Have you ever considered becoming a surrogate? Learn about the surrogacy process step-by-step and decide if surrogacy is right for you.
Becoming a surrogate mother is a unique, rewarding experience. When you choose to start a surrogacy journey, you are helping some lucky intended parents bring their child into the world and make their parenthood dream come true.
If you are considering giving the gift of parenthood as a surrogate, the first two questions that will pop up in your mind are “Why should I be a surrogate?” and “How do I become a surrogate mother?”
Here you will find answers to the common questions prospective surrogates have about the surrogacy process when they begin their research.
Why Become a Surrogate
Women choose to become a gestational or traditional carrier for different reasons. Some of them have a personal connection to infertility problems and believe it would be amazing to help people become parents. Others love being pregnant, but they feel their family is complete. There are also women who simply want to give one of the greatest gifts anyone can ever give, and there are those who decide to follow this path because it’s an extraordinary teaching opportunity for their own children.
Whatever your reason or motivation for being a surrogate mother, you need to seriously consider if surrogacy is right for you before moving forward. Being a gestational or traditional carrier is a life-changing decision that will affect not only you but also your family and the hopeful intended parents. Therefore, you need to be 100% committed to the process and consider all potential issues before deciding to move forward.
It’s important that you educate yourself with as much information as you can, speak with an attorney specializing in third-party reproduction to learn about surrogacy laws in your state or province and get in contact with a reputable professional to better understand the different steps of the process. There are also many helpful resources online, and you also can speak with former surrogates to learn about their life-changing experiences.
Find out more about the surrogacy process in this video.
Being a surrogate mother requires a generous heart. There are many challenges involved, so it is important to cautiously consider all of them before deciding that surrogacy is the right option for you.
Is Surrogacy Right for You
In this early stage of the surrogacy process, you need to understand if surrogacy is right for you because this journey can be a very challenging one, and you need to be ready.
There are several topics you should carefully and thoughtfully consider before deciding to become a gestational or traditional carrier.
- Why do you want to become a gestational or traditional carrier?
- What are your personal motivations?
- Are you ready to fully commit to the surrogacy process?
- Do you meet the surrogate mother requirements? Are you in good physical health? Do you have a body mass index (BMI) between 19 and 35 (ideally, lower than 33)? A BMI lower than 19 or above 35 increases the time to conception, which means energy, time, and emotional exhaustion for you and the IPs. Calculate your BMI
- Do you have any health problems that might hamper you from carrying a healthy baby to term?
- Did you have any major complications from previous pregnancies and deliveries?
- Is it easy for you to conceive? Have you ever received fertility treatment in an effort to become pregnant?
- Do you smoke, you use illegal drugs, or drink alcohol?
Your Support Network
- Do you have a strong support system (husband, family and friends)?
- If you are married, does your husband support your decision to start this journey?
- If you are not married, do you have a person who will support you during the surrogacy journey?
- Do your children, if they are old enough to understand surrogacy, support you?
- How will you feel if your decision to pursue surrogacy is criticized by other people?
- Do you live in a surrogacy-friendly country, state, or province?
- Are you confident that you will be able to give away a child that you will bear for nine months?
- If you are pursuing traditional surrogacy, you will be genetically linked with the baby. Do you think you would be able to give up the baby?
- Would there be any problems within your marriage or relationship caused by the surrogacy process?
- Would your family and friends agree with your decision to pursue surrogacy?
Your Medical Concerns
- Would you be ready for the medically invasive techniques, injections, and repeated bloodwork?
- Would you be willing to carry twins or triplets?
- How would you feel if bed rest were recommended by your doctor?
Your Ethical Concerns
- If it were found out that the baby you were carrying had a physical defect, how would you feel about terminating the pregnancy? Would you be willing to have an abortion if the intended parents requested so?
- If you become pregnant with multiples, how would you feel about selective reduction?
- What if the intended parents get divorced during the process?
Pursuing surrogacy can sometimes be overwhelming. However, many women will accept these challenges and believe the pros far outweigh the cons of being a traditional or gestational carrier.
How to Become a Surrogate Mother
Once you decide to commit to surrogacy, it is important to set your goals and requirements for this journey and think about the professionals you will need.
One of the first decisions to make is the type of surrogacy you are interested in: traditional surrogacy or gestational surrogacy. As you probably already know, gestational carriers do not have any genetic connection with the baby they carry. On the contrary, traditional carriers are both gestational carriers and genetic contributors to the baby they will carry. From a legal point of view, gestational surrogacy is less complex due to the absence of a genetic connection between the baby and the surrogate. Therefore, gestational surrogacy is the preferred choice over traditional surrogacy today.
The next step is to decide if you are going to look for prospective parents on your own or use a surrogacy agency to assist you. You may have already decided who your IP’s will be, and you want to help a friend or a family member.
If you chose to work with an agency to find your intended parents, all aspects of the process (matching, medical and psychological screening, legal paperwork, appointments, travel and reimbursements) will normally be managed by the agency, which can be of great support. You can also find intended parents independently through surrogate classifieds.
After potentially finding the intended parents to work with (whether you will pursue surrogacy with an agency or independently), you will need to interview each other to check if you are a good match for the journey. You and your potential intended parents need to be aligned on the major considerations of surrogacy.
