New York Legalizes Gestational Surrogacy

After a long back-and-forth battle in the state legislature, the Child-Parent Security Act was finally passed as part of the 2020 New York State Budget on April 2, 2020. The Act now legalizes gestational surrogacy in New York State, allowing intended parents and gestational carriers to join in enforceable compensated gestational surrogacy contracts.

Protecting Modern Families Coalition has been working with New York lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to push for the Act’s legalization over the last 10 years. The Act now brings New York into the modern age of surrogacy, allowing intended parents’ rights to be recognized from the moment of their child’s birth.

The Act also allows for:

  • Compensated gestational surrogacy arrangements
  • Legal protections for gestational surrogates, including:
    • The right to make all health and welfare decisions regarding themselves and their pregnancy, including whether to terminate or continue the pregnancy
    • Independent legal counsel of their choosing, paid for by the intended parents
    • Access to a comprehensive health insurance policy paid for by the intended parents
    • Access to counseling and life insurance
  • Simplified process of securing parenthood for non-biological parents
  • Single women to legally and successfully use a sperm donor to build their family

New York, like its neighbor New Jersey, has a history of anti-surrogacy policies, stemming from the infamous “Baby M” case in the 1980s. For decades, intended parents in New York had to travel to another state to bring a child into their family — often thousands of miles to the surrogacy capitol of the U.S., California. Their stories and the tireless work of family advocates and lawyers like those at Rumbold & Seidelman brings those family-building processes closer to home.

“The Child-Parent Security Act will serve as a national model for forming and protecting families as well as the surrogates who want to help them,” said Rev. Stan J. Sloan, CEO of Family Equality (the organization spearheading the Protecting Modern Families Coalition). “New York has a proud tradition of progressive leadership, and today we add to the legacy of Seneca Falls and Stonewall by saying loudly and clearly that love makes a family.”

American Surrogacy applauds these protections to New York surrogacy legislation and stands ready to help intended parents and prospective surrogates in the Empire State reach their surrogacy dreams. For more information about working with our agency, please call 1-800-875-BABY(2229) or contact us online.

Can You Be a Surrogate If You’re Going Through a Divorce?

You know that every married gestational carrier needs the approval and support of her spouse before she can start the surrogacy process. But, what if your marriage is on the rocks or you sense a divorce in the future? Can you still be a surrogate?

A spouse’s involvement in surrogacy is about more than just emotional support. There are practical and legal matters that must be discussed and agreed upon. If you and your spouse’s relationship is on shaky grounds, it can easily cause huge complications in your surrogacy journey.

Our specialists are always available to answer your questions about your spouse’s involvement in your surrogacy journey. You can contact us online or call us anytime at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) to get answers to your questions. In the meantime, we’ve provided some basic information below to help you learn more.

If You’re Currently Going Through a Divorce

Perhaps surrogacy was a journey you imagined going through together with your spouse — both of you helping to create a family in the most selfless and beautiful way possible. But, when your relationship begins to crack, that future may seem farther away than ever.

Still, your desire to be a surrogate probably isn’t something that will go away just because your marriage is reaching its end. Whether you’re in the middle of divorce proceedings or are wrapping up the final legal details, you may ask, “Can I start becoming a surrogate while I’m getting divorced?”

The process of becoming a surrogate does take some time, so you might anticipate your divorce being finalized long before any matching and medical steps take place. However, divorce proceedings can take a while, too, so there is always the possibility the two will overlap. For this reason, we encourage prospective surrogates to hold off on their applications until after their divorce proceedings finalize. After all, divorce takes a great deal of time and emotional energy. While you may want to distract yourself and look forward to the next adventure in your life, it can often be too much to try to start surrogacy before this step is complete.

You are always welcome to reach out to our specialists beforehand to learn more about the surrogacy process. They can answer your questions and help you determine whether being a gestational carrier will be the right move for you after your divorce is complete.

Starting Divorce Proceedings During Surrogacy

Ideally, every surrogate would enter into her journey with a solid, supportive relationship. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Either because of long-time disagreements or abruptly changing circumstances, some surrogates may find their marriages breaking down after they’ve already started the surrogacy process.

Before we get into those details, you need to understand why your spouse will always be legally involved in the surrogacy process. Laws on parental rights vary by state, and it’s possible that your spouse will be declared the legal father or mother of the child at birth, even though they are not genetically related to the baby. That’s why every surrogate’s spouse is required to sign surrogacy contracts and work with the attorney to ensure parental rights are assumed by the intended parents upon birth, not the surrogate and her spouse.

If you haven’t yet signed surrogacy contracts but anticipate an upcoming divorce, your specialist will likely want you to wait until the divorce is final before doing so. Otherwise, there may be additional legal issues with your spouse being declared the legal father after birth, which can complicate legal proceedings for the intended parents. You’ll also need your spouse to sign the agreement, as well, because their support is vital to your success. If you two are not on good terms, you may not get the signature you need.

