Surrogacy FAQ


Below are frequently asked questions regarding surrogacy in Canada. (Click on question to expand answer). If you have a question, feel free to contact us.

Yes, SCO is a registered business classified as information, referral and support.

SCO was non-profit from 2001-2010. In 2010, due to increasing demands, our program became a registered business with our first official clients/births in 2011.

Yes! SCO is owned and operated by surrogacy consultant (and previous surrogate) Sally Rhoads-Heinrich and her team of support workers. Our agency/surrogacy program has been dedicated to assisting intended parents and surrogates since 2001. Canadian surrogacy agencies operate differently than commercial surrogacy agencies like those in the US. Under Canadian Law, commercialized surrogacy agencies are illegal as you cannot pay an individual to “arrange the services of a surrogate”. In Canada, surrogacy consultants are restricted to only being able to provide you with information, referral, support and introductions to surrogates. We cannot guarantee or “match” you with a surrogate. Surrogates choose which intended parents they wish to match with.

We are a rural home office located in the municipality of Central Huron near Londesborough, in southwestern Ontario.

We provide information, referral and support to individuals involved with third party reproduction in Canada. Our program is passionate about helping families conceive children that they are unable to conceive on their own due to a wide variety of reasons. We emphasize the importance of confidentiality, sensitivity, good communication, ethics and support during the surrogacy process. All of our members are cared for with kindness and compassion. Additional information on our services can be found here.

Our consults are free of charge.

We do not have an egg or embryo donor program. Please see our Egg/Embryo Donation Provider Page if you are in need of assistance with eggs or embryos.

We recommend you do. We like to speak with every intended parent early in the decision making process to determine if surrogacy is the best option for you.

There are currently 26 surrogacy consultants/agencies in Canada.

We recommend researching all surrogacy consultants in Canada and deciding which one works best for you. Due to the number of consultants/agencies that “pop up” and disappear, we recommend choosing one that has been in business for at least 10 years. SCO is Canada’s most highly respected surrogacy program as we are fully transparent to our members and follow the highest standard of ethics.

Yes we can. You can also refer yourself as fertility clinics, lawyers and social workers/psychologists accept self referrals.

You have the option to have your doctor (or SCO) send in a referral or you can refer yourself.

No, we are not exclusive (nor will we pressure you to be) with any particular IVF clinic in Canada. There are IVF clinics we highly recommend due to their positive reviews and success rates. Intended Parents come to us from across Canada (and internationally) and often have their own IVF clinic. You may stay with your clinic as long as they can assist with a surrogacy arrangement (otherwise you’ll have to switch to a clinic that does).

We create an online profile page sharing your story and pictures. At the same time we send you full profiles of surrogate mothers that you can contact directly. We do not “pair” or “match-make” for you as matching must happen among the parties involved (similar to dating). Intended parents and surrogate mothers have full choice in who they would like to be matched with.

Surrogate mothers are altruistic in Canada and they are looking to match with intended parents that meet their criteria with ideals, personality and lifestyle. Matching is one of the most important steps in this process… you are going to spend a year together so it’s important that you have a great match!

To help find an ideal match, it’s best to create a letter or profile about yourself (and partner). Describe yourself, your family and what you are looking for in a surrogacy relationship. We also recommend including a video as your profile page is a surrogate mother’s first impression of you!

Unfortunately some intended parents that join our program are not able to connect with surrogates and find a match. It’s important that you are open minded during your search and that your criteria (location, age, occupation, diet, etc) for your surrogate is not too restrictive. Roughly 10-20% of intended parents that join our program are not able to find a surrogate mother to help them. (This is often due to issues with creating embryos, strict criteria and/or language barriers. We recommend having frozen embryos in place before you begin searching for a surrogate and that you are fluent in English).

The majority of intended parents who join our program will typically find a match within 1-18 months. However, the length of time it takes for you to match depends on your surrogate requirements and how you are connecting with them. Please be aware matching with a surrogate in Canada can be challenging and not all intended parents are chosen by a surrogate. Surrogate enrollment has been declining significantly due to the current cost of living and Canada’s ban on compensation/payment of fees. (Updated May 16, 2023)

60-75% of intended parents in our program that have an embryo transfer with their surrogate become pregnant.

Yes, some of our intended parents have twins. It’s usually not encouraged to transfer more than 1 or 2 embryos at a time unless embryo quality is poor or there are other factors. A twin pregnancy is more difficult than a singleton pregnancy for a surrogate mother and the chances of complications are also higher (such as prematurity). It’s important for all parties to understand the additional risks a multiple pregnancy before attempting a double embryo transfer. As well, all parties should discuss the possibility of a multiple pregnancy with a single embryo transfer as sometimes an embryo can split (we have had one embryo transfers in our program result in twins and triplets).

Yes! We’d be happy to provide our support services to you and your surrogate mother and assist with your surrogacy arrangement.

Please visit our “Cost of Surrogacy” page for more information. There are a lot of variables with surrogacy which can affect the total cost. If you have embryos frozen already, we recommend you have at least $60,000 budgeted to do gestational surrogacy in Canada. If you have do not have embryos ready, we recommend you have at least $80,000 budgeted to do gestational surrogacy in Canada.  (Costs are higher for egg donation and international intended parents).

We do not manage your funds for this process. Why? Surrogacy consultants/programs are unlicenced and unregulated in Canada. It is not recommend that you have any surrogacy third party manage your funds to pay your clinic, legal counsel or other professionals… including your surrogate mother’s expenses. We also believe it is risky in Canada for intended parents to put their funds with any person or company … as there is always risk of fraud, bankruptcy, or mismanagement etc.

