“Snowflake” Embryo Adoption: A Warning to LGBT and Single Parents

It’s becoming more and more common for intended parents to use donated embryos as part of their gestational surrogacy. For many people, it makes sense: Embryo adoption is usually much cheaper than a fresh IVF cycle, and gestational surrogacy gives a degree of control over pregnancy that private domestic infant adoption cannot.

However, embryo adoption — increasingly called “snowflake adoption” — is not for everyone. In fact, if you’re a single or LGBT intended parent, embryo adoption could likely be much harder for you than it would be for a married, heterosexual couple.

Why? Keep reading below to learn more.

The Religious Overtones of Embryo Adoption

As more hopeful parents go through the in vitro fertilization process to become pregnant, there’s been an unanticipated result: a growing number of frozen embryos being stored indefinitely. For many intended parents, the idea of discarding embryos that they worked so hard to create is emotionally difficult. And, for a group of certain intended parents, discarding embryos would be akin to “killing” frozen children.

For many reasons, leftover embryos have been donated to organizations promising to give these “snowflake babies” a chance at life with someone else desperate to become a parent. In turn, the process is frequently called “embryo adoption” — invoking the same emotions as the adoption of a child already born.

As a New York Times piece reveals, embryo “snowflake” adoption is increasingly tied to organizations affiliated with anti-abortion rights or Christian organizations — many of which receive federal funding. Whether intentional or not, many of these organizations have closely affiliated themselves with the mindset of “pro-life” advocates. In their views, donated embryos are not just cells that can become a child; they already are a child.

An intended parent need only look at advertising materials from some of the biggest embryo adoption centers to see the evidence:

  • From the National Embryo Donation Center: When couples decide that their family is complete but still have embryos remaining… they can thaw them out and let them die… Embryo adoption allows the genetic parents to give their embryos a chance for life.
  • From Nightlight Christian Adoptions: Just as each snowflake is frozen, unique and a gift from heaven, so are each of our embryo adopted Snowflake Babies. We hope to help each donated embryo grow, develop and live a full life.

For these professionals, an embryo is more than just a collection of cells; they are children waiting to be born. This viewpoint overlooks the fact that, for many intended parents, a created embryo may or may not grow into a fetus for many reasons — quality of embryo, likelihood of implantation and more.

What This Means for LGBT and Single Parents

Putting aside the never-ending controversy of that position, what does this ethical viewpoint mean for intended parents wishing to use a donated embryo in their gestational surrogacy?

Here’s the quandary: Organizations that have this view of life at conception often have specific ideas of who should be a parent — specifically, that only heterosexual couples should pursue embryo adoption.

Both the National Embryo Donation Center and Nightlight Christian Adoptions have specific requirements for hopeful adoptive parents. In the case of NEDC, only a couple of a “genetic” male and female who are married can adopt, and embryos cannot be adopted to be used in a gestational surrogacy. Similarly, Nightlight’s initial application requires a mother and father to fill out their information, and the agency’s overarching requirements necessitate that an adoptive couple have a “spiritual home environment,” among other things.

Clearly, those who don’t fit the heteronormative expectations of these adoption agencies don’t have this option with those agencies — no matter how well-prepared they are to become parents.

If you’re a single intended parent or a member of an LGBT couple, embryo adoption may not be possible for your gestational surrogacy. That’s why it’s so important to seek out LGBT-friendly adoption agencies and donor centers. Unfortunately, there is still a great deal of prejudice out there for nontraditional families, and the steps it takes to bring your new addition home may be a bit more complicated than for a heterosexual married couple.

For a more comprehensive look at requirements of embryo adoption agencies, check out the Embryo Adoption Awareness Center’s list. It’s always a good idea to speak with a professional in person to determine whether you are eligible for their embryo adoption program.

Even if embryo adoption is not a possibility for your family, there are many other paths you can take to achieve your gestational surrogacy. To learn more about them, give our surrogacy specialists a call at 1-800-875-2229(BABY). Our agency happily works with all intended parents — regardless of marital status or sexual orientation — and we’d be honored to help you bring a child into your life.

5 Steps to Take Before Pursuing Surrogacy to Build Your Family

Considering surrogacy as a way to build your family is a gigantic decision. It’s not one to rush into overnight — but how do you know that surrogacy is really right for you?

Every intended parent’s journey to surrogacy will be different, but there are a few general steps that our surrogacy specialists recommend every hopeful parent take beforehand. In our experience, those who are best prepared for the surrogacy process have usually completed these steps:

Step 1: Explore all of your family-building options.

