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Surrogacy Dictionary

The world of surrogacy can be a complicated place filled with super long words and confusing terminology. We compiled a list of important surrogacy terms and definitions to help you build a better understanding. Of course, we will be with you through your entire journey. However, we have found that the more an intended parent and surrogate know, the more comfortable and aware they are of the processes.


  • Amniocentesis- Amnio for short. Amniocentesis is a test used to examine amniotic fluid to find any chromosomal abnormalities, neural tube defects, or genetic disorders. Amniocentesis during surrogacy is rare. Amniocentesis is discussed during the matching phase to confirm if the surrogate is willing to consent to the procedure.

  • Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) - Assisted Reproductive Technology defines medical procedures used to treat infertility.


  • Beta Testing- A blood test that measures hormones to determine if a woman is pregnant.

  • Blastocyst-The phase of the development stage prior to implantation of the embryo in the surrogate mother's uterus. This sets the foundation for the placenta and other supporting tissues needed for fetal development. The inner cell mass evolves into tissues of the baby.


  • Chorionic Villus Sampling- A test used in early pregnancy to determine if any abnormalities are present in the fetus.

  • Compassionate Surrogacy- A compassionate surrogate does not receive compensation. Compassionate surrogacy usually takes place between family or friends. The intended parent or parents take care of any expenses that may occur but do not financially compensate the surrogate.

  • Compensated Surrogacy- Where a surrogate is paid, beyond expenses, for carrying and birthing a child for the intended parent or parents.

  • Comprehensive Surrogacy Insurance- Health insurance provided by the intended parent or parents to ensure the surrogate is covered throughout her journey.

  • Cycle Schedule- A timeline of crucial medical appointments approaching the embryo transfer.


  • Domestic Surrogacy- Domestic surrogacy is when intended parents in the United States seek a surrogate who also resides in the United States.


  • Escrow Account- An escrow account is set up to guarantee funds are properly dispersed at the right time. Funds are placed into an account during the beginning stage by the intended parent or parents. The escrow agent then releases payment to the surrogate as directed in the surrogacy agreement.

  • Egg Donor- A woman who donates her ovum for the purposes of in vitro fertilization.

  • Egg Donor Direct Agreement- The egg donor agreement allows an intended parent or parents to control all eggs retrieved from the donor.

  • Egg Retrieval- All ovarian follicles are drained and fluid is transferred to a lab to search for viable eggs. With precision suction, ultrasound images, and a special needle, the eggs are drawn out from the fluid. This procedure generally takes place in a special procedure room and lasts for about 30 minutes.


  • Fertility Clinic- Fertility clinics are medical facilities help individuals and couples who struggle to conceive naturally try to achieve the ultimate dream of parenthood. Fertility clinics use state of the art reproductive technologies to treat and assist people suffering from infertility. Fertility clinics generally offer a wide variety of services.

  • Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET)- A type of IVF treatment where a cryopreserved embryo is thawed and then transferred to the surrogate's uterus. The frozen embryo could be from a full IVF cycle or from an egg donor.


  • Gestational Candidate- A gestational candidate is an agency term for a woman that has not yet been medically cleared for surrogacy. This term is used during the surrogacy application phase.

  • Gestational Carrier- Another term for surrogate or surrogate mother.

  • Gestational Surrogacy- Gestational surrogacy is when the child is not biologically related to the surrogate mother. Using the eggs and sperm of the intended parents or donors, an embryo is created and then transferred to the surrogate.


  • Healthcare Power of Attorney- A document that turns health care decisions over to a representative in the event you are unable to process or communicate medical decisions.

  • Hysterosalpingography (HSG)- Unique x-ray that uses dye to look at the shape of the uterine cavity and fallopian tubes.


  • Infertility Coverage- Health insurance for infertility treatments.

  • Intended Parent/Parents- An intended parent can be a single man or a woman. Intended parents can be married or unmarried. They can be heterosexual or same-sex couples. An Intended parent or parents enter an agreement where they will be parents of a child or children born through surrogacy, using their sperm or egg.

  • International Surrogacy- When an intended parent or parents seek a surrogate from another country.

  • In Vitro Fertilization- Process of fertilization where an egg is combined with sperm outside the body, in vitro. The process also includes monitoring and stimulating a woman's ovulatory process,


  • Matching- Process where an intended parent or parents are paired with a surrogate via sharing profiles, phone calls, and video conferences.

  • Monitoring Clinic- Clinic that is local to the surrogate, so she can receive medical treatment once she graduates from the fertility clinic.


  • OBGYN- An OB is a doctor who delivers babies. A GYN is a physician that specializes in treating the female reproductive organs.


  • Parentage- Parentage is basically the identity of one's parents. However, in surrogacy, parentage must be granted through a legal process where the surrogate mother releases her legal responsibilities of the child to the intended parent or parents.

  • Post Birth Order- A court issued order that is required after the surrogate baby is born. The surrogate's name is removed from the birth certificate and the intended parent or parents' names are added. Post-birth orders vary from state to state.

  • Pre-Birth Order-A court issued order that is required before the child's birth that gives the surrogate and intended parent or parents access to the baby when born.


  • Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE)- A specialized OBGYN that may use surgery, medicine, or procedures, to treat infertility.


  • Second Parent Adoption- In the case of LGBT+ surrogacy where only one parent has a biological connection to the child; a legal procedure takes place that allows a same-sex parent, to adopt their partner's biological or adoptive child without terminating the other's legal status.

  • Selective Reduction- Practice of reducing the number of fetuses in a multiple fetus pregnancy. Selective reduction is discussed during the matching phase between the intended parent or parents and surrogate. The surrogate always has the option of declining selective reduction and she will be matched accordingly.

  • Surrogacy Agreement/Contract- Legal agreement between intended parent or parents and surrogate that outlines expectations and obligations between both parties.

  • Surrogacy Friendly- A term that defines a state by its utmost acceptance of surrogacy, governed by state law and regulations.


  • Traditional Surrogacy- Traditional surrogacy is when the surrogate has a genetic link to the child. Her egg is fertilized by the father's sperm via artificial insemination. She then carries the baby and delivers it for the intended parent or parents to raise as their own. The legality of traditional surrogacy varies from state to state.

Let us know if we forgot any important terms in the comment section!


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