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Family Planning 101: What is surrogacy?

There are many options for queer parents looking to start or build their family – and surrogacy has become a top contender for parents who want to be biologically connected to their child but don’t want to carry the child themself.

In LGBT surrogacy, pregnancy is most commonly achieved using an egg donor, gestational carrier and in vitro fertilization (IVF), and the surrogacy process is essentially the same as it would be for any intended parent. But, like with many LGBTQ family planning processes, there are a lot of considerations – and a lot of technical-sounding words and phrases – around surrogacy that can make the whole process feel intimidating.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common questions, terms and phrases used when talking about surrogacy for queer parents. Don’t be afraid to bookmark this page to refer to as you chat with your doctor, insurance provider, or family planning concierge!

What Is Surrogacy?

Surrogacy is when someone agrees to become pregnant through artificial insemination or IVF and then carries another person's embryo or eggs to term. The surrogate will give birth to the baby and relinquish the child to the intended parents.

In gestational surrogacy arrangements, an egg donor’s eggs are harvested and fertilized with sperm from an intended parent or a donor before being implanted into the surrogate's uterus. The resulting pregnancy is considered a "mini" IVF cycle, but it usually results in one embryo being transferred into the surrogate’s uterus. The resulting child will have its genetic makeup from one of their biological parents and their gestational history from the surrogate.

Surrogacy Terms

Whether you’re speaking to a queer-friendly lawyer, your insurance company, or your doctor, there may be several terms tossed around that no one has taken the time to explain. Cut out the confusion and keep this term guide handy.


Someone who has a uterus and who agrees to become pregnant through artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization and then carry the child(ren) to term.

Gestational Surrogacy

A type of surrogacy where an embryo created using genetic material from one or more intended parents is transferred into a gestational carrier's womb.

Traditional Surrogacy

A type of surrogacy where an embryo created using genetic material from one parent and eggs from the surrogate. The surrogate will double as the gestational carrier and egg donor.  Some people refer to this as "traditional" surrogacy.

Intended Parent

The person(s) who will raise the child after birth. Some organizations use the term "parental designee" instead of “intended parent,” especially if there are more than one intended parent.

Primary Support Person

A person designated – either by a contract or informally – to provide emotional support throughout the surrogacy process. They may also assist with communication between all parties involved in a surrogacy arrangement.


A pre-embryonic stage of development. After five days of incubation, an embryo has reached the blastocyst stage. The blastocyst is typically implanted on days 5, 6, or 7 of the embryo development cycle. The success rate for a frozen embryo transfer is higher when the embryo is at this stage of development.

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

A fertility procedure that involves fertilizing an egg outside the body, then transferring it into a surrogate’s uterus to develop into a baby.

Pros and Cons of Surrogacy for Queer Parents

For LGBT couples and individuals interested in building or adding to their family, surrogacy can be a valid and rewarding option. That said, there’s a lot to think about when considering this path. 


• Surrogacy allows same-sex couples to have children biologically connected to one or more parents.

• Intended parents can create meaningful long-term relationships with their surrogates or deepen existing relationships.

• Surrogacy is an option for people unable or unwilling to carry a child, but who still want to be biologically connected to them.


• Even in the most queer-friendly states, surrogacy is a legally complicated process that can be even more complicated for queer parents depending on state laws.

• The cost of surrogacy can be high and financing options can be limited. (Pssst, that’s why we founded Daylight Grow.)

• It can be extra challenging to vet people to support you on your surrogacy journey, as finding LGBT-friendly fertility clinics and professionals may be difficult depending on your state.

How Long Does Surrogacy Take?

The surrogacy process typically takes between 15 and 18 months from beginning to end. This includes three months of preparation, nine months of pregnancy, and three months after delivery. However, the time required to complete a surrogacy depends on the intended parents' residence and the type of surrogacy they choose.

How Much Does Surrogacy Cost?

Many prospective parents believe that having a child is an invaluable experience, but starting a family always comes with expenses. While experts estimate the total cost can be upwards of $100,000, the best way to get an accurate estimate of the costs involved in starting a family with surrogacy is to consult your doctor, health insurance, and family planning attorney to get an accurate sense.

State-By-State Concerns About Surrogacy

The growing demand for surrogacy is leading to more and more states passing laws to regulate the practice. While it's true that some states have laws in place that ban surrogacy, many others have bills pending that would make them more friendly to surrogates and intended parents. However, surrogacy laws vary widely from state to state. If you decide you seriously want to pursue surrogacy, be sure you work with a family planning concierge and a lawyer to get a full understanding of what the legal landscape looks like where you live.

Risks & Benefits Summary 

Benefits of surrogacy include:

• For the parent(s) - Surrogacy allows you to have a biological child, without being a gestational carrier.

• For the parent(s) - Surrogacy also allows you to build a family using an egg and/or sperm donor.

• For the surrogate - Surrogacy is an opportunity to help others build their families.

Risks of surrogacy include:

• Legal issues - Surrogacy arrangements are not legally recognized in all states, and may be subject to different laws and regulations. This can create potential risks for all parties involved.

• Emotional challenges: Surrogacy can be an emotionally intense process for everyone, particularly for the surrogate and intended parents. There may be feelings of attachment and loss, as well as potential conflicts and misunderstandings.

• Medical risks: Surrogacy carries the same inherent risks of any pregnancy and childbirth. It is important to carefully consider and manage these risks before proceeding.

Resources needed for surrogacy include:

• Legal assistance. It is important to consult with a lawyer who specializes in surrogacy law, in order to understand and navigate the legal aspects of the process.

• Surrogacy agency. While not required for surrogacy, an agency is commonly used to guide you through the process and match you to your surrogate.

• Fertility clinic. Your fertility clinic will handle the IVF process for your surrogate. 

• Surrogate. Your surrogate will be the gestational carrier for your baby. 

• Sperm, either from a partner or a donor 

• Egg, either from a partner or a donor 

At Daylight Grow, we believe the world needs more queer parents – and we help make that happen. Whether you know you want to start or add to your family through surrogacy or you’re still exploring your options, Daylight Grow is here to help through our family planning concierge, resource center, and community dedicated to supporting queer parents as they navigate the family-building process. Learn more and join today!