5 Big Reasons Not to Choose International Surrogacy

As an intended parent, you may be considering international surrogacy instead of domestic surrogacy within the United States. This may be for several reasons: You’ve heard it’s a cheaper process, can take less time to complete, and more.

However, the reality of international surrogacy is incredibly different from what you may have read online or heard about. While this kind of surrogacy was popular and successful in the last few decades, the truth is, international surrogacy today is a difficult and risky family-building process.

Before you decide on this path, we encourage you to read more about the reasons why international surrogacy may not be the right choice for you:

1. International Surrogacy Laws are Restrictive.

While each state within the U.S. has different surrogacy laws, the vast majority of the states allow for compensated surrogacy with a safe, regulated legal process. You will be hard pressed to find another country in the world where surrogacy is this safely regulated.

Many countries that once welcomed international surrogacy — like Mexico, India and Nepal — have now either greatly restricted or completely prohibited surrogacy for foreign intended parents. To pursue surrogacy in these states is risky and can set international intended parents up for failure and dire legal consequences.

Even in countries where surrogacy is legal, there are often many qualifiers. Compensated surrogacy may be illegal, surrogates may need to be related to intended parents, surrogacy may be illegal for LGBT intended parents, and more. Any intended parent should recognize the reality of international surrogacy laws in different countries before considering this path. Our surrogacy specialists encourage American intended parents to compare these laws to those of surrogacy-friendly states to understand exactly how the legal landscape of international surrogacy has changed.

2. International Surrogates May Be Exploited.

In the United States, there are laws to protect surrogates, and professional surrogacy programs require prospective surrogates to undergo screening and education before they can pursue this journey. You may not find the same safeguards in international surrogacy.

For years, surrogates in international countries were exploited by surrogacy professionals. Their financial situation forced them into this process, and they may not have known exactly what they were signing up for, due to a lack of higher education or any education at all. Because of these situations, many countries started to shut down their international surrogacy business.

However, if you decide to pursue surrogacy in a country that still allows you to, there is still the risk that your surrogate may not be choosing this path of her own free will and complete understanding. On the other hand, if you work with an American surrogacy agency like American Surrogacy, you can know your surrogate has been heavily screened to ensure she is mentally and physically ready for the process ahead of her.

3. Health Conditions and Facilities are Often Not Ideal.

Because surrogates in other countries may not be screened as thoroughly as those in the United States, there is also a health risk you must incur as an intended parent. You will have to trust that your surrogacy professional has found a surrogate who is medically safe to carry a pregnancy to term. Even those professionals that do screen medically may not screen her psychologically to ensure she understands and is comfortable with the medical risks of being a surrogate.

On the same note, if you choose a surrogacy abroad, you cannot be constantly updated on the medical status of your surrogate and her pregnancy. While surrogacy in the United States is governed by set medical standards, there are often no comparable standards in other countries. Professional medical care may not be as available to surrogates during their pregnancy, and you may not be able to have confidence in your surrogacy and medical professionals’ skills. Complications that can be easily handled in the United States could be incredibly dangerous in another country with less access to medical help.

4. Political Conditions Can Change Quickly.

Like with international adoption, international surrogacy is subject to the changing relations of countries. It’s not out of the ordinary for a country to change its laws to affect a particular country in retaliation to a diplomatic move, and you will always be at risk of that changing legislation when you choose to pursue an international surrogacy.

For example, families who were in the process of international surrogacy in Mexico were left in limbo when the country banned foreign intended parents in 2016. Whether or not their surrogates were pregnant, they were out thousands of dollars and a way to legalize any child born from the surrogacy process in that country. As surrogacy continues to be a controversial family-building method, it’s not unreasonable to expect these kinds of new restrictions in other countries moving forward.

5. It Can Actually Be More Expensive than Domestic Surrogacy.

Perhaps the biggest reason why intended parents consider international surrogacy is because they are led to believe it is cheaper than domestic surrogacy. This is not always true.

Like with surrogacies in the United States, the cost of an international surrogacy is directly correlated to the quality and quantity of services provided for the process. If an international surrogacy professional is offering a cheaper cost than a domestic one, consider all of the services involved. Odds are, your surrogate may not be receiving compensation for her services, or you will need to hire additional professionals to complete your international surrogacy — like an attorney to coordinate bringing home your internationally born child to the U.S. In addition, there is always a risk of hidden costs in international surrogacy — those not outlined in your professional’s services but that emerge as your surrogacy journey continues.

If you are curious how the cost of international surrogacy compares to domestic surrogacy, contact our surrogacy specialists for a full breakdown of costs with our agency. They can also discuss in greater detail the advantages of choosing domestic surrogacy over international — and why it may be a better overall choice for you.

How Exactly Does the Egg Retrieval Process Work in IVF?

If you have to create a fresh embryo for your transfer cycle for surrogacy, you may wonder exactly how an egg cell is obtained. While it’s fairly obvious how a sperm sample is gathered for the in vitro fertilization process, harvesting an egg is more complicated.

Whether you are asking this question because your own egg will be harvested for a transfer cycle, or you will be using a donor egg for your fresh embryo, it’s important to understand every procedure of the surrogacy process. Remember, your reproductive endocrinologist can best explain what this process will look like for you.

Every egg retrieval may look slightly different based on the circumstances of the surrogacy and egg donor involved but, medically speaking, there are a few universal steps involved.