Surrogacy is a complicated process, and it’s not one that an intended parent jumps to right away. Those struggling with infertility have many other assisted reproduction methods before gestational surrogacy, and it’s likely that a reproductive endocrinologist will recommend some of the less invasive and cheaper options first. These could include IUI, IVF and more.

On the other hands, LGBT intended parents considering gestational surrogacy should also consider adoption. Both are very different processes, but they are viable options for those looking to add to their family.

In order to know what is best for your family, you must fully understand all of the options available to you. Fortunately, the specialists at American Surrogacy are well-experienced in both the gestational surrogacy and adoption processes. You can call them at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) to learn more about the pros and cons of each.

Step 2: Be honest with your partner.

As you explore your family-building options, you need to ask yourself hard questions — and be honest with your partner when it comes to how you’re feeling.

If you’ve struggled with infertility, it’s important that you have completed grieved your dreams of a pregnancy experience before starting gestational surrogacy. Intended parents who start the surrogacy process without doing so often have to face their complicated emotions later on — which can negatively impact their relationship with their gestational carrier.

If you’re not ready to move on from infertility treatments — or if you’re uncomfortable with the surrogacy process — you need to tell your spouse. Entering into such a complicated process without being fully committed is a bad idea, and it will come back to hurt you in the end. If you’re coping with infertility, you may feel like your time to have a biological child is slipping away, but you should never rush into the surrogacy process until you and your spouse are 100 percent emotionally ready.

Step 3: Do your research.

If you think gestational surrogacy may be right for your family, research is your next step. There are a lot of options in a surrogacy journey — genetic relationship, cost, location and more — and intended parents should have a general idea of what they want before getting started.

Speak with surrogacy professionals and your reproductive endocrinologist to determine what this process may look like for you. Check out information from sites such as Surrogate.com to learn more about every aspect of the process.

At the end of your research, you should be able to answer these questions with some confidence:

  • Do you want to pursue gestational or traditional surrogacy?
  • Do you want to work with a surrogacy agency or complete an independent surrogacy?
  • Do you have a carrier in mind, or do you still need to find one?
  • What kind of program can you afford?
  • What are you looking for in a surrogate?
  • What surrogacy options are available in your state? Do you need to go out-of-state for a safe and ethical surrogacy?

Step 4: Get your funding in place.

One of the biggest hurdles for intended parents is the cost of gestational surrogacy. It’s no secret: Surrogacy is expensive. But it’s for good reason — there are a lot of complicated moving parts that require expertise and professional assistance.

As you research your surrogacy options, research your estimated surrogacy costs, too. Being aware of your financial situation beforehand will come in handy when it comes to paying your surrogacy expenses later on. When you know how much you can expect to pay, you can start fundraising and exploring your other financing options.

Learn more about affording surrogacy here.

Step 5: Interview surrogacy professionals.

If you’ve decided that gestational surrogacy is right for your family, you only have one more step before you officially get started! Finding the right surrogacy professionals for your surrogacy goals is the final thing to do.

There are a lot of choices when it comes to surrogacy professionals. You can choose to complete an independent surrogacy with only a lawyer and a fertility clinic, or you can work with an experienced surrogacy agency every step of the way. Which you choose will be up to you. How much responsibility do you wish to take during your surrogacy process? How comfortable are you with the requirements of the process?

We encourage all intended parents — whether they’re considering an independent surrogacy or an agency-assisted surrogacy — to speak with a surrogacy agency such as American Surrogacy. That way, you can learn more about the services an agency can offer and what steps you would need to take without professional assistance. Only then can you can make the best choice for your family.

Get answers to all of your questions about surrogacy by contacting our specialists today. We are here to give you all the information you need, whatever decision you end up making for you and your spouse.

Will Being a Surrogate Affect Your Job?

If you’re thinking about being a gestational surrogate, you’ve probably thought about a lot: how your pregnancy will affect your body and mind, how your family will feel, whether you’re ready for the challenges ahead.

But, have you thought about how being a surrogate may affect your job?

Just like being pregnant with your own child, being pregnant with an intended parent’s child will require a great deal of time and energy from you. As you focus on a healthy pregnancy and strong relationship with your intended parents, you will also need to focus on your everyday family and career responsibilities. It’s easy to forget how much pregnancy can affect your career, but it’s an important thing to think about before starting down this path.

We encourage you to talk in depth with your surrogacy specialist about how surrogacy may impact your job. Remember, we’re always available to talk at 1-800-875-2229(BABY). In the meantime, keep reading to prepare yourself for how surrogacy may affect your career.

The Challenges of Surrogate Pregnancy

As you know, pregnancy takes a great deal of energy and effort. Keeping yourself healthy during nine months — while simultaneously managing your everyday responsibilities — can quickly take a toll on your body and mind.

