Becoming a surrogate is a unique journey for each woman who decides to explore this option. Each journey will be different, but all must start with education and understanding what comes with being a surrogate and what types of journeys are available. For example, you will need to choose between traditional or gestational, independent or agency supported, altruistic or paid, and the intended parents might be known to you or new acquaintances. Deciding what type of journey you want to pursue is only the beginning. Let’s explore the steps in becoming a surrogate.
Step 1: Decide to be a surrogate and what type of journey you want
Any woman can decide she wants to be a surrogate, but not everyone can qualify. It is important to determine what type of surrogacy is best for you. Let’s look briefly at each type of journey.
Traditional or Gestational Carrier
The very first question a potential surrogate needs to ask herself is if she intends to be a traditional surrogate or gestational carrier.
A traditional surrogate is one who provides the egg and the uterus for the intended parents. This means that the surrogate cannot be related by blood to the sperm donor. She can be related to the intended mother or non-biological father, though. Many states and agencies limit traditional surrogacies, though, because of historical lawsuits that have occurred when traditional surrogates do not give up custody of the baby at birth.
The alternative to traditional surrogacy is gestational surrogacy. Gestational carriers or gestational surrogates are only the hosts for the growing baby. The carrier is not the biological mother of the baby, as her eggs are not used to create the embryo.
Independent or Agency Supported Surrogacy
The next decision to make is whether to be an independent or agency supported surrogate.
There are benefits to independent surrogacy such as the ability to advocate for fees or reimbursements not normally covered under agency plans or to have a closer relationship with the prospective parents because there is not an intermediary between the surrogate and parents.
On the other hand, an agency supported surrogacy may be preferred by surrogates who want someone else to be their advocate should a problem arise. This choice is entirely personal and could change for each journey. Some surrogates are independent for some journeys, but they decide on agency support for other journeys.
Altruistic or Paid Journeys
Some locations prohibit paid surrogate journeys. Canada, for instance, currently does not allow a surrogate to be paid above normal pregnancy-related expenses. Other places, such as most of the US states permitting surrogacy, will allow the surrogate to charge a fee for surrogacy beyond pregnancy expenses.
The choice to be a surrogate is always somewhat altruistic as the journey is a difficult one that not many women can handle. It takes a courageous woman to do this for another person. That said, charging a fee is permitted in much of the US and the surrogate should decide if she wishes to do so before beginning the journey.
Known or Unknown Intended Parents
This, too, is a personal choice but is limited to whether or not you know someone seeking a surrogate currently. If you are interested in surrogacy, often you will not already know the intended parents, but some situations arise in which you may already have a relationship. For example, you may choose to carry a child for a friend or family member.
Step 2: Health Check and Meet Surrogate Requirements
In addition to deciding that surrogacy is right for you, you also need to be sure that your body is healthy enough for the medical procedures that accompany IVF and carrying someone else’s child. Since one of the requirements of being a surrogate is at least one previous healthy pregnancy, women already know what carrying a child can mean. However, not all mothers are good potential candidates for subsequent pregnancies and some requirements need to be fulfilled. New health concerns and developments can be factors. A visit to your doctor and research into the requirements for the agency representing you will benefit you before beginning the journey.
Step 3: Locate Intended Parents
Find an agency or website that you are comfortable using to market your services.
Some websites, such as My Surrogate Mom, offer classified ad services that can help intended parents and surrogates locate agencies that might meet their needs. Independent sites can often offer unbiased information on good agencies or services that are helpful to both prospective surrogates and intended parents.
Before moving to the next step and completing the medical and psychological screenings, it is important that all parties discuss their expectations to ensure that they are a good match. Once all parties are in agreement, the next step can begin.
Step 4: Complete Medical, Psychological, and Other Screenings
Completing necessary screenings will not only help the intended parents and agencies develop informed decisions, but this will also prevent potential surrogates from transmitting unknown health conditions to the baby. This will prevent those concerns from rising later.
Surrogates also need to be sure that they are emotionally ready for this journey. Pregnancy is difficult for anyone, and carrying someone else’s baby can be more stressful.
Surrogates and intended parents should know that this is not a perfect science, though, and sometimes complications or genetic differences occur even in optimal conditions.
Step 5: Sign the Surrogacy Contract
Once all testing and screening are completed, a contract should be drafted and signed. For this phase, it is important that both the surrogate and the intended parents have their own legal representation to ensure that they get independent legal advice.
Step 6: Begin Preparing for Transfer
Surrogates will begin the journey to being someone’s gestational carrier. She will prepare her body with hormones for either artificial insemination or invitro-fertilization. This is the final step of preparation before becoming pregnant.
Becoming a surrogate is an incredible decision to make. Intended parents throughout the world are seeking the right surrogate as you read this. It is an act of love for others that compels women to do this for someone else. While you may be compensated, your body and mind will be affected throughout this process. If you already have children, you know that pregnancy is no simple feat. You may enjoy the feeling of being pregnant or the feeling of helping someone else, but you know that it is not always easy. For this fact alone, it is a noble choice to consider this journey.