Can I Find a Free Surrogate Mother for My Surrogacy Journey?

If you’re considering building your family through surrogacy, you know that you have an expensive route ahead of you. Surrogacy can be a complicated journey, and there are many moving parts and professionals required in order to complete this process safely and legally. There is not a great deal of options when it comes to making surrogacy more affordable, but there is one big one — deciding to find a free surrogate mother.

Often, the base compensation paid to a gestational carrier can be one of the largest aspects of an intended parent’s surrogacy cost. By eliminating this compensation, intended parents can pursue a significantly cheaper family-building journey.

However, the path to find a free surrogate mother is not as easy as it may seem. There are many things to consider before embarking on this kind of surrogacy journey and, when you learn more about it, you may even discover that it is not the right path for your family.

Below, we’ve tackled a few of the important facts about working with a surrogate mother for free to help you decide what is best for your family-building journey. Remember, our surrogacy professionals are always available at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) if you have any more questions about surrogacy costs, surrogate compensation and the possibility of working with an uncompensated gestational carrier.

Can a Surrogate Mother Do It For Free?

As you research surrogacy, you’ll likely first learn about the most common surrogacy path — compensated surrogacy. In this situation, a gestational carrier is paid base compensation (as well as reimbursement for any medical and pregnancy costs) in exchange for her services and sacrifice in carrying an intended parent’s baby. This process is available through most of the United States, depending on the laws of the state where the gestational carrier lives and will give birth.

However, you may also stumble across another surrogacy process: an altruistic surrogacy. During this process, intended parents find a free surrogate mother — someone who is willing to carry a child without receiving a base compensation. A woman’s medical and pregnancy costs will still be covered in this kind of surrogacy arrangement.

It is perfectly legal for a gestational carrier to carry a child altruistically. In fact, it is required in certain states that prohibit paid surrogacy contracts.

Are There Any “Pro Bono” Surrogate Mothers?

While it is certainly possible for a surrogate mother to do it for free, altruistic surrogacy is far less common than compensated surrogacy. Understandably, many women desire compensation when becoming a gestational carrier. After all, they are sacrificing their own time, energy and body to help someone else, and they often don’t feel comfortable doing so without some token of appreciation.

However, there are still women who are willing to complete altruistic surrogacies. Often, these are women who know the intended parents they wish to carry for. Perhaps a gestational carrier is a sister or friend of an intended mother, and she is happy to make this sacrifice for her loved ones. On the other hand, a woman may wish to become a traditional surrogate (in which she is related to the baby she carries) — a path which, in many states, cannot be legally completed if she receives base compensation. However, traditional surrogacy can be a risky legal and emotionally process that is uncommon today — and, even if you find a traditional surrogate for free, you should seriously consider the risks before moving forward with this path.

If you are looking to find a free surrogate mother, you might start by looking within your own network for an eligible friend or family member who wishes to carry for you. Otherwise, finding an altruistic surrogate is often a path you must take on your own. Many agencies (including American Surrogacy) typically work with gestational carriers who wish to receive compensation. So, to find a surrogate mother for free, you may need to search online and identify a surrogacy situation yourself.

Things to Consider About an Altruistic Surrogacy

For you, as an intended parent, working with a free surrogate mother may seem like the perfect path. It allows you to cut down on your surrogacy costs, of which there will be many. However, before you decide to pursue an altruistic surrogacy, it’s important that you think about this path from the perspective of the woman who will carry your child.

Surrogacy is a lot of work for a gestational carrier. Not only is she sacrificing a year or more of her time and energy to help you, she will also incur certain risks during the surrogacy process. A traditional pregnancy is risky for a pregnant woman, and a gestational pregnancy is no different — especially when you think about the extra medical procedures and medications required to impregnate a gestational carrier.

If a woman does not receive compensation as a token of her intended parents’ gratitude, she may feel taken advantage of — which can greatly impact your relationship with her. Similarly, if you are an intended parent in an altruistic surrogacy, you may feel incredibly indebted to your gestational carrier. These kinds of feelings can quickly cause tension in a relationship, even between friends and family members.

So, before you go looking for any “pro bono” surrogate mothers, we encourage you to reach out to our surrogacy specialists at 1-800-875-2229(BABY). Our specialists can discuss with you the pros and cons of this path, including the responsibilities you will have to take on if you choose to find a free surrogate mother instead of a compensated one. We can also explain the benefits of finding a compensated gestational carrier with our agency and help you get started whenever you are ready.

For more information, contact American Surrogacy today.

Learning About Gestational Diabetes for World Diabetes Day 2018

This Wednesday, Nov. 14, is World Diabetes Day — a day designed to bring awareness to the millions of people around the world living with different types of diabetes. As a surrogacy professional, American Surrogacy recognizes the importance of this day for many of our intended parents and gestational carriers, and we join with the International Diabetes Federation to help bring attention to this important issue.

But, because we are professionals who frequently deal with pregnant women, there is one important type of diabetes that we wish to highlight today: gestational diabetes.

What is Gestational Diabetes?

Like other forms of diabetes, gestational diabetes affects how well your cells can convert sugar — leading to a high blood sugar and other potential complications. The key difference is that gestational diabetes develops only during pregnancy.

