What is Traditional Surrogacy?

And How Does It Work?

What is traditional surrogacy and how does it work? If you're a prospective traditional surrogate or interested intended parent, here's what you should know.

There are two methods of surrogacy: traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy. Traditional surrogacy is very rare today. Most surrogacy professionals, including American Surrogacy, do not complete this type of surrogacy. We, and again, most surrogacy professionals, only complete gestational surrogacies.

However, the traditional surrogacy process is likely something you’ve already heard of, so we created the following article to answer some common questions:

Traditional Surrogacy Definition

“What is traditional surrogacy? What is a traditional surrogate?”

In traditional surrogacy, also sometimes called “partial surrogacy,”  “genetic surrogacy” or “straight surrogacy,” the surrogate is the biological mother of the baby she carries.

The surrogate’s own eggs are fertilized through IUI using sperm from a donor or an intended father in a fertility clinic. This means that intended mothers do not have the option to be genetically linked to the baby in traditional surrogacy.

Because traditional surrogates are the biological mothers, this type of surrogacy is less common and is legally and emotionally riskier than its preferred counterpart, gestational surrogacy. In gestational surrogacy, the gestational surrogate is not biologically related to the baby she carries.

Due to the risks involved, most surrogacy professionals will not complete traditional surrogacies, American Surrogacy included.

Traditional Surrogacy Process

“What’s the traditional surrogacy process like?”

Here’s what a simplified version of the traditional surrogacy process is usually like for surrogates and intended parents:

  • Step 1: Meet the eligibility requirements and complete the screening processes with your surrogacy professional.
  • Step 2: Locate your surrogacy match.
  • Step 3: Create a surrogacy contract with your surrogacy partner and your attorneys.
  • Step 4: Complete the medical processes.
  • Step 5: Prepare for the baby’s arrival.
  • Step 6: Complete whatever post-birth legal measures are necessary in your individual case (these can vary depending on state laws and more), under the instruction of your surrogacy attorney.

Each of those steps can be broken down into smaller steps, so it’s helpful to have someone to guide you through that process.

Although very few surrogacy agencies and clinics will complete the traditional surrogacy process, you may be able to pursue this type of surrogacy independently with the help of a lawyer.

Traditional Surrogacy Cost

“How much is traditional surrogacy?”

This is an understandable question, but one that’s difficult to answer exactly. There are quite a few variables that will affect the total cost of traditional surrogacy for the intended parents — primarily, the medical needs and laws that may affect your individual situation.

For surrogates: Although altruistic surrogacy is a route that some surrogates take, most surrogates accept some amount of compensation. Compensation covers the time, effort, lost wages and more that surrogates sacrifice, and it’s also important to note that surrogates are not expected to pay for their pregnancy- and surrogacy-related expenses. These costs are the responsibility of the intended parents, even if the surrogate has to pay a few up-front copays temporarily.

However, a traditional surrogate might not have the option of being compensated, depending on her state laws. Because of her biological relationship with the baby, many states legally treat traditional surrogacy as an adoption, which means compensation would be illegal.

For intended parents: Traditional surrogacy costs are the responsibility of the intended parents. Everyone’s surrogacy process will vary somewhat, so the total costs will reflect those differences. Traditional surrogacy is generally less expensive than gestational surrogacy because there’s no need to work with an egg donor, and IUI is cheaper than IVF. However, traditional surrogacy can still become costly, usually starting at $75,000. Additionally, because of the legal risks involved, there may be added legal expenses in a traditional surrogacy if complications arise.

Traditional Surrogacy Laws

“Is traditional surrogacy legal where I live?”

Traditional surrogacy laws will vary from state to state. Many states prohibit traditional surrogacy completely, so it may not be legal where you live. Gestational surrogacy is more commonly permitted and welcomed, because there are fewer legal and emotional risks.

In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate is the biological mother of the baby, so in many states, this type of arrangement is legally treated as an adoption. The surrogate would need to wait a minimum number of hours (depending on that state’s adoption consent requirements) before should could legally offer her consent to place the baby with the intended parents. At any point up until consent is final, she’d be legally within her rights to change her mind and keep the baby as the biological mother.

There are usually additional legal measures that traditional surrogates and intended parents must take in traditional surrogacy to secure the legal parental rights of the intended parents. These legal and emotional hardships for surrogates and intended parents are why most surrogacy professionals will not complete traditional surrogacies, and why gestational surrogacy is encouraged over traditional surrogacy.

You’ll need to speak with an experienced surrogacy attorney to find out if you can complete a traditional surrogacy where you live, and what options are legally available to you.

Is Traditional Surrogacy Right for You?

“What are the traditional surrogacy success rates? Are there traditional surrogacy statistics that can help me decide?”

There aren’t reliable statistics or numbers on traditional surrogacy, as surrogacy in general is still a relatively new family-building option. You’re the only one who can ultimately decide if traditional surrogacy is right for you.

American Surrogacy encourages all prospective parents and surrogates to research all available family-building methods, different types of surrogacy, and the requirements and processes and to weigh the pros and cons before committing to any journey of such importance. It’s always important that you feel well-informed and confident about traditional surrogacy before you begin.

Although American Surrogacy only completes gestational surrogacies, we may be able to put you in contact with an attorney who can answer any questions you might have about traditional surrogacy. Feel free to reach out for more information.