There are many steps to becoming a surrogate, and being an independent gestational carrier should not change most of them. This 10-step guide will walk you through the surrogacy process to help you decide if independent surrogacy is the right choice for you.
The 10 Steps to Becoming an Independent Surrogate
These steps may vary slightly depending on your needs and circumstances, but they are offered as a guide to becoming an independent surrogate.
1- Deciding to Be a Surrogate
This step includes more than just deciding that you want to be a surrogate. Like you are doing now, you need to research the process and make sure that surrogacy is what you want to do. Not only is surrogacy a major time commitment (at least nine months just for carrying the child), but it is also physically and emotionally taxing. You will go through many hormonal changes while carrying the child, so it is important to make sure that this journey is one you can handle.
2- Visit Your Doctor
Once you have decided that becoming a surrogate is something that you are interested in doing, you need to make sure that your body can handle the procedure. Becoming a surrogate is not as easy as simply being implanted with an embryo and suddenly being pregnant. You must prepare your body for carrying a baby, and you must control your cycle and body to do so. Also, you should understand that pregnancies do not always happen the first time an embryo is implanted.
3- Decide What You Will or Will Not Accept
While you will not negotiate contracts or fees until you find intended parents, you will have to think about points of negotiation and what you can allow. For example, if you have beliefs about termination that you will not compromise, be upfront with your intended parents and let them know. For some carriers, they will terminate a pregnancy for reasons of health only. Other carriers may be willing to do what the intended parents desire.
You also need to consider what your base rate will be and what other fees you want to be paid during your journey, as well as how long you will pump breast milk after the birth. These questions may seem odd questions when you do not even have an intended parent in mind, but it’s better to think about them now than at the last minute.
4- Find Intended Parents
While finding intended parents may be easier with an agency, it is not impossible to do independently. There are many websites, social media groups, and independent people who may match intended parents and potential gestational carriers. For example, MySurrogateMom has a classifieds section for egg donors, potential gestational carriers, and intended parents.
Sometimes, fertility clinics may even refer former surrogates to new parents for another journey if she was a good patient in the past.
5- Create a Contract
When creating contracts, make sure that your attorney and the prospective parents’ attorney are different. No one wants a conflict of interest to skew the contract one way or the other.
For independent gestational surrogates, if the intended parents and gestational carrier cannot agree on the terms of the surrogacy, then it is a good to time to find out and part ways before the pregnancy. There’s no shame in that.
Gestational surrogates and intended parents sometimes spend years looking for the right match. Agencies can make this process simpler for some people because they have experience working with these contracts. That is one of the reasons to use an agency.
In Canada, surrogates cannot be paid for carrying a baby. Intended parents can only reimburse surrogates for medical expenses and other pregnancy-related expenses and necessities. That means that surrogacy in Canada must be primarily for altruistic reasons.
6- Complete Any Testing and Exams
Gestational carriers must be in prime physical health. While you will not be contributing genetically, you will be providing a space for safe growth during the nine-month pregnancy. You should be in good physical condition to do so. You do not need to be in perfect health, but you do need to be able to safely carry the baby to term and handle the provided treatments and fertility medications.
7- Begin Preparing Medically for the Transfer
You will need to be ready to be pregnant. You will be prescribed a variety of medications to coordinate your cycle with the egg donor’s cycle or intended mother’s cycle. This medication will ensure that your uterus is prepared for embryo transfer when the time comes, maximizing your chances of a successful pregnancy with only one transfer.
8- Complete the Embryo Transfer
This step is where you will get pregnant with someone else’s child. You will have a specified number of embryos transferred at one time. A few weeks later, you will beta test (a series of pregnancy tests from home marked with the days past implantation) to make sure that you are still pregnant. This two-week waiting period can be some of the toughest time of the entire process. You are committed to carrying a baby, but you do not know if the implantation has worked yet.
9- Experience a Healthy Pregnancy and Delivery
If all goes as planned, you will now be in the midst of a healthy pregnancy and will have a healthy delivery. Chances are that the intended parents will want to be at your medical appointments or will want updates on the appointments immediately after they take place. This journey is theirs, too. You will become familiar with the intended parents on levels you did not imagine.
10- Help a Family Become Whole
Once you have delivered the baby, you will see a family become what they have always desired. This moment can be one of the most rewarding of all of your lives. Cherish this moment.
While this list may grow or rearrange depending on the journey, it is the basic formula for becoming an independent surrogate. Take your time and make your journey what you want it to be.