There are two types of surrogacy - Traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy. With traditional surrogacy, the surrogate uses her own eggs, along with the intended father's (or donor's) sperm. This may be through IUI, IVF, or at home insemination.
In gestational surrogacy, the baby carried by the surrogate does not contain any genetic material. IVF is necessary in this case, where either the intended mother's egg, or a donor's egg is combined with the intended father's sperm, or a donor's sperm, and replaced into the surrogate (for further explanation of IVF procedures, see "making babies: with help".
We recommend that a clinic is used as it offers safeguards at several levels, for all parties involved.
People considering surrogacy should contact a fertility clinic who will guide you through the process. ECART (Ethics Committee for Assisted Reproductive Technology ) approval is required for IVF surrogacy applications and the clinic can assist you with this. Traditional surrogacy (with the surrogates own egg) is legally considered donor insemination of the surrogate, so ECART approval is not officially required, although some clinics follow the ECART process as it offers some protection of parties involved.
Surrogacy in New Zealand must be altruistic although direct expenses can be reimbursed. It is illegal to pay a surrogate or advertise for a surrogate. There are medical criteria for all parties involved must be met. There are counselling requirements for all parties involved - this is implications counselling which assists the parties to consider how things will work over the course of the pregnancy and childhood, and prepare for the journey ahead. There are also legal requirements.
The surrogate and recipients must have known each other for six months. Surrogacy is legally unenforceable. The birth mother (and her partner, if she has one) is the legal parent until adoption takes place.
Funding for donor conception and surrogacy
There is government funding available for donor conception, with the main criteria being that the recipient(s) are diagnosed as infertile. Wait lists are held by the clinics holding contracts for fertility treatment from District Health Boards, and are typically 14-16 months for IVF treatment.
Donor Sperm treatment is funded for couples where the man has no sperm or very poor quality sperm, and for single women and lesbian couples who have not become pregnant after at least 12 cycles of privately funded donor insemination, of which 6 cycles must have been conducted in a fertility clinic.
Donor Egg treatment is funded for couples where the woman has no eggs or infertility plus a very low response to ovarian stimulation for IVF.
Surrogacy is funded where the woman does not have a uterus, the chance of pregnancy is very low using her own uterus, or carrying a pregnancy would be unsafe for her health.
Access to publically funded treatment for single men and gay couples and for transgender people has not been specifically defines to the same level, but follows the same principles as for others - which is a biological cause of infertility, sufficient points on the fertility clinic priority access criteria (CPAC), and the simplest treatment which can give a good chance of a child.
We recommend that all parties involved in donor conception and surrogacy actively seek out a fertility counsellor with thorough experience in the area of donation and surrogacy, and take as many sessions as necessary to gain resolution / confidence / understanding. Many children have been born - and families created - in New Zealand as a result of these processes. Being fully informed and feeling in control of the process will help make the process as positive as possible, and ultimately, benefit the well being of the child.