What to Consider Before Becoming a Surrogate

When fertility problems, health issues, or gender make it difficult or impossible for a couple (or individual) to have a baby, a surrogate can provide the greatest possible gift — a way to welcome a much-desired child into the world.  

For a surrogate, making the choice to carry and give birth to another couple’s baby can be an incredibly rewarding experience that comes with a deep sense of joy, accomplishment, and pride.

But surrogacy is also a major responsibility that requires complete devotion — nurturing a developing baby for nine months and going through labor and childbirth to help someone else fulfill their family dreams is a physical and emotional endeavor that demands a substantial amount of time, energy, and fortitude.     

Whether a close friend or family member asked you carry their baby or you’re thinking about becoming a surrogate for personal reasons, it’s important to educate yourself about the process and understand what’s required before you make the commitment. Here are some of the most important things to consider.

Surrogacy basics

To start with, you should know that there are two distinct types of surrogacy:

Traditional surrogacy

A traditional surrogate is both the egg donor and the gestational carrier for someone else’s baby. For single men and same-sex male couples in particular, traditional surrogacy is often the most straightforward and cost-effective way to start or build a family, because it usually only requires intrauterine insemination (IUI) with the intended father’s sperm to achieve a healthy pregnancy.

Gestational surrogacy

A gestational surrogate also carries a pregnancy to term for another couple or individual, but unlike a traditional surrogate, she isn’t the egg donor, and therefore has no genetic link to the baby.

As the most common type of surrogacy, gestational surrogacy is accomplished via in-vitro fertilization (IVF) using either the intended mother’s egg and the intended father’s sperm, or, when necessary, a donor egg and/or donor sperm.  

Eligibility requirements

To qualify as a surrogate, you must meet the standard eligibility requirements put in place by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), which are designed to ensure the safest, healthiest pregnancy possible as well as a good relationship between the surrogate and the intended parents.

All surrogates must be:

Surrogates must also have previous experience being pregnant and giving birth. Specifically, you must have gone through at least one healthy pregnancy and delivery (no complications) that resulted in a live birth.

Although it’s possible to be a surrogate after delivering your own child via C-section, women who’ve had more than three cesarean births are ineligible for surrogacy.   

ASRM guidelines further stipulate that surrogates must be raising their own children at home. If one or more of your children are older or live elsewhere, you must still have at least one child at home to qualify.

Personal circumstances

Even if you meet all of the eligibility requirements for surrogacy, it’s still important to consider about how a pregnancy — and the surrogacy process itself — might impact your personal life.

Carrying a baby for another couple or individual requires you to go through a complete psychological screening and physical exam as well as a detailed background check, all of which can be quite intense, feel a bit invasive, and take a substantial amount of time.

You should also think about how becoming a surrogate may affect your family, especially if you’re not quite done building yours yet.

Given the fact that any pregnancy can result in complications that make it difficult to become pregnant in the future, prospective surrogates who want more children of their own are always advised to complete their own families first before moving on to surrogacy.  

Even if you feel emotionally prepared and have a clear idea of why you want to be a surrogate, you’ll also want to make sure you have a good support system in place before the process begins.

This isn’t just helpful for you. Knowing that the person who’s carrying their baby is surrounded by loving and supportive friends and family is also reassuring to the intended parents.    

Legal concerns

Surrogacy may be about compassion, teamwork, and the miracle of life, but it’s also carried out under a legal and binding contract that spells out the terms of the agreement as well as the rights of both parties.

Whether or not a surrogate has a genetic connection to the child she’s carrying, she must legally concede all parental and custodial rights to the intended parents before the process begins.

Your legal agreement will also outline your compensation package, including your base fee and any additional expenses you’re likely to incur. It may also provide lost wages for missed work due to pregnancy-related maternal leave issues like bed rest, and an additional fee for postpregnancy breast pumping.

Every surrogacy agreement is different based on the needs of the two parties involved. A lawyer who specializes in surrogacy law can walk you through all of the topics you’ll want to consider before you sit down at the negotiation table.

To learn more about what it takes to become a surrogate, make an appointment with Dr. Sepilian. Call our nearest office in Glendale or Santa Monica, California, or contact us through this website.

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