Traditional Surrogacy vs Gestational Surrogacy: How To Choose Which Is Best?

Posted on October 17, 2022 by Giving Tree Surrogacy & Egg Donation in Surrogacy Facts

Surrogacy has become a polarizing word (but it doesn't have to be!). For some the word conjures up images of amazing, soul-driven women willing to lend their wombs to Intended Parents in need. For others, the image may not be so positive due to socioeconomic stigma, religious and political views, or downright false information.

Having questions about surrogacy (the science of family-building) is important - having reputable, fact-based answers is life-changing.

The textbook definition of surrogacy is fairly straight forward according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary states, surrogacy is, “the practice by which a woman (called a surrogate mother) becomes pregnant and gives birth to a baby to give it to someone who cannot have children.”

There can be some grey areas in comprehension and definition of surrogacy as a practice depending on personal views and access to education on the topic. Today we'll address a few major concerns while defining the two main types of surrogacy.

Questions may arise on your journey to find an agency or service, such as:

  • What is a surrogate mother?
  • Is all surrogacy the same?
  • Will my baby share DNA with the Surrogate Mother?
  • How much does a surrogate make (Will I have a contract)?
  • Are there mental health checks for all parties involved, including the spouse of our surrogate should she have one?

These are actual, real, valid questions brought up by serious inquiries before embarking on surrogacy.

It’s called “Doing Your Due Diligence” and we highly encourage it! Working within a reputable agency, like Giving Tree, will help answer your questions without judgment while providing emotional support throughout the process.

If you have deep questions or require more support, remember… we’re just a friendly phone call away at 888-328-8883.

We heard a crazy rumor the other day about what surrogacy is…

Tell us if you’ve heard this common myth flying around recently: that there is only one type of surrogacy - gestational - which means the child is related to the surrogate.

The answer to this myth is…a hard no. Let’s dive deeper into this. On the surface, there are two types of surrogacy options.

Traditional Surrogacy and Gestational Surrogacy.

Altruistic and Independent Surrogacy can fall under these main categories as talking points too.

Gestational Surrogacy has grown in popularity over the last 30 years as it diminishes some legal and emotional hardships. The surrogate mother is not biologically related to the baby, which we'll dive deeper into a bit later.

First, let's tackle the OG, Traditional Surrogacy.

Complete Your Application Below

Traditional Surrogacy has roots around the world.

Traditional Surrogacy is typically when the biological mother (egg donor) of the child is the “surrogate”. The Intended Parent here would be the biological father or partner in a same sex couple using donor sperm.

Traditional Surrogacy has been practiced the longest simply because modern technology recently allowed for embryo creation to occur outside of the womb. Simply put, the science wasn't where it needed to be in the 1970s when surrogacy first hit the scene.

It wouldn’t be until 1976 when attorney Noel Keane would broker the first-ever surrogacy arrangement.

Even though it is still called “Traditional Surrogacy”, it is rarer nowadays and mainly practiced person to person, without an agency involved. The risks are numerous including financial ruin, unnecessary heartbreak, or even criminal penalties in certain states where it is illegal.

If you are considering Traditional Surrogacy, we encourage you to seek out professional guidance. Some agencies do guide families through a Traditional SUrrogacy setup, so always be sure to ask what your options are. As the saying goes...if you don't ask, you won't know.

For basic legal issues Surrogacy Laws By State, click here to start your research.

For help with funding, please see our Surrogacy Grants & Scholarships page.

Gestational Surrogacy is practiced most commonly in the United States of America

Gestational Surrogacy is the new(er) kid on the block and is used in most surrogacy cases today. A Gestational Surrogate/Gestational Carrier carries another woman’s egg (the Intended Parent), fertilized with the father’s sperm (the other Intended Parent) or donor sperm.

This is the most common form of surrogacy since it is safe, reliable, and provides solid legal protection for both the Intended Parents and the Surrogate Mothers.

OK, but what is a Surrogate Mother, exactly?

Glad you asked! Technically, it is another term for Gestational Carrier. We call them Angels.

In simplest terms, a Surrogate Mother carries the child, created by two different people (the Intended Parents) for the woman, or the Intended Parent(s) who cannot.