If you have already completed legal contracts, and you and your spouse are discussing divorce, let your specialist know as soon as possible. We understand this is a personal and sensitive topic, but any drawn-out legal proceedings you enter into during your surrogacy can influence your journey moving forward. The intended parents have a right to know about this, too.

By keeping your specialist in the loop, we can offer the support and guidance you may need as you determine what steps to take from here. We can also refer you to counselors and other resources that can help you and your spouse during this difficult time.

If Your Spouse Isn’t On Board With Your Decision

When you first begin your surrogacy journey, your specialist will talk to you at length about the importance of your spouse being supportive of your decision. If you and your spouse are having issues in your relationship and they do not support your choice to be a surrogate, it’s not as simple as just ignoring them and continuing anyway. If you are still married at the time you begin your journey, they will have a role to play in your surrogacy.

Many surrogates’ spouses are uncomfortable with the idea of surrogacy at first, even those who have solid, supportive relationships. If your spouse is unsure about you being a surrogate, you’ll need to talk with them in depth about your decision. Take the chance to educate them about how the process really works and what will be expected of them along the way. Make it clear why you’re choosing this path and how much their support will mean to you. Even if you are not legally married at the time you start, your spouse’s help will be instrumental as you commit a great deal of time to this journey moving forward.

We know that surrogates come from many different backgrounds and life experiences, which is why our specialists are always happy to talk about how yours may influence your journey as a gestational carrier. Whatever your current marital situation is, give us a call anytime at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) or contact us online to get answers to your questions. We can also offer guidance on talking to your spouse about surrogacy, if it is needed.

5 Things Same-Sex Intended Parents Are Tired of Hearing

Gay individuals and same-sex couples are subjected to plenty of weird and invasive questions and comments. For some reason, you’re often seen as the ambassador for all things LGBTQ+.

Now that you’re beginning the surrogacy process, you’ll likely start receiving the “gay surrogacy” questions and comments, too.

This can be extra irritating when you’re setting out on one of the most important journeys of your lives — becoming parents! Instead of everyone’s focus being on that exciting news, you may find yourself answering the same insensitive questions over and over. It can be frustrating, but remember that you are not alone.

To help you prepare, here are five things same-sex intended parents are sick of hearing:

1. “Is the surrogate the mother?” “Who was the father?”

The biggest difference between opposite- and same-sex couples pursuing surrogacy is that same-sex couples need a gamete donor. That’ll be pretty obvious to anyone who hears your good news. So, naturally, they’ll be curious. But there’s a lot to explain when you get this question.

First, a gestational surrogate isn’t the biological mother. She’s just an amazing person who is willing to carry someone else’s baby! Second, even if the donor is known, that information isn’t always going to be shared, largely for privacy reasons. Third, and most importantly, the people who are up all night with their crying baby, who give out kisses and time-outs — they are the only parents that matter, regardless of biological ties.

2. “Which of you is the biological mom/dad?”

Again, because the need for a donor is fairly obvious, people are often overly-focused on biological ties. It’s usually what they’re most familiar with. But the answer is always, “Both of us are the mom/dad.”

The two of you love your child equally, regardless of genetics. This question is frustrating because it places emphasis on blood over love, which, as you know, is an outdated way of defining “family.”

3. “So, who is ‘the dad’ and who is ‘the mom’ in your family?”

Get out of here with your weird gender roles, OK? It’s concerning that people have this image of “the male role” and “the female role” in LGBT relationships — and even in opposite-sex relationships! That’s an unhealthy construct for any family.

Besides all that, you and your partner are both equally “the mom” and “the dad,” if that’s what people need to call it. You’ll both take care of your children, love and nurture them, and you’ll both work to make sure your family is provided for. That’s just what good parents do.

4. “What will your child call you?”

Having two dads or two moms means you don’t have opposite-sex parent names of “Mom and Dad,” and people quickly realize this. So, they’ll want to know how your child won’t get confused — as if kids can’t tell the difference between his or her parents somehow.

Whether you’re a “Dad and Papa” kind of family, or you’re both “Mommy,” your child won’t care what you’re called — you’ll both be their favorite people in the world.

5. “I’m so glad you’re finally getting a baby.”

Whether through adoption or surrogacy, same-sex couples are often congratulated on “getting” a baby, not “having” a baby — as if a baby was something easily and casually picked up at the store instead of painfully fought for.

Additionally, the phrase “getting” a baby depersonalizes the whole process. It makes it sound as if the baby isn’t yours — which, again, whether through adoption or surrogacy, your child is always “yours” — because you’re the ones who will love and raise him or her for life. You’re not babysitting; you’re becoming a parent. That deserves all the celebration and respect that opposite-sex couples who are able to biologically have children receive.

