Traditional vs. Gestational Surrogacy: Which is Best for Me?

As you’re researching surrogacy as an intended parent or prospective surrogate, you’ve probably realized that there are two basic kinds of surrogacy you can complete: gestational and traditional surrogacy.

It’s important to know that many surrogacy professionals, including the Law Offices of James Fletcher Thompson, will typically only handle gestational surrogacies in South Carolina. The reasons why will be outlined below but, in general, gestational surrogacy is a much safer process — legally and emotionally.

However, traditional surrogacy may still be a possibility for some intended parents and prospective surrogates, so we’re happy to explain what you should consider with traditional vs. gestational surrogacy. As always, you can call our law firm at 864-573-5533 to schedule a consult with Jim Thompson and ask any questions you have, but you can find some of the basic information you need to know in this article about the differences between gestational and traditional surrogacy.

The Genetic Connection & Medical Process

The major difference for traditional surrogacy vs. gestational surrogacy is the way that the embryos are created, which will dictate whether or not the surrogate is genetically related to the baby that she carries.

In traditional surrogacy, a surrogate’s own eggs are used in the surrogacy process. Therefore, she is genetically related to the baby she carries.  A traditional surrogate usually doesn’t have to undergo the in vitro process; she can become pregnant through intrauterine insemination (IUI). This medical process is simpler than IVF and does not require the surrogate to undergo the egg retrieval process. Intended mothers don’t have to undergo any medical processes, because their eggs are not being used. However, sometimes, even with traditional surrogacy, IVF may still be used.  When this happens, the surrogate undergoes the egg retrieval process and then, once her eggs are fertilized, the resulting embryos are transferred to her uterus.

On the other hand, in gestational surrogacy, the intended mother’s or a donor’s eggs are used in the IVF process, and the surrogate has no genetic relationship to the baby. To complete the IVF process, an intended mother or donor must undergo the egg retrieval process, which includes fertility medicine and a retrieval procedure. At the same time, a gestational surrogate must prepare for the embryo transfer with fertility medication and her cycle may be synchronized with the cycle of the intended mother or egg donor. The IVF process is more complicated than IUI, so it may take longer to complete and will likely be more expensive. However, gestational surrogacy does reduce some of the legal and emotional risks that would otherwise come with a traditional surrogacy.

The Legal & Emotional Considerations

When looking at traditional vs. gestational surrogacy, it’s important to understand exactly how much of an impact the surrogate’s genetic relationship to the baby will have on the entirety of the process. A traditional surrogacy has more implications than just those that are medical.

There are certain steps the intended parents need to take to establish their legal parental rights to their child based on what kind of surrogacy they pursue. When a surrogate is genetically related to a baby in traditional surrogacy, this process becomes more complicated than in a gestational surrogacy.

Because a surrogate is the baby’s genetic mother in traditional surrogacy, she will have inherent parental rights that need to be terminated before any intended mother can become a legal parent of the baby. Depending on the individual surrogacy situation, termination of parental rights and a stepparent adoption may be necessary to protect the intended parents’ rights. Additionally, because the surrogate is the genetic and birthing parent, no compensation is allowed other than the living expenses that would be allowed for an adoption in South Carolina.

In addition, traditional surrogacy poses a greater risk in the rare case that a surrogate chooses to challenge a surrogacy agreement and attempt to keep her parental rights to the child. While this rarely occurs, it is a possibility. Choosing a gestational surrogacy instead reduces the risk of fighting a custody battle after the baby is born. While surrogates are carefully screened before entering the process to ensure they understand the mental separation between the baby they’re carrying and any maternal feelings they may have experienced in their own pregnancies, this emotional dissonance can be heightened when a surrogate is related to the baby — creating a greater risk that an unplanned complication may occur.

Which is Best for You: Traditional vs. Gestational Surrogacy?

While the decision is ultimately up to you, the Law Offices of James Fletcher Thompson is among the majority of surrogacy professionals today who solely recommend a gestational surrogacy. Because of the many complications that can arise with a traditional surrogacy, it’s rarely the best choice for intended parents and surrogates.

However, traditional surrogacy is still a choice for you. Some feel that this kind of surrogacy works best for intended parents and surrogates who are genetically related, as it gives the intended mother (or father) a genetic connection to their child that they could not achieve with an unrelated egg donor and a level of trust from that already-established relationship. If you are interested in a traditional surrogacy, we might be able to refer you to an ART professional who can help you.

If you’re still deciding between gestational and traditional surrogacy, attorney Jim Thompson can further explain the pros and cons involved with each and help you determine which path is best for you. To learn more or begin your surrogacy process today, please call us at 864-573-5533.