Surrogacy 101

You Asked: What Is Surrogacy?

Written by Caroline Shannon

January 6, 2023

Learn the basics of what it means to carry a pregnancy for someone else.

There are a few questions many of us run into regularly: What’s the weather today? Should I go out or stay in? And, of course—burgers or tacos?

But when it comes to carrying a pregnancy for someone else, the questions are a bit more complicated (and plentiful), starting with: What is surrogacy anyway?  

Here, we lay out the specifics of this area of third-party reproduction, as well as the two main types of surrogacy and how they differ. (Hint: One is a lot more common than the other.)

What is surrogacy? 

Let’s break it down: Surrogacy is a form of third-party reproduction in which a person consents, often by a legal agreement, to carry a pregnancy for the intended parent(s) with the understanding that custody of the child belongs to the intended parent(s)

Put simply: Surrogacy is when you carry a baby for someone else and, upon birth, parental rights are assigned to the intended parent(s).

Related: What Disqualifies You From Being A Surrogate?

Are there different types of surrogacy?

There are two main types of surrogacy—traditional and gestational (the latter of which is what we work with here at Nodal). Here’s a bit more about them: 

Traditional surrogacy:

This type of surrogacy occurs when a carrier provides their egg and has a genetic connection to the child. This type of surrogacy is rarely practiced in the modern-day United States because of the legal, emotional, and legal complexities involved.

Gestational surrogacy:

This type of surrogacy occurs when a surrogate carries a baby created from the intended parent(s) sperm and egg or a donor embryo. With gestational surrogacy, there is no biological relationship between the carrier and the baby, and parental rights are assigned to the intended parent(s) either before or right after the baby's birth.

Worth noting? Gestational surrogacy is most often what people are referring to when they use the term "surrogacy." Again, this is a type of surrogacy in which a surrogate carries a baby to whom they have *zero* biological relations.

Related: Basic Requirements to Become a Surrogate

The bottom line.

While there are misconceptions surrounding surrogacy thanks to misinformation and inaccurate depictions in entertainment (hello, "Baby Mama"), it's fairly straightforward when you break it down.

As we continue to discuss surrogacy on the Nodal blog, you can bet we are referring to gestational surrogacy, which, as a reminder, is when a surrogate carries a baby for the intended parent(s), and there is no biological relationship between the surrogate and the baby.

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