History of Surrogacy

Milestones in the History of Surrogacy

Surrogates have helped build and grow families for centuries – from the ancient Middle East to the royal families of Spain. While the concept has been around for thousands of years, assisted reproductive technologies have changed the surrogate landscape and expanded the definition of what it means to carry a baby for couples and individuals who are unable to have a baby on their own either biologically or through intention.

From Traditional Surrogacy to Gestational Surrogacy

Traditional surrogacy is when a surrogate carries a baby conceived with her own egg and the sperm of an intended father or sperm donor. In vitro fertilization (IVF) became a viable conception method in the 1970s and paved the way for embryo creation to take place outside of the body. Through this method, traditional surrogates could carry children, but they were still connected to them biologically. 

Up until the 1980s, when the first successful gestational surrogacy took place, traditional surrogacy was the only way for intended parents to create a family with a surrogate. Gestational surrogacy is when a surrogate carries a baby conceived with the egg of an intended mother or egg donor that is fertilized with the sperm of an intended father or sperm donor. Because the children born were not biologically related to the surrogate using this method, this led to situations with less emotional struggle. 

Monumental Milestones

  • 1976: First formal legal surrogacy agreement in the U.S.
  • 1978: First “test tube baby” born through IVF
  • 1982: First baby born from an egg donation 
  • 1980: First compensated surrogacy agreement in U.S.
  • 1984-86: “Baby M.” custody battle case regarding a traditional surrogate
  • 1985: First successful gestational surrogacy birth
  • 1990: Calvert v. Johnson case upheld parental rights of intended parents in California
  • 1999-2013: 18,400 babies born from gestational surrogates in the U.S.
  • 2011:s A 61-year-old woman successfully carried her grandchild 

In response to the intense custody battles and surrogacy cases in the 1980s, many politicians and lawyers in the United States began drafting laws and guidelines regarding these procedures. However, not all states were on the same page – and still aren’t today. Laws ranged from outright prohibition of surrogacy contracts to full acceptance of surrogacy. So, it’s important that intended parents and surrogates research surrogacy-friendly states to set themselves up for a successful journey.

Modern-Day Surrogacy

Thanks to gestational surrogacy and advanced assisted reproductive technologies, dreams of starting or growing a family have come true for individuals and couples who once never thought it would be possible to raise their own child. Thousands of children have been born to same-sex couples in the United States, and HIV-positive males are now able to use their own sperm in the surrogacy process. At Growing Generations, we have celebrated the births of nearly 2,000 babies through our surrogacy and egg donation programs.

While no one truly knows what the future holds for surrogacy, we will remain vigilant of the changing medical processes and state and local laws that could affect our intended parents, egg donors and surrogates.

Dr. Kim Bergman

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for Intended Parents, Surrogates and Donors. She is the co-owner of Fertility Counseling Services and Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national Emeritus board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman’s is the author of the upcoming book, Your Future Family: An Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Red Wheel Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. Her two daughters are in college.