What are some of the things people have said to you and your spouse during the surrogacy process as an LGBT family? Let us know in the comments!

5 Gift Ideas for a Surrogate During Her Pregnancy

Surrogates and intended parents form a special bond during the surrogacy process, one that will last a lifetime. Naturally, every intended parent wants to find the best way to express their feelings and heartfelt appreciation. After all, a surrogate spends all of her time and energy to give you the greatest gift of all: the chance to become a parent.

It’s important to show your surrogate how much her decision, and your relationship, means to you — and a thoughtful gift is the perfect way to do that! But, there’s probably one question on your mind: “What exactly is the perfect gift for our surrogate?”

There aren’t any hard and fast rules when it comes to gift-giving during your surrogate’s pregnancy. So, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. You also shouldn’t feel pressured to give a certain amount that you’re not comfortable with. With any present, the most important qualities are thoughtfulness and sincerity. If you have those, then we know that your surrogate will love whatever you pick.

Below, you’ll find five of our suggestions for gift ideas.

1. Start Your Search Online

There are plenty of great places, like Etsy.com, where you can easily find surrogacy-themed gifts. There’s so much to look at on this site that you might even have a hard time narrowing down your options. Shirts, mugs, and handmade cards are just some of the few great ideas that you might decide to go with.

If you’re thinking about going the extra mile, you could also get a piece of jewelry engraved from stores that specialize in personalization like Things Remembered.  A personalized gift is a great way to give your surrogate something that she’ll cherish for a lifetime.

2. Personalized Gift Boxes

Gift boxes and baskets aren’t exclusive to the holidays. A basketful of surprises tailored especially for your surrogate could be just what she needs after a stressful day. You could either look for a curated one online, or you could pick out the items yourself. Think about where she’s at in her pregnancy while you’re looking for the right items. For example, a heating pad, pregnancy pillows and a book she’s been dying to read are the perfect way to pamper her after a long, stressful day. If you know your way around a kitchen, you could add some delicious homemade sweets to the box, including what she’s craving, too.

3. Delivery!

Who wouldn’t be happy with a surprise delivered to their front door? A delivery gift can help take some of the stress off of your surrogate’s shoulders. A handpicked bouquet with some of her favorite flowers would be the perfect pick-me-up after a stressful day. You can also take advantage of meal kit delivery services from companies like Blue Apron or HelloFresh. This way, your surrogate won’t have to worry about meal prepping on top of everything else. A fruit basket, like one from Edible Arrangements, can also be a great way to add some fun colors to their home. Of course, any surprise delivery can make your surrogate’s day, so don’t be afraid to try out any other ideas you have.

4. Gift Cards

Gifts cards are the perfect way to let your surrogate treat herself! Massages to help her relax and relieve some stress, a movie night, a mani-pedi, or a night out at her favorite restaurant are all great options. If your surrogate is looking for some new maternity clothes or other pregnancy-related items, you could also give her a gift card to her favorite store. Remember that any amount you give, even if it’s not a large amount, is a great way to make her feel special.

5. Handmade Gifts

If you’re thinking of taking a page out of Etsy’s book, you might make your own handmade gift. Not everything has to cost money, and it will mean so much more to your surrogate for her to know that you made it yourself. A hand-knitted scarf, quilt, or a blanket are just a few of the great ways to show your surrogate how much you’re thinking of her. You could even make themed items for Christmas and Halloween! When your surrogate holds your gift, she’ll always remember how much thought and care you put into making it special. This is a great opportunity to get creative and make something memorable that will last for years to come.

If you’ve found something that you think your surrogate will really like, go for it! As long as it’s something that you picked out from the heart, we’re sure that she’ll love it. Knowing that you’ve been thinking of her during their pregnancy will mean more than you know.

Don’t forget that you can also reach out to your surrogacy specialist if you’re having trouble picking out the perfect gift. Happy searching!

7 Things First Time Surrogates Should Be Ready For

You know what it’s like to be pregnant and to give birth. But surrogacy is an entirely new rodeo. Here are seven things that first-time surrogates should know before they start:

The Number of Appointments

As you’ll remember from previous pregnancies, there can be quite a few appointments involved in a standard, healthy pregnancy. With a gestational pregnancy, however, the number of appointments will be significantly increased.

Even after all the appointments and scheduled tests confirm that you’re physically healthy enough for surrogacy, you’ll need to attend appointments for fertility treatments and embryo transfers. This stage involves close monitoring of your uterine lining and hormone levels, as well as how your body is generally responding to the medication, so you’ll be in and out of the fertility clinic often. Once you’re confirmed pregnant, you’ll still be much more closely monitored than you would be in non-surrogate pregnancies. In IVF situations, doctors want to make sure the embryo “sticks!”

Throughout the pregnancy, even if things are stable and progressing normally, you’ll attend more appointments with your OBGYN than you typically would. It’s a major time commitment, and first-time surrogates are often surprised at just how many appointments there really are.

