egg donor with sperm from the intended parent or a sperm donor. Since the gestational surrogate does not provide the egg, the GC is not genetically related to the baby.

All donors, whether anonymous or known, should be screened per the most recent guidelines of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and ASRM.

How does surrogacy work? Learn now at Lane Fertility Institute

Choosing a gestational surrogate

Intended parents may choose a family member or friend for their gestational carrier or decide to work with an agency that will present gestational carrier profiles to create a surrogacy match. The optimal gestational carrier is someone who:

  • Is between the ages of 21-40 who has carried at least one uncomplicated pregnancy to term
  • Has undergone extensive medical and psychological screening
  • Has been carefully screened for infectious diseases
  • Has agreed to a healthy lifestyle during the pregnancy, which includes no use of drugs, cigarettes, or alcohol

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) recommends that all carriers be tested for viral infections, including HIV, hepatitis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, and cytomegalovirus.

Gestational carrier arrangements have very high pregnancy and delivery success rates. However, before embarking on your surrogacy journey, it is essential to fully understand all the components of surrogacy — how it works and all the steps involved.

Information about Surrogacy options through Lane Fertility Institute in the San Francisco bay-area

What are the legal arrangements of a surrogacy or GC partnership?

Third-party reproduction involves several legal issues, and written consent should be obtained for any procedure. If intended parents choose to work with a gestational carrier, they must meet with an experienced reproductive attorney who will draft a surrogacy contract. The contract should include the conditions for fertility treatments, pregnancy, and birth.

A legal contract is required between the intended parent(s) and the gestational carrier (GC) before medical treatment can begin. A contract is needed whether the surrogate or GC is from an agency or is a friend or family member.

California is one of the safest states in the country to engage in a surrogacy arrangement. In California, the rights and interests of surrogates and intended parents are well protected under state law throughout the entire journey to parenthood.

Lane Fertility Institute (LFI) partners with some of the best surrogacy agencies in the country, providing both surrogates and intended parents with peace of mind from working with highly reputable, professional surrogacy organizations.

LFI performs all of the medical aspects of surrogate patient care. From medical record review of surrogates to embryo transfer, we partner with our patients at each step.

Surrogacy contract
A GC is commonly compensated for the time and effort involved in fulfilling this role. A compensation agreement should be well documented in the contract between the carrier and the intended parents.

The contract may also address issues regarding the number of embryos to be transferred and contingency plans in the case of abnormal test results. These decisions should be made after appropriate counseling with the infertility specialist.

What are the expected costs involved with surrogacy?

The chart below is an outline of the potential costs that are often involved in surrogacy. The fees indicated are strictly estimates as costs vary with every surrogacy.

Estimation of Average Surrogacy Cost for Intended Parent(s)*

Typical Agency Fee: $20,000
Typical CG Compensation:  $35,000 – $50,000
Invasive Procedure Fee (Including Embryo Transfer): $500 – $1,500
Abortion/Selective Reduction Fee: $1,500 – $3,500
Genetic Screening (CVS, Amino): $500 – $2,000
Miscarriage fee: $500 – $3,500
Multiple gestation fee (per additional fetus): $3,000 – $5,000
Maternity Clothing Allowance: $500 – $1,000
C-Section Fee: $3,000 – $5,000
Loss of Reproductive Organs: $3,000 – $5,000
IP(s) and GC Psychological Screenings: $2,500
Legal Fees for IP(s) and GC (and ED if needed): $9,000 – $15,000
Egg Donor’s Compensation: $5,000 – $10,000
IVF Cycle and Medication:  $25,000 – $40,000 (higher cost range may include embryo biopsies, multiple cycles, multiple transfers, etc.)
Travel Costs for IP(s) and GC vary depending on the circumstances
**Total Average Range  $80,000 – $140,000+ (higher cost range may include twin pregnancies and multiple transfers, for example)

Index of acronyms:

IP: Intended Parents; GC: Gestational Carrier; CVS: Chorionic Villus Sampling; ED: Egg Donor; IVF: In Vitro Fertilization.

*Please note that the above fees are only examples of what the IP(s) may expect. Fees are only estimated costs as actual costs will vary with every surrogacy. Note that LFI does not set any fees for the GC or any other service provider.

**This range is only an estimate as there are many variables that determine the total depending on the service providers selected, the required medications, and the amount of transfers necessary to achieve pregnancy.

IP(s) always have a choice of which providers they choose and this impacts costs.

If IP(s) have insurance that covers infertility treatment, IVF cycle and medication expenses will likely be significantly lower than the amount estimated above.

What are all the steps involved with surrogacy?

The chart below outlines all the various components that may or may not be involved in your personal surrogacy journey.

helpful surrogacy information provided by Lane Fertility Institute

How long is the surrogacy process from start to finish?

The surrogacy process can vary considerably depending on the individuals involved and the issues that arise. However, this sample timeline below is helpful for understanding the stages involved and the potential amount of time each stage might take.

LFI Surrogacy step-by-step Timeline

Third-party reproduction offers the chance to become a parent for those unable to reproduce by more traditional means.

We have been managing gestational surrogacy care for over a decade at Lane Fertility Institute. Our providers and team members collectively have over 100 years of clinical experience working with surrogates and other agencies.

We will connect you to gestational carriers who are carefully selected women that are eager to provide the gift of life to patients globally.

If you are interested in working with a gestational carrier, call Lane Fertility Institute for more information. We can answer your questions and recommend attorneys and reproductive psychologists in the area. We will be with you every step of your journey.

Allison Chamberlaine, RN

LFI’s Surrogate Coordinator is Allison Chamberlaine.

Allison’s extensive experience in IVF has made her one of the best in the field. She oversees the LFI surrogate program, ensuring surrogates who are referred to LFI either by an agency or an intended parent, are physically and mentally sound to perform healthy, frozen embryo transfers for intended parents.

“I became interested in reproductive medicine out of a personal struggle with my own infertility. I love assisting people in the pursuit of creating families in their own unique ways, and I am passionate about being part of the process that allows individuals to pursue their hearts desires, working in the field of fertility, requires trust and compassion. I look forward to bringing my expertise and compassion to everyone I work with.”  – Allison Chamberlaine

Contact Allison Chamberlaine