What is Traditional Surrogacy?

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In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate’s own eggs are used to achieve the surrogate pregnancy. This means the surrogate is the biological mother to the surrogate baby.

In modern times, a traditional surrogacy pregnancy is achieved using an IUI (intrauterine insemination – aka artificial insemination) with the intended father or donor sperm.

That said, traditional surrogacy is far less common than Gestational Surrogacy in most modern societies today due to the emotional and ethical complexities surrounding traditional surrogacy.

This article will cover everything from the basics of traditional surrogacy to the process, legal and emotional issues, costs, the pros and cons, and more.

Fast Facts About Traditional Surrogacy

  • Surrogacy is the process in which a woman carries a pregnancy for another person or couple.
  • In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate’s eggs are fertilized using the intended parent’s or donor’s sperm.
  • The surrogate in a traditional surrogate arrangement shares DNA with the baby is the biological mother of the child they give birth to.
  • Traditional surrogacy dates back thousands of years, with descriptions in the Bible and ancient Babylonian law.
  • Traditional surrogates may get pregnant through intercourse, IUI, or IVF, though most traditional surrogate pregnancies in modern societies use IUI to establish the pregnancy.
  • Due to the biological connection to the child a traditional surrogacy carries, there are serious emotional concerns with traditional surrogacy.
  • Due to the surrogate’s biological connection to the child, there are serious legal concerns with traditional surrogacy.
  • The cost of traditional surrogacy varies widely, from just needing to pay for medical fees (in a compassionate carry) to over $100,000 if using a paid surrogate.
  • It can be VERY challenging to find a traditional surrogate due to the emotional/legal considerations and the fact that most agencies, including surrogate steps, only assist with gestational surrogacy.

Traditional Surrogacy Definition

Traditional surrogacy is the process in which a woman gets pregnant and delivers a baby for another person or couple using her own eggs and sperm from the intended father or sperm donor.

Because the surrogate’s own eggs are used, they are the child’s biological mother.

Traditional surrogacy is rare in modern societies due to emotional and legal concerns and access to gestational surrogacy.

If traditional surrogacy is performed, the surrogate is usually impregnated via home intravaginal insemination or intrauterine insemination at a doctor’s office. Technically, intercourse or a more expensive procedure, IVF, could be used to achieve the traditional surrogate pregnancy.

Traditional Surrogacy Process

The traditional surrogacy process can be broken down into a few main steps:

  • Step 1: Find a surrogate willing to complete a traditional surrogacy. This can be exceptionally challenging as most surrogate agencies do not assist with traditional surrogacy, and most surrogates do not want to act as a traditional surrogate due to the emotional challenges it can cause.
  • Step 2: Agree to and sign a contract with the surrogate. While technically not a “requirement,” working with an experienced attorney is HIGHLY recommended in ALL surrogacy arrangements due to what is at stake, financial considerations, and legal complexities of parental rights regarding surrogacy. It is important to work with an experienced attorney as surrogacy is not legal in every state, and traditional surrogacy is illegal even in states where gestational surrogacy is legal. Before signing contracts, it is likely a good idea for the surrogate to be medically evaluated to ensure she is a good fit for a surrogate pregnancy.
  • Step 3: Establishing pregnancy. Once contracts are signed, the surrogate pregnancy is established. In traditional surrogacy, the pregnancy is usually established via an intrauterine insemination (IUI) using the intended father’s or donor’s sperm.
  • Step 4: The pregnancy. Once pregnancy is achieved, the surrogate will carry and deliver the baby like any other pregnancy.
  • Step 5: Establishing parental rights. Because the traditional surrogate is the biological mother of the child, she has parental rights to the child, and additional legal proceedings must be carried out to terminate her parental rights and for the intended parents to legally adopt the child.

Traditional Surrogacy Cost

The cost of traditional surrogacy typically ranges between $40,000-80,000. The cost varies based on numerous factors, including the amount paid to the surrogate, the medical procedures used to achieve the pregnancy, whether or not donor sperm is used, the cost of legal and other professional fees, and more.

Compared to the cost of gestational surrogacy, traditional surrogacy may be less expensive as there is no need to pay for a separate egg donor, and the pregnancy is usually achieved through an IUI procedure, which is more affordable than the IVF procedure required for gestational surrogacy.

While traditional surrogacy is typically less expensive, it is important to consider the challenges that traditional surrogacy can bring and the difficulty in finding a traditional surrogate to determine if the savings is worth it.

Traditional Surrogacy Laws

States regulate surrogacy laws, so the laws regarding traditional surrogacy vary substantially from state to state.

In some states, surrogacy may not be legal. Even in states where gestational surrogacy is legal, traditional surrogacy may be ILLEGAL.

Even in states that allow traditional surrogacy, there are significant legal complexities to navigate, and the biological relation between the surrogate and the child adds potentially catastrophic barriers to obtaining parental rights.

Due to the legal complexity, speaking to and retaining an attorney with experience in reproductive law and surrogacy before beginning any traditional surrogacy journey is advised.

Pros and Cons of Traditional Surrogacy

Traditional surrogacy is an emotionally and legally challenging process with important pros and cons to weight.

Below are some of the most common pros and cons of traditional surrogacy.

Pros of Traditional Surrogacy

  • Possibly less expensive than gestational surrogacy, as IUIs are usually less expensive than IVF.
  • The intended mother does not need to undergo IVF to retrieve their eggs
  • The intended parents do not need to look for an egg donor separately from their surrogacy

Cons of Traditional Surrogacy

  • Traditional surrogacy is illegal in many states
  • It can be very difficult to find a traditional surrogate to work with because most surrogate agencies do not assist with traditional surrogate cases and because most surrogates are rightfully hesitant about the emotional complexities of traditional surrogacy.
  • As the biological mother to the child they deliver, a traditional surrogate has the legal right to change their mind and keep the baby at virtually any point until the adoption is finalized. This could lead to an expensive legal battle in court with unknown outcomes.
  • The intended mother CAN NOT be the biological mother to the child

Traditional Surrogacy Recap

Traditional surrogacy is the process in which a woman, using their own eggs, gets pregnant and carries a child for another person/couple.

Because the surrogate uses their own eggs, the surrogate mother is the biological mother to the surrogate baby.

This is in contrast to the more popular form of surrogacy today, gestational surrogacy, in which the eggs from a donor or the intended mother are used, in combination with IVF, to achieve the surrogate pregnancy.

While there are some pros to traditional surrogacy, it is widely avoided in most modern societies due to the emotional and legal complexities that arise out of the biological connection between the surrogate mother and baby.

While most agencies, including Surrogate Steps, do NOT assist with traditional surrogacies, it can suit some.

If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a parent, we recommend contacting our team of professional surrogate advisors to learn more about growing your family via gestational surrogacy.

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