There is no clear reason why some women develop gestational diabetes. Some doctors believe the elevated levels of hormones during pregnancy interfere with the action of insulin — the hormone that helps convert glucose into energy. Therefore, some women will experience a rise in blood sugar that can put themselves and the unborn baby at risk.

Often, pregnant women can control gestational diabetes with diet, exercise and medication. Controlling this condition is imperative; left unchecked, gestational diabetes can have serious effects on a woman’s health.

In most cases of gestational diabetes, blood sugar levels will return to normal soon after the baby is delivered. But, if a woman has previously had gestational diabetes, she is more at risk for developing it again during pregnancy or developing type 2 diabetes. Early intervention from a doctor is key to reducing the risks of this condition during pregnancy.

Who is at Risk for Gestational Diabetes?

Any pregnant woman can develop gestational diabetes, which is why a proper prenatal screening is so important in all pregnancies, including gestational pregnancies. But, there are a few important risk factors to be aware of:

  • Being over the age of 25
  • Having prediabetes or a family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Having gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy, previously delivering a baby more than 9 pounds, or having an unexplained stillbirth
  • Having a BMI of 30 or higher
  • Being of a nonwhite race

If you choose to become a gestational carrier, your reproductive endocrinologist will review your medical history and complete certain screenings to determine your risk of developing gestational diabetes during this journey.

How Does Gestational Diabetes Affect the Surrogacy Process?

Gestational diabetes can be an unpredictable condition, and some gestational carriers develop it during their surrogate pregnancies. Rest assured: Your surrogacy and medical professional will always be there to support you through this challenge, should it emerge.

But, you may be asking: If I have a history of gestational diabetes, can I still become a gestational carrier?

The answer to this question always depends upon your personal medical history. While women with type 1 and type 2 diabetes will often be disqualified from the surrogacy process, women who have had gestational diabetes may still be eligible. If your condition was successfully managed with a change in diet and exercise during your previous pregnancy, it will be more likely that a fertility clinic will approve you to move forward with this journey.

If you have a history of gestational diabetes, make sure to be honest with your surrogacy professional about your health history. Moving forward with a gestational pregnancy without acknowledging this fact can put you and the intended parents’ baby in real danger.

Diabetes affects about 9 percent of the U.S. population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. World Diabetes Day is one of the ways advocates work to spread awareness about this number — and the work being done to reduce this number in the future. We at American Surrogacy are happy to share information about this day and how you can get involved.

For more information about gestational diabetes and how it could affect your surrogacy journey, please call our specialists at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

5 Things to Look for in Intended Parents

Deciding who to carry for when you’re a gestational surrogate is a big choice. After all, these are the people who you will spend a year or more getting to know intimately and sacrificing so much of your personal time, effort and energy to help become parents. You shouldn’t choose just anyone to be your intended parents; American Surrogacy is here to help you find the perfect partner for this upcoming journey.

When you work with our agency, your surrogacy specialist will guide you through every process of locating prospective intended parents — but the ultimate decision of who to carry for will always be up to you. So, how do you know that certain intended parents are “the ones” for you?

As a gestational carrier, you likely have a few things you are looking for in your surrogacy partner. But, if you’re not sure what else to keep in mind, know there are a few common aspects that all good intended parents should have. Here’s what you should look for during your matching process:

1. Someone Who Shares Your Surrogacy Goals and Preferences

The first thing that every prospective surrogate should look for in intended parents is the same surrogacy goals and preferences. Every surrogacy journey is different; you will have different expectations than another gestational carrier. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure you match with a surrogacy partner who not only is comfortable with those desires but also wants the same thing in their surrogacy journey.

Some of the issues that you and your intended parents will want to align on include:

When you work with American Surrogacy, your surrogacy specialist will help you create a plan for your surrogacy journey. They will use this plan to identify intended parents who share the same desires.

2. Someone Who Meets Your Expectations

You will also need to create a list of desired characteristics for the intended parents for whom you carry. The surrogacy matching process is a mutual one, but you will have a say in what kind of parents you are comfortable carrying for. As part of your surrogacy plan, you will create a profile of your ideal intended parent, including characteristics such as:

  • Marital status
  • Sexual orientation
  • Location
  • Smoking or non-smoking
  • Family makeup
  • And more

Your surrogacy specialist will do all they can to present you with families who meet your expectations. Don’t feel like you have to agree to carry for a family who doesn’t have the characteristics you want; you can always wait longer for the perfect intended parents.

3. Someone Who Respects Your Opinions

Surrogacy is a partnership, so it’s important that your intended parents are ready to form a respectful relationship with you. If prospective intended parents disregard your personal preferences or try to change your mind about certain conditions you want, be wary. You have as much right to determine your surrogacy journey as intended parents do. Sometimes, you may need to say “no” to intended parents if they make you feel uncomfortable about your surrogacy preferences and goals.

4. Someone Who Wants to Get to Know You

On the same note, you’ll want to find intended parents who are genuinely interested in a positive relationship. Surrogacy has the potential for many ups and downs along the way, and having a strong relationship with intended parents will make a big difference.  If your intended parents are taking the steps to get to know you, your family and your surrogacy preferences, it means they wish to form the kind of relationship that will benefit you both during this journey.