How much your career will be affected will depend on a few things. First, how much physical and mental energy does your job take? If you are in a position that requires a great deal of physical movement, you will have to cut back on your responsibilities while pregnant. This, in turn, may affect your work performance. While there are legal protections for working while pregnant, you should still think hard about how your pregnancy may affect your current and future pay — and whether your family can afford that while you are pregnant.

At the same time, you may be required to take time off work for important appointments and meetings. For example, you may need to travel to the intended parents’ clinic for your embryo transfer. That may require you to take a few days off work. Do you have the time off you need, or can you afford to take a hit to your paycheck for those few days?

Breaking the News to Your Boss

As you prepare to take time off of work, you’ll eventually need to speak with your supervisor. Not only will you need to take time off for the embryo transfer process, but you’ll also need to take maternity leave for your delivery and postpartum recovery. While there shouldn’t be any difference in time off for a gestational pregnancy or a pregnancy of your own, you’ll still need to keep your boss in the loop as early as possible.

How much detail you share with your supervisor will be up to you. It’s a good idea to explain that you are carrying a gestational pregnancy to avoid misinformation spreading around the office. This is also a good time to mention that you will likely be taking a shorter maternity leave because you won’t have a child to look after.

Before you meet with your supervisor, you might want to review your company policies or talk to your human resources manager. That way, you will be as informed as possible about your maternity leave policy and know what to expect in your conversation.

What to Say to Coworkers

If you plan to work through your pregnancy, you’ll also need to think about your conversations with your coworkers. You won’t be able to keep your pregnancy a secret but, if you keep secret the fact that the baby is not yours, you may find yourself facing some uncomfortable situations — congratulations or even a work baby shower.

As always, how much you decide to share about your surrogacy journey will always be up to you. When explaining your decision to be a surrogate, you might take this opportunity to answer your coworkers’ questions — or you might simply give only the information they need. It is your decision. But, if you feel comfortable doing so, telling your coworkers about your surrogacy allows you to educate others and clear up some of the misconceptions that still exist.

Of course, you will likely need to keep your coworkers updated about your plans for time off and maternity leave. This way, you will ensure that your responsibilities are covered while you are gone.

Maternity Leave

While you will likely take less time to recover from a gestational pregnancy than a pregnancy of your own (because you won’t be caring for a newborn at home), you will still need to take some time off after delivery. Fortunately, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects your ability to have 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave for the birth of a child.

However, before becoming a surrogate, think about how your maternity leave may affect your family’s financial situation. Can you afford to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave? Do you want to use your paid vacation for your recovery period? Will your surrogate base compensation provide enough to support your family during this time?

While it may not be something at the top of your mind when you first become a surrogate, your career should play a role in deciding whether this is the right time for this journey or not. If you’re not sure how your job will affect being a surrogate, or you want to learn more about the demands of surrogacy, don’t hesitate to contact our surrogacy specialists today at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

New Report Highlights Risks of International Surrogacy for LGBT Parents

A new report from the Daily Beast reveals a change in U.S. immigration policy that impacts U.S. citizens whose children are born abroad — such as American intended parents who complete an international surrogacy.

A new policy within the U.S. State Department has changed the department’s interpretation of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The Act, which codifies eligibility for U.S. birthright citizenship, has previously been used by U.S. citizens to obtain citizenship for their children born abroad. But new developments reveal that LGBT intended parents whose children are born in another country face extra difficulties. Even if a child is genetically related to at least one U.S. citizen, if they are born through gestational surrogacy or another form of assisted reproductive technology, they are considered “born out of wedlock” — even if the parents are legally married.

Today, internationally born children who are “born out of wedlock” to LGBT intended parents face additional hurdles for birthright citizenship — and are subject to deportation or statelessness in the meantime.  While a lawsuit is currently in action against the State Department, LGBT families created in the meantime through international assisted reproduction are increasingly at risk.

The recent report only highlights what we at American Surrogacy have known for years — that international surrogacy for American intended parents is a dangerous path. Whether you are an LGBT intended parent who can be affected by the State Department’s new policies, or you’re a heterosexual intended parent considering international surrogacy, you should be familiar with the risks of this process.

In addition to the new risks stemming from the “out-of-wedlock” immigration policy, there are a few reasons that we advise intended parent to pursue domestic surrogacy instead of international surrogacy:

1. Undefined or Restrictive Surrogacy Laws

It’s true — there are no federal surrogacy laws in the United States. But, there are plenty of states with laws that are surrogacy-friendly for all types of intended parents. The same can’t be said about all other countries.

