Maternity and paternity testing after surrogacy

Maternity and paternity testing after surrogacy

Maternity and paternity testing after surrogacy can confirm the biological parents of a child. Read our expert article to find out more

Surrogacy is on the rise in the USA. This medical technology has improved and offers an option to greater numbers of couples and individuals wishing to have children. Surrogacy is often used by women who are physically unable to carry a pregnancy to term, who have been born without a womb or who have had to undergo a hysterectomy for medical reasons. Some people may choose surrogacy if they suffer from a condition which would make pregnancy dangerous to their health. Surrogacy has also enabled same-sex couples to become parents.

What does surrogacy involve?

There are two types of surrogate mother: traditional and gestational. These are both women who choose to carry a pregnancy for those who cannot carry a pregnancy to term without help. In both cases, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is used to gather eggs from the mother or a donor, fertilize them with sperm, and place the embryo into the surrogate’s uterus.

Read: Maternity and paternity testing after IVF

A traditional (or straight) surrogate uses her own eggs, making her the biological mother of the child. These eggs can be artificially fertilized by the father’s sperm or donor sperm. The surrogate mother carries the baby, delivers that baby and then gives that baby to the parents to raise.

A gestational (or host) surrogate has no biological link to the baby. A fertilized egg is implanted into her womb and she carries the baby on behalf of the parents. The embryo is either fully made up of both intended parents’ genetics, or made up of one intended parents’ genetics plus either donor eggs or donor sperm. The gestational surrogate carries the baby until birth and then hands it over. Gestational surrogacy is used for most of the surrogacy cycles in the USA, and around 1400 babies are born yearly through this process.

Who can be a surrogate?

All surrogate mothers should be a minimum of 21 years old and have already given birth to at least one healthy baby. Surrogates can be family members or friends. Because these kinds of arrangements are typically altruistic (whereby no money is exchanged), the industry views them as somewhat controversial. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) supports specific family ties that are acceptable for surrogates. However, ASRM doesn’t support surrogacy if the baby would carry the same genes as a child born of incest between first-degree relatives.

Commercial surrogates can be found through surrogacy agencies and carry a baby for intended parents for a fee.

Each state has laws regulating surrogacy, and some states do not allow or recognize surrogacy contracts at all. This can make the legal surrogacy process complicated for intended parents and especially for same-sex parents. All prospective parents are advised to work closely with an experienced surrogacy professional and attorney familiar with state surrogacy laws to navigate the legal process. A surrogacy agency will be able to discuss the laws in individual states and provide you with options for completing the surrogacy process.

Why would I need a DNA test?

DNA testing can establish the biological parents of a child. Maternity and paternity tests will give parents who have children through surrogacy proof that the baby was conceived as a result of their procedure and not as a result of their surrogate falling pregnant naturally at a similar time.

The purpose of a DNA maternity test is to ascertain if there is a biological relationship between a child and a mother. DNA paternity tests establish whether there is a biological link between a father and a child. Depending on the test selected, the mother or father would need to provide a DNA sample by rubbing a mouth swab on the inside of their cheeks.

A sample also needs to be collected from the newborn baby after birth. The mouth swab just needs to be rubbed on the inside of the baby’s cheek for about 20 seconds. The buccal cells collected are then analyzed for DNA back at our laboratory.

Results can be made available 3 business days after the samples are received in the laboratory for $109 online.

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Prenatal DNA testing after surrogacy

Prenatal paternity testing can be performed before a baby is born to confirm if the sperm donor is the biological father. This confirmation can only be made when a traditional surrogate is certain she is the biological mother of the child. The test can be performed from as early as 7 weeks after conception (or 9 weeks after the last period). This non-invasive method requires a mouth swab from the sperm donor and a blood sample from the mother. There is no risk to the mother or the unborn child when taking this test.

Prenatal paternity testing costs $795 with results in 7–8 working days. More information on paternity testing while pregnant can be read here.

Further details on peace of mind paternity tests, maternity tests and prenatal paternity tests can be accessed at our Frequently Asked Questions page. If you have any other queries, please call Customer Services on 0333 600 1300 or email

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