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Traditional Surrogacy Process: How Does It Work?

by Priyank Soni


Photo by Emma Bauso


Traditional surrogacy is also known as genetic surrogacy. The surrogate agrees to carry the baby to term by way of having one of her eggs inseminated. As such, the surrogate and your baby will share genetic traits and have a clear biological link. In this form of surrogacy, you would not share any genetic material with the baby.

In purely technical terms, the result of this process means the surrogate would be the biological mother of the baby. However, in all other respects, you will be the parent of your child once they are born and the legal paperwork has been completed.

This approach is different from gestational surrogacy. In this method, the surrogate does not have her eggs fertilized. Rather, your eggs would be fertilized and then transplanted into the surrogate’s uterus. Meaning you would be the biological mother of your baby.

How Does it Work?

While traditional surrogacy may seem like a relatively straightforward process, it can be quite complex in some ways. There are various steps involved before you can welcome your child into your home.

Once you’ve decided traditional surrogacy is right for you, these steps include:

Finding a Surrogate Match

In some cases, parents will already have a close relationship with their intended surrogate. This might be a friend or family member. However, it is also possible to work with a surrogacy agency or surrogacy attorney who can find an appropriate match and attend to the legal process. This is often a good option for prospective parents as you can be confident in the knowledge that you’re working with experienced professionals that can guide you through the process.

When using an agency, you’ll usually be provided with a selection of surrogate profiles. The choices you make here won’t just be surrounding race, appearance, age, and personality. You’ll also have choices about surrogates who are open to different types of relationships with you. This could include how close they’re comfortable with you being during the surrogacy process and even maintaining contact beyond the birth.

Arranging a Contract

Whether you’re working with an agency or a person you know, it’s vital to start on a solid legal foundation. This is because you need to set expectations surrounding your rights of custody of the child, in case the surrogate has a change of heart and wants to maintain parenthood of the baby they’ve carried. It’s also about protecting the surrogate themselves and formalizing any form of compensation agreed on regarding payment of medical bills and arrangements in case of health risks.


The intended father or donor will provide a sperm sample. This sample will be cleaned and concentrated in a laboratory setting. The surrogate will then undergo an intrauterine insemination (IUI) procedure. This is where the sperm is inserted directly into the uterus during the time of ovulation.

The surrogate will then take tests to confirm they are pregnant. If a compensation plan has been agreed upon, this is usually the point at which payment begins. It will be the choice of the individual parents and surrogate to decide how close they will be in contact throughout the pregnancy.

Birth and Custody Transfer

In many cases, the intended parents will join the surrogate at the hospital to be present during the birth. Many states require the parents to complete adoption paperwork to formalize their guardianship of the new baby. However, once this is completed and the surrogate has been discharged, you can begin your relationship with your new child.

Traditional vs Gestational Surrogacy

We’ve already established the core difference between traditional and gestational surrogacy is the genetic component. However, there are pros and cons with each that you should bear in mind before making your decision.

The pros of Traditional Surrogacy:

  • Accessible to prospective mothers who are unable to provide viable eggs.

  • Usually lower in cost than gestational surrogacy, though this can vary.

The cons of Traditional Surrogacy:

  • The mother doesn’t share any genetic link with the child.

  • There can be legal implications regarding who has rights of custody.

  • There may be significant legal costs involved between contract preparation and adoption.

The pros of Gestational Surrogacy:

  • The intended mother will have a clear genetic link to the child.

  • As the process is supported by clinical procedures, there can be a good chance of successful gestation and birth.

  • There is usually a legally binding contract before fertilization, meaning the rights of parenthood are determined early on.

The cons of Gestational Surrogacy:

There are significant medical procedures involved, including egg donation, in vitro fertilization (IVF), and surrogate transplant. Some states only allow married couples to engage in gestational surrogacy.


Surrogacy can be a powerful tool to help you become a parent. Traditional surrogacy has been an appropriate option for many parents who have been unable to get pregnant. However, it’s important to remember that it can be a complex and emotionally taxing process. Before making any decisions it is vital to understand the advantages and risks involved with the different types of surrogacy. This allows you to make more informed decisions that can start your new family on a positive footing.


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