Becoming a Surrogate / Gestational Carrier
Your commitment to helping intended parents build a family is generous and heroic. Gestational surrogacy is a life-changing experience for everyone involved. As a gestational surrogate, you will be helping someone unable to safely carry a pregnancy to term; such as couples who have struggled with infertility, medical conditions, or same-sex couples and single parents.
If you’re ready to start this journey, you should know what it means to become a surrogate and the steps involved.
Choosing the right surrogacy agency
You need to be fully informed to have the best possible surrogacy experience for yourself. That starts with choosing an agency that’s right for you. You will want to work with an agency who is passionate about the process and is invested in being there with you every step of the way. Several agencies, such as All Families Surrogacy, are owned and operated by women who are former gestational carriers. To find the agency that is right for you, read reviews, talk to the agency staff members directly and look for a team you can form a bond with. Remember, this agency will be responsible for helping you outline your goals, creating a successful plan for your journey and providing the support you will need.
After selecting an agency, you will need to meet the agency’s qualifications and pass its screening requirements. For example, at All Families Surrogacy, we require gestational surrogates to be a U.S. citizens between the ages of 21 to 40, have a healthy BMI of 35 or less, have given birth to at least one child with no complications, live in a surrogacy-friendly state and have the support of your spouse/partner, amongst other criteria.
Once you meet the general qualifications, you can proceed with the screening process. The initial application gives us a general profile of you and your family, your lifestyle and personal interests, reasons for pursuing surrogacy and medical history.
You and anyone age 18+ living in your home must pass a criminal background check and possibly with a social worker for an in-home assessment. Additionally, you’ll meet with a mental health care professional to ensure you are psychologically and emotionally ready to be a surrogate.
Medical screening is also part of the screening process since it is the core of a successful surrogacy. It involves physical and lab tests to screen for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), viruses and infections, drug use and an ultrasound to determine the health of your uterus. Your spouse or partner will also need to be screened for STDs and drug use as well.
Matching surrogates and intended parents
Sharing the same values and interests as the intended parents is key to making this an enjoyable experience. The right match will help make being a surrogate a smooth process. That’s why it’s important to work with an agency that understands you and what it means to be a gestational carrier.
Using your profile, your agency will ensure you are presented with profiles of potential intended parents who meet your criteria and preferences. You will always get to choose who you match with, and the intended parents will get to choose you as well. During this phase, you will meet the intended parents in person or through video chat and determine if this is the right match for you. In the end, our hope is that your match feels like an extended part of the family.
Before any medical procedures begin, all parties must agree to compensation, risks, responsibilities and relinquishment of the child. All of this information and much more will be covered in your surrogacy contract. You and the intended parents will each have your own attorney to represent you during this process. Your agency will recommend an attorney to you that is experienced with surrogacy cases in your state.
Depending on your state’s laws, the process for gestational surrogacy may vary. Surrogacy is not legal in every state in the U.S., so you’ll need to work with experienced legal counsel in reproductive rights. When everyone agrees to the terms, you will then sign the contract. At that point, the intended parents will fund an escrow account for your surrogacy expenses, and you will begin to prepare for the embryo transfer.
Creating an embryo and prenatal care
Once your surrogacy contract is signed, the fertility clinic will proceed with planning the embryo transfer. The clinic will issue a medication calendar to you, which contains all of the details of your required fertility treatments, blood tests, hormones and ultrasounds to prepare you for the embryo transfer. This calendar typically covers a period of about 6 weeks leading up to the transfer date.
The eggs and sperm of the embryo may be genetically related to both parents or can be a donor egg/sperm fertilized with the intended father’s sperm or intended mother’s eggs. It’s also possible the embryo was created using donor eggs and/or donor sperm.
Approximately 10 days after the embryo transfer, you will have a blood test to confirm the pregnancy. Once a healthy pregnancy is confirmed, you will be treated by the fertility until approximately 10 weeks gestation, at which time you will be released to your regular OB to receive prenatal care for the remainder of the pregnancy.
Throughout the pregnancy, you and the intended parents will also communicate regularly. They may even want to be at doctor’s appointments or check in for other events, depending on your level of comfortability. It’s important for everyone involved to experience the joys of the pregnancy with you. Your agency will assist with any communication or coordination that is needed during the pregnancy, in addition to handling all of the administrative and financial aspects of the journey.
There’s a lot to consider when becoming a surrogate, but that’s what we’re here. We can answer all of your questions throughout the entire process, including what happens after giving birth. Learn more about our team to see how we can support you.