Host or Straight Surrogacy – Choosing your path

If you’re reading this then you will have most likely either made the choice that surrogacy is the path to parenthood that you wish to take, or you are close to taking that first big step.

Once you have chosen the surrogacy route, the next big decision you will need to make is your preferred method of surrogacy. A little surrogacy 101 here (feel free to skip this bit if you’re up to scratch with surrogacy lingo already!) – you can either choose straight surrogacy (sometimes referred to as traditional surrogacy), or host surrogacy (also known as gestational surrogacy).

A straight surrogate will use her own egg and insemination will take place using the intended father’s semen. This will ordinarily take place somewhere where your surrogate can feel comfortable, such as her home or yours. With host surrogacy, embryos or blastocysts (5-day old embryos) can be created at an IVF clinic using your own, or donor eggs (either from a known or anonymous donor). The embryos are then transferred to the womb of the surrogate. The entire host surrogacy process will be clinic-based so you will need to make multiple trips to your chosen clinic.

There are so many things to take into account when making this decision:

  • Finances – with host you will have substantial clinic fees to cover on top of the surrogate’s expenses
  • Time – both types of surrogacy can take a long time but with host you will need to expect to spend around 6 months on an egg donor waiting list and then go through additional tests and counselling before trying to conceive
  • Biological link – with straight surrogacy your surrogate will have a biological link to the baby. For some it’s great to know more about that biological link but others may prefer the anonymity of an egg donor with host surrogacy
  • Home Vs Clinic – as outlined above, the processes for straight and host are carried out in very different environments. Some people may prefer the more natural process offered by home insemination, whilst others may prefer the expertise a clinic can provide.

These are just a few of the many factors to think about. This is no easy choice and you will no doubt have your own preferences as a couple, but I hope that the journey my husband and I have been on so far will prove useful.

When my husband Kenneth and I first started our surrogacy journey in early 2016 we very quickly decided that straight surrogacy would be our preferred route. In making this initial decision, we took everything we knew so far into account and ultimately, it just felt like straight surrogacy was the right fit for us.

As we started to go to more and more Surrogacy UK socials and made more friends, we started to think again. We still loved the idea of going through straight surrogacy but at the time it felt like we’d be waiting longer for a surrogate to want to work with us. We had another look at our finances and started to investigate host surrogacy again. We chose a clinic and went on their waiting list for an egg donor (there’s probably a whole other blog post worth of material in that process alone!).

In the mean time we became full members of Surrogacy UK. When you become members, your profile is visible to surrogates to view. When it came to it we actually put ourselves down as being open to both straight and host surrogacy. We felt this gave us the best chance possible of finding that special person who would want to work with us.

By July 2017 we had been matched with an anonymous egg donor by the clinic and had created blastocysts. We updated our profile and felt certain that our path to parenthood would follow the host surrogacy route.

Fast forward to February 2018 and we finally got the call we had been waiting for. “The Call” came that a surrogate would like to get to know us. Not only were we in shock at getting the call, we were also pleasantly surprised to be told that it was for straight surrogacy. It truly felt like we had come full circle and that straight surrogacy was the route we were always meant to take.

Throughout this journey, you will have to make many decisions but the important thing to remember is that there are no set right or wrong answers. You will hear statistics from all aspects of the surrogacy world and it can become overwhelming.
You have to listen to your heart and listen to each other to decide the right path for you as a couple. Then when it comes to it, you and your surrogate as a team will carve out your own special journey that works for all of you.

Mike Johnston-Cowley

Mike has been a member of Surrogacy UK with his husband Kenneth since 2016. He lives in East London with their cat, Harry and works as a Business Change Officer. 


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