Intended parents in our program pay their clinic, lawyer, social worker and other parties involved directly. You know first-hand what your expenses are without a third party charging you to manage it for you. Your surrogate mother will send you her expenses for reimbursement directly. Reimbursements are typically paid for via cheque, paypal or email money transfer.

From time to time we have assisted international clients by paying various professionals (and their surrogate mother) on their behalf due to the difficulties involved with sending funds to Canada. You can contact us for additional information.

Our program fee is the lowest in Canada due to intended parents paying for their services (and surrogate expenses) directly.

The process of surrogacy is emotionally challenging. Because of our experience we know the feelings intended parents have and provide support in a professional and caring way. We have support groups so that you can talk to other intended parents and you can also contact us anytime via email/telephone.

Working with a surrogacy consultant can be beneficial to guiding you through your surrogacy journey. An independent approach can add to legal risk and anxiety to an already complex process. An experienced consultant can help you find the right surrogate mother, arrange proper legal representation and provide support from beginning to end.

Surrogate mothers typically come to us after researching surrogacy online or by word of mouth. We also have many repeat surrogates (women who choose to do more than one surrogacy arrangement). We also work with advertising companies to spread the word of surrogacy and participate in various trade shows, conventions and other venues to increase awareness. Membership fees help us to bring awareness to the need intended parents have to build their families.

We pre-screen surrogate mothers that join our program which means they must meet the general acceptance criteria of the IVF clinic as well as our own. Medical and psychological screening is done by your IVF clinic. Our surrogate mothers complete a very detailed profile which includes their views to various aspects of surrogacy. We pre-screen our surrogate mothers and deny acceptance to candidates that do not meet our physical, emotional and psychological wellness qualifications. We mainly invest our resources and time on intake of acceptable surrogate candidates.

We reject 50% of surrogate mother applicants because they do not meet the basic screening requirements. The majority of surrogates that are immediately rejected are under the age of 21, have not experienced pregnancy, smoke or take prescription medication that is not suitable during pregnancy.

Less than 5% of surrogate mothers quit after matching with intended parents. Usually this happens within a week of matching (no cost has been incurred to intended parents at this point). Sometimes when the realities of what’s coming up start happening, surrogate mothers can have a change of heart (injections, travel, bloodwork, lack of compensation, support changes etc.) This is why it can be difficult to match with an altruistic surrogate. The likelihood of your surrogate mother quitting also increases after a failed transfer or miscarriage.

We do not require criminal background checks but do recommend that all parties submit one to each other during the matching stage. Intended parents should provide one to their surrogate mother as well… as a sign of good faith.

Yes, but it is not common. Most common reason to fail medical screening is due to an undiagnosed medical issue such as cancer/high blood pressure etc.

Surrogate mothers in Canada are covered medically under their provincial health plans for pregnancy/birth. Life insurance policies are recommended to be put in place prior to your surrogate mother becoming pregnant (we can provide information on insurance providers). However, many intended parents choose to skip purchasing a life insurance policy for their surrogate mother to save on cost. We cannot stress the importance of this step! The majority of our surrogate mothers will have life insurance policies put in place before any attempt at pregnancy is made. This insurance helps to financially protect your surrogate mother’s family/children in the event of her death due to travelling during this process or the pregnancy/birth itself. Besides insuring the surrogate mother’s family/children, this policy also helps to protect intended parents from the risk of lawsuit by the surrogate mother’s family in the event of her death. Some intended parents will also be partial benefactors in the policy so in the event they have lost both their surrogate and child(ren) they have funds to cover funeral costs and/or being able to continue with trying to build their family (additional IVF cycle, treatments, adoption/surrogacy, etc.)

Yes, we have assisted many international intended parents with different languages and generally have not had issues, even with using an online translation service such as google translate. Many of our surrogate mothers are fluent in French and have matched with French speaking clients. Basic knowledge of English is recommended to pursue surrogacy in Canada successfully.

SCO is dedicated to helping intended parents achieve their dream of having (or expanding) a family. We have experience and expertise with surrogacy case management and are well versed in all aspects of surrogacy and third party reproduction. We provide the support and care that is needed during the surrogacy process. We care about our intended parents, and surrogate mothers and our goal is to help foster positive and independent relationships between intended parents and their surrogate mother. SCO is one of Canada’s most respected surrogacy programs. Our mission is not to enrich ourselves but to see quality arrangements producing healthy, happy and successful outcomes. We respect all parties wishes and privacy. We are also strive to be fully compliant with the Assisted Human Reproduction Act of Canada and have strong ethics and morals with all aspects of third party reproduction. Other consultants/programs in Canada may charge outrageous fees for unnecessary services and promote and attract surrogates with prizes, gifts and other enticements. We attract surrogate mothers who are looking to help for the right reasons… to help build a family, give the gift of life and to make a change in someone’s life. Why choose Surrogacy in Canada Online? Click here.

Surrogacy refers to an arrangement whereby a woman agrees to become pregnant for the purpose of gestating and giving birth to a child for others to raise. She may be the child’s genetic mother or not, depending on the type of arrangement agreed to.

Third party reproduction is any human reproduction in which DNA or gestation is provided by someone other than the intended parents of the child. This includes gestational surrogacy, traditional surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation, and embryo donation.

There are 2 types of surrogate mothers, “gestational surrogates” and “traditional surrogates”. Gestational surrogates are also referred to as “gestational carriers” or “host surrogates” and traditional surrogates are also referred to as “straight surrogates” or “classic surrogates”.

