In some cases, individuals may need a gestational carrier to complete their dream of having a child. A gestational carrier is a healthy woman who agrees to carry and deliver a baby using the methods available through IVF, for another person/couple. By definition, a gestational carrier has no genetic connection to the baby, and the intended parent(s) usually provides the egg and sperm to form the embryo, although some cases may involve the use of a donor egg or donor sperm.
A gestational carrier may be used by an intended parent when:
-the uterus is damaged or diseased
-the uterus is malformed or absent
-pregnancy would be dangerous to the health of the intended mother due to a medical condition
-there is a history of multiple pregnancy failures
-there is a history of multiple IVF treatment failures
-men wish to have children
Gestational carriers should be healthy women between the ages of 21 and 41 who have had at least one full term uncomplicated pregnancy. Medical records for any prior pregnancies are required. Testing for infectious diseases, criminal background checks and psychological screening are also required.
Gestational carrier arrangements are characterized by legal contracts that specify how the gestational carrier will be compensated, the maximum number of embryos for transfer, whether there will be contact with the intended parents and child before, during and after pregnancy and delivery, among other things. A variety of agencies in the United States are involved with the recruitment, screening, and contractual arrangements needed to create a successful gestational carrier pregnancy for the all involved parties. Alternatively, an attorney with experience in third party reproduction would be able to prepare contracts if intended parents have identified their own gestational carrier The gestational carrier should also have her own legal representation for her protection. In Pennsylvania, the state recognizes the woman who delivers a baby as the mother, and unless a pre-birth adoption takes place, it is her name that will appear on the birth certificate. An experienced attorney can assist in the pre-birth adoption requirements so the intended parents’ names can then appear on the birth certificate.
The intended parents and the gestational carrier and her partner are also required to undergo counseling both separately and together to plan for the most successful outcome.
RHS does not recruit gestational carriers, but we can refer patients to the appropriate agencies to begin this process. Alternatively, patients may have identified a family member or friend who meets the criteria to be a gestational carrier. All testing and legal contractual requirements still would apply in this situation.