With more than 400 happy babies to our credit, we’re proud to say that all kinds of couples, from Tokyo to Tampa and everywhere in between, have come to us to build their family. People from all over the world have been using Great Beginnings Surrogacy Services (GBSS) to complete their families for more than 20 years. While we are consistently listed among the top agencies in the country, our proudest achievement is that we have become known as the agency of choice for same sex couples looking to have their own biological child. Same-sex surrogacy is a hot button issue in many states, but we’ve embraced the opportunity to provide any couple, regardless of their sexual orientation, the chance to have a family. You might have seen our staff at the San Diego LGBT Pride Festival or at similar festivals in Palm Springs, Long Beach, and Los Angeles. Or maybe you heard about us from one of the dozens of same-sex parents we’ve worked with for over two decades. However you got here, we’re glad you came! The reason you’re here is to learn how surrogacy works for same-sex couples and how to get started. We’ve written this page to help you do exactly that!
For a child to be born, it needs sperm, an egg and a uterus. For same-sex couples to have their own biological child, obviously there is some work to do. We’ve broken it down here into three basic steps.
STEP 1: The Egg Donor
Egg donors are women who are generally under 29, in excellent health and are willing to give their eggs to a man or same-sex couple so they can have a baby. This woman has generally sought out an agency like ours that is very open to same-sex surrogacy because we help match the donor with great intended parents like you and help both parties navigate the egg donation process, from the initial medical screening to the final egg retrieval. Once you’ve chosen an egg donor, most agencies will then begin a screening process to make sure the donor is physically capable of handling the various fertility medications and that her ovaries are functioning normally. Great Beginnings Surrogacy helps take the anxiety out of the matching process + speed you on your way to parenthood by pre-screening all our egg donors. When a match is set, the egg donor begins a series of medication under the care of a fertility specialist. The medication causes her ovaries to release more eggs than they would normally. With a healthy young woman under the right circumstances, a donor may provide between 8-10 healthy eggs. Once the eggs are retrieved through a short medical procedure, the egg donor is compensated her previously agreed-upon sum, and her part is done.
*Note: Egg donors are not always found through an agency. When dealing with same-sex couples, it is not uncommon for a family member or friend to be willing to go through the process as their gift. When handled correctly this can be a beautiful arrangement as you may want your child(ren) to have ongoing contact and relationship with their donor (called a “known donor”). However, some same-sex couples prefer the anonymity of the agency route, where the donor doesn’t typically expect much interaction with the men, either during or after the process. Once eggs are retrieved, the next step is to fertilize them.
Turning Eggs Into Embryos Once eggs are retrieved, the next step is to fertilize them. In the situation of a male same-sex couple, both men may choose to provide sperm, and sometimes only one will. Laboratory staff will use the provided sperm and fertilize the eggs using IVF-related procedures. The next step is putting one or two of the best fertilized eggs into a uterus. For that, men need a surrogate.
STEP 2: The Surrogate
Believe it or not, there are women who love giving life and helping couples create families. These women, while compensated, don’t do it solely for the money. They become surrogates because they genuinely love children and the idea of helping make families. They have a history of being able to handle pregnancy well and without complications. When choosing a surrogate, chemistry can be everything. After all, same-sex couples work with a surrogate indirectly for nearly a year. So honest, open communication with someone who accepts you and makes you feel comfortable is what it’s all about. There are two types of surrogacy. One is Gestational and the other is Traditional. Traditional surrogacy means the surrogate uses her own eggs and shares a biological link to the child. Gestational surrogacy means the surrogate has no genetic link to the child because her eggs were not used to create the pregnancy. The eggs used to form embryos are provided by an egg donor instead. We encourage all our same-sex surrogacy couples to use a gestational surrogate because they have no genetic link to the child. Therefore, there will be no risk of a legal claim to maternity with strong California case law to back you up. In Johnson v. Calvert the California Supreme Court held that gestational surrogates had no parental rights to the child born to them, meaning a gestational surrogacy contract was legal and enforceable. Since that ruling, thousands of same-sex couples have had children through gestational surrogacy in California and there has been no record of any court disputes that would compromise their full parental rights. Same-sex men have many options to have a child who is biologically their own. Great Beginnings Surrogacy will provide you profiles of prospective surrogate mothers so you can find the one that’s