There are 7 types of surrogacy arrangements and 2 types of surrogate mothers, “gestational surrogates” and “traditional surrogates”. Gestational surrogates are also referred to as “gestational carriers” or “host surrogates” and traditional surrogates are also referred to as “straight surrogates” or “classic surrogates”. Gestational Surrogacy is the most common type of surrogacy arrangements in Canada.

Gestational Surrogacy (GS):
When the intended mother is not be able to carry a baby to term (due to hysterectomy, diabetes, cancer, etc.) her egg and the intended father’s sperm are used to create an embryo (via IVF) that is implanted into and carried by the surrogate mother. With this method, the child born is genetically related to its parents and the surrogate mother has no genetic relation.

Traditional Surrogacy (TS):
This involves artificially inseminating a surrogate mother with the intended father’s sperm via IUI, IVF or home insemination. With this method, the child born is genetically related to its father and the surrogate mother.

Traditional Surrogacy & Donor Sperm (TS/DS):
This involves artificially inseminating a surrogate mother with donor sperm via IUI, IVF or home insemination. With this method, the child born is genetically related to sperm donor and the surrogate mother.

Gestational Surrogacy & Egg Donation (GS/ED):
If there is no intended mother or the intended mother is unable to produce eggs, the surrogate mother carries the embryo developed from a donor egg that has been fertilized by sperm from the intended father. With this method, the child born is genetically related to the intended father and the surrogate mother has no genetic relation.

Gestational Surrogacy & Donor Sperm (GS/DS):
If there is no intended father or the intended father is unable to produce sperm, the surrogate mother carries an embryo developed from the intended mother’s egg (who is unable to carry a pregnancy herself) and donor sperm. With this method, the child born is genetically related to the intended mother and the surrogate mother has no genetic relation.

Gestational Surrogacy & Egg/Sperm Donation (GS/ED/DS):
When the intended parents are unable to produce either sperm, egg, or embryo, the surrogate mother can carry an embryo created from a donated egg/sperm. With this method, the child born is not genetically related to the intended parents and the surrogate mother also has no genetic relation.

Gestational Surrogacy & Donor Embryo (GS/DE):
When the intended parents are unable to produce either sperm, egg, or embryo, the surrogate mother can carry a donated embryo (often from other couples who have completed IVF that have leftover embryo’s). With this method, the child born is not genetically related to the intended parents and the surrogate mother also has no genetic relation.

As many as 1 out of every 4 couples are infertile in North America. Below are the many conditions/factors that warrant the use of surrogacy as an alternative to family building.

  • Women that are born without a uterus (Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser Syndrome).
  • Women that no longer produce eggs (ovarian failure/polycystic ovaries, maternal age, ovarian cancer, etc.)
  • Women that have had their uterus removed (due to fibroids, cancer, or accidents).
  • Women that have had several failed IVF procedures.
  • Women that have been diagnosed with a uterine abnormality (DES exposure, congenital abnormalities, Asherman’s Syndrome, myomas/fibroids, polyps, insufficient endometrial linings…)
  • Women that suffer from high blood pressure (hypertension/pre-eclampsia/eclampsia).
  • Women that suffer from diabetes.
  • Women that suffer from a serious heart condition.
  • Women that have had recurrent miscarriages, stillbirths, and/or pre-term deliveries
  • Women that are on medications that are dangerous to take while pregnant.
  • Women that suffer from immune disorders.
  • Women that suffered with severe morning sickness (Hyperemesis Gravidarum) with a previous pregnancy.
  • Women that have suffered from any type of complication that could endanger their life or the life of their unborn child.
  • Men that suffer with problems with ejaculation or disorders affecting sperm production.
  • Men who are infertile from the side effects of treatment of testicular cancer.
  • Men who have had testicular damage either from injury or infection (such as mumps).
  • Men who have a rare genetic or hormone deficiency which causes infertility.
  • Couples with unexplained infertility.
  • Same Sex Couples
  • Single Intended Parents
  • Age

Surrogacy for social reasons such as the inconvenience of carrying a child, fear of pregnancy/pregnancy side effects or interrupting a career are generally not accepted where surrogacy is altruistic. However, there have been cases of surrogacy in Canada where the intended mother suffered from tokophobia (fear of pregnancy).

With every surrogacy arrangement, good communication is crucial. Both intended parents and the surrogate mother should agree on the following before proceeding together…
  • Time frame for beginning/completing surrogacy.
  • Number of transfers/time commitment.
  • Number of embryos to be transferred.
  • Disclosure (when to share with friends/family).
  • Religious/Spiritual/Moral Beliefs
  • Diet (food restrictions, if any).
  • Selective fetal reduction in the event of high order multiples (triplets+).
  • Prenatal testing for chromosomal abnormalities/neural tube defects.
  • Termination/continuation of pregnancy if there is an abnormality with the baby.
  • Life insurance policy & Will for the surrogate mother.
  • Expenses
  • Desired amount of contact during the pregnancy and after the birth.
  • Obstetrical care during pregnancy (Midwife/Obstetrician)
  • Hospital Birth/Home Birth/Birth Plan
  • Breastmilk

Commercial surrogacy refers to surrogate mothers who receive a fee, whereas altruistic surrogacy refers to surrogate mothers who do not receive any fees, only reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses. Commercial surrogacy is prohibited in Canada but common throughout the United States.

It is estimated that 650,000 Canadians of reproductive age (or 1 out of 6) are affected with some form of infertility.