During your initial conversations with intended parents, pay close attention to your conversation. Are they asking you questions about yourself, or does the conversation seem more about their own desires? That will clue you in to what these intended parents will really be like as the process continues.

5. Someone Who Gives You that Gut Feeling

Finally, when you’re choosing intended parents, it’s important to pay attention to your instincts. Many gestational carriers say they “just know” when intended parents are the right match — they just click. While you should keep all the other aspects mentioned above in mind, don’t underestimate the importance of a natural connection. That may be the final sign that you’re ready to move forward with your match.

Remember, every intended parent presented to you by your surrogacy specialist will have undergone screening to ensure they are ready for the surrogacy process. When you decide an intended parent is the right surrogacy partner for you, they will be ready to begin whenever you are.

Want to learn more about finding intended parents with American Surrogacy? Contact our surrogacy professionals for free by calling 1-800-875-2229(BABY) today.

How Long Does the Surrogacy Process Take?

No matter whether you’re an intended parent or prospective surrogate, we know that your time is precious. Even if surrogacy is one of your greatest dreams, there are likely other important aspects of your life that you have to plan around before committing to this life-changing process.

So, one of the most common questions from people like you is, “How long does the surrogacy process take?”

This is a good question for both prospective gestational carriers and intended parents to ask before getting started. Surrogacy will require a great deal from both parties in this journey, including a large time commitment from beginning to end. Knowing what to expect before starting will help ensure that your surrogacy journey meets your expectations.

While every surrogacy process is different, most surrogacy journeys take about 12 to 24 months to be completed. Certain aspects — such as the number of available surrogacy matches, medical processes and more — will determine how long or short your surrogacy journey will take.

Below, you’ll find a sample breakdown of the different steps involved. We always encourage you to reach out to our surrogacy specialists at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) for more detailed information on what your personal surrogacy timeline will look like.

Pre-Screening Stage: 2-4 Months for Gestational Carriers, 1 Month for Intended Parents with Created Embryos

Before either a gestational surrogate or an intended parent can even begin the surrogacy process, they must complete certain pre-screening steps. These steps exist to ensure that all parties are physically, mentally and emotionally ready for the potential challenges and rewards of the process ahead.

If you are a prospective gestational carrier, your first steps will be to fill out the initial application form and a social and medical history form. If you meet the basic surrogacy requirements, you will next undergo an in-home assessment completed by a trained social worker, as well as general backgrounds checks. You and your spouse will also need to complete a mental health and psychosocial evaluation.

If you are an intended parent pursuing surrogacy, you will first submit a planning questionnaire detailing your desires for your surrogacy journey. Then, you will undergo similar screening, including background clearances and, if needed, an in-home assessment. If you have already created embryos for your surrogacy journey, you will be able to complete your pre-screening stage fairly quickly. Otherwise, the process of creating embryos for a gestational surrogacy can greatly increase the time spent in this stage.

So, how long does this part of the surrogacy process take? That will depend upon your communication and coordination with your surrogacy specialist and any other professionals needed during this step.

Matching Stage: 1-3 Months

So, how long does the surrogacy process take after you have been approved? First, you’ll need to match with a surrogacy partner.

How long this step takes will depend upon your preferences for a surrogacy partner and the available surrogacy situations with your surrogacy professional. At American Surrogacy, our specialists employ a large network to find surrogacy situations and help you match with a partner as quickly as possible. For many intended parents and gestational carriers, this is the shortest step in the process. You will be presented a surrogacy profile, complete a conference call with your prospective match and finalize your match with a legal surrogacy contract.

Preparation for and Completion of Embryo Transfer: 3-6 Months

Once your surrogacy match has been confirmed with a contract (which usually takes one or two months), the medical process of surrogacy can begin. A gestational carrier will work closely with her intended parents’ fertility clinic to complete additional screening (done four to six weeks before the contract is signed) and to start a fertility medication protocol. This medication will allow reproductive endocrinologists to manage her cycle for 30 days prior to the embryo transfer process.

How long this step takes will depend upon several factors: the policies of the fertility clinic, any mock transfers that need to be completed, whether intended parents are using fresh or frozen embryos, and more. The embryo transfer process itself is done within an hour. The gestational carrier’s pregnancy levels will be tested twice in the following days, and she will undergo an ultrasound a few weeks later to confirm pregnancy.

If an embryo transfer is unsuccessful, that can increase the time spent on your surrogacy process. Your surrogacy contract will always detail any additional transfers that will be completed if the initial procedure fails to take.

Pregnancy: 9 Months

Once a gestational carrier is pregnant, both parties are in the home stretch of the surrogacy process. There are only nine months to go until a baby is born and the surrogacy process is complete!

A gestational carrier will receive prenatal care throughout her pregnancy to ensure she and the unborn baby are as healthy as possible during this time. Her intended parents will likely be present during certain appointments and milestones, including the baby’s birth.

Once the baby is born and any necessary parentage orders are completed, the surrogacy process will be over. Whether your surrogacy process takes more or less time than you expected, you will find it will all have been worth it when that little child enters the world.