The Side Effects of the Medications

Not every surrogate will experience side effects from the fertility medications she’s prescribed, but it can definitely be irritating. There are quite a few medications you’ll be expected to take and at very specific times. Some you’ll need to inject, some are taken orally, and some may even be administered via a patch.

Side effects of all these medications can vary, but surrogates have commonly experienced headaches, nausea, vaginal discharge and hot flashes. The severity of the side effects can vary, too. But for those who do experience medication side effects, the discomfort can detract from the excitement.

How Slow the Early Steps Feel

So much of the pre-pregnancy surrogacy process feels like you’re hurrying to wait. And then you’ll wait some more. Completing the application, going through the screening process — all that feels painfully slow when you’re excited to meet your intended parents.

And, then once you’ve been matched, you go through the legal stage, which can also feel like it drags on. You’re excited to get pregnant! But the process of getting pregnant feels like it takes forever, too — months of medications, appointments and more waiting for the perfect time to transfer an embryo.

Don’t worry; you’ll get there eventually. You’ll just need to develop some patience along the way!

How Fast the Pregnancy Feels

Despite how long the pre-pregnancy part of surrogacy feels, the pregnancy will fly by in comparison. Maybe it feels that way because you won’t be busy with any of the baby preparations you’ve had to handle in the past. All you have to do is attend appointments and take care of yourself!

In many ways, this pregnancy may be more relaxing than your previous ones, because the intended parents are the ones doing all the pre-baby prep.

The Vetting Process

Like most professionals, American Surrogacy carefully selects surrogates. Many women have a heart generous enough to carry a child for someone else, but only a few women will meet the physical and emotional requirements to become a surrogate.

The vetting process is lengthy and can be pretty tedious. There’s plenty of paperwork to submit, questions to answer, medical exams you’ll need to complete and more. All of this can feel frustrating and, at times, a little invasive — but it’s important for your health and safety, as well as the baby’s, and for the legal protection of intended parents.

We (and you) need to be absolutely sure that you’re physically, mentally and emotionally ready for this. So the screening process is a surprisingly big, but necessary, hill to climb. Remember that we want you to meet the requirements, too!

How Long it Takes to Collect Medical Records

Don’t underestimate how long it’ll take to gather the necessary paperwork and records for your screening process. A doctor will need to review your medical records, including prenatal records and birth histories. These are to ensure that your body handles pregnancy well, that you’ve had no past complications, to review any current medications or potential health risks and more.

Your American Surrogacy specialist will walk you through all the records you’ll need to submit, but obtaining those can be a pain. You might have to reach out to different doctors at different locations, and they can take a while to get back to you. A word of advice: Start as early as possible and keep at it!

How Different This Hospital Experience Is

In comparison to past births, many first-time surrogates are surprised at how relaxing their time in the hospital is. Once the baby is born and the hard part is over, your job is pretty much done. In the past, you’ve had a newborn on your hands, but now you can just focus on resting and recovering.

At most, you’ll be pumping for the intended parents, and that’s only if you’ve agreed to do so in your surrogacy contract. No feedings in the middle of the night, no crying baby — just well-earned sleep and the satisfaction of seeing the family you helped unite.

First-time surrogates are often surprised at the ways in which this experience differs from their past pregnancies. What were some of the things that you were surprised by in your first surrogacy journey? Let us know in the comments!

8 Questions Kids May Get About Their Surrogacy Story — and How to Answer Them

When your child’s peers hear his or her surrogacy story for the first time, there are bound to be some questions. This may be the first time many of them have ever heard of surrogacy or even of families being created in a different way from what they’re used to.

The best thing you can do for your child is to talk about surrogacy often enough at home that he or she will have plenty to draw from when asked questions. Giving them the tools and terms they need to answer questions honestly and simply will satisfy curious kids and keep your own kid from feeling the heat of the spotlight.

Here are eight commonly asked questions from kids and some responses you can use to help your child prepare:

1. “What’s a surrogate?”

Explaining surrogacy to children for the first time always seems tough, but it can be done! The answer can be adjusted to suit your family dynamic, but keeping the answer short and simple is usually best. Suggest something along the lines of:

“When two people aren’t able to have a baby together, a surrogate carries the parents’ baby for them in her tummy until the baby is born.”

2. “Do you know who your surrogate is? Do you know your egg/sperm donor?”

If you used donors, other kids may be curious if your child knows their identity as well as the surrogate’s. Answer honestly for your family’s situation.

“Yes, I know my surrogate. Her name is (First Name). I don’t know my sperm donor, but that’s okay.”

3. “Is your surrogate your ‘real mom’?”