Yes, surrogacy is legal in Canada. The Assisted Human Reproduction Act (AHRA) is federal legislation which sets out activities that are permitted and those that are prohibited altogether. Intended parents need to know that the AHRA permits surrogacy but that a surrogate may only be reimbursed for her reasonable out of pocket expenses related to the surrogacy process. Compensation or an offer of compensation to a woman acting as a surrogate is prohibited under law and subject to serious penalty. If a woman has had her own children and wishes to carry a child for another family, becoming a surrogate mother in Canada is a legal and viable option.

Yes, egg, sperm and embryo donation are legal in Canada. The Assisted Human Reproduction Act (AHRA) is federal legislation which sets out activities that are permitted and those that are prohibited altogether. Canadian law permits egg, sperm and embryo donation, but provides that a gamete donor may only be reimbursed for his or her expenses incurred in the course of donating. Payment of compensation or an offer of compensation to a donor for his or her gametes or embryos, however, is prohibited and subject to serious penalty. While restrictive, the legislation makes it possible to enter into a legally compliant donation arrangement that has enabled many children be born in Canada as a result each year.

There are no known statistics, but it is estimated that there are 400+ arrangements per year.

Most surrogate mothers enjoy being pregnant, have children of their own and genuinely want to help a couple experience the joys of parenthood. They don’t view giving the child to his or her parents as “giving away” but more as “giving back” to its parents (since they were the ones that conceived the child either through IVF treatment or with their “intent”.) This is why it’s common to hear a surrogate mother say “I’m a 9 month babysitter!”

Just like a child that is adopted or fostered, children born through surrogacy are wanted and loved. They may not have “grown under their mother’s hearts… but they grew in it”. Children need to know that they are wanted and loved and in a nurturing environment, they thrive. Children born through surrogacy have many people taking part in their creation with not only their parents, but a surrogate mother and her family, doctors, nurses, lawyers, and sometimes egg or sperm donors. It does not get more special than that!

Most women would never entertain the idea of being a surrogate mother let alone acting as one. This is because surrogate mothers often feel they have a “calling” to carry a child for someone else and they know immediately that they can do it. From the beginning a surrogate mother sees the hopes and dreams of a family through the intended parents and a strong friendship is often formed. Intended Parents are usually with the surrogate mother during the IVF process and when the embryos are transferred (an emotional moment for those involved) the surrogate mother can witness the intended parents already bonding and yearning for their hopeful baby via ultrasound. It is at this point (before actual implantation in the womb) that surrogate mothers physically see that they are carrying someone else’s baby and bond with the new family that they are helping to create. The intended parents often take part in ultrasound/doctor appointments, have a baby shower with the surrogate mother and her family and some even create audio tapes for their surrogate mother to play for the baby while pregnant (so that the baby can begin bonding with their voices). Intended Parents are involved with the birth and start caring for their child immediately. There are some ethicists that believe that surrogate mothers are cold and uncaring because they are detached from the child they are carrying but this is a misconception. Surrogate mothers do attach and bond to the child they are carrying but in a different way. Today, many surrogate mothers have an ongoing relationship with the children and families they help create and some are incorporated as an extension to the new family.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but in many circumstances, those against surrogacy are often uneducated and/or misinformed about the surrogacy process. It’s important to note as well that people are often against things they do not understand or if they feel it has nothing to do with themselves. Many people today in our fast paced and on-demand society place little value on children and family.

Unfortunately… yes. Just like there are still stigmas attached to mental health, AIDS, etc… As long as people stay misinformed and/or uneducated about a topic, the longer the stigma will remain.

Many couples that turn to surrogacy have already tried, or have adopted, a child. They may have adopted and never knew surrogacy was an option until afterwards, and/or they want to add on to their family. Some couples have been hurt through the adoption process since many birth mothers decide to keep the baby after birth, even after the intended couple has already bonded with the child during the pregnancy. A failed adoption is usually devastating and heart wrenching for a couple to endure, some will go through it numerous times before they refuse to attempt again for fear of getting hurt once more. Adoption is more difficult in Canada today than it was in the past. Today there are government programs to help women with unplanned/unwanted pregnancies and there is no longer a social stigma placed on being an unwed mother. Couples looking to adopt have to go through a lengthy process to even qualify for adoption with applications, background checks, references and home studies. Adoption is also an expensive process and wait times can be 5-10 years. There is also the issue of children available for adoption often coming from severe neglect, malnutrition, abuse, and they can have physical/mental handicaps or serious medical problems. Most adoptions are now open adoptions and many couples strongly fear bonding with a child only for them to lose custody if the birth parents change their minds.

It is very stereotypical and ignorant to view a woman’s motivations for surrogacy in this manner. If money was the true motivator there would be more women volunteering to act as surrogate mothers. Even where there is commercialized surrogacy, there is a shortage of surrogate mothers. Most individuals have a negative opinion of surrogacy because they either do not understand how the process works and/or have only heard the negative stories (such as the Baby M case in New Jersey in the 1980’s). More often than not, the media will portray the negative and not the successful, positive stories.

Contracts/agreements show the “intent of the parties” and help as a guideline to a surrogate mother and the intended parents on many issues that occur (or could occur) during the relationship. These contracts/agreements set out the rights, responsibilities and intent of all parties, in advance of the embryo transfer. Surrogacy contracts/agreements deal with important considerations/issues including confidentiality, custody/parental rights, pre-natal obligations on the party of the surrogate mother and reimbursement of expenses.