just right for you. We will next arrange for you to meet, either in person or over the phone should long distances make travel too difficult for all parties. This meeting is your chance to get a feel for the surrogate candidates and help them see what a wonderful, deserving couple you are! Of course, GBSS staff will be right there with you to help support you during this important step forward. You’ll have a chance to privately confer with each other as a couple once the initial meeting is over. In addition, the surrogate candidates will talk with GBSS staff separately to share how good they feel about your mutual fit. We will answer your questions in support of your decision-making process as a couple until you feel confident you have found an excellent match. When all parties agree to move forward toward contracts, surrogates will undergo both psychological and medical pre-screenings to make sure they’re healthy and emotionally stable. As you enter the contract phase, we will provide you information so you can choose outside counsel who specialize in third-party reproductive law and will draft your surrogacy contract with clearly outlined financial responsibilities for you and clear expectations and responsibilities for your surrogate. Once the contracts are signed by all parties, your path to parenthood can finally begin. This process traditionally runs in parallel to the egg donor process so that the cycles can be coordinated whenever possible. Once the contract is set, the surrogate may begin medications to make sure her body is best prepared to accept a pregnancy. You will have already determined with your fertility specialist which, if not both, partners will be donating sperm. Then, when your surrogate’s cycle is complete, eggs from your egg donor will be fertilized with your sperm and then transferred into the surrogate. A few weeks later, a pregnancy test will confirm your baby(s) are on their way!
Once your surrogate is pregnant, she will be under the specialized care of her fertility specialist for at least 10 to 12 weeks who monitors her closely through frequent ultrasounds, blood work and physical examination. GBSS staff will be in close contact with both she and your fertility specialist to make sure everything is progressing smoothly. So you can expect frequent check-ins and updates from us. We may even attend doctor’s appointments alongside them in cases where extra care and support will be appreciated. We can well imagine you and your surrogate will be exchanging lots of texts and e-mails during this first phase, at the very least. Once your surrogate her first trimester, the fertility specialist will release her to the care of her preferred obstetrician who frequently helped her through prior deliveries and often has direct experience in surrogacy pregnancies. You can count on GBSS to continue our close collaboration with her obstetrician, making sure everything is going according to plan, from dream to baby. At the 16th week of pregnancy, GBSS will give your attorney the green light to begin the Parental Establishment process. This process is unique to California which insures your names appear as parents on the birth certificate, gives you the legal right to make all medical decisions for your baby and results in the issuance of a Pre-Birth Order (PBO) well ahead of your delivery date. The PBO is a document you carry with you to the hospital that gives you the legal right to immediately begin caring for your baby(s) upon delivery. Then, what we’ve all been waiting for, rejoice with us when your baby(s) due date is set! We recommend you plan to be in close proximity to the hospital where delivery will be happening several days to a week in advance. That way you are able to be there from the moment labor begins until your baby(s) are delivered into your arms! Babies typically stay in the hospital at least 24 hours following delivery. The obstetrician will want to wait to release your baby(s) home until they are completely stable. Of course, you’ll have full visitation rights as all parents do, staying with and by your baby’s side as long as you please.
Once the hospital discharges your baby, you get to take him/her home! As your new life as a family unfolds, keep in mind the kind, loving hearts of our surrogates are filled with gladness to hear how your baby and family are growing together. You share a bond like no other which may be further strengthened by periodically reaching out to her in this way. On the other hand, sometimes it feels more natural to maintain your new family’s privacy. You’ve been through so much to get here and might be eager to focus on your future instead. Whatever you decide, GBSS will be here to guide, facilitate and support you in any way we can. One of our greatest honors is to welcome our Intended Parents back to us for siblings! You’ll find the second and third time feel much easier. You’ll know exactly what to expect and will likely skip over the egg donation process as your first treatment cycles likely produced more high-quality embryos than necessary for your first child(ren). These embryos are then professionally frozen and remain in stasis at your fertility clinic until needed. Once you decide it’s time, some couples ask to work with your first surrogate again while others choose to open their hearts for a match with someone new. However you decide you want to continue our journey together, Great Beginnings Surrogacy is ready to expand your family when you are!