Many once-popular surrogacy destinations for American intended parents have closed down their borders for international surrogacy, and many other countries out there set strict limits on the process. In many countries, a surrogate cannot be paid for her surrogacy services or can only work with intended parents whom she is related to.

Still other countries have no defined surrogacy laws at all. While the low costs in these countries may be attractive to intended parents, surrogacy in these countries can be legally risky. There may be no set precedent for an intended parent’s rights, and you may have no clue about what unethical situations are occurring to a lack in surrogacy legislation.

Throw in the current situation with LGBT parents’ children not being automatically granted birthright citizenship, and you have a very complicated legal situation on your hands.

2. Ethical Complications with Gestational Carriers

Save for in a few states, every American gestational carrier has the right to receive compensation for her services. This ensures that she is properly appreciated for her decision and experiences no financial burden from her decision to carry for intended parents.

But international surrogates often don’t get the same protection. In fact, compensation frequently causes ethical problems in other countries. Many surrogates are financially forced into surrogacy because of the draw that compensation creates, and not all women are 100 percent aware of the challenges of gestational surrogacy before they begin.

While the lower costs of international surrogacy may be attractive to American intended parents, it should give them pause. Lower costs mean that the same level of services and protection are not being provided — and, with a surrogate being located halfway across the world, American intended parents will likely not have the same knowledge of her pregnancy’s course as they would with a surrogate closer to home.

3. Lower Medical Standards

On the same note, a gestational carrier in another country — especially if she is located rurally — may not have the same access to quality care as an American gestational carrier. She may not also be screened as thoroughly as a surrogate in the United States would be. Intended parents who pursue this kind of surrogacy put her and their baby at risk simply because they wish to save on their surrogacy expenses.

Many popular countries for international surrogacy do not have the same medical standards as the United States, and this can understandably be worrisome for intended parents. The distance and uncertainty involved in the medical process can be risky, especially for intended parents who may be using their last few viable embryos.

Clearly, there have always been reasons why an international surrogacy is dangerous for American intended parents. The news regarding LGBT intended parents and international surrogacy is just one more.

American Surrogacy is dedicated to helping intended parents — regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity — safely bring home the child they’ve always dreamed about. To pursue a surrogacy in the United States, give our surrogacy specialists at call at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) or contact us online today.

Surrogacy Medication: Advice from a Former Surrogate

Every gestational surrogate’s medications and timeline will vary somewhat, depending on what a fertility clinic prescribes. Still, most women who are thinking about becoming surrogates want to know what that medical process is like — including side effects from medications, the types of medications they might have to take, and more.

Here, Chelsea, a former American Surrogacy surrogate, explains the surrogacy medications she took, some tricks she found helpful, and more:

Chelsea’s Medication Experience

The first medication that the clinics will generally put you on is birth control pills. Even people who have their tubes tied are required to use this. This helps the clinic manipulate your cycle to line up with your transfer date. They’re very precise and tell you when to begin the pills and when to discontinue them.

Next, I was on Lupron. The needle size didn’t faze me at all. It was an easy shot to take, and one or two equated to the feeling of a bee sting. I was on this for 26 days. The Lupron did give me some killer headaches. I wanted to stay in a dark room, and I was very sensitive to sounds. Drinking a lot of water helps.

After 12 days, I began taking estrogen, as well. I took estrogen in the form of Estrace pills (two pills, twice a day) and an estrogen patch called a Vivelle Dot. I switched this patch every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. They leave behind a lot of sticky residue that is impossible to clean off. I had sticky marks until I was done with my meds at 14 weeks. The estrogen caused a lot of discharge. I had even emailed the clinic about it at one point to make sure it was normal.

My clinic was stricter about monitoring so, on day 22, I was required to have my ultrasound and blood work done at the clinic. This was the only ultrasound and blood work I had during the cycle. They checked my ovaries to make sure they were “quiet” and checked my uterine lining. I was good to go at 8mm. Then, they checked my blood estrogen level.

I began taking progesterone five days before transfer. This lines up with the age of the embryo(s). The needle is quite large: 22-gauge. This is due to the fact that it’s an intramuscular injection. You really only feel that initial poke; the length of the needle isn’t felt. The size of the hole of the needle is because the medication is in oil (sesame, olive, ethyl oleate). I actually had to switch from sesame to ethyl oleate after weeks on the injections because you can develop a delayed allergic reaction, which was a large rash in my case.

Some tips for this medication:

  • Warm the vial in your bra, on a heating pad or in your hands prior to injection. The oil is thick, so warming it helps inject easier.
  • Rub the area after injection thoroughly. The oil needs to be dispersed. I was on 2cc of PIO (progesterone-in-oil) so it was quite a large amount to put into the muscle daily.
  • You will develop lumps so massage, massage, massage. (Yes, rub your butt!)

