Find the answers to the most common questions prospective surrogates have about the surrogacy process.
If you are thinking of becoming a surrogate, you are considering the most incredible gift you can give to another family. But before you get started, it is important to fully understand the commitment and process of surrogacy as you decide whether this is right for you. Below, find answers to common questions for prospective surrogates as you begin your research.
What is surrogacy?
Surrogacy is an agreement in which a surrogate mother becomes pregnant through an embryo transfer, carries a pregnancy for intended parents and is compensated for her services. After the surrogacy, the intended parents assume full parental rights of the child.
What is the difference between traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy?
The primary difference between traditional and gestational surrogacy is the genetic material that is used to create the embryo. In gestational surrogacy, the embryos are created using eggs from the intended mother or donor, and the surrogate has no genetic link to the baby. In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate becomes pregnant using her own eggs through artificial insemination, making her the biological mother of the child she carries.
What are the benefits of being a surrogate?
Women choose to become surrogates for many reasons. In addition to financial compensation, this experience provides surrogate mothers with a deep sense of personal satisfaction knowing they helped another family in the most generous and selfless way possible. Many surrogates also develop close long-term relationships with the families they help create and find a sense of community within the world of surrogacy.
What are the risks of being a surrogate mother?
There are some risks associated with surrogacy, including all of the common medical risks of pregnancy. These risks range from discomfort and mild pregnancy symptoms to more serious implications like loss of fertility. Your surrogacy professional and fertility specialist will ensure you understand all of the risks of surrogacy, which will be outlined in your legal contract prior to beginning the medical surrogacy process. You will be compensated accordingly for any complications that arise during your pregnancy, including bed rest, termination or reduction, and loss of fertility.
In addition, there may be some emotional risks involved. While most surrogates agree that they do not bond as intensely with their surrogate babies as they do their own children, you may experience some difficult feelings of grief or loss following the birth of the baby. It is important to meet with a mental health professional prior to beginning the surrogacy process to ensure you understand the emotional complications that may arise during your surrogate pregnancy. In addition, you may benefit from an agency’s counseling and support services throughout the process to help you address any difficult feelings you may encounter.
Who are intended parents?
Intended parents come from all backgrounds and walks of life and have many different reasons for choosing surrogacy. Some have struggled with infertility or cannot safely carry a pregnancy to term, while others are same-sex couples or hopeful single parents looking to add to their families.
You will have the opportunity to determine what types of intended parents you are comfortable working with, and you can review potential matches and get to know them before agreeing to move forward with a surrogacy contract.
How can I find intended parents?
It is possible to find intended parents by advertising and networking on your own, but most prospective surrogates choose to use an agency’s matching services to find the right fit. The agency will ask you about your surrogacy goals and preferences for intended parents, then present you with profiles of prospective intended parents whose wants and needs match your own. You will have the opportunity to review each other’s profiles and possibly get to know each other better through phone calls or meetings. When both parties are comfortable moving forward, you will be officially matched with your intended parents.
Can I work with intended parents I already know?
Yes. Many surrogates choose to carry a pregnancy for a close friend or family member. This is known as identified surrogacy. However, it is important to consider the potential implications surrogacy may have on your relationship with the intended parents. You may want to look into an agency’s support and contact mediation services to help prevent any potential tension that could arise during the surrogacy process.
How much contact will I have with the prospective parents?
It is up to you and the intended parents to decide how much contact you would like to share during and after the surrogacy process. Most intended parents want to receive regular updates throughout the pregnancy, and some surrogates choose to invite the intended parents to key appointments throughout the process. Many surrogates and intended parents establish an ongoing relationship and maintain contact long after the baby is born. Your desired amount of contact should be addressed during the surrogacy planning and matching process.
Does surrogacy cost me anything?
Any expenses you incur during the surrogacy process will be reimbursed by the intended parents through a monthly allowance. In addition, if you are pursuing commercial surrogacy, you will receive base compensation for your time and sacrifices made throughout the pregnancy.
How much do surrogates make?
Surrogate compensation can vary significantly based on a number of factors, including your surrogacy professional, your experience with surrogacy, your state of residence, insurance coverage, the course of your pregnancy and more. On average, first-time surrogates receive base compensation starting at $25,000, while experienced surrogates often start at $30,000. You may receive additional compensation for any mock or canceled cycles, invasive procedures, carrying multiples, and other medical procedures or complications you encounter throughout your pregnancy.
Compensation and a payment schedule will be discussed ahead of the embryo transfer. This information will be included in your surrogacy agreement and is legally binding.
What are the requirements to be a surrogate?
