On any given day, 15 percent of U.S. couples will discover that they are not able to conceive. As a former infertility patient, I can personally attest to the earth-shattering emotions that many patients experience. But all is not lost. Motherhood can be attained through the gift of adoption or Gestational Carrier Pregnancy (aka Surrogate Pregnancy).

Gestational carrier pregnancy (GCP) is an arrangement where a woman (a gestational carrier) agrees to carry a pregnancy on behalf of another person or couple (the intended parent).  Depending on the arrangement, the intended mother may or may not have a genetic connection with the unborn fetus. In one scenario, the intended mother provides the egg and the intended father provides the sperm.  In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is used to transfer the fertilized egg into the gestational carrier who has no genetic connection with the newly formed embryo. In another scenario, the gestational carrier provides the egg and the intended father provides the sperm. Artificial insemination is used for fertilization in this case. Many celebrities have used gestational carriers including: Sarah Jessica Parker, Nicole Kidman, Angela Basset and the late Michael Jackson.

Women who may have need of a gestational carrier include those who do not have a uterus; have unexplained infertility; have medical conditions that would make pregnancy life-threatening and those with a poor obstetrical history. The life birth rate of GCP is as high as and ever higher than IVF making it a viable option for intentional parents.

The selection of a gestational carrier (GC) is extremely important. The gestational carrier should have a medical, psychological and fertility screening. Many physicians will use a GC who has had at least one uncomplicated pregnancy and no chronic medical conditions. A young maternal age is desired because there is less chance that the GC will have uterine conditions such as fibroids or previous surgical procedures. Mental health counseling should be provided to both the GC and intentional parents before pregnancy. The psychological status of a GC is extremely important because she must be mentally prepared to give the newborn to the intentional parents after the delivery. In most cases this happens however, in some heart-wrenching cases it doesn’t. It is equally important for the intentional parents to have psychological counseling in the event the baby has a disability and is not “perfect.”

GCP usually involves substantial compensation for the GC. What is your state’s public policy? Is it legally permissible? In the event of a dispute between the gestational carrier and intentional parents, what does your state’s law state and who will it protect?

The use of gestational carriers to achieve parenthood involves ethics, trust and cooperation. If all three of those essential ingredients are present, a satisfactory outcome can be anticipated by all.