Surrogacy is described as a situation where a woman, the surrogate mother, agrees to relinquish the rights to a baby she bears for a contracted third party. Often times the baby she carries might be genetically related to her, but just as often the child might not be. When the baby is not biologically the surrogate mothers, then she is what is called a gestational carrier. The gestational carrier will have been implanted with an embryo that is not comprised of her genetic material.
The straight method, or traditional surrogacy, is the most popular form of surrogacy. Here the surrogate is carrying her own child and then agrees to give it up to the third party. The baby is conceived knowing that the mother will give up her parental rights to another party which is usually the biological father and his partner. Conception of this baby is done via artificial insemination using fresh or frozen sperm. Sometimes the woman just takes a syringe of the fresh sperm and immediately inserts it to achieve fertilization and other times the fertilization is done at a doctors office via IUI or ICI. It is not normal for the surrogate mother and biological father to have intercourse. That would make an already complicated situation into an unmanageable one. A sperm donor is also sometimes used when the party paying for the surrogacy are both female, a single woman or a male with fertility issues.
Gestational surrogacy is where a woman is implanted with an embryo that she does not contribute to genetically. The child is not her biological child. The surrogate in this situation is called the "gestational carrier" and in this case the woman as agreed to relinquish the rights to its biological parents. In many countries, the laws of surrogacy are complicated at best, illegal at worse and in most places the woman who actually births the child is considered its legal mother, regardless if she shares any genetics with the baby. This type of surrogacy might also use an egg, sperm or embryo donor from totally unrelated persons to the intended parents.
There are two other types of surrogacies to consider: altruistic and commercial. An altruistic surrogacy is where the surrogate mother receives zero money or compensation to carry the child for someone else. The surrogate's medical and legal expenses may be paid, but she receives no additional compensation on top of that for the role she plays. A commercial surrogacy is when the mother is compensated for her role. She is paid to have the child on top of her other expenses being paid for.
Fertility treatments alone are not cheap and having a surrogate mother is even more expensive. In the United States the average surrogacy is estimated between $30,000 and $60,000. For a commercial surrogacy, the payment to the surrogate mother alone is usually between $10,000 and $30,000 with an average of $15,000. The money is normally deposited within 5 days of a confirmed pregnancy. The other monies are for fertility clinics, lawyers and medical expenses incurred during the process.