A contract in a traditional surrogacy arrangement would be unenforceable if the surrogate changed her mind. She would have to be proven unfit for the child to be removed from her. However, since there is no precedent in Canada (no surrogate mother has fought for custody in a Canadian court) it is difficult to speculate for sure as it would depend on the judge’s decision/circumstances. The intended father would most likely have legal rights to visitation if pursued since he would be the genetic father, but he could also be required to pay child support. If a gestational surrogate mother changed her mind she would have all rights to the child at birth whether a contract was in place or not (since Canada does not have “pre-birth orders” like in California). The intended parents would have to pursue legally and hopefully the courts would recognize the contract intent and DNA tests proving genetic parentage. Since there are no precedent cases no one can answer with certainty if the intended parents would be able to claim full custody of their child.
Except in Ontario (as of 2015), Canadian provinces do not subsidize IVF. A surrogate mother’s pregnancy/birth is covered by her provincial health care. Canada’s health care system is not the same as in the United States. Our health care system is paid for through federal and provincial tax systems. However, any medical treatment needed before the pregnancy (such as fertility drug blood works/endometrial lining checks via ultrasound/physicals/gynaecological exams/doctor visits) may not be covered. They are considered third party medical because they are for fertility treatment. *UPDATE – OHIP will cover one cycle of IVF for residents of Ontario starting December 2015.

These terms are somewhat degrading and derogatory towards surrogate mothers. Proper terminology in surrogacy is: surrogate mother, gestational surrogate and/or traditional/classic surrogate, fertility assistant, and host carrier. The other terms seem to imply some type of commercial service and are more commonly used by American surrogates where surrogacy is commercialized.

Canada is divided on its views in regards to surrogacy. Those in support feel that women and intended parents should have the right to choose what they will or will not do with their own bodies and have full control over their reproductive rights (I can have an abortion so I can carry a baby as a surrogate right?) Those against surrogacy feel that it is degrading towards woman and can be grouped with prostitution and child trafficking. They believe it is against true family values, turns children into commodities and children that are “products of surrogacy” will have lasting psychological and social damage. The government surveyed Canadians in 1993 and found the country was divided, but that the majority of Canadians felt third party reproduction and cloning were unethical (the government put third party reproduction and cloning into the same bill).
  • Pay, offer to pay, or advertise payment, to a surrogate mother.
  • Accept payment for arranging for the services of a surrogate, offer to make such an arrangement for payment, or advertise the arranging of such services.
  • Counsel, induce, or perform any medical procedures to assist a woman to become a surrogate if she is under 21.
  • Reimburse a surrogate for an expenditure incurred by her in relation to her surrogacy, except in accordance with regulations and a licence, and where a receipt is provided.
  • Reimburse a surrogate for loss of work-related income incurred during her pregnancy, unless a qualified medical practitioner certifies, in writing, that continuing to work may pose a risk to her health or that of the embryo/fetus; and the reimbursement is made in accordance with the regulations and a licence, with a receipt is provided.
Criminal penalty: A fine of up to $500,000 and up to 10 years in jail. Reimbursing a surrogate for her expenditures during gestation has became a controlled act and now requires a licence and compliance with regulations that are still pending.

Surrogacy is banned in Switzerland, Germany, and France (and many others). In Israel, commercial surrogacy is legal, yet familial and altruistic surrogacy are banned because of religious reasons related to incest and adultery. In the US, some states recognize surrogacy, while others do not (for example, California and Arkansas are considered “pro-surrogacy states”, yet Michigan and New York do not recognize contracts. The UK and Australia permit altruistic surrogacy only.

If you are are considering becoming a surrogate mother, please check our Surrogate Mother Qualifications page. Generally, you need to be over 21 years old, non-smoker, in good health and have had a history of an uncomplicated pregnancy/birth.

Intended parents come from all backgrounds and walks of life and have many different reasons for choosing surrogacy. Some have struggled with infertility or cannot safely carry a pregnancy to term, whereas others are same sex couples or hopeful single intended parents looking to create and/or add to their families. You will have the opportunity to determine what types of intended parents are you comfortable working with, and you can review potential profiles and get to know them before agreeing to move forward with a surrogacy arrangement.

Most surrogate mothers match within 1-6 weeks of joining our program. This depends on the type of relationship you are interested in and whether you share the same values as the intended parents you are considering.

Once you have matched, your intended parents or SCO will send in a referral form with your contact information to the IVF clinic, fertility lawyer and social worker/psychologist to make appointments for your medical/psychological screening. Next, a surrogacy agreement/contract will be drafted and reviewed by all parties. Once everyone has agreed to the term of the agreement/contract, it will be signed and you will be begin the process to become pregnant.

It is up to you and the intended parent(s) to decide how much contact you would like to share during and after the surrogacy process. Most intended parents want to receive regular updates throughout the pregnancy, and some surrogates choose to invite the intended parents to key appointments throughout the process. Many surrogates and intended parents establish an ongoing relationship and maintain contact long after the baby is born. Your desired amount of contact should be addressed during the surrogacy planning and matching process.

No, most of the surrogacy arrangements in our program are “gestational” meaning you carry the genetic embryo of your intended parent(s). Traditional surrogacy is also an option if you are open to being a traditional surrogate (using your own eggs).

