Surrogacy-related definitions and concepts are featured below, along with additional notes concerning terminology used throughout the site.


Assisted Reproductive Technologies or ARTs
Fertility treatments used to assist with pregnancy and birth in which both eggs and sperm are handled outside the body — such as surgically removing eggs from a woman’s ovaries, combining them with sperm in the laboratory, and returning them to the same woman’s body or the body of another woman.

Surrogacy
A social arrangement, usually bound by a contract, in which a woman – known as a gestational mother or surrogate – agrees to carry and birth a child for another person or family with the help of ARTs.

Gestational Mother or Surrogate
A woman who agrees to carry and birth a child for another person or family.

Intended Parent(s)
A person or family who commission and become the legal parent/s of a child birthed by a gestational mother.

Egg Provider or Egg Donor
A woman who provides her eggs for fertility treatment, a gestational surrogacy arrangement, or medical research, usually in exchange for money.

Go-Betweens
Intermediaries who coordinate all or certain aspects of a surrogacy arrangement, including local recruiters, clinics, lawyers, tourism businesses, and concierge-style agencies.

Informed Consent
Permission that is granted – in writing, verbally, or by an action – after achieving an understanding of what is involved and possible consequences (risks and benefits).

Types of Surrogacy Arrangements
The type of surrogacy depends on the specifics of each arrangement (such as the location of the people involved and the presence or absence of payment) and how these elements come together in individual agreements. Here are the terms used to describe each one: 

Domestic Surrogacy
A surrogacy arrangement between a gestational mother and intended parent(s) living in the same country.

International Surrogacy
A surrogacy arrangement between a gestational mother living in one country and intended parent(s) living in another country.

Traditional Surrogacy
A surrogacy arrangement that uses artificial insemination to fertilize a gestational mother’s eggs with sperm from the intended father or a provider (donor).

Gestational Surrogacy
A surrogacy arrangement that uses in vitro fertilization to create an embryo in a laboratory, with eggs and sperm from intended parents and/or providers (donors). The embryo is carried by a gestational mother, who is not genetically related to the child she births.

Commercial Surrogacy
A surrogacy arrangement in which a gestational mother receives payment from the intended parent(s) for carrying and giving birth to a child.

Altruistic Surrogacy
A surrogacy arrangement in which a gestational mother receives no payment beyond “reasonable expenses” associated with the pregnancy. Such an arrangement often – not always – takes place between intended parent(s) and a relative or friend.


Notes on Terminology
* Surrogacy360 focuses on arrangements that are international and commercial, which are almost always gestational. These arrangements are referred to on the site as “international commercial surrogacy.”

* Surrogacy360 recognizes the diversity of genders that participate in surrogacy relationships around the world, including transgender and gender-nonconforming people. On the site, however, surrogates and egg providers are referred to as gestational “mothers” and “women” who provide their eggs because our understanding is that the vast majority of people working in international commercial surrogacy in these roles identify as “women.”

Top photo: Julie Jordan Scott (cc)