1. Stimulate the Ovaries.

A woman’s ovaries naturally produce one egg each menstrual cycle. However, because the egg harvesting process is so invasive, fertility specialists want to harvest more than one egg during each procedure and maximize chances of a successful pregnancy. In order to do that, a woman must take fertility medication to put her ovaries into hyper-drive, so that multiple eggs can be harvested at once.

There are a few drugs that women can take to stimulate ovaries — known as “follicle stimulating hormone” — but one of the most common is Lupron. In fact, this is the drug that prospective surrogates often must take, as well, even if they are just a gestational carrier.

At the same time that her ovaries are undergoing stimulation, a woman must also take other drugs to suppress ovulation and cause final maturation of the eggs. Once the eggs are ready, a fertility specialist will trigger ovulation and final maturation with the hormone hCG.

2. Monitor Follicle (Egg Structure) Size.

Before ovulation can occur, a fertility specialist will monitor the ovarian stimulation process. Each fertility clinic has its own regulations for the number of eggs needed and their desired size before the retrieval procedure can occur. Specialists will also monitor statistics like blood hormone levels, estrogen levels and estradiol levels.

In general, the ovarian stimulating process takes about 8-10 days.

3. Stimulate Ovulation with hCG.

Once the eggs are deemed ready for harvest, a woman is given an hCG injection. This stimulates ovulation and induces the final egg maturation. The actual egg retrieval process will be completed about 35 hours after the injection and right before the woman’s body begins to release the eggs.

4. Retrieve the Eggs.

A woman must be placed under anesthesia to harvest her eggs. Because the procedure is invasive, the anesthesia prevents her from feeling pain and discomfort.

Once she is asleep, medical professionals pass a needle through the top of the vagina to get to the ovary and the follicles. The needle sucks the eggs from the follicle wall and out of the ovary, and the surrounding fluid follows shortly after. The eggs are then taken to the in vitro fertilization lab where the eggs are identified, rinsed, and placed in small culture dishes. From there, the eggs are protected in incubators until they are ready for the in vitro fertilization process and eventual embryo transfer.

Typically, medical professionals will retrieve an average of 8-12 eggs during each procedure, which takes about 10 minutes. A woman will likely experience mild to moderate cramping after.

What’s Next — IVF

Typically, harvested eggs are put together with sperm about four hours after retrieval, but each clinic’s procedures vary. After a certain amount of time, the eggs are checked for fertilization and, if they have successfully been fertilized, they are cultured and monitored until they are ready to be transferred into the uterus.

If the in vitro fertilization process is occurring for surrogacy, the surrogate will be taking fertility medication to sync up her cycle with that of the egg donor or intended mother. Then, when the embryos are ready, she will undergo the transfer at the intended parents’ fertility clinic. She can remain awake during the procedure, which is fairly quick and painless. For surrogacy with a frozen embryo that has already been created, egg harvesting is not necessary, although a surrogate will still take preparatory medication.

Of course, every egg retrieval process is unique, and it’s important that you speak with your medical professional for more information on the procedures awaiting you. If you’re not sure whether you will require a fresh embryo in your surrogacy process, we encourage you to speak with a surrogacy clinic.

For more information on the surrogacy process in general, please contact our surrogacy specialists at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

How to Ask Your Employer for Infertility and IVF Insurance Coverage

There’s no doubt about it: Surrogacy and its related in vitro fertilization procedures can be expensive. In your research as an intended parent, you may have stumbled across articles boasting of the expansion of insurance policies’ coverage of IVF-related processes.

But, what if your current work insurance doesn’t cover IVF treatments? How can you make the surrogacy process more affordable?

One of your options is approaching your employer about expanding their insurance policy to cover infertility treatments. If you’re considering doing this, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Remember: Employers Want to Keep Their Employees Happy

It can be intimidating to take the step of asking for more coverage, but remember that it’s an employer’s job to anticipate their employees’ needs. Many employers may not even realize their policies are lacking this important coverage until an employee (like you) brings it to their attention.

The way people build their families today is much different than even a decade ago, and it’s important that employers understand those changes and address them appropriately in the workplace. Making a family easier to create, financially, will help employers retain their employees. It’s a mutually beneficial move to take.

In fact, recent studies show that people who have employer-provided infertility/IVF health insurance have higher satisfaction with their employer — an important thing to let your employer know.

Be Informed

Before you approach your employer about adding insurance coverage for infertility treatments, make sure you understand exactly what kind of coverage is most beneficial — and exactly how health insurance works. It can be a confusing industry, but it will do both you and your employer favors if you enter this meeting armed with facts.

In addition to explaining how this insurance coverage can impact relationships among employers and employees, take the time to explain how expensive infertility treatments are and what that journey usually looks like. Those who have not experienced infertility themselves may have no concept of this process, so use your personal experience and other facts (with studies of the cost of infertility, the emotional effects of this journey, etc.) to paint a picture for your employer.

Prepare for this Meeting

It takes more than just information to convince employers to expand their insurance coverage. You should anticipate the questions your employer may ask, provide follow-up questions and answers of your own, and be overly prepared for this meeting. Expanding your insurance is an important thing for you and your fellow employees, so make sure you communicate that importance with your preparedness.

