When a woman is unable to carry a pregnancy but the couple would like to parent their biological child, the couple can turn to the help of a surrogate. Tradition surrogacy involves insemination using the couple's sperm and the surrogate's egg. Gestational surrogacy is when a couple creates an embryo through IVF, and the embryo is transferred to another woman (the surrogate) for gestation.

Many issues surround surrogacy and they must be considered carefully.

For couples who are considering either traditional or gestational or donor egg surrogacy, the following questions may be helpful:

How long has the program been in operation?

Does the program maintain a referral listing of previous client couples?

What are the costs of surrogacy (traditional, gestational or donor)? What is the fee payment structure?

How long are medical records kept on the surrogate?

How are surrogate's expenses handled? Is there a cap on these expenses?

Does the program recruit its own surrogates? Through what means?

Will they work with a surrogate recruited by the couple themselves?

Does the program offer psychological screening and counseling to surrogates? To what extent?

What type of emotional support does the program offer for the couple? Counseling or support groups?

Does the program offer medical screening of the surrogate? To what extent? Who does the screening?

Does medical screening include an AIDS test of surrogate and her partner?

Is gestational surrogacy (also called surrogate IVF, surrogate GIFT, surrogate ZIFT, host uterus) as well as traditional surrogacy available?

Does the program offer on-site medical services (insemination or IVF) or do they work with local physicians and hospitals?

How many babies have been born through the clinic's surrogacy programs? To what extent is contact between the surrogate and the couple encouraged? (By letter, meeting face-to-face, on-going?)

Can the couple be present at the birth?

What type of legal counsel is offered to the surrogate and the couple? Does this include the drawing up of contracts?

Does the program offer adoption finalization services?

What are the fees for informational meetings or interviews?

What are the financial obligations incurred by the couple? What is the payment schedule?

If the surrogate does not get pregnant over a certain number of cycles, what is the clinic's policy regarding refund of fee paid?

In the event that the contract is not honored, what are the financial obligations for the couple? In the event that the surrogate has a pregnancy loss, what are the financial obligations for the couple?

Does the program have a Medical Registry for updating the medical history of the surrogates or the children?

Does the program have a registry for the donor and children to exchange information when the child reaches maturity?

For more information on the topic of surrogacy, consult RESOLVE's Fact Sheet #56.