I used a cheap Walmart drawer container to store my medications. I’m very type A, and it helped organize things. I was constantly getting new shipments and refilling it. I also downloaded blank calendar pages to fill in what medications I took each day. I marked them off as I took them. It was taped to my bathroom mirror.

All of these medications need to be taken at the same time every day. So, if you have a job, plan to take them when you know you will be home!

We’re so grateful to Chelsea for sharing her experiences and advice with future surrogates and for being such a great ambassador for American Surrogacy! If you’d like to talk to Chelsea about what it’s like to be a surrogate with American Surrogacy, contact us now at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

A Letter to Hopeful Mothers on Mother’s Day

Dear Intended Mothers,

For many of you, today is a hard day. While many of your loved ones will be celebrating their Mother’s Day surrounded by children, you may be spending another Mother’s Day with only your dreams of motherhood. It’s an incredibly tough time. It’s hard to celebrate or look forward to something that has brought you so much pain in the past.

You may or may not have your own mother to celebrate with on this day. As comforting as her presence can be, it may not fill the hole in your heart. It’s still waiting for a little bundle of joy.

While you may not feel like it, today is about you, too. Hopeful mothers deserve just as much celebration as those who already have a child in their lives. Goodness knows you’ve put as much (or more) effort into getting pregnant as any other woman.

On this emotionally complicated day, however, it’s important to put yourself first. You’ve been through a lot to get to this point, and there is no requirement that you put on a brave face for your friends and family. Cry, if you need to. Treat yourself to something special. Get as far away from mothers and children as possible. Do what you need to do to keep yourself happy.

We know how tough this day can be for intended mothers. As you go through your Mother’s Day weekend, remember this:

  • You are still a mother if you didn’t give birth to your child.
  • You are still a mother if you have no biological relationship with your child.
  • You are a strong beautiful woman, and infertility can’t take that away from you.
  • You will be a wonderful mother, whether you have a child next year or years from now.
  • You are still a worthwhile person, even if you never end up having children.

Mother’s Day is a day fraught with emotions — good and bad. You don’t need to be happy about this day if you can’t find it in you. Remember: You are not alone. 1 in 8 American couples cope with infertility struggles. There are millions of other women across the country — and across the globe — who are feeling the same thing as you. If you can, take solace and strength from that knowledge.

American Surrogacy and our surrogacy specialists understand the complicated emotions that come with Mother’s Day. We are always here to answer any of your questions about surrogacy or to be a shoulder to lean on whenever you need us. Don’t hesitate to reach out online or call 1-800-875-2229(BABY) anytime.

Whatever your Mother’s Day brings you, know that you are special, you are loved, and we are here for you.

-The Team at American Surrogacy

How to Honor Your Intended Mother on Mother’s Day

6 Things Surrogates Can Do to Make Their Intended Mother Feel Appreciated

By helping your intended mother to become a mom through surrogacy in the first place, you’re already giving her the best gift possible. Want to make sure she feels included in the “mom club” with some extra gestures? That’s fine, too — go ahead and share the love! Just remember that what you’re already doing is incredible.

Here are six ways you can show your intended mother-to-be some additional Mother’s Day appreciation, if you’re so inclined:

1. Send a Card or a Text

Send her an almost-first Mother’s Day card or a text telling her why you picked her to be your intended mother and the reasons why you think she’s going to be a great mom. If this is her first child, she may be feeling nervous right now. Some encouragement from you can be great to hear.

2. Call Her

Having a long-distance surrogacy partnership can be tough, but a quick phone or video call to wish her a “Happy Mother’s Day” can let her know you’re thinking of her. Check in, catch up, ask how she’s feeling, and let her know what a great mom she’s going to be. This is extra fun if you currently have a baby bump that she can “say hello” to.

3. Get a Small Gift

If you’re the type of person who loves giving gifts, and if you (and your surrogate specialist) think it’s appropriate in your surrogacy relationship, go ahead! Some ideas:

  • A stuffed animal or blanket for the baby, which can also be used to help with emotional transfer
  • A framed photo of you and the intended parents, or a sonogram.
  • A meaningful piece of jewelry or keepsake.

4. Involve Her in Your Experiences

Nothing says motherhood like watching your child’s every move, right? Even if you’re in a long-distance surrogacy partnership, invite her to doctor’s appointments whenever she’s able to come, and send texts letting her know how you’re feeling and giving updates about the baby’s progress if you’re pregnant at this point.

