First steps to being a gestational surrogate | What to expect when you are expecting...someone else’s baby
My friend and doula colleague wrote up a Q&A for the first part of my journey that you can read here.
This blog will try not to be repetitive as I get a lot more questions, the further along things proceed. Please read the above blog first. It was written prior to the embryo transfer.
Okay, now that you have read the other blog…
There are many reasons some people choose to become surrogates.
Some people do it for the money.
Some people do it because they love it.
For many people it is a combination of both, but if money is your only goal, surrogacy is not worth it. I will get into that more later in another blog.
There are surrogates that take no compensation.
There is quite a bit of debate on whether or not it is ethical to pay someone to carry their child. Everyone has there personal views and that is okay. I think that altruistic surrogacy is a great thing for many families who need it and for those who live in states where compensation is not yet legal.
If you are considering becoming a surrogate one of the first things you should do is figure out if you qualify!
Fertility clinics and agencies are very picky about who they choose to be surrogates, even if a family and you get along great and seem perfect, ultimately your medical history and life circumstances will be a deciding factor.
Some basic requirements:
Financial stability, you should not be on any state or government assistance
You have given birth to at least one term baby and are raising that child. Also, consider if you are done having children or not. complications may arise where you lose fertility
No criminal background
Have a BMI no more than 32, for some clinics the requirement is 30
Haven’t had major complications like preeclampsia, abruption, or hypertension
Have a good support system in place
Don’t smoke or use drugs
What are the surrogacy laws where you are located?
There are many states where surrogacy is legal, but composition for surrogacy is in with the exclusion of medical expenses. A quick google search will tell you if you are in a surrogacy friendly state or not.
Decide if you want an agency to represent you or not
An agency can be a great way to go if you don’t know where to start. They help navigate through all the steps of becoming a surrogate including finding you medical insurance that will work for you, getting you psychological evaluation and combing through your medical records. They also have the ability to match you with potential families and help you navigate your transfer.
But be careful! There are a lot of agencies out there with some bad reputations. Do your research and look one the facebook group Surrogacy Agency Reviews - U.S. Only. It is a place where both intended parents and surrogates can talk about their agency experiences and will help you navigate away from shady agencies.
Check your health insurance
Many health insurance companies have a surrogacy exclusion in their policy. Check to see if yours does, if so you may need to get additional insurance that covers surrogacy. This is something that can be worked out with your agency/intended parents. An agency can also do this.
Get medical clearance for another pregnancy
This should be easy, just make an appointment with your medical provider and ask if you are cleared to have another baby. This is a great time to get labs drawn up to make sure all you are meeting all your health requirements. At this time you could also start taking a prenatal vitamin, vitamin d or iron if needed.
In my case, I work a lot with the midwives who handled the care from when I was pregnant with Dorian so I just asked if I was cool to get pregnant again. Like I said, should be simple.
If you are with an agency they will also send your birth and prenatal records to a person who will evaluate your history and determine if another pregnancy will be a safe option. With IVF some risks are higher, so they need to do this.
Do a psychological evaluation
If you are with an agency they will set you up with this. Basically you and your partner (if you have one) sit at a computer and take a test. It is long and monotonous but it will rule out if you are a sociopath or not. The therapist will then ask you a bunch of questions about how you feel about surrogacy and either give a red light or a green light on whether or not it is a good idea for you.
Start matching steps
Figure out what kind of family you want to work with. Are you drawn to working with same sex or transgender couples like me? Or do you want to work with a family who has fertility issues and need the assistance of a surrogate to have a child.
Are you okay with termination if the fetus has chromosomal abnormalities or defects not viable with life?
Talk about why you want to be a surrogate.
How far are you willing to travel to do the medical evaluation and embryo transfer? This should be covered by your intended parents/agency? I flew from Seattle to San Francisco twice, once for my medical evaluation at the fertility clinic, and once for the embryo transfer. Both times all my expenses were covered/paid for ahead of time.
Do you want to work with people local to you, in another state or even another country?
Agencies and intended parents in all reality will have other questions for you as well.
Have a match meeting
Meet your potential intended parents. I met mine for the first time through a Skype meeting and we hit it off right away! Some people get to meet in person, but Skype worked best for us.
They got to ask more questions of me and my wife and we got to ask them questions as well.
After that if both parties feel excited to work together it’s a match!
Once you are matched
You will go over contracts with a lawyer, more on this later!
A social worker will come to your home and check for things like running water, electricity, make sure that you don’t have 8 million cats and you are not a hoarder.
You will have a medical and uterine evaluation with the fertility clinic the intended parents are working with.
Hurry up and wait
Becoming a gestational carrier is a long and drawn out process. Different things can hold it up like late medical records, fertility clinic issues, egg retrieval delays, contract negotiations etc.
You won’t automatically match with a family and be pregnant the next month. I started getting the ball rolling on my surrogacy summer of 2018,I matched with an intended family in October 2018 and the embryo transfer happened in April 2019.