Like adoptees, kids born via surrogate will likely get the “real parents” questions, and they’ll be preoccupied with biological connections. So, teach kids the correct terminology:

“My mom is a ‘real mom.’ I have an egg donor that I’m biologically related to. Ellen, my surrogate, isn’t related to me — she just carried me until I was born because my mom wasn’t able to. I know that’s a lot of people, but my mom is my only mom.”

4. “Are you related to your brother/sister?”

Again, kids will be hung up on “blood” connections, because it’s what they’re familiar with and they’re trying to put it in a context they understand. However, it’s important that they understand that biological ties are less important than family ties.

“My brother and I are both biologically related to our mom and dad, but even if one of us wasn’t, he’d still be my brother.”

5. “How did your parents make a baby with your surrogate, then?”

Sometimes, even younger kids will have a very basic understanding of how babies are made. When a surrogate is added to the mix, it’s understandably confusing, because they don’t know anything about IVF or embryo transfers. So keep it simple, and adjust it for your family:

“Doctors took a little bit of my mom and a little bit of my dad, and it became a baby. Then they put the tiny baby inside of a surrogate, so she could carry the baby until it was ready to be born.”

6.“Why did your surrogate give you away?”

It’s hard for kids to wrap their heads around the idea that the person who gave birth to your child was not your child’s mom, in any way. Reassure them:

“She gave me back to my dads — she was just helping them for a little while by carrying me because they couldn’t do it themselves. Like a babysitter. After I was born, she went home to take care of her own kids, and my dads took me back home to take care of me.”

7. “Isn’t that just like adoption?”

If children have an understanding of adoption, you can see where they’d notice similarities. Talking about adoption with your child is important, so they can explain other types of “alternative” family-building in a positive way to their peers. It’s tricky, but help them explain the similarities and differences in a simple way:

“It’s a little different. Kind of like in adoption, my parents didn’t give birth to me. But I’m not biologically related to the surrogate who gave birth to me. In adoption, kids are biologically related to their birth mothers, who gave birth to them.”

8. “Can you go live with your surrogate?”

Most kids likely have some experience with blended families or kinship arrangements. Or maybe they think your child has some fantasy about running away from home and living with their surrogate. But they probably don’t realize that your child’s surrogate isn’t as active in your family as a birth family would be in an adoption triad. Clear that up:

“No, my surrogate has her own kids, husband and house. She lives in another state. She’s nice, but she’s not my mom.”

Some Other Tips

Your child will likely find that when kids ask questions, they’re worried for him or her. It’s hard for kids to imagine something so different from how their own family was created. It helps to reassure the questioner that everything is okay! Surrogacy is a normal, happy thing — not a source of sadness.

The answers you help your child provide can be adjusted to suit age and level of understanding, but in general, keeping it simple is always best. It’s also good to practice answering some of those common questions together at home, so your child never feels put on the spot when they’re inevitably met with curiosity regarding their surrogacy story. Your child may already have good ideas for how to respond! This is another reason why it’s so important to keep surrogacy as an ongoing topic of conversation in your home rather than a one-time discussion.

It’s natural for other kids to be curious about your child’s surrogacy story — this is likely the first time they’ve heard of this family-building path. As long as normal curiosity and questions don’t turn into teasing, let your child handle it themselves as much as possible. You’ll likely be proud of how well they respond.

What questions has your child received about their surrogacy story? How did he or she respond? Let us know in the comments!

A COVID-19 Update From American Surrogacy

With the rapidly changing national and global COVID-19 situation, American Surrogacy is, as always, dedicated to keeping our intended parents and gestational surrogates safe. We know the coronavirus pandemic is causing concern for everyone — but especially so for our clients in the middle of their surrogacy journeys.

We’ve received several calls from our clients about how coronavirus may impact their surrogacy process. So, we’ve provided some answers to the most commonly asked questions below. If you have a more specific question regarding how COVID-19 may impact your surrogacy journey, please reach out to your surrogacy specialist.

Please note: We are not medical experts, and none of the information below is intended to be used as medical advice. Please stay up-to-date with the latest information from the CDC and the World Health Organization. If you start feeling unwell, please contact your medical professional.

How could the coronavirus pandemic affect my surrogacy journey?

Intended parents and gestational surrogates who are still in the pre-screening and embryo-transfer phases of their surrogacy journey could very likely experience delays for the foreseeable future. While there are currently no domestic travel restrictions, gestational surrogates who are under self-quarantine or concerned about passing the virus to an immunocompromised family member may choose to delay their screenings, fertility treatments and embryo transfers. Intended parents may choose to do the same.

We encourage all intended parents and gestational carriers to contact their fertility clinics to see how their pre-surrogacy journey may change. American Surrogacy advises our clients to be prepared for a delay in these processes as the healthcare industry turns its focus to COVID-19.

How could the coronavirus affect my ability to travel for my surrogate’s birth?