Remember, every surrogacy journey is different, and yours may take longer or shorter than the average quoted by your surrogacy professional. At American Surrogacy, we make every effort to ensure your surrogacy journey meets your expectations, and we will do all we can to respect your timing desires, as well.

Have more questions about how long the surrogacy process takes? Please contact our surrogacy professionals today for more information.

Is It Possible to Get Twins from a Surrogate Mother?

In many cases, the people who pursue surrogacy had dreams of a large family — but found it was something they couldn’t achieve on their own or through infertility treatments. Looking into surrogacy, they may still have hopes of having more than one child as quickly as possible. Therefore, they may ask, “Is it possible to get twins from a surrogate mother?”

The answer is yes.  Whether it’s because of a natural split in the uterus, resulting in identical twins, or transferring two separate embryos that implant, having twins during the surrogacy process is definitely a possibility — but it does come with certain considerations.

Here at American Surrogacy, we are experienced with gestational pregnancies of twins, and our team is happy to help you start your surrogacy process today. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our specialists at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) but, in the meantime, keep reading to learn more about how it is possible to get twins from a surrogate mother.

Why Intended Parents Want Twins

It’s no secret that the surrogacy process is expensive. Intended parents who pursue this family-building path may have spent months or years saving up to afford the costs of a gestational surrogate carrying their biological child. So, it’s fairly common for them to ask, “Is it possible to get twins from a surrogate mother?” to get more “bang for their buck,” so to say. Rather than simply hoping for one healthy, biological child, they wonder if they can have a gestational carrier carry twins. This way, they can have the bigger family they dreamed about without having to go through the surrogacy process more than once.

In other situations, having twins via surrogacy may provide a genetic connection for both parents that would be otherwise impossible. Take, for example, a gay male couple. In a singleton surrogacy, only one of the fathers could be genetically related to a child. But, when a surrogate carries two children, each parent could have a genetically related child. For some parents, genetic connection isn’t always important — but a twin gestational pregnancy provides that option for those who want this advantage.

How a Multiples Gestational Pregnancy Occurs

There are two main ways in which it is possible to get twins from a surrogate mother.

The most common way is through multiple embryo transfer. In the majority of surrogacy journeys, reproductive endocrinologists evaluate the quality of intended parents’ embryos to ensure only the healthiest embryos with the best chance of implantation are transferred to a woman’s uterus. If more than one embryo has a high enough quality, two embryos may be transferred. The odds that both will implant are usually low but, when they do, a twin gestational pregnancy occurs.

The decision to transfer multiple embryos in one procedure will always be determined before the medical process of surrogacy begins. Because there are important things to consider about a multiples pregnancy (more on that below), intended parents and their gestational carrier will discuss this in depth and finalize their decision in their surrogacy legal contract.

Another less-common way that a multiples gestational pregnancy occurs is when a single embryo is implanted in a carrier’s uterus, only for that embryo to naturally split and create identical twins. In the general population, identical twin pregnancies only occur about 0.45 percent of the time, but there is evidence that using in vitro fertilization can increase that possibility to an overall 0.95 percent. Regardless, having identical twins via surrogacy is still rare — but not impossible.

The Cons of a Multiples Pregnancy

Before asking, “Is it possible to get twins from a surrogate mother?” ask yourself this: “Do I really understand the risks of a multiples gestational pregnancy?”

If you are an intended parent, it may be a bit easier to look to the advantages of having multiple children at once — but you need to think seriously about the risks you ask a gestational carrier to take on if you are interested in this path. There is a reason why many reproductive endocrinologists today recommend transferring a single embryo to a woman’s uterus during IVF, whether or not it’s a gestational pregnancy. When a woman carries more than one child, her risks of complications and potential dangers during her pregnancy greatly increase. Are you comfortable asking someone else to accept those risks on your behalf?

If your gestational carrier is pregnant with twins, there is a higher likelihood of:

  • Preterm labor and delivery
  • Low birth wright
  • Preeclampsia
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Placental abruption
  • Cesarean section
  • And more

So, yes, transferring multiple embryos to your gestational carrier’s womb can seem like the perfect way to complete your family in one IVF procedure, but this decision involves much more than that. You will need to speak at length with your fertility professional to determine what options are available in your situation and what the safest path is for your gestational carrier.

For more information about having twins via surrogacy, please reach out to our surrogacy specialists at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) and your personal reproductive endocrinologist.

5 Rules for Proper Etiquette with Your Surrogacy Partner

If you’re considering the surrogacy journey, it’s likely your first foray into this kind of family-building process. You may be excited and nervous all at the same time, and you may not even know where to start. But, once you have found your surrogacy partner, you’ll find that things seem to fall into place the way they were supposed to.

However, until that level of comfort comes, you may be unsure about how to build a relationship with your surrogate or intended parents. How do you speak with someone who is simultaneously still a stranger and yet holds your surrogacy dreams in their hands? What are some “dos” and “don’ts” for this shared journey that awaits you?

Remember, your surrogacy specialist at American Surrogacy is always here to answer whatever questions you have about surrogacy and help you prepare for this upcoming relationship. But, if you’re thinking about completing a surrogacy, there a few basic etiquette rules you can apply to every aspect of this journey moving forward.

