Gay male couples who do not want to adopt or would like a child with a biological connection to one or both of the intended parents often use gestational surrogacy to build their families. The majority of surrogate pregnancies today are gestational rather than traditional in which the woman uses her own egg for the pregnancy. The woman who carries the child is referred to as a gestational carrier.
Gestational surrogacy is the type of surrogacy that occurs when a woman uses the egg of another woman in the surrogacy arrangement. The donor egg is fertilized via In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and transferred to the gestational carrier. The surrogate does not have any genetic connection to the resulting child.
With gestational surrogacy, the carrier and an egg donor must have their cycles synchronized (unless the intended parents have selected an egg or eggs from a frozen egg bank), and then the IVF process can begin. IVF is the process in which embryos are created from the egg and sperm of the intended parents or by donor egg and donor sperm selected by the intended parents, or any combination thereof. Often with gay male couples, a donor egg is used while both male partners contribute sperm. Then, the eggs are fertilized with both partners’ sperm so that each male partner is related to the resulting children if there are twins. Once the eggs are fertilized, embryos are developed in the laboratory for three to five days. An embryo transfer procedure will then occur, placing one or two embryos into the uterus of the gestational carrier. If embryos are created with both male partners’ sperm, the intended parents may choose to freeze one partner’s genetically-related embryos for another pregnancy at a later time.
One of the benefits of gestational surrogacy is that one or both of the partners may be genetically linked to the baby, while the gestational surrogate is not, thus there are fewer legal risks with gestational surrogacy. All parties involved with the process are thoroughly screened medically and psychologically.
Before the surrogacy process begins, a legal contract is drawn up, and signed to protect the rights of all parties. The Illinois Gestational Surrogacy Act took effect in 2005 to protect surrogates and make it easier for intended parents; however, the act does not apply if the surrogate is also the egg donor. Same-sex parents couples can enter into a surrogacy arrangement, and both intended parents can be listed on the birth certificate.
With gestational surrogacy, the gestational carrier is always known by the intended parents, unlike an egg donor, who is typically anonymous. From the beginning of the gestational surrogacy process the intended couple provides the gestational carrier with monetary compensation to meet all surrogacy expenses and legal fees. The total cost of gestational surrogacy varies dependent upon the arrangement between the surrogate and the intended parents.