You’ve probably seen the ads: a happily pregnant, glowing surrogate planting flowers in a sun-drenched garden while puppies wrestle adorably in the grass beside her. While advertisements, videos and social media always portray those sorts of idyllic conditions and circumstances, that isn’t exactly a full accounting of the surrogacy journey. The reality is that pregnancy is challenging even when it’s with our own children and there are no complications. Surrogacy adds a number of additional layers to the immediate challenges of pregnancy: lots more people are involved, e.g., the agency, the IVF clinic, mental health professionals, attorneys and most importantly (and often most complicated), the intended parents.
Yes – she is doing an amazing thing for others – but there is an even more salient set of reasons for why surrogates are paid so generously. It’s because the expectation is that they will always be available to make appointments, to keep everyone updated, to take daily medications for months at a time, to make the intended parents feel safe that they chose the right person to carry their baby, etc. It all falls on the surrogate’s shoulders. It’s not “just” getting pregnant. There is so much more to the equation, even before the actual pregnancy part.
Before a surrogate can even become part of the journey, she will have to provide all of her previous pregnancy and birth records. She will need to get a current pap smear, a thorough physical examination and a referral from her own doctor that she is a good candidate for another pregnancy. She will have to undergo a psychological evaluation, as well as submitting to background checks and evaluations for her spouse or live-in partner and all other adults that share her home. She will need to be pre-approved by the IVF clinic as a good candidate for surrogacy, then go through a series of additional FDA-required tests before she can even be approved for an embryo transfer. Then, after all of this, she will need to meet with an attorney to go over all of the legal expectations of the journey, as well as sign off on the normal associated risks of pregnancy, including but not limited to loss of reproductive capacity, loss of organ(s) and even, although exceptionally rare, death.
Once a surrogate begins her journey there are the daily injection medications that are required for nearly 3 months. Then the regular OB appointments until birth. And let’s not forget that the actual experience of giving birth isn’t exactly a walk in the park either.
Luckily there are agencies like AFS to help surrogates along the way. Agencies support a surrogate from the very beginning of the process and are with them every step of the way. The surrogate coordinator will help with medical appointments, supporting her during medications and be available for any and all questions.
All that so say, there is a very good reason a surrogate is being paid for her time, efforts and assumption of risk. It’s definitely not for everybody – so knowing the real challenges beforehand can help determine if it’s right for you.
If you are considering becoming a surrogate or have questions regarding the surrogacy eligibility or process please contact us today to start the conversation.