While cycling with an IVF clinic, the surrogate and egg donor/intended mother are both started on birth control pills (or injectable Lupron – medications may vary) to coordinate their cycles. Once the surrogate mother begins her period she will then start an estrogen supplement in the form of injection, pills or patches. The estrogen helps to build a “triple pattern” uterine lining in preparation for the embryo transfer. A few days prior to the embryo transfer, the surrogate mother will then start a progesterone supplement in the form of injections or vaginal creams/capsules. The progesterone helps the body to maintain a pregnancy if the transfer is successful until the surrogate mother’s natural progesterone kicks in. (Because surrogate mothers are “suppressed” during cycling and do not ovulate, their body will not produce the progesterone needed to support a pregnancy). The actual embryo transfer procedure takes only a few minutes and is simple and painless. It is very much like a pelvic exam or pap smear. The reproductive endocrinologist will insert a speculum into the vagina and insert a thin catheter through the cervix and into the uterus. Usually under ultrasound guidance, the embryos are then transferred through the catheter into the uterus. Once the embryos have been placed the catheter is removed and given back to an embryologist to confirm that all embryos were transferred. Afterwards the speculum is removed and the surrogate mother will be asked to rest for approximately one hour before leaving the clinic. It is common for surrogate mothers to adhere to 24 hours of strict bedrest followed by 1-3 days of limited bedrest. A pregnancy blood test is given 10-14 days after the embryo transfer and if the surrogate mother is pregnant, she will continue taking medications for another 10-14 weeks.

Most surrogate mothers will have to take injectable medication but it may depend on the IVF clinic and their protocol.

Most surrogates will transfer one embryo but in some instances, 2-4 embryos may be transferred. Ultimately, the decision is between the intended parents, surrogate mother and consulting physician. It is recommended to only transfer what you are willing to carry however, some intended parents and their surrogate choose to transfer more and selectively reduce down if multiples occur. Each embryo transfer cycle is demanding… financially, physically and emotionally so the decision is not always an easy one. It is very important that intended parents and their surrogate mother are all on the same page in regards to how many embryos are to be transferred.

It does not matter what your blood type is to be a surrogate.

If you are not located close to an IVF clinic, yes. All expenses for your travel will be covered by your intended parents.

Yes! Intended parents may pay for travel expenses/accommodations incurred by you and your husband/partner/support person. Your child/children may travel with you but please note that typically children are not allowed at IVF clinics during appointments (they will require supervision).

Yes! Most surrogate mothers will have either their friend/partner or intended parent(s) with them on the day of their embryo transfer. If you do not have a support person or your intended parent(s) is/are unable to be there (such as the case often with international intended parents) SCO will be happy to assist you with providing one of our support workers or another SCO member to accompany you.

Yes! By having had a tubal ligation, you are preventing your eggs from reaching your uterus, which prevents a natural pregnancy. Your eggs are not used during the gestational surrogacy process and you will have no genetic connection to the embryo(s). During the embryo transfer a tiny catheter is inserted through your cervix and the intended parents embryo(s) is/are transferred directly to your uterus. As well, surrogacy after tubal ligation ensures that you will not become pregnant with your own child during the fertility process.

In most cases, HPV will not affect a developing baby during pregnancy. HPV is a very common type of STI and most commonly results in genital warts. If you have an outbreak of warts close to your due date, you will likely have to have a cesarean section performed to prevent the transmission of HPV to the child.

Like HPV, it’s rare for a baby to be born with birth defects because of a surrogate mother with herpes. However, you may need to have a cesarean section if you have an outbreak close to your due date.

Because HIV can be spread to a baby through pregnancy or while giving birth, you cannot be a surrogate mother if you’ve tested positive for HIV.

Pregnancy is not likely to occur after ablation, as it destroys a thin layer of the lining of the uterus and makes implantation of an embryo more difficult. Even if you do become pregnant after ablation, you have an increased risk of miscarriage and other pregnancy conditions. Many fertility clinics will disqualify you from being a surrogate if you’ve experienced an ablation.

Endometriosis can make it more difficult for you to become pregnant and may increase your risk of miscarriage. It’s best to talk with your doctor about whether the severity of your condition could affect your ability to successfully carry a child.

Every arrangement is different, but typically as much as you’d like and what was agreed upon during the matching stage.

We generally do not accept women for surrogacy if they have not had a prior pregnancy/birth. It is very important that you have experienced pregnancy/childbirth so that your fertility history is proven. A surrogate without a previous pregnancy comes with many unknowns: Can she carry a pregnancy to term? Are there underlying conditions she isn’t aware of? Can she even become pregnant? Not only does a surrogate mother who has never been pregnant raise medical concerns, but if you’ve never had children or been pregnant, the situation will be confusing and maybe even scary for you. All surrogates need to know what to expect ahead of time — both physically and emotionally — which is why almost all agencies/IVF clinics require you to have been pregnant before becoming a surrogate. We do, however, sometimes accept surrogates that meet the necessary criteria and screening and understand the risks involved with pregnancy/childbirth and their fertility. We have had childless surrogates carry babies successfully in our program to very happy Intended Parents!

Unfortunately no. Your husband/partner must be supportive and willing to take part in the surrogacy process (including medical/psychological assessments and legal paperwork).

Surrogate mothers undergo physical tests to determine whether they are a suitable candidate for surrogacy. One of these tests include an ultrasound or x-ray of the inside of the uterus to check for abnormalities. If you have had a caesarean previously and the tests show no scarring from the incision then it is of no concern. Some women have had 3 caesareans or more and have no scarring in their uterus and go on to carry as a surrogate mother. (Most Canadian clinics will accept surrogates with a history of up to 5 prior uncomplicated caesarean births).

Yes, there is no out of pocket cost to be a surrogate mother. All necessary expenses for medical, legal, travel, lost wages, childrecare etc. will be covered by the intended parent(s). Once you are pregnant, all related expenses you incur are covered by your monthly reimbursement.

In Canada, surrogate mothers cannot receive a fee or compensation, only reimbursement for out of pocket expenses. Typically, this will be between $10,000-33,000 over the course of 10 months (including pre-pregnancy and post partum expenses). The amount you receive depends on the expenses you have.

