When a woman is unable to carry a pregnancy, she may use a gestational carrier. The gestational carrier agrees to carry a pregnancy for another person, or couple. The carrier is designated as the “gestational carrier” or GC, and the individuals that desire to have a child are designated as the intended parent(s). In addition to the medical procedures, there are several laws and regulations that must be addressed in order to protect everyone involved. While the process may seem complex, our staff and representatives from the gestational carrier agencies can help guide you through the process. California IVF does not operate an internal gestational carrier agency, however we work with gestational carrier agencies that can assist in selecting a gestational carrier. We also work with gestational carriers that have been identified by the intended parent, or parents, without the involvement of a gestational carrier agency.
It is important for patients to have a consultation with a fertility specialist to discuss treatments with gestational carriers. In many cases, women assume they are unable to carry a pregnancy and have an interest in using a gestational carrier. Many times the patients may actually have egg or sperm problems that are preventing pregnancy and do not need a gestational carrier. During the initial consultation, or physicians will review your history and assess your need for a gestational carrier. They physician will discuss the various steps needed and our staff can provide you with useful resources for additional information.
Finding a Gestational Carrier
Gestational carriers can be friends, family members, or someone hired through an agency. Getting to know the potential gestational carrier is very important. Intended parents will need to feel comfortable with the carrier and have a sense that they will be able to work well together. Agencies can assist with locating gestational carriers, but agencies will charge fees for screening and matching a gestational carrier with the intended parents. Once a gestational carrier is identified, she will need to complete registration and health questionnaires for the clinic. The physician will review this information and determine if the gestational carrier is cleared to proceed based on the information in the medical history. At some point before proceeding forward, the gestational carrier will have a specialized ultrasound, known as a saline contrast ultrasound, to evaluate the uterus and complete a physical exam. Laboratory studies will also be required as part of the gestational carrier evaluation. Once all of the screening and testing is complete, the gestational carrier and intended parents proceed forward with the contracting portion of the process.
The gestational carrier and intended parent must have a legal contract in place. It is advisable to make contact with a family law attorney early in the process, even before the physical exam and screening. This allows the attorney to provide an overview of the legal process and outline the terms of the legal contract. This contract should contain information designating the roles of all parties involved with respect to parental rights. Additionally, the contract should address issues such as compensation (if any), insurance, medical care, and any other relevant information as it would pertain to a pregnancy or parental rights.
All parties involved should be aware that different states will have different regulations and laws pertaining to parental rights and gestational carriers. The state laws of the state where the baby is delivered will be the laws that must be followed. Not every state has favorable laws for protecting parental rights. California has laws that are favorable for gestational carrier cycles. A lawyer with experience in family law and gestational carrier contracts should be consulted in the state where the delivery is anticipated to occur. The intended parent(s) will have to take legal actions to allow the intended parent(s)’ name(s) to be entered on the birth certificate. The laws can become more complicated when a baby delivers in one country and the intended parents are from another country. The clinic, and any employees or contractors, are not able to review the contract for completeness or content, and are not able to give legal advice. A letter of clearance from the representative attorneys will be expected with a statement indicating a legitimate contract prepared to the satisfaction of the intended parent(s) and the gestational carrier has been completed and all parties understand and assume the risks of proceeding.
Infectious Disease Screening
• Prenatal vitamins, supplements, and prescription medications
• Pituitary suppression using leuprolide (Lupron)
• Development of mature endometrium (uterine lining) using transdermal estradiol (Vivelle Patches) and/or vaginal estradiol
• Progesterone for luteal phase support
• Transfer of the embryo(s) back into the uterus
• Pregnancy test