Is Surrogacy Right for Me? : Becoming a Surrogate Mother
Surrogacy has become a popular option for childless couples to build a family. Unlike adoption, surrogacy affords couples to have a baby that is genetically linked to them. If you are considering becoming a surrogate mother, there are requirements and processes that you need to carefully consider before going thru with it.
Remember that surrogacy involves life: the life of the baby you will be carrying and your own. It is highly important to do your research and learn as much as you can. Surrogacy deals with a lot of complex situations that involve emotions, values, relationships and your well being.
Requirements vary depending on the surrogacy agency that handles your case. There are general requirements which will be discussed in this section according to agencies around the US. Take into consideration that all agencies have different requirements and the ones mentioned in this article only includes the general requirements of surrogate mothers.
Your age should be between 21- 40
Most IVF clinics require surrogate mothers to be at least 21 years old and 38 at most.
You have given birth and raising that child
This shows that a woman is healthy and is capable of becoming a surrogate mother. This established her fertility which shows your body is capable of and healthy for pregnancy. IVF clinics will require your OBGYN records in order to prove that you have not gone thru an uncomplicated pregnancy. Raising your own child shows you are stable and dependable to carry out the role of a surrogate mother.
Financial stability is important for agencies because it shows your intent to become a surrogate mother is not solely because of the funds you’ll receive. This means that you should be financially sound and are not on any kind of financial assistance from the government.
BMI between 18-34
This is required by IVF clinics which enforce it strictly to ensure you are within the boundaries of the normal BMI. If you do not fall into this category, you may develop diabetes in the process and may put yourself and the pregnancy at risk.
Non-smoker living in a non-smoking home
When a person smokes, it narrows down the blood vessels throughout your body including the umbilical cord which connects to the baby. Smoking during pregnancy also causes stillbirth, low birth weight and premature delivery.
No history of criminal activity
A surrogate mother needs to live a stable and healthy lifestyle, one that does not involve any criminal activities. You will be carrying the child of another couple, and having a delinquent record does not look so appealing and trust worthy to intended parents.
No history of clinical mental illness
The surrogacy journey is a highly emotional process that demands a stable mind. The rule is always mind over heart especially when making decisions with raging hormones. Agencies and intended parents should be assured that you are able to handle giving the baby to the other couple after birth and understand fully the role you play as the gestational carrier.
Once you pass all the requirements of becoming a surrogate mother, you and sometimes your partner will be asked to go thru psychological evaluation. This ensures all parties that you have honest intentions about helping another couple realize their dream of having a child.
You will be asked to agree to a home visit where everyone living in that home, including pets, are present. This shows the agency the kind of lifestyle you are accustomed to and if you are fit to become a surrogate mother. You should be able to live a healthy lifestyle in a healthy environment.
You will be assigned your own legal representation by the surrogacy agency that you work with. Your lawyer will draft the agreement and advise you of your rights about the entire process including requirements from the intended parents.
After all consents are signed, you will undergo IVF (in vitro fertilization) and embryo transfer at an IVF clinic with a licensed reproductive endocrinologist present. You will have the right to choose your own IVF clinic and OB GYN.
During pregnancy you will be advised to take hormones to encourage your body to work as in the state of natural pregnancy. You will carry the baby for 9 months with the support of your love ones. The interaction of you and the intended parents depend on the agreement you initially sign up for.
Before your due date, the surrogacy agency will prepare all legal documents for the child’s birth certificate. The process varies by state depending on the surrogacy laws it follows. The agency will also call the hospital to advise them of the arrangement before you come in for the birthing process.
After birth, depending on the state laws on surrogacy, you will be relinquishing your rights as the birth mother and giving the baby to the intended parents.
Women taking on the surrogate mother role will be compensated for their time, effort and costs incurred during the pregnancy journey. You will also be eligible for reimbursed compensation involving lost wages, medical co-pays, maternity clothing, legal representation and other fees incurred involving the surrogacy process.
Over all compensation is between 30,000 USD to 50,000 USD. The number grows with how many times you’ve had a surrogate birth.
Is Surrogacy Right for Me? : The Intended Parents
If you’re thinking about building your own family in a non traditional way, surrogacy is one of the answers. There are different reasons intended parents sign up for surrogacy: infertility, in a same sex marriage or to be a single parent. Surrogacy’s main objective is simple: bring joy to aspiring parents and help build a family.