Yes. You must collect and submit receipts for your intended parents. Anticipated known expenses such as prescriptions, accommodations, legal bills etc. can be paid for in advance or directly by your intended parent(s). If you cannot get a receipt for certain expenses you can either take a picture with your cellphone, use a receipt book to create one (such as for babysitting) or submit a spreadsheet detailing your expenses via email.

No. But you should report it if you are receiving any type of subsidy or assistance from the government (child subsidy, EI, etc…)

No. It does not matter in Canada if you are a first time surrogate or an experienced surrogate. Expenses are related to the expenses you have, not how many times you’ve been a surrogate.

Typically yes as your expenses may be higher. Complications such as bedrest and/or caesarean section may also cause you to have increased expenses.

Yes. Surrogate mothers risk all complications that can come from pregnancy and childbirth.

Surrogate mothers provide an amazing gift for couples and individuals experiencing infertility and/or dreaming of a family. It takes a very special woman to become a surrogate mother and we want to see you remember this experience as one of the best times of your life. Surrogate mothers give the gift of life!

These issues will all be addressed in your surrogacy agreement. Intended parents must name a guardian for their child(ren) in the event of a dispute/death.

Unfortunately yes. There have been at least 7 cases of surrogate mothers in Canada being left with the children they have carried. None of these arrangements have been with Surrogacy in Canada Online and all were traditional surrogacy arrangements (surrogate was genetic mother of child).

Yes. If you are considering acting as a surrogate, it’s important that you understand the law, that your legal rights are protected and that you clearly understand your legal entitlements and obligations as you help another family grow.

Surrogate mothers give birth at their local hospital, birthing centre or may have a home birth. It is recommended that a surrogate mother stay close to her family for support during pregnancy/birth/postpartum and she has free choice in having either an obstetrician or midwife (if pregnancy is low risk). Sometimes a surrogate mother will travel to be close to the intended parents location for birth and they may care for her during this time. Many surrogate mothers also choose to have a doula.

Most of our surrogate mothers go on to have lasting friendships with their intended parents.

When you first join our program you may be registered with others but you need to inform us immediately if you’ve matched through another program. It’s important that we know your availability/status as intended parents will be considering your profile. Once you have matched we require that you are not affiliated with outside consultants/agencies to maintain the confidentiality of the members of our program.

Women choose to become surrogates for many reasons. This experience provides surrogate mothers with a deep sense of personal satisfaction knowing they helped another family in the most generous and selfless way possible. Many surrogates also develop a lifelong relationship with the families they helped create and find a sense of community within the world of surrogacy.

Absolutely! This is called “independent matching”; where a surrogate mother finds intended parents to help on her own, usually via surrogacy classified websites/family arrangements, etc. We fully support independent surrogacy arrangements and encourage surrogate mothers to go with their own preferences for their journeys. Be aware however that with independent matching there can be issues such as: finding intended parents who are… not fully educated on the process, unable to fully afford surrogacy (putting you at risk with unpaid expenses) or not thoroughly counselled prior to engaging in surrogacy. There is also the lack of having an experienced system of support around you and mediators who can assist in the event of any issues during your arrangement.

No, it’s best to remain on the your birth control pills. With gestational surrogacy, most IVF clinics will start you with a medicated protocol of either birth control pills or other medications to suppress ovulation.

If you have a medicated/hormone releasing IUD it’s best to have it removed as soon as possible. If your IUD does not release hormones you can have it removed by either your family doctor or by the IVF clinic doctor at your screening appointment. For some women, IUD’s that release hormones can have an affect on the endometrial uterine lining (which can 6-10 months to recover).

Our commitment to you:

  • Quality service and respect in every aspect of your journey.
  • Full autonomy with the choice of intended parents you match with and expense requirements.
  • SCO support worker available full time to support you with your arrangement.
  • Referral to qualified legal counsel.
  • Online Support with SCO team members as well as peer support (optional).
  • Special events (get togethers, dinners, retreats, media opportunities) for you to attend.
  • Mailed care packages (pre-transfer, pregnancy and post partum).

Determine if surrogacy or egg donation is right for you, educate yourself, and seriously consider all issues prior to making a decision to go ahead with a surrogacy arrangement.

We do not have an egg or embryo donor program. Please see our Egg/Embryo Donation Provider Page if you are in need of assistance with eggs or embryos.

Yes! (Although this process can vary from one province to another).

The process of becoming a child’s legal parent following surrogacy varies according to provincial legislation. In Ontario for example, intended parents will seek a declaration of parentage and permission to have their name appear on their child’s birth registration. This process involves the assistance of your fertility lawyer which will include the consent of all parties, sworn affidavits, a DNA report and reference to your surrogacy agreement. (UPDATE: Ontario no longer requires a declaration of parentage… birth registrations can be done online on the Service Ontario website). It’s best to consult with a fertility lawyer regarding the necessary steps to obtain your child’s birth certificate (and passport for international intended parents).

In Canada, surrogate mothers and egg donors can be reimbursed for their out-of-pocket expenses only (they cannot receive a “fee” or “compensation”). Surrogacy/pregnancy related expenses are allowed as acting as a surrogate mother can accumulate substantial expenses and place a financial burden on a surrogate mother’s own family.

Many intended parents wish to give small tokens of appreciation to their surrogate mother. While it’s illegal to give a fee/payment to a surrogate mother without a receipt/expense, personal gifts such as flowers, baked goods, restaurant gift cards, etc. are common practice and considered acceptable.

