What is a gestational carrier program?
There are many paths to creating a family, and if you have had difficulty conceiving on your own, there are resources and processes available to help you achieve your goal. One of these potential paths is a gestational carrier program.
A gestational carrier is a third party female, often called a gestational surrogate, who carries your baby to term and gives birth. You and your partner contribute the genetic material; therefore, the baby is biologically related to you and your partner. Alternatively, eggs or sperm from donors can be used if necessary. The egg and sperm are combined in a lab setting, and the resulting embryo (or embryos) is transferred to the carrier’s uterus for implantation.
Who can benefit from a gestational carrier program?
You should consider a gestational carrier program if you have viable eggs, but have not been able to carry a pregnancy to term, or if your health would be endangered by pregnancy or delivery. Of course, eggs from a donor can also be used if necessary or desired.
Some women who opt for using a gestational carrier were either born with a uterus that does not function in the typical way, were born without a uterus or have had their uterus removed through a hysterectomy.
Anyone with the desire to expand their family or become parents for the first time and who are not able to do so through conventional processes can consider the use of a gestational carrier program.
What are the risks involved in gestational carrier programs?
Because your baby is being carried by a third party female, your control over the pregnancy will be limited. When you select a carrier, a contract must be signed that all parties agree to; however, contact between you and the carrier can vary, so it may be difficult to ensure that the carrier is eating appropriately and not engaging in harmful activities, such as smoking or drinking. This is why gestational carrier choice is of particular importance.
Other potential risks to your child are the same with any pregnancy. There is also the risk during the transfer process that the embryo transfer will not be successful. Please be aware that this may not be the carrier’s fault as other factors such as your egg, your partner’s sperm or the implantation process itself could have adversely affected the results.
What are the Legal Concerns?
Due to the extent of the legal issues involved in expanding your family through a gestational carrier program, it is sensible for prospective parents to work with an established program through an agency or associated with a fertility clinic. A legal contract between the prospective parents and the carrier is a must.
It is also important to note that the laws regarding surrogacy and gestational carrier programs vary widely between states; therefore, it is crucial that you become familiar with the reproductive laws in your state.
Are gestational carrier programs covered by insurance companies?
The gestational carrier’s insurance may cover the costs of the pregnancy, although it is also possible that the insurance company may deny her claims because she is acting as a carrier. The fertility treatments may involve possible coverage from the insurance of the prospective parent, as well as that of the carrier; however, every policy is different. In order to understand what coverage may be possible, contact your insurance provider.
Additionally, it is important to note that the costs of using gestational carrier programs will include more than just the medical expenses associated with the pregnancy and delivery. Costs that are not directly related to medical care may include a monthly allowance or lump sum payment for the carrier, legal fees for both you and your carrier, maternity clothing, travel expenses and other associated costs.
Disclaimer: This information is intended only as an introduction to this procedure. This information should not be used to determine whether you will have the procedure performed nor does it guarantee results of your elective surgery. Further details regarding surgical standards and procedures should be discussed with your physician.
Updated: August 6, 2010