5. Spend Some Time Together

If you’re both able to, invite her out to lunch, go out for a spa afternoon, or just have her over for a cup of tea and a chat. It can be nice to get to know each other outside of your “surrogate” and “intended parent” roles. She might appreciate some of the conversation and focus being shifted away from you and onto her for a bit. Treat her like a new friend, and you might find that you have one!

6. Keep Doing What You’re Doing!

If you’d like to do something special for your intended mother, that’s wonderful. However, what you’re doing for her right now is already the most amazing thing you could do for anyone.

You are making an entire lifetime of future Mother’s Days possible for her. Let that sink in, and take a moment to be proud of yourself for that. She’s certainly aware of it.

Continuing to take care of yourself and her baby (if you’re already pregnant) will be a great gift to her.

Not sure how to address Mother’s Day as a gestational surrogate? You can always ask your American Surrogacy specialist for advice by calling 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

Can Intended Parents Experience Postpartum Depression?

You probably know that some gestational surrogates can experience postpartum depression. The bombardment of hormones rushing through her body (coupled with the potential emotional stressors such as not returning home with a baby) can cause this condition, which usually goes beyond mild “baby blues.”

But did you know that the new parents of a surrogacy-born child can also experience a kind of postpartum depression that’s often just as severe, even though they didn’t give birth?

All New Parents Can Experience Forms of Postpartum Depression

Even though they’re not subjected to the hormonally-triggered changes that gestational surrogates are, new parents who have welcomed a child via surrogacy can just as easily suffer from post-surrogacy depression. This is an experience that’s commonly shared by new parents who have welcomed a child via adoption, too. Many of these parents are surprised to find that they’re experiencing a form of postpartum depression — without ever having given birth to their child.

You may find yourself in a similar situation — one in which you’re surprised or are even briefly in denial that you could be experiencing postpartum depression without giving birth. However, this is not uncommon for any new parent, regardless of how your family came to be.

That’s because many of the causes of postpartum/post-surrogacy/post-adoption depression seem to be non-biological. Instead, they are a result of other common stressors.

Why You?

Experiencing post-surrogacy depression can be uniquely affecting for new parents who have welcomed a child via surrogacy. You’ve likely had to work harder than most to have this child. You’ve probably been waiting for this moment for a long time, so the fact that you don’t feel like you’re “supposed to” can be even more devastating, because you’ve had to fight especially hard to become a parent.

You may be experiencing some difficulties bonding with your child. While this isn’t exclusively experienced by parents to surrogacy-born children, it’s not an uncommon obstacle in early days, and it can feed into a cycle of depression for you.

Many new parents, regardless of how they have a child, struggle with their new reality and this new person in their life. Parents are exhausted, overworked and emotionally fragile with worry for their young child.

Parents who had their child via surrogacy (or adoption) in particular have recently experienced a long and grueling emotional journey. Now that it’s over, some parents are surprised to find that it’s hard to return to normalcy after these emotional rollercoasters.

Ultimately, you need to be gentle and forgiving toward yourself for experiencing post-surrogacy depression. You’re certainly not alone, and there’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of.

What Are the Symptoms?

People experience depression in different ways, but some of the most common symptoms of postpartum depression for new parents include:

  • Depression and mood swings
  • Excessive crying
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Loss of appetite or eating too much
  • Intense irritability and/or anxiety
  • Difficulty bonding with the baby
  • Avoidance of the baby
  • Obsessive worrying about the baby or fixations on small anxieties
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby

Sometimes, the person experiencing the postpartum depression isn’t the one who first notices the changes in themselves. A friend or family member is often the first person to spot changes in mood or behavior.

If someone you love has suggested that you might be experiencing post-surrogacy depression, listen to what they have to say. If you feel that someone you know might be suffering from post-surrogacy depression, gently reach out and ask how they’re feeling.

Not sure what a normal post-surrogacy recovery should be like? Contact a surrogacy specialist at American Surrogacy.

Reading the stories of others who have battled postpartum depression, particularly those who have experienced it after going through IVF, surrogacy, or adoption, can sometimes bring comfort to new parents via surrogacy and also help them recognize symptoms in themselves.

What Can You Do to Treat Post-Surrogacy Depression?

You may need to try a few options to find what works best for you, but there are a number of ways to help ease the symptoms of post-surrogacy depression, including:

  • Talking to your loved ones. Lean on them for emotional support, as well as practical support for things like taking care of the baby when you need a short break.
  • Counseling or therapy. Reach out to your American Surrogacy licensed social worker or contact a therapist, preferably one who has experience with postpartum depression and surrogacy.
  • Many people are hesitant to try medications like antidepressants or antianxiety medications, but for some, even a low dose can help get you back in balance. Talk to your doctor.
  • Talking to people who have been in your shoes. Find support groups with parents to surro-born babies and ask them about their experiences with post-surrogacy depression. It can be helpful to talk with people who have had similar experiences.

