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Photo courtesy of Burst

Author Bio: This article is a guest post from Ashley Taylor at disabledparents.org

Nearly 4 million babies are born in America each year. Increasingly, some of these children are born through the help of assisted reproduction methods like surrogacy. Surrogacy is a practice where intended parents work with a gestational surrogate who will carry the baby to term. According to the Council for Responsible Genetics, the number of babies born to parents through surrogacy jumped 89 percent from 2004 to 2008. Undoubtedly, the rise in surrogacy results from the fact that it has helped so many parents overcome their fertility struggles, realizing their dream of having children of their own.

If you’re unable to conceive, surrogacy can help you embark upon the journey of parenthood. Whether you’re unable to conceive or have been experiencing fertility issues, surrogacy might be an option for you. Even if you’re not looking to become a parent yourself, keep reading for ways that you can help other intended parents achieve their dream.

The Basics of Surrogacy

There are two different types of surrogacy: traditional and gestational. Traditional surrogates are artificially inseminated using the surrogate’s egg, making the surrogate the baby’s biological mother. These days, traditional surrogacy is less common (and often illegal) than gestational surrogacy, where the surrogate remains unrelated to the baby. By using their own egg and sperm, the intended parents can become biological parents. Third-party donors can also provide an egg or sperm if needed.

Getting Involved

Whether you’re an intended parent, surrogate, or egg donor, here are some ways you can become involved in the miracle of surrogacy:

1. Egg Donors

Parents can be matched to a third party called an egg donor if there’s no intended mother or the intended mother is unable to provide an egg. All egg donors must pass a thorough screening process and psychological exam. Donors receive monetary compensation, although the greatest payment is knowing you’ve helped someone else achieve their dream of parenthood.

According to Circle Surrogacy, parents can expect to pay associated costs including careful donor screening by social workers and psychologists; payment to the egg donor; and complications insurance. Parents will also pay agency fees for coordination of the egg donation process from start to finish, including legal fees, insurance, in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments, and travel expenses.

2. Gestational Surrogates

Becoming a surrogate is a major, life-changing experience. After all, you’re helping bring life into the world while blessing someone else with the gift of parenthood. To accomplish this dream, surrogates undergo fertility treatments, IVF, and thorough screenings.

Because pregnancy takes a physical and emotional toll, talk to your doctor to confirm you’re healthy enough for pregnancy. If you decide surrogacy is for you, talk to local agencies about how to apply and what to expect. Is surrogate compensation legal in your area? If so, how much will you be paid, and how much will it affect your ability to work?

3. Intended Parents

Through surrogacy, intended parents can achieve their lifelong dreams of raising their very own child. Surrogacy is increasingly prevalent in the United States among parents who’d otherwise be unable to start or grow a family on their own. According to Health.com, this type of assisted fertility is an option for couples struggling to conceive, same-sex couples, and women who’ve experienced pregnancy loss. You can choose a trusted friend or loved one to carry your baby, if you want, or be matched with a well-screened surrogate.

Costs and programs vary by clinic and location so you’ll want to save money in advance while researching your options. Reproductive laws also vary so talk to a lawyer before making a decision.

Whatever speed bumps you’ve encountered along the way to pregnancy, you’re not alone. Surrogacy is one increasingly-popular way to achieve your parenthood dreams. Although it might require some extra planning, you can experience the joys of having a child. Even if you’re not an intended parent, you can still help countless other people bring their parenthood dreams to life by donating eggs or becoming a surrogate mother.

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