As of right now, there are no domestic travel restrictions. However, because of health concerns and “social distancing” recommendations from the CDC, airlines have already starting reducing flights across the U.S. If you anticipate traveling to your surrogate’s state for delivery to be difficult, please reach out to your airline for more information and let your surrogacy specialist know right away.

During this time, it may also be more difficult to obtain a doctor’s clearance for your newborn to fly. Intended parents should be prepared to drive home with their baby after delivery, just in case. Make sure you are consulting with your doctor prior to and after your child’s birth for the best medical advice. We advise intended parents to also speak with their airline for policies on traveling with a newborn during the coronavirus outbreak and the potential for cancellation and/or refunds.

If you are unable to travel to your surrogate’s state for birth — because of imposed travel restrictions, quarantine or medical fragility — please let your surrogacy specialist know right away.

How could coronavirus impact our hospital experience?

So far, few hospitals have been overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases. Most intended parents and gestational surrogates have been able to proceed with their hospital stay as planned. However, because circumstances are changing quickly, it’s important that you and your surrogacy partner are on the same page, should you need to make major changes to that plan.

It is possible that hospital visit policies will be updated in the coming weeks — potential limitations on visitors allowed, reduced visiting times or restrictions on visitors in certain parts of the hospital. American Surrogacy will not be aware of these policies until our clients experience them, so please keep your surrogacy specialist informed as you and your surrogacy partner prepare for delivery.

We will work closely with hospitals and assist our clients in updating their delivery plans, if necessary.

Will coronavirus impact the gestational pregnancy?

Both intended parents and gestational carriers may be worried about the health of the unborn baby, but there is no current evidence that the virus is passed to the baby during pregnancy. However, according to the CDC, pregnant women may be more susceptible to viral respiratory infections, including COVID-19.

A healthy pregnancy is always important for gestational carriers, but even more so with the current risk posed by the coronavirus. American Surrogacy encourages all of our gestational carriers to follow CDC guidelines — social distancing, washing hands, etc. — to minimize their risk of contracting the virus. Additionally, we encourage all surrogates to stay in close contact with their medical providers during this time.

Intended parents and surrogates concerned about the risks COVID-19 poses to an unborn baby should speak with their appropriate medical professionals.

What if I or my surrogacy partner start showing symptoms or is diagnosed with coronavirus?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, tiredness and a dry cough. Some individuals may experience aches, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea (although these symptoms are rare, according to the WHO). If you are experiencing any signs of a respiratory illness, out of caution, the CDC recommends you stay home to prevent the potential spread of your illness. Please contact your healthcare provider if you are showing symptoms of COVID-19 to determine the next steps of treatment.

If any party in a gestational surrogacy arrangement begins showing symptoms or is infected with coronavirus, our specialists will inform everyone involved and adjust the surrogacy plan as necessary. This may include: taking additional precautions while traveling (like wearing a mask); making custody arrangements if intended parents are under quarantine; and more.

What else should we know at this time?

American Surrogacy will work diligently with our gestational carriers and intended parents, according to CDC guidelines and protocol. We urge you to do the same to protect yourself and reduce the spread of the virus. Please communicate with us immediately any developments in your health that may affect your surrogacy journey.

We understand how much anxiety and concern this outbreak has caused for many of our clients, and we are committed to doing all we can to protect our intended parents and gestational surrogates during this time. We appreciate your patience and understanding as the situation continues to develop. Your surrogacy specialist will always be available to answer any additional questions you have during this time.

When Family Members Don’t Understand Your Surrogacy Decision

Building a family through gestational surrogacy is often a decision made after months or years of difficult fertility treatments and soul-searching. So, when you finally decide to add a child to your household in this way, you probably want to shout the news from the rooftops.

Unfortunately, not everyone may see your surrogacy decision in such an awesome light. Sadly, it’s not uncommon for intended parents to receive harsh questions and criticisms from extended family members when announcing their decision. Whether the response comes from a place of ignorance or personal grief, it can still be difficult for intended parents to hear.

Your specialist at American Surrogacy will always celebrate your surrogacy decision, but we also know it can be hard not to get the support from your family you’ve been expecting. That’s why we’re here to help you prepare for these conversations and help your family understand the journey you’ve chosen. You can always contact your specialist at any time during the journey for advice on these topics and more.

So, what can you do when your family members don’t accept your surrogacy decision?

1. Explain the Basics

Most of the time, a negative reaction about surrogacy comes from a place of ignorance. Many people don’t understand exactly how modern surrogacy works. They may think your surrogate will be the biological mother of the child or that she can, or will, want to “take back” the child once he or she is born. In many cases, when you take the time to explain the basics of gestational surrogacy, those initial fears disappear.

But, before you go into a conversation educating your family members about surrogacy, it’s a good idea to do a little research of your own. Take some notes on exactly what you want to say, and try to anticipate their most likely questions. Make sure they don’t interrupt you until you’re done; that way, you can share everything you want to and give them the best chance to learn.