Having a baby through the surrogacy process is a big step to realizing your dream of having a child. It gives you an option to have a child with your own genes even if you or your partner do not carry the child.
Deciding if Surrogacy is Right for You
It would be helpful to research and know more about the process when you decide to take on the surrogacy journey.
Most couples who consider surrogacy have experienced failed fertility treatments repeatedly and find getting pregnant to be challenging. This may be caused by damaged sperm, chromosomal abnormalities, damage to the fallopian tubes, and other reproductive health problems.
Same Sex Adoption and Surrogacy
Today, with the legalization of same sex marriage, the demand for surrogacy has increased. This is because couples get the opportunity to raise a child from the infancy stage while having a genetic link from one of the partners. Unlike surrogacy, there is only a little chance at adopting an infant.
Adoption takes a complicated process, often long and unsure. Some couples find it rewarding to offer an abandoned child a home. Couples wanting to adopt go thru several processes that screen their overall capability of adopting a child. And not all states support same sex marriages which permits only one person to adopt. When adopting over 40, couples who are granted adoption rights can only adopt children over 6 years of age.
The Surrogacy Process
The Surrogacy process starts right when you’re considering taking the journey. This means that you have to do your research and find out how it will affect and benefit you. Having a child naturally often times can be unplanned and may come as a surprise. While 49% of pregnancies in the US are unplanned, deciding to have a child thru surrogacy needs careful preparation.
The first thing you need to consider is finding a reputable and experienced surrogacy agency in your area. This is important because it saves you time and cost when looking for necessary resources. An experienced surrogacy agency helps you find a surrogate mother that shares your beliefs about childbirth. They also assist you to look for egg or sperm donors if you don’t have one yet.
The agency also helps you draft out agreements with your own legal representative and educates you about the entire process. During the birthing process, they assist the surrogate mother with hospital arrangements and processing the child’s birth certificate. They also help assign legal representation to the surrogate mother and egg/ sperm donors. When agreements are met, consents are signed by all parties involved.
When you are matched with a surrogate mother, she undergoes further tests to make sure she is healthy to carry your baby. This includes lab tests and a psychological exam. When she passes all these tests, she is prescribed hormones to prepare her body for pregnancy.
The IVF (in vitro fertilization) process follows which is facilitated in an IVF clinic by a licensed reproductive endocrinologist. The retrieval of the egg is performed in the IVF clinic which takes under 10 minutes. The eggs are fertilized with the sperm in a dish where embryos develop and ready for transfer.
After the IVF is completed, the surrogate mother needs to come in for the embryo transfer. Multiple embryos are produced during the IVF and you have the option to do a single embryo transfer or multiple embryo.
Pregnancy and Childbirth
After the surrogate mother successfully conceives, you will have the opportunity to check in with her. The interaction between both parties depends on the agreements drafted at the beginning of the contract. It is important to offer as much support and warmth to the surrogate mother carrying your child.
Once she is due to give birth, the surrogacy agency takes care of the necessary paperwork for the hospitalization. When you are in a surrogacy friendly state, you will need to process a pre birth order to be granted parentage rights to the child after delivery.
Risks and Expectations
COST: Surrogacy cost an average of 100,000 to 150,000. This covers egg donation, IVF, legal work, insurance and surrogate mother compensation.
PREGNANCY: During a multiple embryo transfer, this often results in twins. As more couples are opting for single embryo transfers, you might also consider doing the same. But you have to consider that one of the reasons that surrogacy is expensive is because of the times you have to repeat the process. Some transfers are not successful the first time. You have to be prepared for this.
There are also risks that involve chromosomal defect in an embryo which can sometimes only be detected during pregnancy. Some couples are not ready for this kind of complication and would opt for an abortion. This is one of the risks you need to think about before drafting your agreement so that your surrogacy agency can find you a surrogate mother who will match your requirement and agree to the procedure.
Surrogacy is a highly emotional process. No matter how professional each parties are, pregnancy and childbirth tugs at the emotional core. It is important to provide a sense of sensitivity and respect at all times. Although it calls for emotions, decisions should be approached with your mind over your heart.