The National Infertility Association has offered a workplace coverage checklist, which may help you prepare for this conversation.

Consider a Compromise

Unfortunately, not all employers will grant requests for expanded insurance outright. Instead, obtaining your insurance may be a bit of give and take.

One of the most common things you’ll see in current infertility coverage is coverage of procedures that are not as successful as IVF in leading to pregnancy. If this is the case in your insurance policy, discuss with your employer the possibility of switching out those covered procedures for in vitro fertilization or another procedure with a higher proven rate of success. In 2015, almost 68,000 babies were born using assisted reproductive technology out of the almost 213,000 treatment cycles. IVF is, by far, the most popular method intended parents use, whether to have a pregnancy of their own or for other processes like surrogacy.

This is why an understanding of infertility insurance is so important — so you can identify what is and isn’t working in your current policy and offer compromises to obtain the coverage you really need.

You may also consider other compromises, like giving up another service your employer provides in return for this insurance. If your conversation is a back-and-forth, you may be more likely to obtain infertility coverage than if you issue a strict demand.

Follow Up

Your employer may not be able to provide a solid answer on your first meeting, and that’s okay. They will likely need time to evaluate their current policies and determine what is the best course of action moving forward.

However, make sure to keep your request at the forefront of their mind. Send them reminder emails, or set a schedule to check in with meetings every so often. Your persistence will show your employer exactly how important expanding insurance is to you, and they may be more likely to adhere to your wishes if you do.

For more advice on how to ask your employer about infertility insurance, check out the information provided by the National Infertility Association. For more information about making surrogacy affordable, please contact our surrogacy specialists.

5 Things to Think About Before Considering Surrogacy

Choosing surrogacy is a life-changing decision — and not one to be made lightly. So, what should you know before pursuing this path?

Like with any major decision, it’s important that you do extensive research when considering surrogacy for yourself and your family. There are many complicated aspects involved in this journey, and a clear understanding is necessary before beginning. In fact, it’s necessary even while you are still considering this option.

Whether you are an intended parent or prospective surrogate, here are five things to consider before you start your surrogacy research process.

1. The Different Types of Surrogacy

Surrogacy is not a “one-size-fits-all” practice. Every surrogacy journey is different based on the needs, goals and preferences of each surrogacy party. Before you consider surrogacy, make sure you understand the different types available to you.

  • Gestational: In which a surrogate is not genetically related to the baby she carries. The most popular form of surrogacy today.
  • Traditional: In which the surrogate’s eggs are used to create the embryo, meaning she is genetically related to the baby she carries.
  • Agency-Assisted: In which both parties work with a surrogacy agency from beginning to end of their surrogacy agreement, including finding a match.
  • Independent: In which both parties find a match on their own and only work with a surrogacy attorney and a fertility clinic.
  • Altruistic: In which a surrogate does not receive base compensation for her services.
  • Compensated/Commercial: In which a surrogate receives a base compensation for her services on top of reimbursements for her surrogacy expenses.

Before you start seriously considering surrogacy, educate yourself about these paths and narrow down to which ones you think are best for you. That will make the next steps in your surrogacy research process easier.

2. Your Personal Motivations

Ask yourself this: Why are you considering surrogacy?

Every intended parent and surrogate chooses surrogacy for slightly different reasons. However, most intended parents choose this path because they want to be the parent of a genetic child and have decided surrogacy is best for them after exploring all of their options. Prospective surrogates choose surrogacy to help bring a child into the world (and not just because of the financial compensation offered to them).

If you have other overwhelming reasons for considering surrogacy, think about whether they are enough to sustain you through the long and complicated process ahead. We encourage you to speak to a surrogacy professional about your motivations for their advice on whether this is the right path for you.

3. The Impact of This Choice on Your Life

Surrogacy is not always easy. If you consider this path, you should also think about the challenges of the process, not just the eventual rewards and joys it will bring you.

Surrogacy can take a year or more to complete, and it involves many appointments with lawyers, doctors, and other professionals along the way. There will be times when your everyday life is disrupted (especially if you are considering becoming a surrogate), and there may be emotionally challenging times, as well. You should only consider this path if you are ready to accept these changes to your life. Speak with other intended parents or surrogates to learn more about the path ahead of you.

4. The Financial Implications

If you are an intended parent, surrogacy is typically not a simple decision to make, at least when it comes to your finances. Surrogacy costs tens of thousands of dollars, and you need to accept the realities of these costs before going any further into this process. While there is financial assistance like grants and loans available, you will still be required to commit a certain amount of your own money for this family-building path.

If you are thinking about being a surrogate, you probably have heard about surrogate compensation. This compensation can aid surrogates like you in important financial goals, like a down payment on a house or paying off student loans. However, it should not the main motivation for becoming a surrogate. Surrogacy comes with inherent risks and, while your contract will address those, you may sometimes be required to miss work and family obligations as a surrogate.

Many surrogacy professionals will not work with surrogates who only have a financial motivation for this journey.

5. Your Expectations

Finally, consider your own surrogacy goals and preferences before seriously researching this process. Are they realistic? Have you thought about all the aspects of surrogacy — negative and positive?

It’s extremely helpful to speak with former surrogates and intended parents to learn more about what this process is like. If you have an unrealistic expectation of surrogacy, you will have a negative surrogacy experience.

