Many women grow up with the assumption they can have a child whenever they choose to, but for some, it's not quite that easy. Thankfully there are resources available for women who struggle with fertility issues, and surrogacy is one of those options.
Thanks to celebrities such as Andy Cohen, Gabrielle Union, Sarah Jessica Parker, Neil Patrick Harris, and Kim Kardashian, who have all publicly shared their surrogacy journey, more families are learning about how amazing surrogacy can be. It's also encouraging many women to become surrogates to give an individual or couple who may otherwise not be able to have a child of their own the chance to become parents. Being a surrogate can be a wonderful experience for the right woman, but it's important you know what to expect to make a fully informed decision.
Types Of Surrogacy
There are two different kinds of surrogacy that a potential surrogate mother can choose to participate in; traditional and gestational. Traditional surrogacy means that the surrogate mother is also the biological mother of the child she is carrying, Surrogate.com writes. Her egg is fertilized using "intrauterine insemination." A gestational carrier has no biological relationship to the child she is carrying. A fertilized embryo is implanted in the surrogate and she carries the pregnancy to term.
Surrogacy Health Requirements
There are a number of different agencies women who want to become surrogates can use to help them find the right family to help, and most reputable agencies have certain health guidelines potential surrogates must adhere to. Creative Family Connections requires gestational surrogate mothers to be between the ages of 21 and 43 and have had at least one healthy pregnancy, but not more than five before becoming a surrogate. They also require potential surrogates to have had no more than 2 c-sections, be financially stable, and have a BMI of 35 or below.
ConceiveAbilities has a similar set of requirements with a slightly lower age maximum of 39-years-old, a lower BMI of between 18 and 32, and they also require surrogates to be non-smokers in a non-smoking home with no history of clinical mental illness. They also look for potential surrogates to be financially stable.
Obviously, the physical and mental health and well being of the surrogate mother is of crucial importance as they are going to be required to carry a child for an individual or couple, and the health of both mother and baby are of utmost importance.
Surrogacy Legal Requirements
Any woman who chooses to become a surrogate needs to work with the prospective parents to create a legal contract between the two parties to ensure that every legal factor has been covered. There are three different areas that surrogate contracts need to cover including "the surrogacy contract, the pre-birth order, and, in some cases, adoption or other post-birth legal procedures," Surrogate.com writes.
The surrogacy contract will detail any compensation and financial reimbursement to the surrogate mother as well as any social and physical requirements placed on the surrogate. This can include abstaining from alcohol or tobacco use and the requirement of the intended parents to be advised of all doctors appointments and regular check-ups.
An experienced surrogacy attorney is suggested for anyone who wants to enter into a surrogate agreement to ensure all parties are properly protected. Surrogacy laws vary by state, and there is no federal surrogacy law, so it's important to know what your legal rights are depending on where you live. Once a surrogacy contract is in place, a pre-birth order needs to created to ensure that the intended parents are named as the baby's legal parents at birth. This is effected by each individual state's surrogacy laws, which is why having an experienced lawyer to help and using a reputable agency is important.
In cases of traditional surrogacy, further legal steps may need to be taken after childbirth for the non-biological parent to adopt the child. "If the intended parents completed an embryo adoption and neither of them is biologically related to the child, a full adoption is required by both parties," Surrogate.com writes.
How To Choose
Choosing to become a surrogate mother is a huge decision that shouldn't be taken lightly. If you do decide to become a surrogate, there are many steps you must take before it can actually happen. If you work with a surrogacy agency, there will be mental and physical screening you will have to undergo before you are accepted as a surrogate. Once you are approved, you will have to decide if you are interested in becoming a traditional surrogate, gestational surrogate or both. You will have to decide if you want to work with a surrogate agency or just a surrogacy attorney. Surrogate.com suggests doing thorough research on both to ensure you are choosing the right professional for your wants and needs.
You will then want to create a surrogacy plan for yourself that will help guide you through the entire process. You will need to consider ahead of time whether you are willing to carry multiples, what kind of intended parents you want to work with and other decisions you will be forced to make throughout the pregnancy. It is also important to realize that deciding to become a surrogate doesn't mean it will happen right away and it can often mean long waiting times to find the right match of surrogate and intended parents.
Most women choose to become surrogates because they truly want to help another person or couple become parents. The desire to give to someone else the gift of life is really the biggest motivating factor when deciding to become a surrogate or not. Of course, for many women, the financial gain of becoming a surrogate is important too. Surrogates sacrifice much of their lives and their body to give another person or couple a child, so it's not unfair to expect they are compensated.
Surrogate.com states that the average compensation for a surrogate mother is $25,000, however that amount differs based on each individual case and surrogacy agency. Fees related to the surrogacy are all covered by the intended parents and surrogate mothers which can often include maternity clothes, vitamins, and anything else related to the pregnancy.
Choosing to become a surrogate is a big decision and one that should be thoroughly researched before making. Finding a reputable agency and legal professionals to work with can help guide you and answer any questions you may have.