Continuing to care for yourself physically, even when it feels difficult, will also do a lot to improve your mental and emotional state. Exercise regularly, stay hydrated, eat healthy and take moments to relax or meditate. These can seem low-priority as a new parent, but caring for yourself physically can help keep some of the minor symptoms of post-surrogacy depression at bay and help you to continue caring for your family.

If you ever experience suicidal thoughts, or thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, please call 1-800-273-8255 immediately.

Remember that any new parent can experience forms of postpartum depression, including parents via surrogacy. This is something that affects many people, and it’s not something you need to experience alone. Contact American Surrogacy at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) if you ever need to connect to more resources to help with post-surrogacy depression.

Feeling Depressed During Your Surrogate Pregnancy?

It’s no secret — pregnancy is hard. You are often emotionally and physically exhausted along the way, and it’s completely normal for you to experience feelings of sadness, anger or frustration during these nine months. In most cases, those hard parts are all worth it when you get to bring your little one home.

But, in surrogacy, it’s a bit of a different situation. All of the discomfort that you go through during your pregnancy is to help someone else become a parent. While you are probably just as excited for them to meet their baby as you were to meet yours once upon a time, it can also cast a different shade on the emotions that you feel during your pregnancy.

It’s 100 percent normal to have conflicting feelings while you are pregnant with your intended parents’ baby. Remember that your surrogacy specialist will be there for you whenever you need her support, and she can guide you through the more difficult emotions of your surrogacy, if you need it.

But, how do you know when your pregnancy feelings are a sign of something more serious? Is it possible to experience depression during pregnancy, instead of the postpartum depression you hear more about?

The answer is yes. Learn more about this important topic below.

Why You May Be Depressed as a Surrogate

There are many reasons why women experience confusing feelings of sadness, grief, frustration and more during pregnancy. This process requires a lot from a woman, and she may often feel like her experience is not validated by those who have never been through the pregnancy journey themselves. She may be tired from the everyday responsibilities she usually deals with, and the stressors of pregnancy only exacerbate those challenges.

A surrogate pregnancy often causes the same emotions, but they are compounded by the fact that a pregnant woman is not carrying a child for herself — but for someone else. While this can actually be a source of relief for some surrogates, it can make things more emotionally complicated for others. A woman may feel even worse knowing that she is struggling through all these challenges without a “tangible” end result for her family (aside from surrogate compensation).

It can also be grating for a surrogate to hear the same insensitive comments and questions over and over during her pregnancy, or to feel like her family is losing out on time together during her later stages of her pregnancy. There is no “right” or “wrong” reason for you to feel depressed or upset during pregnancy; it all depends on your personal situation.

Signs of Antenatal Depression

While it’s 100 percent normal to experience “baby blues” both before and after pregnancy, there can come a point where the normal sad feelings of pregnancy become something more. Just as you should when you were pregnant with own child, you should pay close attention to your mental health during your surrogate pregnancy, too.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms for two weeks or longer, it’s a sign that something may not be right with your mental health:

  • Persistent sadness
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Recurring thoughts of death, suicide or hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of interest in activities that you usually enjoy
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Change in eating habits

If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or the child you are carrying, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline right away: 1-800-273-8255.

What to Do Next

If you think you are coping with depression during your surrogate pregnancy, a lot of thoughts may go through your head. In addition to worrying about your own family, you may also worry about how the intended parents will react to this news. You may worry that they’ll blame you or that this situation will irreparably harm your relationship.

The only thing that you should be concerned with right now is your mental health and the health of the child growing inside of you. Do not hide what you are feeling for fear of backlash from your intended parents; they only want what is best for you, which means getting you the help you need during this vulnerable time. You are not alone; statistics suggest that between 14 and 23 percent of women suffer from some form of depression during pregnancy.

Your first point of contact if you are worried about your potential for antenatal depression will always be your doctor. They can test your physical status to ensure there are no underlying physical conditions that may be causing these symptoms. Your doctor is also the only one who can diagnose clinical antenatal depression.

Whether you are diagnosed with clinical depression or not, remember that your surrogacy specialist is always here to support you, and that your feelings are still just as real. Our specialists are very aware of the emotions that gestational carriers go through, and they know that surrogacy is not always easy. You should never feel afraid to reach out to your specialist, whatever your situation, because she can help you get the support you need during this time. She can also help mediate a conversation with your intended parents about your feelings, if necessary.