If you are looking for an easy way to have a child as a parent or make money as a surrogate, surrogacy will not be right for you. It’s an involved process that includes a great deal of screening and professional work before a match can even be made. But, if you are prepared to put in the hard work and overcome any challenges along the way, surrogacy can help you make your dreams come true.

Want to learn more? Contact our surrogacy specialists at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) to aid in your surrogacy research process.

The Logistics of Completing a Surrogacy Across State Lines

With so many surrogates and intended parents across the country looking for their perfect match, it’s more common today than ever for an interstate surrogacy to be arranged. So, how exactly is this process different from matching with a surrogacy partner in your own state?

When you work with a surrogacy professional like American Surrogacy, it’s really not that different. You’ll receive the same level of quality case management, support and counseling services no matter where your surrogate or intended parent is located. Our surrogacy specialists work hard to ensure that an interstate surrogacy match does not negatively affect your journey, but you will always have the chance to choose the desired location of a surrogacy match.

If you are matched with a surrogate or intended parent in another state, there are a few important things to know about the process ahead of you:

Laws in the Surrogate’s State are the Ones that Matter

Often, intended parents ask, “Is surrogacy legal in my state?” However, the real question they should be asking is, “Is surrogacy legal in my surrogate’s state?”

Because the surrogate’s state is where the majority of the legal surrogacy process will take place, it’s her state laws that will impact your surrogacy journey. Therefore, even if you live in a state that is not surrogacy-friendly, you can still become parents with a surrogate from another state. Indeed, this will likely be your best path of action.

If you are a surrogate in a state that is not surrogacy-friendly, it will be difficult and risky to complete a surrogacy where you live. Many times, surrogacy agencies and attorneys will not work with surrogates from these states.

Once you find a surrogacy match, your surrogacy attorney and your partner’s surrogacy attorney will discuss the applicable laws for your situation. These will be laid out in your surrogacy contract and determine what steps to take moving forward.

Communication May Require Some Extra Work

In most surrogacies, intended parents and surrogates are not located closely enough to be in constant face-to-face contact. Most of their communication takes place over texts and emails, with intended parents coming to the surrogate for important milestones like ultrasounds.

In this way, an interstate surrogacy is not much different. Most of the communication will take place in the same manner (although time zone differences may have to be considered). However, depending on distance, intended parents may not be able to attend as many ultrasounds or complete as many visits prior to their baby’s birth. This does not necessarily mean your relationship won’t be strong; it will just be conducted in a long-distance way and, therefore, may require additional effort.

The distance won’t just affect your surrogacy communication. It can also conceivably make it harder for intended parents to get to their surrogate in case something unexpected occurs.

Before you solidify an interstate surrogacy match, speak with your surrogacy professional about the logistics of your communication and create a contact schedule that both parties are comfortable with.

Consider the Delivery and Post-Birth Processes, Too

On the same note, remember that out-of-state intended parents may not be able to be present right on time for an unexpected, early delivery. However, intended parents do make plans to travel to the surrogate’s state slightly before her due date or induction date. This way, they can better ensure they are there for the birth of their child.

As part of your surrogacy plan, your surrogacy specialists will help you create a hospital delivery plan. This will lay out the expectations of the delivery, including what kind of procedures a surrogate will have, who will be present in the delivery room, what kind of lodging is available for intended parents and more. Even if you are an intended parent coming from out of state, you will still be equally prepared for the hospital stay.

The intended parents’ surrogacy attorney will work with them to ensure proper parental rights are established after birth. Depending on the surrogate’s state laws, a parentage order may be executed before or after birth, or an adoption completed post-birth, if needed.

One final thing to consider about interstate surrogacy journeys is the return to your home state if you are an intended parent. Returning home with a new baby will be much more complicated than your original trip for the surrogate’s delivery. If you will need to take a plane home, consider how you can do so in the best interest of your new baby. Most airlines will allow babies to fly as long as they are two days old, but talk with your pediatrician and evaluate your own comfort when creating this plan. Whether you end up flying or taking another mode of transportation home, make the preparations to safely move and care for your baby during this journey.

Remember, you will always be able to choose the location of your surrogacy partner, whether you are a surrogate or an intended parent. Our surrogacy specialists can explain in detail how this may affect your wait time, as well as how our agency can guide you through a surrogacy in a different state. Learn more by calling us at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) today.

40 Questions Surrogates Should Ask Prospective Surrogacy Agencies

If you are considering working with a surrogacy agency to help intended parents add to their family, you will have a big choice ahead of you. There are many surrogacy agencies across the country to choose from, so how do you find the one that is right for you as a prospective surrogate?

An important part of this process is speaking directly with professionals from the surrogacy agency you are considering. The surrogacy agency you choose will dictate how the rest of your surrogacy journey proceeds, so you’ll need to be comfortable with your professional before committing to a journey of a year or more with them. Not every agency will work for every prospective surrogate, and you shouldn’t rush into choosing a professional until you are confident it is the right decision.

As you prepare to talk with prospective surrogacy agencies, read through our tips to make this conversation as productive as possible.

Tips for Talking with a Surrogacy Agency

You may not know where to start when interviewing a potential surrogacy agency, especially if this is your first time becoming a surrogate. It can be intimidating to talk to experts, but remember that this is an important step in your journey. These professionals work with many women like you, and they are happy to answer your questions and address any concerns you have before choosing this path.