The surrogate mother does not share DNA with the child and is not the genetic mother.

When the embryo is implanted within the surrogate, it already contains a full DNA profile from the Intended Parents (Hey there fertilization!)...

…no DNA or genetic relation to the surrogate is formed.

Another term to note when speaking about Gestational Surrogacy is the: Gestational Surrogacy Agreement (GSA).

The gestational surrogacy agreement (also known as The Contract) is one of the most important pieces of every surrogacy process. The GSA guides the entire surrogacy journey, clearly outlining each party's rights, roles, and responsibilities before, during, and after the pregnancy.Some of the science can be difficult to understand and the terminology is confusing.

Check out the Giving Tree Glossary of Terms for more clarification.

Are Surrogacy Contracts and Surrogacy Payment only for Gestational Surrogacy?

Surrogacy contracts are complicated at best with a legal team by your side. In Traditional Surrogacy, medical, legal, and financial teams are expensive since you have to source them for yourself.

A Surrogacy Agency, practicing Gestational Surrogacy, typically has a team of vetted professionals waiting to assist you, backed by continued education and best practices medical regulations.

Entering into a contract (or not having one at all!) in a state with strict laws surrounding surrogacy, adoption, Intended Parents, same-sex parents, or issues with taking payment for surrogacy services can be dangerous too.

Can anyone or any woman be a surrogate then?

Unfortunately, not all women (or people) can be surrogates. One main disqualifying factor would be No Uterus.

For a full list of Giving Tree Surrogacy qualifiers and disqualifiers, click here.

Many factors may disqualify someone beyond medical reasons, which is why an agency can help guide you through screenings.

Some women do not have enough emotional support at home or do not meet the basic financial requirements. In the United States, surrogates must prove they are financially stable before surrogacy. In turn, the Intended Parents have to prove their ability to cover medical expenses and other fees throughout the process.

From mental health checks to age restrictions and income bracket standards - agencies screen Surrogate Mothers and their families before, during, and after all procedures.

What happens when you ask a family member to be a surrogate? Can any woman be a surrogate then?

Unfortunately, the answer is still no.

Miscarriages, financial ruin, deterioration of family connections, and possible lawbreaking can and do occur between family and friends. Of course, you can find success stories; but, family surrogacy is only recommended within an agency setting where you have access to medical, psychological, legal, and financial counseling before any procedures.

Especially if you live in a state with strict surrogacy laws.

“Almost 4 years of trying with two surrogates. One surrogate was a family member and that was just too emotional (we had complications) so we went with an agency for the second. We stuck within the U.S., of the money we spent, about 1/4 was travel costs, 1/4 surrogate costs, and 1/2 medical.” -Annonymous Reddit User on FATfire (FATfire is a non-discriminatory financial freedom group.)

Working with an agency will help you and your family decide the best plan of action for your specific needs in a supportive and inclusive way.

Where do we go from here?

In this specific article, we talked about Gestational vs Traditional Surrogacy…but sometimes the world of surrogacy blends into the realms of IVF and Egg Donation - as we learned today within Traditional Surrogacy.

If you are searching for surrogacy options but are unable to qualify, or have life issues that prevent you from committing, egg donation might be a better choice.

Click here for Egg Donor Requirements to see if that may be right for you.

If you are an Intended Parent, seeking answers…we see you. The process can be overwhelming. We’re here for you and can honestly say the journey is worth it, we promise.

Don’t miss these heartfelt testimonialsfrom real clients of surrogacy, egg donation, and IFV procedures. Fair warning, grab some tissues, and the tears will flow!

Which route for family-building is best for you: traditional or gestational? It’s best to always consult with a surrogacy professional, whether that be a credible: agency, surrogacy attorney, or IVF center.

It takes a village to grow love!
The Giving Tree Surrogacy & Egg Donation blog is a space to connect and communicate with intended parents, surrogates, and egg donors with multiple locations in the domestic U.S. and Internationally.

Contact Us to schedule your free, no-obligation exploratory consultation today. For media inquiries, please call 888-328-8883.

*We do not receive affiliate commissions from any of the organizations linked above. We simply value knowledge sharing and benchmarking for best practices and services.