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Important Terms About The Surrogacy Process

The Surrogacy Process involves many steps, many helpers, and many terms which may be unfamiliar to you as you start on your surrogacy journey. It is helpful to understand terms you will hear and see throughout the surrogacy process. This list will help you decode some common terms you’ll hear during your journey as a surrogate or intended parent.

Surrogacy Agency: An agency is a professional organization like Pathways To Parenthood Surrogacy Agency, that provides a range of services for both intended parents and surrogates that ensures a successful surrogacy journey. Surrogacy agencies provide expertise and guidance through all stages of the surrogacy process which gives surrogates and intended parents the comfort of knowing they don’t have to manage everything themselves.

Surrogacy: is a method of assisted reproductive technology where a woman (known as a ‘surrogate’ or ‘gestational carrier’) carries a pregnancy for an individual or a couple.

Gestational Carrier/Surrogate/Surrogate Mother: These terms can be used interchangeably. However, a general surrogate definition is a woman carrying a child for intended parents who are unable to build a family on their own. There are two types of surrogates: traditional surrogates and gestational surrogates.

A gestational surrogate/carrier is not genetically connected to the child they carry in their uterus.  Gestational surrogates get pregnant when an embryo that was previously created through in vitro fertilization is transferred into her uterus.  The embryo is created with either intended mother’s egg or donor egg, and intended father’s sperm or donor sperm. Gestational surrogates are referred to as gestational carriers in the medical and legal fields of reproductive medicine.

A traditional surrogate both donates her own egg and carries a pregnancy for an individual or couple. The pregnancy is usually achieved through intrauterine insemination (IUI) with sperm from the intended father. Donor sperm may also be used.

Intended Parent (IP): This is the person who cannot, or chooses not to, carry a baby to term and hires a surrogate instead. Their egg or sperm may be a part of the transferred embryo, and they may be a single parent or married.

Intended Mother (IM): Woman who will become the legal parent of the child born through surrogacy.

Intended Father (IF): Man who will become the legal parent of the child born through surrogacy.

Egg Donor: A woman who agrees to undergo a protocol of medication to produce multiple eggs, and who then donates those eggs  to recipient Intended Parents; the donor does not  have legal rights to the eggs or the resulting embryos or child if a child is born.

Sperm donor: A man who donates his sperm for use in artificial insemination or other fertility treatments.

Surrogacy Attorney: Surrogacy attorneys are essential for ensuring that the rights of both the gestational carrier and the intended parents are protected. They help intended parents understand local surrogacy laws and regulations, ensure that the process is completed in a legal manner, finalize the surrogacy contract, and establish intended parents’ parental rights as early as possible (more on this is specified in the ‘surrogacy contract’ definition, below).  They also ensure that surrogate’s rights are protected as carrier and not as a legal parent.  Each party (surrogate and intended parent(s)) will have their own attorney (legal representation) for their surrogacy journey.

Matching: A process in which surrogate candidates and intended parent(s) are brought together by a surrogacy agency.  The goal to match surrogates and intended parents that are a good fit for each other based on their needs and preferences.  Once a surrogate candidate and intended parents(s) match, they will move forward in the process to work together to get pregnant and have a baby!

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): is the process of creating an embryo from an egg and sperm combined outside the body in a laboratory and done by an embryologist . Once fertilized, the embryo is then transferred into the uterus of either the intended mother or the surrogate.

Surrogacy Contract: Also known as a Carrier Agreement or Surrogate Mother Contract, this legal document sets out the rights and obligations of both the woman carrying the pregnancy (surrogate) and the intended parents.

Assisted Reproduction Technology (ART): Any procedure that involves manipulation of eggs or sperm to establish pregnancy in treatment of infertility, such as in vitro fertilization, embryo transfer, egg and sperm donation, or gestational surrogacy.

Pre-Birth Order (PBO): A court order obtained prior to the birth of a child being carried by a Gestational Carrier that provides for the establishment of the Intended Parents’ legal parentage, and to place the names of the Intended Parent(s) on the child’s birth certificate.

Post-Birth Order (PBO): Similar to a pre-birth order, except that this court order is obtained after the birth.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when faced with all the technicalities involved in surrogacy. However, a good understanding of the key terms  and processes you’ll encounter will help ensure a smoother journey. Pathways to Parenthood is experienced in growing families through gestational surrogacy. We provide assistance to couples facing infertility, same-sex couples, and single men and women seeking to start a family through surrogacy. If you live in the Midwest, we are the surrogacy agency for you!  You can contact us at 913-469-5500 or at