For many women, surrogacy is a dream that starts early in life. They may have read a story about gestational surrogacy or personally know a surrogate and thought to themselves, “Wow, I want to do that!” Some young women anxiously await the day they turn 18 and are legal adults — finally able to commit to the challenges and rewards of the gestational surrogacy process.
To get more information about what the minimum age to be a surrogate mother is and why there is a minimum age requirement, talk to a surrogacy professional now.
If you are a young woman wanting to be a surrogate, finding out there is a surrogate mother minimum age can be frustrating. If you’re ready to become a surrogate now and accept all of the risks associated with the journey, why can’t you move forward?
Every professional is different, but your local professional can best determine whether you are able to proceed with surrogacy at your age. In the meantime, keep reading to learn some basic information about what the legal age to be a surrogate mother is — and why.
How Old Do You Have to Be to Be a Surrogate Mother?
Every surrogacy professional — surrogacy agency, surrogacy attorney, and fertility clinic — sets a surrogate mother minimum age requirement for all of its gestational carriers. Surrogacy can be a complicated and difficult journey, so surrogacy professionals set their minimum age requirements based on what they’ve determined is the earliest age that a woman can accept these responsibilities.
Many of these professionals set age requirements based on recommendations from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. These are general recommendations established by experts in the field, who have determined the best personal health circumstances for a prospective surrogate. The ASRM states that “carriers must be of legal age and preferably between the ages of 21 and 45.”
Therefore, when you contact surrogacy professionals about how old you must be to be a surrogate, you will often get the same response: 21 years old.
While it may be legal for a woman to enter the surrogacy process at 18, you will be hard-pressed to find a professional who will allow a woman this young to become a gestational carrier. This is for several reasons, which we’ll outline below.
Why is There a Surrogate Mother Minimum Age?
If you want to be a surrogate at a young age, you may wonder why there even is a minimum age to be a surrogate mother. Why can’t women who find their own intended parents complete the surrogacy process once they are 18?
There are a few reasons why surrogacy professionals tend to set a surrogate mother minimum age at 21 years old. It’s all based on experience with previous surrogacies and the knowledge of what will make a journey most successful. Surrogacy professionals and intended parents look for certain qualities in prospective surrogates, and those often can’t be found before age 21.
Of course, every surrogate’s situation and every professional’s preferences are different, but here are a few reasons why you have to be at least 21 years old to be a gestational carrier:
- Emotional maturity: Becoming a surrogate is a life-changing journey, and it’s a decision that a woman can only make after she has seriously considered the pros and cons Unfortunately, if you are in your late teens or even early 20s, your brain is still developing, and you have a lot going on in your life. A young woman at this age is typically moving from family life to independence, and there are a lot of things she has to think about. Being a gestational carrier is just adding fire to the flame. The majority of young women simply do not have the emotional or practical maturity to take on the responsibilities of gestational surrogacy yet.
- Physical maturity: At the same time, a young woman’s body is still developing. It’s not uncommon for a woman’s menstrual cycle to not regulate itself until her 20s, when her hormone levels become more regular. And, of course, don’t forget all the changes that a woman’s body can undergo in her early and late teens, as well. The maturing of a woman’s body can play a big role in how safely she can carry a pregnancy and withstand the other physical trials of being a gestational carrier.
- Previous pregnancy: One of the biggest reasons behind surrogacy professionals setting surrogate mother minimum age requirements is because of the most important surrogate requirement — having had a successful previous pregnancy and be raising a child in their own home. The current median age at which women have their first pregnancy in the U.S. is age 26. While it’s not unheard of for women to be raising biological children by age 21, it is certainly rarer. Therefore, it’s unlikely that a woman under the age of 21 wanting to be a surrogate has been pregnant before and is raising a child of her own. Even if a woman has had a child by age 21, she should consider the risk of losing her fertility during the surrogacy process — would she be satisfied with the number of children she already has? What would happen if she were to want more children later in life?
Now you know a bit more about age requirements in gestational surrogacy. But, if you’re still asking, “How old do you have to be to be surrogate mother — and why can’t I be a surrogate earlier than 21?” we encourage you to speak with a local surrogacy professional. A surrogacy professional can answer all of your questions and get you the information you need to become a gestational surrogate — once you’re old enough to do so.