There are typically three rules to follow when you speak with a surrogacy agency:

1. Get to Know Them Ahead of Time

If you are considering a surrogacy agency, odds are that you’ve perused their website and other materials to learn a little bit about them. This is likely the reason you’re considering them in the first place. However, if you haven’t yet, make sure you do extensive research before you have your in-depth conversation with professionals at the agency. That way, you can tailor your questions to their particular services and program, which will give you more helpful answers and a better idea of whether they are the right fit for you.

2. Request a Meeting In Person, If Possible

Your surrogacy agency will be the professional to support you through every step of your surrogacy journey, and it’s important that you’re comfortable with them. Being able to speak with their professionals in person is a good indicator of their future involvement in your case and will help you better evaluate whether they are the right ones for you. An in-person meeting may give you that gut feeling you are looking for when choosing a surrogacy agency.

3. Take Your Time

You are never obligated to choose a surrogacy agency before you are ready. Even if you have a great meeting with a surrogacy professional, don’t sign on to their program right away. Take some time to consider your feelings, talk with your spouse (if applicable) and do any last-minute evaluations. Make sure you are 100 percent confident before committing with an agency, as it is a choice that will affect the next year or more of your life.

Questions to Ask a Surrogacy Agency

When you’re ready to interview a prospective surrogacy agency, here are some of the important questions you should consider asking:

About the Agency

  1. What is the history of your agency?
  2. How many surrogates have you worked with, and how many successful surrogacies have you completed?
  3. What is a “successful” surrogacy with your agency?
  4. How are your staff members trained or certified?
  5. How large is your staff?
  6. How many other surrogates are you currently working with?
  7. What kind of support do you offer your surrogates outside of business hours?

About Their Services

  1. What kind of services do you offer surrogates?
  2. What about intended parents?
  3. What is your screening process for both parties?
  4. What are your requirements for surrogates who work with your agency?
  5. Is there room for exceptions within your surrogate requirements?
  6. Do you require my spouse to meet certain requirements, as well? (If applicable)
  7. What is your average surrogate compensation?
  8. How will you help me obtain surrogate compensation? Through an escrow account at your agency or through a third party?
  9. How long will I receive services after the surrogacy is complete?

About Finding Intended Parents

  1. How many intended parents do you have waiting for a surrogate?
  2. What is your matching process like?
  3. What if I have already identified intended parents to work with?
  4. How do you find intended parents that meet my preferences?
  5. Where are your intended parents from?
  6. Will you help me create a surrogate profile?
  7. What can I choose about my intended parents?
  8. How long will it typically take to find a match with your agency?

About Contact Mediation

  1. How will you help me prepare for the first conversation with the intended parents?
  2. Will this conversation take place in person or over the phone?
  3. Will you help mediate contact with my intended parents during my surrogacy?
  4. If so, how? How will you assist if intended parents overstep their boundaries?
  5. How do you resolve difficult situations between surrogates and intended parents?

About Other Professionals

  1. What other professionals will I need to complete my surrogacy?
  2. How will you ensure those services come free of cost to me?
  3. Will you help me find additional professionals, if I need them?
  4. Do I have to choose from pre-approved professionals with your agency?

About the Hospital Stay

  1. How will you help me create a hospital delivery plan?
  2. Which professionals will be present during my delivery?
  3. What are your policies on nontraditional births and doulas?

Other Important Questions

  1. What will I be responsible for during the surrogacy process?
  2. Why should I work with your surrogacy agency?
  3. Do you think I’m a good fit for your surrogacy program?
  4. How do I start the application process for your agency?

We know how complicated it can be to find the right surrogacy agency for you. If you are a prospective surrogate, our surrogacy specialists can always answer your questions about our agency for free when you call us at 1-800-875-BABY(2229). We will help you find the right surrogacy program for your goals and needs.

Which is More Successful: A Fresh or Frozen Embryo Transfer?

One of the biggest questions that intended parents have when they’re preparing for a surrogate journey is what kind of embryo transfers to use. There is a lot of information out there touting the benefits of fresh vs. frozen transfers and, when you know you can only afford a few transfers, it can be stressful to determine whether to put all your eggs in one basket, so to say.

If you’re deciding whether to use a fresh or frozen transfer in surrogacy, there’s one important thing to know: Because everyone’s surrogacy situation is different, you won’t be able to determine the best path for you based on information you find online. Only your doctor can describe the benefits of each medical path in your particular case and help you choose the procedure that’s right.

However, as you start your research, there are a few important things you should know.

What New Studies Reveal

Conventional medical advice stated that fresh embryos were preferred over frozen embryos. In the earlier decades of in vitro fertilization, doctors hypothesized that implanting a fresh embryo was more “natural” than the thawing of a frozen embryo, suggesting that a fresh embryo would be more likely to result in a successful pregnancy because of its higher quality.

However, new studies have revealed this isn’t always the case. Scientists have discovered there is relatively no difference between the success of frozen embryo transfers and fresh cycles resulting in a live birth. In a 2016 study, more than 1,000 women underwent a fresh embryo transfer, and almost 300 underwent a frozen embryo transfer. Researchers studied the results and found that the live births resulting from fresh cycles occurred in 70.4 percent of the women, while frozen cycles were successful in 65.6 percent of women who underwent this procedure.

