You may have heard terms in the adoption world regarding surrogacy and surrogate mothers. While both surrogate mothers and birth mothers carry a baby for a loving family, they are not the same whatsoever. Learn more about how surrogacy is different from being a birth mother.

What Is Surrogacy?

To start, we need to define what surrogacy is in the first place. Surrogacy is when a woman is purposely hired to carry a baby to term. A gestational surrogate carries an embryo that was created using IVF. The embryo is usually biologically related to both the mother and father. In some cases, an embryo can be adopted from the IVF process when another couple no longer needs their fertilized eggs.

A traditional surrogate is a woman who is artificially inseminated with the father’s sperm and becomes pregnant. She carries the baby to term and then chooses to allow the un-related mother to adopt the baby at birth along with the father. This kind of surrogacy is less popular due to the legal ramifications that could arise.

How is a Birth Mother Different From a Surrogate?

A birth mother is a woman who is pregnant and does not plan to parent the child. Birth mothers usually are pregnant before they ever meet the adoptive parents. This means that no artificial insemination was performed to start the pregnancy, and the birth mother is biologically related to the child. Therefore, the birth mother has a right to parent the child unless she chooses adoption instead.

How Are Surrogacy and Adoption Similar?

Both of these options bring a baby into a loving family. Surrogacy usually uses science to create an embryo, and the surrogate mother carries the baby from conception to birth. The surrogate mother provides her body to grow the baby for the future parents.

Birth mothers also use their bodies to grow the baby during the pregnancy and carry the baby from conception to birth. However, the baby is biologically hers, and she has a legal right to parent the baby if desired. 

In comparison to a traditional surrogate and a birth mother, both types of women use their egg and body to carry the baby. However, a traditional surrogate is artificially inseminated with the father’s sperm whereas a birth mother does not use the future father’s sperm to fertilize the egg.

Are Both Surrogacy and Adoption Legal?

Yes! Both of these options for adoptive parents are legal ways to build a family. Their legal forms and procedures are different, given that there are many issues that could arise. Either way, a surrogate usually signs a legal document before insemination, and a birth mother signs forms to give parental rights to the adoptive parents. It is important to get the legal documents and procedures in place in both circumstances.

What Type of Parents Choose Surrogacy?

It is very common for a couple to choose surrogacy due to medical reasons. The woman may not be able to carry a child or have other medical complications that could cause issues during the pregnancy. Surrogacy is also a popular choice for same-sex male couples who want to grow their family but need to use a donor egg and woman to do so. Single parents can choose surrogacy as well. Some future parents decide to use a surrogate because they prefer not to go through pregnancy.

It can be a bit confusing when discussing surrogacy and birthmothers. Both types of mothers are alike because they carry a child to term without parenting the child in the future. However, gestational surrogate mothers are not related to the child, while birth mothers are. In either case, a child is brought into the world and is welcomed into a loving home.