2. Give Them Time

While it would be great if your loved ones changed their tune right away after hearing your explanation, expect to give them some time and space to process your information. Remember how long it took you to understand the gestational surrogacy process? Your loved ones are in that step right now. While you can express your excitement for their support of your family-building journey, let them know you know it may take some time to get there. In the meantime, communicate that you will not appreciate any negative comments about your chosen way to build a family.

3. Answer Their Questions

Similarly, you shouldn’t expect your loved ones to understand all the ins and outs of gestational surrogacy right away. So, be prepared to answer their questions in an informative way. Be prepared: Some of these questions may be ignorant or insensitive, but try to control your emotions and be as educational as possible when answering them. Even if your loved ones get emotional, stay calm and remember that nothing they can say should influence your decision. After all, it’s already been made.

Be aware that your loved ones may have questions throughout the surrogacy process, so it’s important to make surrogacy an ongoing conversation as you move forward. If you have a spouse, you two should share the responsibilities of answering these questions and educating others about your journey — but only if you’re comfortable doing so.

4. Do What’s Right For You

Sometimes, no matter how much effort we put into educating our loved ones, they simply don’t want to change their minds. It can be tough to not have a loved one involved in your family-building journey, but ultimately you have to do what is right for you — even if it means stepping away from that relationship.

When you choose surrogacy, you are already dealing with a number of practical and emotional challenges. The last thing you need is an unsupportive loved one weighing on you. If your family member can’t say anything nice about your family-building journey or can’t refrain from saying anything at all, don’t feel guilty about putting a pause on that relationship. If they ask why, be honest: “I can’t involve you in this pregnancy if you won’t be supportive of it.”

Hopefully, with time, they will come to recognize the error of their ways and commit to being a supportive loved one for your child. In the meantime, you will have saved yourself a great deal of stress and pain by focusing solely on your surrogacy journey — the only thing that really matters right now.

For more tips on talking about surrogacy with your family members, contact us online or call your specialist at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

3 Complicated Questions You Have About Becoming an Intended Parent

Becoming an intended parent is an exciting time. You’re steps closer to having the child you’ve always dreamed about — and becoming the parent you’ve always wanted to be.

But, when you go through the application process, you may be surprised at the depth at which you need to answer questions. Why does the surrogacy agency need to know your full history? Why can’t they focus on the last few years, when you first started your family-building journey?

The paperwork and screening can seem intrusive, but it’s important to ensure you are ready for the physical and emotional challenges of gestational surrogacy. American Surrogacy always encourages prospective intended parents to be honest; that way, we can talk to you in detail about how your personal history might affect your upcoming journey.

But, if you have a complicated personal history, you may be worried how our specialists will react to this information. Don’t worry — we’ve seen it all before. You can always call our specialists at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) to discuss whether you are personally eligible for surrogacy. We’ll always be happy to answer your questions.

In the meantime, we’ve gone ahead and answered a few of the ones we receive most often below.

1. Can you be an intended parent if you have a criminal history?

No one is perfect. We’ve all made mistakes at some point in our lives. But if your mistakes are permanently recorded in a criminal charge or case, you’re probably worried about their effect on your upcoming surrogacy journey.

Every intended parent must undergo a criminal background screening prior to being approved with our agency. This is to ensure you can provide a safe and stable home for a child born via surrogacy. If you have a criminal history, it will show up during this screening — but it’s not an automatic disqualification for the process.

In most cases, you can still be an intended parent, even if you have a criminal history. Your specialist will discuss the charge or situation in detail with you, so we can better understand your personal history and whether you’ve learned from your mistakes. We may ask you to write a detailed letter about the situation and the outcome for our records. We make decisions on a case-by-case basis but, as long as you have learned from your mistakes and are no threat to a surrogate or a baby born via surrogacy, you should be approved by our agency.

It’s important that you are 100 percent honest with your specialist from the start. That is the only way we can help you. Remember, your background will come out during your screenings, so keeping us in the loop from the beginning allows us to stay ahead of the situation and work much easier with you.

2. Can you be an intended parent if you have a history of addiction?

Similarly, you may worry that a history of addiction will disqualify you from surrogacy — or make a prospective surrogate less likely to work with you. This is not the case at all.

We know that addiction is a terrible disease to overcome. But, if you’ve come out on the positive side after a history of substance abuse, we trust that you are stronger than your disease. You should know this will likely be a topic discussed during your mental health screening. A licensed professional will talk with you about this history, how you overcame it, and how you plan to stay clean in the months and years to come. After all, surrogacy is a stressful, complicated journey, so it’s important that you stay committed to your sobriety during this time — and in your upcoming parenting journey.

Again, we request that you are completely honest about any substance abuse history you may have. If you are, we can work with you to keep it from affecting your family-building journey. We may require a letter from your therapist or from you about this history and your plans for maintaining sobriety, for our records.