Today, there’s no real evidence that one process over the other will determine the success of the transfer. Instead, there a few other important details that come into play.

What Really Determines the Success of an Embryo Transfer

Whether an intended parent uses a frozen or fresh embryo transfer, there is really one detail that predicts the likelihood of a pregnancy: the health and age of the eggs at time of harvest.

Before an embryo is transferred into the uterus of a surrogate, it is evaluated by medical professionals through pre-implantation genetic screening. This screening determines whether an egg is healthy enough for transfer. Usually, when medical professionals evaluate several embryos, they select the highest quality ones for transfer.

One of the biggest factors in an embryo’s quality is the egg and sperm cells involved. Whether an embryo is fresh or frozen doesn’t substantially play a role in the quality of the embryo, in contrast to what many believe. An egg cell can be just as healthy when thawed as it is when harvested fresh. What really matters is the age of the egg cell when it is harvested — not when it is thawed.

For example, women who harvest their eggs earlier in their life (like at the peak of their fertility in their 20s) and freeze them will typically have healthier embryos than a woman who creates a fresh embryo from her eggs in her early 40s. This is because, in the frozen egg or embryo, the eggs do not age; instead, they retain their quality until they are thawed. A fresh cycle with an older woman has a lower chance for harvest of high quality eggs — and, therefore, a higher quality embryo.

Determining Which Path is Best for You

Most intended mothers who start the in vitro fertilization process before pursuing surrogacy will have frozen embryos remaining. As long as those embryos remain high quality, there is typically no reason for her to create a fresh embryo for transfer to her surrogate’s uterus.

However, it’s worth noting that, if a woman creates frozen embryos later in life (with lower quality eggs), it may be a smarter move to create a fresh cycle with a donor egg. Women who retrieve eggs later in life typically have smaller chances of a live birth, and using a healthier egg from a younger donor can greatly increase the chances of success in surrogacy.

Similarly, intended parents who have not yet created an embryo before pursuing surrogacy (for example, single intended parents) will have typically have no other option than using a fresh embryo transfer, unless they wish to use a donor embryo.

Ultimately, if you are deciding between a fresh and frozen embryo transfer for your surrogacy, it’s important that you speak with your doctor first. They can evaluate your personal circumstances and recommend to you the path that offers the best chances at success.

Remember, the choice of “fresh” vs. “frozen” likely won’t be the determining factor in the success of your surrogacy. All of the other factors involved — the quality of your embryo, the health of the surrogate, etc. — play important roles in bringing a child into the world for you.

If you have further questions about the medical process of surrogacy, or would like to receive a referral to a trusted local fertility clinic, you can always contact our surrogacy specialists at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

 

7 Tips for Explaining Your Child’s Surrogacy Story

Like any child brought to a family in a non-traditional method, children born via surrogacy have a unique background story. If you are their parent, it is your duty to ensure they understand their surrogacy story — and are just as proud of it as you are.

But, how exactly do you explain your child’s story to them as they grow up? The complexities of surrogacy can be difficult for even adults to understand; how do you describe them to a child who doesn’t yet grasp the details of human reproduction?

You’ll be surprised to know that children understand more than you give them credit for. To aid you in this conversation, we’ve provided a few tips below. You can also contact your surrogacy specialist for more guidance in raising a child born via surrogacy.

1. Make it a constant topic of conversation.

The rule of thumb when explaining a child’s non-traditional birth story to them is to make it an available topic of conversation throughout their life. Children grasp different details at different times, and they will have different questions about the process as they grow up. Therefore, talking to your child about their surrogacy story should not be a one-time conversation; it should be a natural, normal topic that they can ask you about whenever it suits their curiosity.

You may think, “But infants won’t understand what I’m saying. Can’t I wait until they are old enough to understand?”

This is about more than your child being able to understand what you are saying. It’s about normalizing the topic of surrogacy from the day you bring them home. That way, when the idea of being born via surrogate “clicks,” it’s not weird or uncomfortable. Instead, it will just be normal to them.

2. Children are more open-minded than you think.

Many parents put off telling children about their surrogacy, adoption or other non-traditional birth until they are older — but this choice can shock children later in life and have negative consequences. Children comprehend more than adults sometime give them credit for. Young children have curious minds and often accept facts at face-value. While they may not seem to “understand” the way you think they should, they will readily accept the information you give them. It will shape their identity in a positive way, rather than coming as a shock later in life that disrupts their personal identity.

3. It’s important to be age-appropriate.

As you explain your child’s surrogacy story to them, remember that what you tell them will typically be relayed back to their peers. What you may be comfortable telling your child may make others uncomfortable. That being said, it’s important to use proper terminology. Make it clear that the woman who carried them is not their mother, and they were not related to them. Younger children may not ask questions when you explain the basics to them, but don’t feel like you have to give them more information than they ask for. Judge the situation to prevent over-explaining and confusing your child.

4. Use available tools.

In order to normalize surrogacy from an early age, you can use books and other media designed specifically to introduce and explain surrogacy to children. These books can be an easier method of introducing the topic than a formal conversation, and they can allow for a more natural question-and-answer format than putting a child on the spot. You can find a list of surrogacy books here.

