While all surrogacy arrangements involve a woman carrying a baby for another person or couple, there are two basic types of surrogacy. The first is traditional surrogacy. With this type of arrangement, a woman is artificially inseminated with the sperm of either the intended father or a sperm donor. The child she becomes pregnant with and eventually delivers is genetically her own baby, as her own egg is fertilized as part of the process.
Traditional surrogacy is typically employed when a single heterosexual or gay male wishes to have a child and does not have a suitable female partner for carrying the baby. It is also employed when a woman wishes to have a baby and her eggs are unsuitable for some reason. For example, if a woman's eggs are not viable or she has an inheritable genetic condition that could put her biological child at risk, she may choose to contract with a traditional surrogate instead.
Gestational surrogacy is the most common of the two types of surrogacy. With this type of arrangement, a surrogate mother is impregnated with the egg of another woman; the egg is fertilized by the sperm of the intended father or a donor prior to implantation, via a process called in vitro fertilization. In such a case, the surrogate mother is not genetically linked in any way to the unborn child. For this type of surrogacy, the surrogate mother may be required to take fertility drugs to ensure successful impregnation.
Besides the two basic types of surrogacy, these arrangements are often categorized according to whether payment is exchanged or not. For commercial types of surrogacy, the surrogate mother is typically paid a fee to compensate her for her participation. This fee will cover not only her medical expenses and any other expenses related to the pregnancy, including travel arrangements, but also a sum for her time and effort. In some cases, surrogacy fees can amount to thousands of dollars in compensation.
The other monetary categorization for surrogacy is the altruistic arrangement. With this type of arrangement, the surrogate mother agrees to become pregnant with and deliver the baby of another person or couple without any monetary compensation. However, in this case, she may still be reimbursed for medical care and other pregnancy-related expenses. The difference here is that she will receive payment above and beyond the things that are related to the pregnancy.
In some places throughout the world, commercial surrogacy is illegal. In others, gestational surrogacy is prohibited. However, there are a number of countries that allow all types of surrogacy arrangements. In the United States, for example, there are many states that allow all types of surrogacy, but places like Washington and New York prohibit the commercial type.