1. Don’t assume.

Intended parents and surrogates always have the right to their own opinions when it comes to their surrogacy preferences and goals. Sometimes, those don’t always match up at the beginning. This is why the negotiation of a legal surrogacy contract is so important; it works out any differences surrogacy partners may have and establishes common expectations moving forward.

Until then, it’s important that you don’t assume your surrogate or intended parents think a certain way or share your desires. Don’t assume that a prospective surrogate is comfortable carrying altruistically without talking to her about it, and don’t assume that intended parents will be comfortable with your whole family being there for your surrogate pregnancy delivery. You know the saying about “assume”; if you hold expectations without talking to the other party, you will likely find yourself disappointed — which can severely impact your relationship.

2. Be respectful.

Just as the Golden Rule should be applied throughout your life, it should be a standard in your surrogacy journey as well. And you shouldn’t just apply it to your surrogacy partner — treat all of your surrogacy professionals with respect to ensure as positive a surrogacy process as possible.

There may be times when you and your surrogacy partner disagree, or times when your surrogacy professionals require extra steps you may have been unaware of. Remember that surrogacy is not all about you; take a deep breath to accept the things you cannot change. If you have difficulty maintaining a civil and respectful conversation, your surrogacy specialist will always be here to mediate between you and your surrogacy partner, if necessary.

3. Be cautious of over-sharing.

It’s normal to be excited about surrogacy, especially if this is your first journey down this path. You may want to share your news with everyone, but remember that surrogacy is more than just your journey. There is another surrogacy partner who must be considered.

Whether it’s regarding social media or in-person conversations, always be considerate in the amount and detail of information that you share with others outside your surrogacy journey. Parts of surrogacy can be incredibly personal and intimate, and you should never reveal certain aspects of your surrogacy journey without first discussing it with your surrogacy partner. In general, always be overly cautious with what you share about your surrogacy to be respectful of your partner’s privacy.

4. Be honest and open.

As part of being respectful to your surrogacy partner’s wishes, you will need to always be honest and open during your discussions. Surrogacy is a complicated process, and it relies heavily on the willingness of both parties to honestly share their history and desires. While compromises may be necessary to create a positive journey for each side, intended parents and surrogates need to always make clear what their non-negotiables, goals and preferences are.

On the same note, always be honest with your surrogacy professionals about your background and surrogacy wishes. This is the only way that your professional can tailor the best surrogacy experience and make sure that the surrogacy journey is a safe one for you.

5. Remember surrogacy is a partnership.

Perhaps the biggest thing to know about surrogacy etiquette is that surrogacy is, first and foremost, a partnership. Both intended parents and surrogates have to work closely with each other to make their surrogacy dreams come true. If you are not committed to building a strong, mutually respectful relationship with your surrogacy partner, it’s highly unlikely your surrogacy journey will be the best it can be.

As tempting as it can be to focus on your own desires, remember to keep your surrogacy partner in mind during the whole time you take this journey together. Doing so will help you adhere to the rest of the surrogacy etiquette: being open to their suggestions, being honest about your desires, and just genuinely keeping their interests in mind as you go about your surrogacy process.

Working with a surrogacy partner can be an exciting — but nerve-wracking — part of this family-building process. But, when you work with American Surrogacy, your surrogacy specialist will help you prepare for this partnership and support you every step of the way. For more information about our surrogacy services, please call 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

7 Misconceptions You May Have About the Embryo Transfer Process

There are a lot of things to consider if you are thinking about becoming a gestational surrogate. This journey will require a great deal of your time and energy (not to mention your body), and it’s not a commitment that any woman should take lightly.

One of the big requirements of surrogacy is the medical process you will subject yourself to. Before you even carry a child for nine months with the risks and responsibilities of pregnancy, you will need to undergo fertility medication and the embryo transfer procedure. You already know what to expect from your pregnancy, but you may be completely unaware of what the embryo transfer process really entails. There may even be a few questions on your mind:

  • How bad do the fertility shots hurt?
  • How long does the process take?
  • Do you have to have sex with the other person’s partner in order to become a surrogate mother?
  • How many embryo transfers will I have to go through?

These are all common questions to have. Fortunately, the surrogacy specialists at American Surrogacy are here to help. They can answer every question you have about the medical process of surrogacy to alleviate your concerns and, when you’re ready, help you get started with your surrogacy journey. To learn more today, you can always call 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

In order to know what to expect, it’s first important to recognize any misinformation that you may have heard about this process. Below, find seven common myths about in vitro fertilization and the embryo transfer process as they pertain to becoming a gestational surrogate.

  1. Surrogacy requires “natural” ways of conceiving.

Sometimes, prospective surrogates unfamiliar with the medical process of surrogacy ask, “In order to be a surrogate mother, do you have to have sex with the other person’s partner?”

While this method of surrogacy was common in earlier centuries, the advance of in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination eliminated this practice. Today, the practice of conception in surrogacy is achieved in a laboratory setting, all under the watchful eye of a reproductive endocrinologist. Surrogates do not have to be intimate with the intended father; this kind of relationship would cause far more harm than good. In fact, during the process to become a surrogate, you will have to abstain from all kinds of sexual intercourse — even that with your own spouse or partner.