5. Create a surrogacy memory book.

Some children are visual learners. Therefore, it may be best to create a scrapbook commemorating your surrogacy journey and their birth story. That way, they can visually see the process you are explaining. They can put a face to a name when it comes to their surrogate (if they don’t have a personal relationship with her), and they can see the photos of themselves in a woman’s belly. As a child grows up, they will grow to treasure this book. It can be a great way for your child to visually explain their own birth story to friends and family as part of the celebration of their identity.

6. Consider how you will address any donors involved in their story.

If your child was born via a gamete donation, there is another complex aspect of their surrogacy story — their biological mother or father. While your child will not view their donor parent as a “real” parent, they will naturally be curious about their biological family and medical history. Don’t try to hide this information from them; it will only cause a feeling of betrayal later in life. A child’s donor parent is crucial to their identity as a child born via surrogacy. Before you even utilize a donor gamete, it’s important that you consider the benefits of anonymous vs. identified donors and how you will explain this relationship to your child as they grow up. Remember, your surrogacy specialist can offer guidance and advice for this conversation with your child.

7. Be open, excited and celebratory in your conversations.

Finally, remember that children are intuitive; they pick up on their parents’ emotions. Therefore, when you’re speaking with your child about surrogacy, make sure you express your excitement and pride in their unique birth story. Your child will no doubt feel a little different because of the way they were brought into the world, so make sure they understand that differences are what make the world an exciting place. Emphasize that surrogacy is something to be celebrated, and that you are always there for your child if they have any questions. When you are proud of your surrogacy journey, they will be, too.

Have more questions about how to explain surrogacy to your child born through this method? Don’t hesitate to reach out to your surrogacy specialist at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

3 Services Your Fertility Clinic Will Provide in Surrogacy

One of the most important professionals involved in a surrogacy process is a fertility clinic. While surrogacy agencies like American Surrogacy can complete every other step of the surrogacy process, intended parents and surrogates will need to select and work with a fertility clinic to complete the medical aspect of their surrogacy journey.

Know this: The terms “fertility clinic” and “surrogacy clinic” are interchangeable.  Many surrogacy clinics are also fertility clinics, assisting intended parents with many different assisted reproductive technologies. As surrogacy has become more popular, more general fertility clinics have expanded their services to include gestational surrogacy embryo transfers.

But, what other services do fertility clinics provide in surrogacy journeys? After all, it’s important to know exactly what to expect from a clinic in order to choose the one that is best for your surrogacy goals.

In general, there are three main services fertility clinics provide in surrogacy today:

1. Pre-Surrogacy Screening

Before a surrogate or an intended parent can pursue the surrogacy process, they must be cleared by several professionals. Each surrogacy professional and fertility clinic has its own requirements but, here at American Surrogacy, all surrogacy clients must undergo screening by a mental health professional and a physician to ensure they are mentally and physically ready for the challenges of the surrogacy process.

Most intended parents will have undergone medical screening prior to choosing surrogacy, if they have already created their embryos. If they have not, they will need to undergo this testing to create their embryos. Similarly, their surrogate must undergo medical testing to ensure she can carry a healthy baby to term.

Some fertility clinics also have psychologists on staff that can complete this mental health screening prior to any medical steps taking place. If your fertility clinic does not offer these services, your surrogacy specialist at American Surrogacy can help connect you to a trusted professional and coordinate necessary screening before moving forward with your surrogacy journey.

2. Egg Harvesting and Embryo Creation

In most cases, intended parents who choose to pursue surrogacy have already created their embryos for earlier infertility treatments. When it comes time for an embryo transfer to their surrogate, the embryos are ready — only the surrogate must take medical steps to prepare for the transfer.

However, if intended parents have not yet created embryos, they can do so at a fertility clinic of their choosing. Intended parents who are using their own egg and sperm will work closely with their medical professional to undergo the harvesting procedure and in vitro fertilization process. Intended parents who are in need of a donor gamete can work with their fertility clinic to obtain a donation. Many fertility clinics have connections with particular gamete banks or can help coordinate the donation process with a known egg or sperm donor.

Once the gametes are gathered, your fertility clinic will prepare for and complete the in vitro fertilization process. Sperm and egg cells will be combined in a laboratory under medical supervision, and resulting embryos are evaluated for quality through pre-implantation genetic screening. Only the best quality embryos will be used for embryo transfer.

IVF is the most-used assisted reproductive technology out there. For many fertility clinics, it’s the most common technique they offer. While there may be slight changes in the IVF process when surrogacy is involved, you can trust that your fertility clinic will be able to complete this step efficiently.

3. Embryo Transfer and Confirmation of Pregnancy

Once the embryos are ready for transfer (whether they are part of a fresh or frozen cycle), the fertility clinic will prepare the surrogate for the embryo transfer, too. She will usually be required to take certain fertility medications for a few weeks prior to and after transfer to establish and maintain a healthy pregnancy.

The embryo transfer itself is a fairly quick and routine procedure. A surrogate will typically be required to travel to the intended parents’ clinic for the transfer. A catheter will be inserted into her cervix, through which one or two high-quality embryos will be transferred. She may be required to rest for at least 48 hours after transfer to increase the chance of a successful implantation.

A week or two after the embryo transfer is complete, the surrogate will return to the fertility clinic for the pregnancy test. While she may have taken at-home pregnancy tests to monitor her hCG levels, the medical test at the clinic will officially confirm any pregnancy. If a pregnancy is confirmed, the surrogate will be released to her own obstetrician to receive prenatal care. If a pregnancy is not confirmed, the fertility clinic will work with both parties to schedule another embryo transfer, if possible.