No two pregnancies are the same, but feelings of depression during pregnancy are more common than you may think. Whatever your situation, you deserve to get the help you need during this time to keep yourself and the baby inside of you healthy and happy.

5 Things to Think About If You’re Considering LGBT Surrogacy

In many ways, the experience of deciding to become a parent is a universal one. It involves a serious reflection upon your lifestyle and your hopes and goals as a parent. You have to prepare for your new arrival and get ready for the way that your life will soon change — for the better!

However, there are extra steps that must be taken when nontraditional family-building methods are used — and when would-be parents may not meet heteronormative “ideals” for raising a child. If you are an LGBT intended parent considering surrogacy, you probably have a long list of things to consider before moving forward with this family-building process.

We always encourage anyone considering surrogacy — whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity — to talk with our surrogacy specialists at 1-800-875-2229(BABY). They can answer whatever questions you have and help you decide whether surrogacy is right for your family.

Every family’s situation is different, and what’s important to you in your family-building process will likely be different from that of another family. Still, there are a few important things we suggest LGBT intended parents think about before starting their gestational surrogacy journey:

1. Gamete Donation

By design, any LGBT intended parent who wishes to pursue gestational surrogacy will need a gamete donation — either a donated egg or sperm cell, usually combined with their own genetic material. This is a big decision to make; finding a biological parent for your child can be stressful and involve some big choices. It’s a good idea to start your search for a gamete donor before you even start your surrogacy journey.

Consider contacting a gamete bank early on in your family-building process. If you have a partner, make it a mutual experience of researching banks and donors to find the one that works for you. Our specialists highly recommend using an identified donor only; an anonymous donor can cause identity issues for your child as they grow up.

If you can secure a gamete donation before your surrogacy process begins, it will likely cut down on the time spent preparing for your gestational surrogacy. You’ll be one step closer to having the child you’ve always dreamed about!

2. Response from Others

While it’s no one’s business but yours and your partner’s, your family-building process will likely become a topic of discussion among friends, family and even strangers. Everyone has an opinion on which family-building path is the “best” one. When you announce you are pursuing gestational surrogacy, be prepared for insensitive and ignorant questions and potential pushback.

People may ask, “Why don’t you just adopt?” as if adoption is as simple as going to an agency and “picking out” a child. They may ask intrusive questions about whose gamete is being used to create the embryo, or what kind of role your gestational carrier will play in the process. Remember that you don’t owe anyone an explanation when it comes to this personal journey, but you should be prepared for how to respond. If you feel comfortable doing so, treat these comments as learning opportunities for your loved ones.

3. Raising Your Child

Being a parent in and of itself is challenging. Being an LGBT parent adds extra complexities. While society’s acceptance of LGBT individuals is constantly progressing, there will always be the potential for prejudice and intolerance for those who don’t fit into the heteronormative image of a family. Unfortunately, it’s possible that your child will be the subject of some negative and insensitive comments as they grow up.

It’s important that you normalize your family makeup to your child from the moment you bring them home, as well as give them the tools to respond to questions and comments from peers during their childhood. Remind them that families can look many different ways, and there is nothing bad about the way that their family is built.

At the same time, you will also need to prepare for raising a child born via surrogacy. You’ll need to normalize and explain their birth story from a young age. In age appropriate ways, you’ll also need to explain the concept of a gamete donor and support them in whatever path they want to take regarding their biological parent (whether that’s meeting them, contacting them, etc.). Your surrogacy specialist can always provide guidance for these conversations, should you need it.

4. Local Surrogacy Laws

While adoption is now a protected family-building method for all LGBT individuals, this is not the case with surrogacy. Because surrogacy is a process regulated by individual state laws, certain states may make it incredibly difficult for LGBT intended parents to safely pursue gestational surrogacy. LGBT intended parents should specifically search out an LGBT-surrogacy-friendly state for their family-building process.

American Surrogacy can help. We can match you with a gestational carrier in a state where you will have the necessary legal protections to establish your parental rights, whatever your personal situation.

5. What’s Right for You

Finally, the biggest thing to consider before pursuing surrogacy as an LGBT intended parent is whether this family-building method is truly right for you. There are no clear answers to this question; it will involve you and your spouse thoroughly examining your personal desires and evaluating your ability to cope with the financial and emotional challenges of surrogacy. You have a few ways you can add a child to your family, and we encourage you to consider all of them before deciding what is right for your family.

Our surrogacy specialists are always available to help. They can answer whatever questions you may have and even discuss the pros and cons of adoption and surrogacy for LGBT intended parents such as you. We know this decision-making process can take some time, so please feel free to reach out early in your journey for the support and information you need. Good luck!