Fertility Glossary for Surrogates

Published on Thursday October 27th, 2022 by WCS

Deciding to become a gestational surrogate is not a small one. You may have questions about such things as the process and its requirements, the intended parents, and how your own life will be changing, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Throughout the surrogacy process, you’re going to hear many new terms. As this can be overwhelming, we’ve provided a list of the more common ones, including confusing acronyms and abbreviations, and some definitions. And while not a complete list, it should provide you with a good starting point in the world of surrogacy.

Common Surrogacy Terms and Phrases

First, here are the terms for the main people involved in the process, including yourself.

  • Gestational: The period from birth to conception.
  • Gestational surrogate (GS) / Surrogate mother (SM): This is you, and one will be your title during the process. Surrogate Mother is not a term that is used often in today’s conversation about surrogacy, however, it is a common term you may hear from time to time.
  • Gestational surrogacy: This process involves a woman not biologically related to the baby she carries. Instead, an embryo created through a process called in vitro fertilization (IVF) is implanted into the surrogate’s uterus. The intended parents’ or donors’ eggs and sperm are used, as well.
  • Traditional surrogacy (TS): In this process, the surrogate is biologically related to the embryo. TS is much less common than the gestational surrogacy process.
  • Intended parent/mother/father (IP/IM/IF): These are people who choose the path of surrogacy to become parents.

Legal and Business Terms

While most surrogacy-related laws and processes are general, each state also has its own. You may want to familiarize yourself with the specific laws.

  • Pre-birth order: This legal agreement is signed by the surrogate and intended parents before the baby is born. It declares the IP(s) are the child’s legal parent(s). The hospital must put the IP(s)’ names on the birth certificate, eliminating the possibility of any post-birth confusion.
  • Post-birth order: This court-issued document, provided a few days after the birth, also names the IP(s) as the legal parents.
  • Step-parent adoption: After the birth, the courts will amend the birth records and certificate to add the non-biological parent as the “step-parent.”
  • GS contract: The legal agreement between the surrogate and the IP(s), it covers financial responsibility, compensation, and insurance options (health and life). This contract also includes agreements between all parties regarding the pregnancy’s potential reduction and/or termination.
  • Profile: This document, shared with IP(s), contains potential candidates’ information, photos, medical history, personal motivation, and most importantly a glimpse into why she would like to be a surrogate. All personal and contact information is redacted and not shared until matched.
  • Screening: Before matching, a mental health provider will screen you to determine if you’re emotionally ready to be a gestational surrogate. You’ll also be visited by a local social worker for a home visit. A criminal background check will be conducted and a review of any applicable health insurance policy. Pregnancy medical records will be reviewed, and you may be asked to have a consultation with a medical provider as part of your screening.
  • Matching: Once a profile’s created, and the screening process is complete, the process of matching with the intended parent(s) begins. If you are all interested in meeting, a conference call will be scheduled with the surrogacy agency after your medical records have been reviewed by the IP’s fertility doctor.

Process-Specific Terms

  • Body mass index (BMI): This measurement of your body fat, based on your height and weight, is used by agencies as a qualifying surrogacy factor. Too high or low a score increases complication risks for the surrogate and the baby. It can also decrease IVF medications’ effectiveness. We ask that our surrogates have a BMI of 32 or less.
  • In vitro fertilization (IVF): Considered the most effective assisted reproduction technology procedure, it involves the IP’s/donor’s mature eggs being retrieved and fertilized with the IP’s/donor’s sperm in a lab.
  • Embryo transfer: This, the final step of IVF involves the fertilized egg – now an embryo – being transferred into the surrogate’s uterus.
  • Days post-transfer (DPT): This is the number of days that have passed since an IVF procedure’s embryo transfer portion.

National Fertility Organizations

  • American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM)
  • Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART)
  • RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association

Hopefully, this list will provide you with a better understanding of the surrogacy process. We invite you to contact West Coast Surrogacy to get more information or to schedule a consultation.