A gestational carrier (GC), also known as a gestational surrogate, is a person who agrees to carry a baby through pregnancy for an individual or couple. The GC provides a host uterus but does not contribute any genetic material (eggs) towards the creation of the embryo. The embryo is created from eggs from one of the intended parents or an egg donor and fertilized with sperm from one of the intended parents or a sperm donor.

A gestational carrier is carefully processed after an agreement between the couple (intended party) and a third-party female (a gestational carrier). The gestational carrier agrees to carry couple’s pregnancy to term and the baby will not be related to the gestational carrier. The intended parents are present and involved in the pregnancy, at the birth and legally become the parents after the baby is born.

Regardless of whether you decide to use your eggs or donor eggs, we at NewLife are with you at every step of the way providing you with unique financial, emotional and legal guidelines associated with the gestational carrier.

What You Need To Know About Gestational SurrogacyBefore You Get Started

  • Women with congenital absence of the uterus or prior hysterectomy.
  • Women with untreatable intra-uterine scar tissue.
  • Women with untreatable recurrent pregnancy loss.
  • Women with a contraindication for pregnancy (e.g. heart disease, cystic fibrosis).
  • Women who have received pelvic or abdominal radiation for cancer.
  • Same-sex male couples who want to conceive.
  • Single men who want to start a family
  • Gay couples who want to start a family

When To Consider This Treatment Option

Using a Gestational Carrier is an option if you wish to have a child but are unable to do so because of:

  • Not having a uterus
  • Having a uterus that is abnormally shaped, has a thin endometrial lining, had been scarred, or other such conditions
  • Medical conditions that would make pregnancy risky to your life or the life of the fetus
  • Recurrent IVF failure
  • Biologic inability to conceive or bear a child

A gestational surrogate may be known to the commissioning couple (typically relatives or friends who volunteer to carry the pregnancy) or unknown to the commissioning couple (usually introduced through a third party).

Since it is illegal to pay for surrogacy services or to advertise to pay for surrogacy services in Canada, finding a gestational carrier can be time-consuming and difficult. While there are agencies and consultants that assist in making connections between gestational carriers and recipient couples, patients should be aware that current law also prohibits these companies and consultants from charging for this service.

In most cases, gestational carriers are already known to the commissioning couple. We highly recommend that intended parents review the laws in Canada with respect to compensating carriers and egg donors.

Guidelines For Identifying AGestational Carrier

  • Must be over 21 years of age and under 41 years of age.
  • It is highly recommended that the carrier has completed her family or have had at least one child previously.
  • Ethically, the relationship between the commissioning couple and the surrogate should not be one where there is a power imbalance. (For example, where a commissioning couple is the employer of the surrogate).
  • When searching for a surrogate, patients must also consider ethical, medical, psychosocial and legal issues.

What You Need To Know, Now That You Have Found A Carrier

There are a number of different scenarios where a carrier may be used, but in all cases, there are three main areas that must be addressed prior to starting the actual surrogacy. The order in which these tasks are done will vary depending on the circumstances.

Medical Consultation
Patients should undergo preliminary medical consultations with their fertility specialist and start some of the testing required before treatment. Both the commissioning couple and the surrogate need to undergo testing prior to the start of treatment to ensure that they are suitable candidates.
Legal Counsel
Patients should have an initial consultation with a lawyer so that they can start to learn about the legal issues involved in surrogacy arrangements as well as the costs to set up legal contracts between all parties. Third Party reproduction is a new and emerging field for family law. Therefore, it is highly recommended that patients utilize a lawyer who has previous experience in third party reproduction and who has successfully completed several surrogacy arrangements. NewLife Fertility Centre can refer you to a lawyer, but we do not specifically endorse them.
Counselling
Counselling is an essential part of the process whenever a third party is involved in reproduction. The surrogate and her partner (if applicable) will talk with a counselor independently. The surrogate and her partner will explore issues such as managing a relationship with the intended parents, coping with attachment issues to the fetus, and the impact of a surrogacy arrangement on her children and her relationships with her partner, friends, and employers. The commissioning couple is also required to talk with an experienced counselor. The counselor may explore such issues as the commissioning couple’s relationship with the Carrier and the relationship between the child and the Carrier

What To Expect During Treatment

If you have determined that a gestational carrier is appropriate for you then the next thing would be to identify a potential gestational carrier.

  • Once identified, the gestational carrier will undergo a medical assessment (which includes screening lab work, a transvaginal ultrasound, and a uterine cavity assessment).
  • After the medical assessment and screening are completed, the intended parent(s) and gestational carrier meet with a licensed counselor.
  • Following the counseling consultation, legal counsel is required in order to complete a legal agreement between the intended parent(s) and the gestational carrier.
  • If the intended parent(s) will be contributing eggs through IVF, the IVF cycle may be timed to the embryo transfer cycle.

*Please note:
The Assisted Human Reproduction Act (AHR Act 2004) prohibits many surrogacy related activities. Surrogacy itself is not banned, but payment of consideration or the offer of payment to a surrogate is a prohibited act. Therefore, NewLifeFertility does not facilitate finding a gestational carrier nor do we work with surrogacy agencies.