It is suggested (if possible) to meet your intended parents (and their family) in person. If you choose to move forward and be a gestational carrier for international intended parents, try to e-meet them through Skype or other online applications. It is important for you to arrange a meeting (or e-meeting via Skype, Facebook messenger or WhatsApp) before a making final decision so that you get to know them and ensure you share the same principles and ideas about surrogacy.
Here are some questions you should ask your potential intended parents before moving forward with a match:
- What are your names?
- How old are you?
- Where are you from?
- Where were you born?
- What is your occupation?
- Where did you meet?
- How long have you been together?
- What is your marital status?
- Do you have any children?
- Do you have any stepchildren?
- What is your educational background?
- How would you describe your personalities?
- What are your hobbies?
- Do you have a faith or religious affiliation?
- How would you describe your place of residence?
- Are your parents alive? If so, how old are they?
- Do you have any siblings? If so, how many do you have and how old are they?
- Is your family aware that you want to become parents through surrogacy? If not, are you considering telling them?
- Are you willing to provide a criminal background check, if requested?
- Have you ever been under psychological care?
- Why are you thinking about surrogacy?
- Have you ever been in a surrogacy process before?
- How long have you been pursuing or researching surrogacy?
- What characteristics are most important to you in a surrogate?
- What type of relationship would you like with your surrogate?
- How involved do you want to be during the pregnancy process? Do you want to attend doctor’s appointments? Would you only like to attend the ultrasounds?
- Do you hope to be present at the birth of your child?
- Would you like to film or photograph the birth?
- Would you want your surrogate to pump breast milk for the baby?
- What amount of contact do you wish to have with the surrogate once your child is born?
- How many embryos do you foresee implanting during each transfer?
- What are your feelings on becoming the parents of twins or triplets?
- Under what conditions would you want to terminate a pregnancy?
- In the event the IVF procedure results in multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets, or more), would you support a selective reduction?
- What are your feelings about abortion if it were found that the baby has congenital defects?
- Would you be willing to have an amniocentesis and/or other invasive diagnostic testing to check for birth defects if such procedures were recommended by the obstetrician?
- Do you have a support system in place for any surrogacy problems you may have during this journey?
- If a cesarean section was recommended, would you agree with the decision of your surrogate mother to include her husband/spouse/partner in the room instead of you (the intended parents)?
- Do you know about the costs related to surrogacy?
- Are you in a comfortable economic position that allows you to support all those costs?
- As a sibling project, would you be interested in starting a new surrogacy journey in the coming years?
What to Expect after the Match
While every surrogacy experience is different, there are some common things you can expect after finding and matching with your IPs.
Before the Pregnancy
After the match and before beginning the medical and psychological screening, you should get in contact with a lawyer specializing in reproductive law. Normally, the legal agreement between you and the intended parents will be signed after your medical screening. All the financial topics of the surrogacy process should be included in the legal agreement.
The medical screening varies depending on the fertility clinic, but it normally includes the following:
- Vaginal ultrasound
- Physical and pap smear
- Blood test and medical instructions regarding the IVF procedure
- Embryo transfer
If you pass your medical screening and psychological assessment, the next step is to start with the IVF cycle and the pregnancy!
During the Pregnancy
During the pregnancy, you will receive prenatal care the same as you would with any other pregnancy. However, a surrogacy pregnancy can be emotionally more challenging than others pregnancies not only for you but also for the intended parents. Here are two things you can do to make your pregnancy easier for everyone involved.
Normalize Your Pregnancy Condition
There will probably be some awkward situations when people ask you about your pregnancy or congratulate you on it. You might not be sure what to say, so it’s important that you prepare in advance how you will address these comments and feel comfortable talking about how your surrogacy journey is going.
Understand that It Is Normal to Have Difficult Feelings
No matter how comfortable you are with this amazing journey, you may have confusing feelings about your pregnancy at times. These feels are due to hormones, so they’re not under your control, and there is nothing you can do about them. If you ever have these hard feelings, it is important to share them with your husband, partner, or friends. Sharing will help you. You can also reach out to online surrogacy support groups or read surrogates blogs, such as the following:
These websites are just a few suggestions from the hundreds available. Each blog has a different perspective on the surrogacy journey, and visiting some of them to get a better understanding of the process will be well worth your time.
After the Pregnancy
Most surrogates are joyful for the intended parents when the baby is born. However, every journey is different, and some women may struggle emotionally—in large part due to the hormones. You have to be prepared for this time of transition and be able to readjust quite quickly. However, there is no shame in reaching out for help if you think you need it.
In this post, we tried to answer some questions about why and how to be a surrogate mother and review all the points you should consider before moving forward. However, every surrogacy will be different for each woman based on her personal experience with pregnancy, her connection with the prospective parents, and preparation she put into their journey. Remember that being a gestational or traditional carrier is a decision that can change your life, and thanks to your generosity and kindness, it can also change the lives of some lucky intended parents forever.
Are you wondering how to become a surrogate mother? If you meet the requirements to be a surrogate and are prepared to commit to the legal and medical procedures, you are ready to join the MySurrogateMom community.