Out-of-pocket expenses typically include clothing, food, prenatal vitamins, childcare, travel costs (mileage/parking/tolls/accommodations), lost wages, medications, medical bills, etc. More information can be found on this page.
It can be, but not always. Be prepared that many of the women you contact online will have the best intentions of helping you, but may not be fully committed or accountable to this process… or will meet the clinic requirements. Also, you may come across individuals that have been rejected by our surrogacy program for not meeting our screening requirements. Be sure to check that she meets all the basic requirements we have listed on our website here. When you search for a surrogate mother via surrogacy internet classifieds it’s best to post your own ad describing a little about yourselves, your situation and what you are looking for in your surrogate mother (such as location). You can also reply directly to ads already posted, but it’s more successful to place your own and let surrogate mothers contact you (since most will not make an ad for themselves as they match so quickly). You will most likely start talking to many women, all from different backgrounds, but it may take some time to find the one that you feel is “right”. Once a connection is made (through pictures and information shared), most intended parents and surrogates begin talking on the phone and then meet in person. Do not send any money to potential surrogate mothers without verifying her information, either through references, identification and/or copies of medical information. If you do send money to pay for mileage, prescriptions, doctor’s appointments etc, be sure that you have a copy of a receipt or an email outlining the expense.

ZERO! There has never been a gestational surrogacy arrangement contested in a Canadian court by a surrogate mother.

However, there have been 6 cases in Canada where a surrogate mother was abandoned by her intended parents during the pregnancy and left with the baby/babies. All cases were traditional surrogacy arrangements. (Read about one case here.)

Surrogate mothers give birth at their local hospital, birthing centre or may have a home birth. It is recommended a surrogate mother stays close to her family for support during pregnancy/birth/postpartum and she has free choice in having either an obstetrician or midwife (if pregnancy is low risk). Sometimes a surrogate mother will travel to be close to the intended parents’ location for birth (and they may care for her during this time).

In the event of death, the person you named as guardian of your child in your surrogacy agreement will take custody.

Accordion Content

A traditional surrogate allows herself to be inseminated with the sperm of the intended father or a donor with the intention of giving the child to the intended parent(s) at birth.  Inseminations can take place at home or in a clinic environment.  The child(ren) that are born as a result of traditional surrogacy are genetically related to the surrogate mother.

Although traditional surrogacy exists in Canada, it is considered rare, making up less then 2% of surrogacy arrangements.  There are a limited number of fertility clinics and lawyers that will engage in traditional surrogacy arrangements due to legal risks and moral concerns.  It is also more difficult to find a traditional surrogate to match with as most surrogates prefer to do gestational surrogacy only.

While the lower costs associated with traditional surrogacy may make it seem like an attractive option to some, it does carry tremendous legal and emotional risk to those who take part in the process. Traditional surrogates have the legal right to retain custody of the children they give birth to (with intended parents running the risk of having to pay child support with or without visitation rights).

Generally, if you transfer a single chromosomally healthy embryo, you’ve got about a 70% chance of pregnancy. If you transfer two chromosomally healthy embryos, you’ve got about a 90% chance of pregnancy, with a 50% chance of twins. There is also a possibility of one or more embryos splitting in twins, triplets or quadruplets but this is very rare. Once your surrogate is pregnant there is a 10-20% chance of miscarriage (the risk increases with the age of the intended mother or egg donor).

Surrogates do this because they are the most selfless and generous people on earth. Often these women are either stay-at-home supermoms or they’re in a helping profession. Many of them are nurses, teachers, or childcare providers who love what they do. The desire to be of service is a dominant personality trait of all surrogates. They are incredibly caring, bighhearted individuals. They help people when they can, no matter the invconvenience. They will volunteer when needed and are even known to donate blood or organs to someone in need. Surrogates simply want to make the world a better place and they are willing to sacrifice in all sorts of amazing ways to make that happen.

We commonly hear surrogates reference quotes such as “The greatest good is what we do for one another”, “You have never really lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you” and “What’s 9 months of my life to give someone a lifetime of happiness?”

Sometimes surrogates come from difficult backgrounds or experiences, have been through trauma/abuse or took the wrong path in life before healing. There is a saying we find very fitting with their choice to become a surrogate… “Only the broken will offer a piece of their soul to you, for they know, what it feels like being shattered into pieces.”

Interestingly, surrogates don’t see themselves as making a baby. They know that the intended parents are making the baby. They are making a family. They don’t think of the baby as their own, so when the baby is born they are not giving it up; they’ve giving it back. That is a very important distinction. The baby belongs to the parents, not the surrogate. One of the most poignant moments for the surrogate is when the parents see their baby for the first time. That one moment is the ultimate payoff for a surrogate. The joy they experience from giving people a gift that they can’t otherwise receive is what motivates them to do what they do.

After delivery the ongoing relationship between the surrogate and the parents is very personal and depends on the people involved. Most parents and surrogates do stay in contact to some degree, whether it’s as Facebook friends, exchanging holiday and birthday cards, or just a normal friendship that develops over time. But the surrogate is not the mom. Whether there are two dads, or a mom and a dad, or a single parent, the surrogate is the surrogate. No more or no less. She’s the person who carried the baby and helped to make the family. And because she is screened properly before being approved as a surrogate, she understands this right from the start. Her intention was never to become the baby’s mother.”

Although it’s strongly recommended that a surrogate has had a child before, there is no legal requirement that a surrogate must have had a prior pregnancy/birth. IVF clinics have their own requirements for surrogates and some will work with those with no prior pregnancy/birth while others will not. We have had surrogates with no children carry and have wonderful experiences and have signed up to do it again!

We are seeing a new demographic of women contacting us that don’t plan to have children of their own but would love to experience pregnancy so it works great to connect them with intended parents! Our pre-screening requires surrogates with no children to be exceptional candidates and additional steps taken to assure they understand the potential risks to health and future fertility.”