  1. You have to take a lot of painful shots to become a surrogate.

Preparing for the embryo transfer process does take a lot of time and energy — but for good reason.  A reproductive endocrinologist wants to make sure a potential carrier is as healthy as possible before transferring an embryo, to give all parties the best possible chance of success. In many cases, a prospective surrogate will take certain pills and shots in order to achieve the best conditions for pregnancy.

However, every surrogate’s medical protocol is different. Some surrogates may need to take more shots than others, while some women may not take any at all. While it can be helpful to speak with other surrogates about their medical experience, the only person who can tell you what to expect in your pre-transfer medical protocol is your reproductive endocrinologist.

  1. Fertility medication causes cancer.

This myth has existed for a while, mostly from fear that ovarian stimulation would stimulate cancer cells, as well. The fact is fertility medication has not been proven to cause cancer; otherwise, professionals would not prescribe it. Your medical professional will always explain the potential side effects of your medication before beginning the protocol to ensure you are comfortable moving forward.

  1. Your reproductive endocrinologist will transfer several embryos for the best chance of success.

As recent as a decade ago, it was common for fertility doctors to transfer as many embryos as possible for the best chances of a successful pregnancy. Today, it’s a bit different. New methods of screening embryos have emerged, giving medical professionals the ability to determine which are the healthiest embryos before transfer occurs. By choosing only the best embryo for transfer, fertility doctors today improve the chances of conception and reduce the risks associated with multiple births.

As a surrogate, you always have the right to choose how many embryos per transfer you are comfortable with. This will be addressed in your surrogacy contract.

  1. The embryo transfer process is painful.

Actually, the embryo transfer process is fairly quick and easy — it only takes about five minutes! The process of transferring an embryo to a uterus is a fairly quick one. Many women compare it to the feeling of a pap smear. It may be a bit uncomfortable, and you may feel slight pressure, but it will be over before you know it and you will likely experience minimal side effects.

  1. Your embryo transfer will succeed the first time around.

While fertility doctors do their best to ensure a successful embryo transfer, the odds are often against you as a surrogate. Even when all factors are advantageous, the live birth rate for each embryo transfer is around 40 percent for women under 35 years old, and that probability decreases the older a woman is. You may have to undergo more than one embryo transfer before becoming pregnant, and it’s usually a situation out of your control. As a surrogate, you will also get the chance to determine how many embryo transfers you are comfortable with in one surrogacy journey before you even begin.

  1. Any unused embryos will be destroyed.

The issue of unused embryos in IVF can be a sensitive one, even if you are not an intended parent. Keep in mind that the storage and use of any extra embryos will always be up to the intended parents — but not all intended parents will automatically dispose of leftover embryos.

If embryos are deemed healthy enough, they may be donated to other families in need for an embryo adoption. Embryos deemed unhealthy (that is, they would not survive if implanted in a woman’s uterus) are likely disposed of. Intended parents may also choose to store their embryos indefinitely while they make a decision. Wherever you stand on the debate about when life starts, remember that this will be not your concern as a surrogate, although it is something to consider your feelings on before starting the IVF process.

For more information on the medical process of surrogacy and whether surrogacy is right for you, please reach out to our surrogacy specialists today.

5 Things to Know About Raising a Donor-Conceived Child

Surrogacy can be a scary enough concept for hopeful intended parents — but, if you are in need of a sperm or egg donation to complete your surrogacy, you may be even more nervous about the path ahead. Raising a child born from surrogacy comes with its own unique challenges, and raising a child born from a gamete donation is no different.

Fortunately, there are many resources available to you if you are considering surrogacy with a donated gamete. Many intended parents have been in your situation, and they are successfully raising children born from a donated gamete in a healthy and positive way. You can, too.

Know that the surrogacy specialists at American Surrogacy can always discuss this situation in more detail with you. We can answer all your questions about surrogacy and donated gametes, as well as help you move forward with the process whenever you are ready. To learn more today, please contact our agency at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

In the meantime, we’ve gathered a few things that every intended parent should know if they are considering surrogacy with a donated gamete.

1. Identified gamete donors promote positive self-identity in children.

One of the first decisions that intended parents considering surrogacy with a donated gamete have to make is whether to use an anonymous or identified donor. Many fertility specialists and surrogacy professionals encourage the use of an identified donor — for many reasons.

Choosing an anonymous sperm or egg donor may seem like the easiest way to go about this process, but intended parents need to consider their child’s future well-being. What will happen when their child has questions as they grow up? How will they answer them? What happens if a medical emergency occurs, and a child does not have their full updated medical history?

If you choose an identified donor, you will have access to medical history and more. An identified donor is always available for contact and information if necessary, as well as to provide answers to your child that you may not have as they develop their identity.

2. You should not keep the gamete donation a secret.

Even if you choose a sperm or egg donor who looks similar to your family, gamete donation should not be a secret. Your child deserves the right to know their full history. Imagine a day where your child might develop a dangerous genetic disease; if they are operating under false assumptions about their genetic heritage, their life could be in danger.

This isn’t even to mention the situations in which children find out about their gamete donor later in life. It can severely impact a child’s self-identity to feel betrayed or lied to by their parents. They will have created a self-identity that may be based on completely false information. Being honest about a sperm or egg donation from the beginning is much more preferable than this circumstance, which can destroy relationships between children and parents.

