Explaining the Two Types of Surrogacy in California

When most people think of surrogacy, they usually don’t consider how the fetus is implanted into the surrogate’s womb, but merely think of it in general as a way for couples to have children when they are unable to have their own. However, there are actually two different types of surrogacy possible in California and elsewhere, including gestational and traditional. Along with the type of surrogacy, there are also two arrangement types available, altruistic and commercial.


A gestational surrogate is also called a gestational carrier. This carrier is not related to the child genetically or biologically. The carrier gets pregnant through in vitro fertilization, which is a process that takes the sperm and eggs of the intended parents. The embryo (or multiple embryos) are created from the intended parents and implanted into a surrogate mother for growth.

Because many couples cannot conceive for various reasons but still want the child to be “theirs,” they will use a gestational surrogate. In cases where the sperm and eggs of the intended parents cannot be used, donor sperm and/or eggs can be used. Many couples feel this is a better option as a child born will not be in any way part of a surrogate.


Through traditional surrogacy in California and elsewhere, the woman who is selected to carry a baby to term donates her egg, which becomes fertilized through a process called artificial insemination. The sperm is taken from the father or a donor and placed into the surrogate through the artificial insemination process. The baby is not created outside the womb through this type of surrogacy.

Because of the type, the surrogate mother is directly related to the child through biology.

While either option has the same chance of working, many couples do choose gestational surrogates so that the child is not directly related to the surrogate in any way.


The arrangement made between the surrogate and the intended parents is a big deal. Each state has different surrogacy rules and some states only allow altruistic surrogacy, meaning that the carrier (surrogate) receives no monetary gain from having a baby, which includes medical expenses.


Many surrogates have a commercial arrangement, meaning that she is compensated for travel and medical expenses, along with time and effort involved. This is not allowed in every state, though California does allow commercial surrogacy.

If you are considering surrogacy in California, whether as parents or as a carrier, you have many options to consider. Visit the Center for Surrogate Parenting to become a surrogate or parent.

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