3. Why does my personal history matter?

We know the screening process for becoming an intended parent can be intrusive. You might even think it’s unfair, given that millions of people around the world can have a biological child without going through anything like this.

We understand your frustration — but remember that gestational surrogacy is about more than your desires. It’s about keeping your surrogate safe, too. Every prospective surrogate goes through similar background checks and mental health screenings prior to working with our agency. They have a right to request the same of their intended parents, too. We set these requirements to protect everyone’s best interest. We also reserve the right to request an in-home assessment of intended parents, as well.

Ultimately, remember that these background checks are in place for your protection. They’re also an important reason why we can offer such a smooth, safe surrogacy process.

Our specialists are always happy to discuss our background check requirements for intended parents. Feel free to contact us online or call us at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) to speak with a specialist today.

7 Types of People You Need On Your Surrogacy Team

Nobody completes a surrogacy journey alone. It takes a lot of people to have this baby — various medical and legal professionals, the intended parents, donors, the surrogate and her family and more!

Accepting the help of your surrogacy “team” can be hard for some people at first, but once you open your heart to that team effort, you won’t regret it.

Surrogates and intended parents alike will need key support from certain types of people. Here are seven people you’ll definitely want on your surrogacy team:

1. The Veteran

This is a former intended parent or surrogate who has been there and done that. Every person’s experience with surrogacy is going to be unique. After all, there are many types of surrogacy journeys, and no two partnerships are alike. However, the veteran on your team can often offer valuable insight on “do”s and “don’t”s, even if you listen to their stories with a proverbial grain of salt. They may have helpful suggestions regarding insurance, professionals and more.

Most veterans are happy to help, even if you don’t personally know them. They’ve been in your position, too. A good way to connect with former and current intended parents and surrogates is through support groups, or through your primary professional.

2. The Counselor

We mean this literally. Many agencies, including American Surrogacy, require prospective surrogates and parents to meet with a counselor before the surrogacy process even begins. This is done to ensure that you’re 100% emotionally prepared for this step. It’s also helpful for surrogates and intended parents to have access to a counselor who is familiar with surrogacy.

Maybe you never need to talk to your counselor again, maybe you check in with them sometime during your surrogacy journey, or maybe you need post-surrogacy support from him or her. It’s always good to have a licensed and experienced counselor on your team for ready access to support, should you need it now or in the future.

3. The Expert

Your American Surrogacy specialist will be your primary point of contact throughout your journey. They’re also the best all-around expert on surrogacy at your disposal. We’re always here if you need us for support or if you have questions!

You can look to the expert for anything, from help finding the best possible insurance coverage for all of you to managing communication. Even if we don’t offer a specific service ourselves, we’ll be able to put you in touch with the right people and help you to find the best providers in your area. Everybody needs an expert on their team.

4. The Doctor

The medical processes of surrogacy are complex and high-stakes. It’s understandable if everyone involved is nervous about what’s going on and whether or not things are working! However, it can be easy to over-worry and overwork yourself, especially for intended parents who have never experienced pregnancy before.

It’s good to have someone on your fertility team who is available to answer those nervous questions, present options honestly and soothe unnecessary anxiety. Someone you connect with at your clinic or your OBGYN may be able to be that go-to person for medical questions in between appointments.

5. The Shoulder to Cry On

Someone who can listen without trying to fix the situation will be your best shoulder to cry on. Because, sometimes, we all just need to vent, talk it out or even cry it out! Choose someone who won’t fly into a panic if you need to come over and be upset for a while. Mourning losses or frustrations in a surrogacy journey doesn’t mean that it’s going badly or that you want to quit. Ups and downs are natural.

Surrogates and intended parents alike will need someone they can talk to about the emotions of surrogacy. This is an emotional time, and you’ll need a comforting presence on your team.

6. The Reinforcements

These are the friends, family and neighbors that you can count on to call for practical help at any time. They’re ready and willing to drop everything to babysit your kids for a couple of days if labor begins suddenly. They know that you’ll need a casserole in the fridge when you don’t have time to cook after the baby is born.

Surrogates will need an extra hand around the house as they juggle pregnancy and their normal responsibilities, plus they’ll need a little help during postnatal recovery. Intended parents will likely need to travel at the drop of a hat, and when the baby comes home, they’ll be busy with their new addition. Everyone needs to be able to call for their reinforcements!

7. The Teammate

Your surrogacy partner — the intended parents or surrogate — will be your ultimate teammate. You’re both in pursuit of the same goal, and you’re both there to cheer each other on. Your losses and successes are shared. This often extends to one another’s immediate families — spouses and children. Include them as part of the team! You’re all in this together, so go ahead and look to each other for support.

Who’s on your surrogacy team? Let us know in the comments!