3. Your child will have questions — and this is completely normal.

Even if you make your child’s surrogacy and gamete donation story an open topic of conversation as they grow up, your child will always have questions. You may not be able to answer all of them. A child goes through normal phases of interest and disinterest about their history as they grow up; it’s all a part of developing their self-identity. Therefore, intended parents need to be ready for the day that these questions about a sperm or egg donor come.

If a child starts asking about their genetic history, it is not a sign that they are looking for their “real parents.” In fact, that’s not it at all. If you have been open and respectful with your child about their genetic history, they will continue to respect and love you. Questions about background are normal for anyone to have; in the case of donor-conceived children, they just have to go to someone else to find the answers. Don’t ever take it as a sign that you aren’t “enough” of a parent for your child.

4. The Donor Sibling Registry can be an invaluable tool.

As your child learns more about their genetic history, they may have questions about extended biological family members. Remember: Your child finding their biological family is not a bad thing. If anything, it’s a positive to gain more family members!

To aid your child in your future search, you could choose to sign your child up in the Donor Sibling Registry (DSR) as soon as they are born. That way, your child and your child’s half-siblings and genetic relatives can contact each other to share personal relationships and provide up-to-date family medical information. Signing your child up for this registry in advance will show them your commitment and respect for their personal surrogacy and donor-conceived story.

5. Gamete donation is a lifelong journey for parents and their children.

Finally, keep this in mind if you are considering surrogacy with a donor gamete: Many forms of assisted reproductive technology are a lifelong journey, and surrogacy and gamete donation are no different. While you may think your journey in these processes will be over once your child is born, you will need to make these topics an open conversation and a source of pride as long as your child lives. Respect any decisions they make to seek out biological relatives and support them in that journey. Answer any questions they have and help them find any you can’t answer. You will always be your child’s parent; it will be up to you what kind of parent you choose to be for them.

To learn more about surrogacy with a donated gamete, please contact American Surrogacy today.

What Happens If a Surrogate Gets a New Partner During Her Journey?

Many of the women who choose to become surrogates have a supportive spouse to assist them along the way. However, being married or in a committed relationship is not a requirement to become a surrogate. Many single women have become surrogates and successfully helped to bring a child into the world — and you can, too!

The process of surrogacy can take a long time, but we never ask gestational surrogates to feel like they have to put their life on hold during this journey. Single surrogates are no exception. If you have been dating prior to your surrogacy journey and feel like continuing that process, we have no restrictions on you doing so.

If you do choose to continue dating during your surrogacy journey, you may find that you meet a great potential partner after you have begun your surrogacy process. But, this can be a complicated situation — how do you explain your decision to your new partner? How will your journey affect your budding relationship?

Remember, your surrogacy specialist will always be there to support you through your entire surrogacy process, even complicated situations like this one. Building a new romantic relationship and being a surrogate don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but there are some important things you should know ahead of time.

Do I Have to Tell My Surrogacy Professional?

At American Surrogacy, we don’t want to micromanage your life as a surrogate — and neither will your intended parents. However, bringing a new romantic and sexual partner into your surrogacy journey is something that will affect all parties. As soon as your new relationship has the potential for sexual contact, you will need to inform your surrogacy specialist right away. You won’t have to ditch your new partner, but there are a few steps you’ll have to take moving forward.

When you first become a surrogate, you will have been tested for communicable diseases. This is to ensure that the baby you carry will not contract any of these diseases or infections during your pregnancy or delivery process. Any surrogate who is married or in a committed relationship at the time of her screening would have included her partner in these medical checks. If you gain a new sexual partner during your surrogacy, it is no different.

Before you have any sexual contact with your new partner, it’s important that he or she is tested for any communicable diseases or infections. This will make sure you and the baby you’re carrying stay safe through every step of the process. If your new partner tests positive for any infectious or communicable diseases, it doesn’t mean you have to break up — it just may mean that any sexual relationship between you will need to be delayed until after the baby is born.

For more information about this, reach out to your surrogacy specialist or your fertility clinic.

How Do I Explain My Surrogacy Journey to My New Partner?

Now that you know this, you may be anxious about how to bring up that testing — not to mention your surrogacy journey in general — with your new partner. We understand that surrogacy can be a damper on a new relationship, but it’s an important part of your life for a year or more. It cannot be a secret.

Dating while being a surrogate is an interesting situation, and it’s one you should prepare for if you are a entering this process while single. Fortunately, there are helpful stories from women in similar situations; you can usually find them on surrogacy boards and support groups.

There’s one thing to keep in mind if you’re dating while taking the surrogacy journey: If that partner is really interested in you, they will be okay with your decision.

But, how do you tell them about it?

In many ways, telling prospective partners about your upcoming or current surrogate pregnancy is the same as telling family and friends about your surrogacy decision. You’ll want to make sure they fully understand the process, that you discuss your reasons, and that you give them the chance to ask questions. If they seem to accept and support your decision, you may find that pursuing this relationship will be easier than expected. You don’t necessarily have to bring up the idea of screening right away, just as soon as the idea of a sexual relationship seems likely.