Because your fertility clinic will play such a key role in your medical process of surrogacy, it’s critical that you choose a trusted medical professional to guide you through these steps. If you have not yet selected a fertility clinic, our specialists can always provide referrals to local clinics when you contact our agency at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

Remember, every fertility clinic is different, as is every intended parent’s and surrogate’s journey through surrogacy. Your own process may vary from what’s included here, and all surrogacy clients should speak with their doctor for more information about what their process will look like.

10 Thoughts Intended Parents Have During Surrogacy

It’s no secret — surrogacy is a long and complicated journey. If you are pursuing surrogacy to bring a child into your family, you may experience all kinds of emotional highs and lows along the way. Remember, it will all be worth it in the end.

That said, you’re not alone in feeling complicated emotions on your family-building journey. Here, we’ve gathered a few of the common thoughts that all intended parents have during their surrogacy process to help you prepare for the path ahead of you.

1. “Is this really the right path for us?”

Surrogacy is a big commitment to make — not only financially, but also in regards to the time and energy it will require from you as an intended parent. It can be hard to pull the trigger on such a process, especially if you’ve already spent years and a great deal of money on other infertility and IVF treatments. You may be torn between adoption and surrogacy. And, even after you choose surrogacy, there may still be lingering doubt of what’s the right choice for you.

This is all normal — and this is why American Surrogacy has surrogacy specialists available to answer your questions and address your concerns. Whether you are not sure that surrogacy is right for you, or you have normal doubts after committing to this process, let our professionals help.

2. “How are we going to afford this?”

Yes, surrogacy is expensive. It’s actually one of the biggest reasons that hopeful parents choose another family-building path. However, with proper financial planning (and research into grants and loans), you can afford surrogacy. Your surrogacy specialist will always be available to discuss our agency pricing and offer suggestions to help you afford the process of surrogacy.

3. “How will we ever find the perfect surrogate?”

It can be intimidating to find a woman to trust with your hopes and dreams of becoming a parent. After all, surrogacy is an intimate partnership, and it’s important that you are matched with a woman with whom you can create a genuine relationship.

When you work with American Surrogacy, the matching process is mutual, and you can know that every surrogate presented to you has already been pre-screened and approved for the surrogacy process.

4. “All this legal work is such a pain!”

Because surrogacy is a complicated process, there are a lot of legal steps required to protect not only your rights but also the right of your surrogate. Two separate surrogacy lawyers are needed to navigate the intricacies of your surrogacy contract, insurance, parental orders and more. It can seem like a lot at the time, but properly following legal requirements is crucial to making sure you, your surrogate and your baby are safe every step of the way.

5. “Are we bothering our surrogate too much?”

When your surrogate is carrying your baby, it’s completely normal to want to know how every single day is progressing. After all, you will be missing out on pregnancy and the development of your unborn baby, which can be a difficult thing to do. Even if you are present for milestones like ultrasounds and delivery, it’s not the same as being there for every second.

If you are worried about constantly being in contact with your surrogate, remember that she understands your situation. If you are in doubt about your contact frequency, refer to your surrogacy contract or contact your surrogacy specialist.

6. “Stop asking me rude questions!”

Surrogacy is still a new way of building a family. When you choose this path, you will likely receive questions and comments from friends and family — and some of them will be ignorant or insensitive. When you start hearing questions like, “How much are you paying?” and “What happens if the surrogate wants to keep the baby?” over and over again, it can grate on your nerves. However, remember that you will likely be most people’s first experiences with surrogacy, and this is an important opportunity to educate others about the non-traditional ways to build a family.

7. “I wish we could be carrying the baby…”

Pregnancy envy is a common emotion felt during surrogacy. If you are an intended mother, you may wish you could be the one experiencing your baby’s every moment in utero — that you could be the one feeling them move inside your uterus. Remember, these feelings are totally normal. If you are having difficulty moving forward from these feelings, speak with your surrogacy specialist. They can help you cope with the emotions you have and remind you that it will be all worth it in the end.

8. “This baby feels like it’s never going to come!”

When you’ve waited so long to have a positive pregnancy, waiting through the nine months of that pregnancy can seem like torture. You just want your little bundle of joy now! As tough as it can be, take this time to appreciate all of the things that won’t come as easily once you are a parent. Have spontaneous date nights and enjoy your last few months as the just the two of you before baby makes three.

9. “I never thought I’d have such a deep connection with my surrogate.”

Surrogates and intended parents have such a deep, intimate bond and a unique relationship. While it can sometimes surprise the surrogacy partners how close they can get during their surrogacy (and how close they stay after), it’s something that we treasure here at American Surrogacy — because we’ve seen it happen over and over. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself calling your surrogate a best friend by the time your journey is over.

10. “This was totally worth it.”

While you may experience some emotional ups and downs during your surrogacy process, one thing is for sure: You will experience an immense happiness when you finally have the child you’ve been dreaming about for so long. The challenges of your surrogacy journey will fade away the moment you hold your bundle of joy in your arms for the first time. As tough as it may be now, remember what awaits you in the future — and try to appreciate every moment that gets you a little bit closer.