To protect your health and the health of the baby, surrogacy agencies ask that their surrogates meet certain requirements. These requirements vary by agency, but most will ask you to meet the following criteria:
- Be within a certain age range
- Have a healthy BMI
- Be a non-smoker and do not use drugs
- Have previous healthy pregnancies with no complications
- Be financially independent (not receiving state assistance)
- Have the ability to travel between appointments
- Have a clean criminal history record (no felony violations)
- Undergo the agency’s screening process
If you meet an agency’s initial surrogate requirements, you will then be asked to complete their screening process. This process also varies by agency, but it will generally include self-disclosed medical, social and drug history information as well as background checks, an in-home assessment, psychological evaluation and medical workup.
This screening process is designed to ensure you are physically and emotionally ready to become a healthy and successful surrogate. Agencies also screen intended parents to ensure they are equally safe to work with and that they are ready to emotionally and financially commit to the surrogacy process.
How long does the surrogacy process take?
The length of your surrogacy journey may vary depending on the professional you choose to work with, your preferences for intended parents and your surrogacy experience, the number of cycles and embryo transfers required to successfully achieve a pregnancy, and any other unforeseen medical or legal complications that may arise during the course of the surrogacy process. In general, you can expect to deliver a surrogate baby 1–2 years after joining a surrogacy agency.
Will I need to travel during the surrogacy process?
Some travel may be required during the initial stages of the surrogacy process as you meet with your surrogacy professional and prospective intended parents. Initial medical procedures, including the embryo transfer, are often performed at an agreed-upon clinic near the intended parents’ home. However, any travel expenses you incur (as well as any lost wages and necessary childcare expenses incurred during your absence) will be covered by the intended parents, and you will likely be able to spend the majority of your pregnancy at home.
How many embryos will be transferred?
The number of embryos that will be transferred will be predetermined and outlined in your surrogacy agreement. Your contract will include information about the number of embryo transfer attempts you will complete and the number of embryos that will be transferred during each attempt. If you are comfortable carrying multiples, two or three embryos may be transferred at a time.
What if I don’t become pregnant?
During each round of IVF, your medical expenses will be paid and you will receive any agreed-upon reimbursements or monthly allowances. However, you will not begin receiving base compensation until after the pregnancy is confirmed and a healthy heartbeat is heard on an ultrasound.
Most surrogacy agencies work with highly successful fertility clinics to achieve a pregnancy, and it is rare for a surrogate not to become pregnant during the agreed-upon number of embryo transfer attempts.
What should I expect during the medical process?
You will begin medical procedures after legal contracts have been signed. You may be required to take fertility medications to help prepare your body for IVF and increase the chances of a successful embryo transfer. During this time, the intended mother or egg donor will also be given fertility medications to help them produce a number of healthy eggs. After the eggs are retrieved, they will be fertilized in a laboratory using the intended father’s or donor’s sperm.
After the embryos have been incubated for a short period (usually a couple of days), you will go to the clinic for the embryo transfer. An agreed-upon number of embryos will be placed in your uterus for implantation. This is usually a relatively quick and painless procedure, but you may be asked to rest for a few days following the transfer. A few weeks later, you will return to the clinic to confirm the pregnancy.
About six weeks after conception, a heartbeat will be confirmed via ultrasound, and you will begin receiving your base compensation. From there, you will continue to receive prenatal care and attend regular checkups as you would with any other pregnancy.
Will I be related to the baby? Will I have parental rights?
The most common form of surrogacy today is gestational surrogacy, in which the surrogate mother has no biological connection to the baby she carries. If you are a gestational surrogate, you will not be related to the baby and will not have parental rights. In most cases, the intended parents will complete a pre-birth order during the pregnancy to legally establish their parental rights before the baby is born.
However, if you are a traditional surrogate, your own eggs will be used to create the embryo and you will be the biological mother of the child you carry. In these scenarios, additional legal steps will need to be taken to terminate your parental rights to the baby.
What happens after the baby is born?
The birth of the baby is one of the most exciting and rewarding steps of the entire surrogacy process. Most surrogates involve the intended parents in the labor and delivery process and celebrate with them as they welcome their new baby into the world. If they haven’t already, the intended parents will assume full parental rights at this point in the process.
You may experience a mix of emotions after the birth, including excitement, pride and satisfaction. However, if you find yourself experiencing any difficult feelings, you may seek counseling and support services from your surrogacy agency.
From there, you will always share an important connection with the intended parents and child. You may choose to maintain an ongoing relationship with the family as the child grows.
What are the first steps to become a surrogate?
If you are ready to begin the surrogacy process or want to know more about becoming a surrogate, reach out to some surrogacy professionals you might like to work with for more information. Once you have found a surrogacy professional that you feel comfortable working with, you can begin the application process. From there, your surrogacy specialist will provide the education and guidance you need as you begin the exciting process of becoming a surrogate mother.
Do you have additional questions about the surrogacy process? Are you interested in starting your own surrogacy journey? Complete our form to request free surrogacy information and be connected with a surrogacy professional, for free and with no obligation.