Being a surrogate is a relatively short period in your life, but it is one that will affect every aspect of your life — even your dating life. Your surrogacy specialist will always be here to help you navigate these complexities, and there are plenty of surrogacy support groups that you can turn to for more advice. With proper preparation, you can continue to balance your dating life with your life as a surrogate — and be fulfilled in each journey, too!

Surrogacy Laws & “Medical Necessity”: What Does It All Mean?

Surrogacy provides a great way for hopeful intended parents to add to their family. Usually, the process is not restricted for intended parents; as long as they meet the basic requirements set by state laws and their surrogacy professionals, they can choose surrogacy to bring a genetically related child into their home.

However, in addition to the medical and psychological screening all intended parents must undergo, some intended parents may be subject to one more requirement: “medical necessity.” Whether it’s because of a requirement set by their surrogacy professional or their state laws, proving medical necessity can be just one more hurdle to hopeful parents achieving their family-building dreams.

If you’ve heard the term “medical necessity” in your surrogacy research, you may have a few questions. What does it mean to “medically need” surrogacy, and how do you know if you are subject to this requirement?

You can always contact a surrogacy specialist at American Surrogacy for more information, but we’ve also provided some of the basic things you need to know about this topic below.

What Does “Medical Necessity” Mean?

Today, there are two states that require “medical necessity” in order for a surrogacy contract to be enforced: Louisiana and Utah. In both cases, these states’ surrogacy laws mandate that an intended mother must be medically proven to be unable to bear a child and cannot use another reproductive method to add a child to her family. However, these states do not go into more detail about exactly what this “medical necessity” might entail.

In Louisiana, a physician in obstetrics and gynecology and/or reproductive endocrinology must provide an affidavit that an intended mother’s medical condition requires a gestational surrogate. Utah requires the same kind of “medical evidence” in order to validate a gestational surrogacy agreement.

Fortunately, because there are no state regulations on exactly what this term means, all intended parents need in these states is to receive documentation from their doctor affirming their inability to safely and successfully have a child in any other way than gestational surrogacy. If you have further questions about obtaining this affidavit, speak to your fertility specialist and your local surrogacy attorney. They will help you meet this requirement before moving forward with your surrogacy journey.

5 Conditions that May Lead to Medical Necessity for Surrogacy

There are many reasons why an intended mother may be medically unable to carry a child to term. Infertility is a complicated thing, and every intended parent’s path with this challenge will be unique. However, there are a few common reasons why gestational surrogacy may be deemed “medically necessary” for an intended mother.

  1. Unexplained Infertility

In some ways, this can be the hardest path for intended parents. About 1 in 8 American couples struggle with infertility at some point and, for some intended parents, their infertility issues go unexplained. Infertility is usually described as failure to conceive after having unprotected sex for 12 months. Intended parents in this situation are encouraged to see a medical professional, who may suggest fertility treatments. If those treatments fail, gestational surrogacy may be that couple’s only option.

  1. Lack of a Uterus or Vagina

Some women are born without a uterus, while other women undergo hysterectomies early in life to treat conditions like endometriosis. Other times, women have congenital malformations, which can include the absence of a vagina — making traditional conception and delivery impossible. For these women, gestational surrogacy is the only way they can have a genetically related child carried to term.

  1. Scarring on the Uterus

In other cases, women with otherwise healthy uteruses find they cannot conceive or carry a child to term because of extensive uterine scarring. This scarring can be caused by fibroids, a past surgery and scar tissue. Uterine scarring makes it difficult for an embryo to implant and receive the nutrients it needs while it grows. A gestational surrogate’s healthy uterus can often provide a more welcoming environment during this crucial stage.

  1. Complicated Previous Pregnancies and/or Miscarriages

Some intended parents have been able to conceive and carry previous pregnancies — but many of them have either experienced miscarriages or other complications along the way. For intended mothers who already have one child, secondary infertility may be the reasoning behind choosing gestational surrogacy. Usually, a woman’s obstetrician will inform her of the dangers of another pregnancy and may suggest surrogacy instead.

  1. Existing Medical Conditions

Finally, some intended mothers must use gestational surrogates because of existing medical conditions that make pregnancy exceedingly dangerous for them. These conditions often include heart disease, kidney disease, or severe diabetes. Any previous pregnancy conditions (like preeclampsia and gestational diabetes) can also impact a woman’s ability to safely carry a child to term without putting her own life at risk. Usually, conditions like these are noted before pregnancy by a woman’s personal physician, although some may not appear until a woman has already become pregnant. This is why close care from an experienced obstetrician is so important for all women, including intended mothers and gestational surrogates.

What If You’re Experiencing Social Infertility?

Not all intended mothers and fathers have a “medically necessary” reason for choosing gestational surrogacy. For example, single gay and straight fathers may wish to have a child on their own, while gay male couples will need a surrogate to carry a child for them.

If you live in a state that requires “medical necessity” to pursue surrogacy, and you’re in one of these situations, know that you do have options. You can always match with a surrogate in another state where medical necessity is not required. You can also speak with a local surrogacy attorney and surrogacy professional to determine what paths are available for you in your home state if you wish to pursue gestational surrogacy.

Medical necessity doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker for intended parents considering surrogacy. If you wish to have a child through this family-building method, there are options. To learn more about them, please call our agency at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).