Can You Be a Surrogate if You’re also a Birth Mother?

If you want to be a surrogate, you probably have a deep altruistic desire to help create a family. You may even have prior experience doing so — by placing a child for adoption.

Here at American Surrogacy, we salute the bravery of every birth mother who has placed a child for adoption. Our roots are planted firmly in the adoption industry, which means our specialists completely understand the journey you’ve been through to get to where you are today. And, if you want to help create another family in a different way, we’ll be happy to guide you through this upcoming gestational surrogacy adventure.

But, before you get started, there are a few things you should know about becoming a gestational carrier. While both surrogacy and adoption end up creating beautiful families, they are very different processes. Each requires unique emotional investments and preparation, and neither is a path to jump into without thorough research.

Fortunately, our specialists will be there to help you every step of the way. You can always contact us online or at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) to speak with a team member about becoming a surrogate. In the meantime, you can learn a bit more about being a gestational carrier as a birth mother below.

Requirements to Be a Gestational Carrier

Whatever your personal background may be, you must always meet certain requirements before you can become a gestational carrier. Our agency sets these requirements to protect your mental, physical and emotional health during the surrogacy journey, which means they are non-negotiable. Don’t worry — intended parents have to meet certain requirements before starting, too.

In order to be a gestational carrier, you must:

  • Be between the ages of 21 and 38
  • Have a BMI between 19 and 32
  • Not smoke or use illicit drugs
  • Have had at least one successful pregnancy, but no more than five vaginal births and no more than four cesarean-sections
  • Have waited at least six months since your last birth
  • Have no major complications from previous pregnancies
  • Be currently raising a child in your own house

This last requirement is where things can get tricky if you’re a birth mother. While, yes, you have successfully given birth, if you’re not currently raising a child in your home, you don’t meet the requirements to be a surrogate.

You may wonder: If I’ve given birth and understand the risks of pregnancy and childbirth, why can’t I be a surrogate — regardless of whether or not I’m raising a child of my own?

It’s a good question, which is why we’ll answer it below.

Possible Emotional Complications of Being a Surrogate and a Birth Mother

When you place a child for adoption, you have to overcome intense feelings of grief and loss. It’s all completely normal, but it can take months and even years for a woman to come to terms with those emotions and be comfortable with her adoption decision.

When you become a surrogate, it’s likely that those feelings will reemerge. While the child you carry will not be biologically yours, there will still be some sadness and grief knowing that you will not care for this child after birth and that you will go home empty-handed from the hospital. These feelings can be magnified by the prior experience of having gone through that experience already.

For that reason, surrogacy professionals require you to be raising a child in your own home. Then, when you experience difficult feelings during pregnancy or after birth, you will have a child waiting for you. This will help you rationalize some of the emotions you are having, as well as remind yourself of the challenges of raising a child — instead of focusing on the “baby fever” feelings stemming from hormones directly after childbirth.

You will also be required to complete a psychological evaluation prior to being approved for surrogacy. During this evaluation, you’ll talk with a licensed mental health professional about your personal history (including your adoption history) and what you expect out of being a surrogate. The professional will ask you about what you would do in certain situations and help you evaluate whether you are truly ready for surrogacy — including whether your feelings about your adoption will cause challenges as you move forward with being a surrogate. You will likely dive into your adoption history in detail, especially how you dealt with that initial loss.

It may seem invasive at first, but remember that your mental health professional is just trying to help you. They want you to be 100 percent prepared for the emotions of the journey ahead. It’s for your best interest, as well as the interest of the intended parents.

Learn More About Becoming a Gestational Carrier

Here at American Surrogacy, your mental and physical well-being is of the utmost importance. That’s why we require prospective surrogates to complete so many steps before they can start this journey.

Your history as a birth mother won’t disqualify you from working with us, as long as you meet all of our agency requirements. We’ll be happy to help you create another family in a beautiful, selfless way — one that’s just as honorable as your prior adoption journey.

Learn more about becoming a surrogate with American Surrogacy by giving us a call at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) or contacting us online today.

The Best Insurance Options for Gestational Carriers

It’s no secret: Pregnancy is expensive. And, when you add in the additional medical costs of gestational surrogacy, those numbers can seem astronomical.

Fortunately, medical insurance exists to mitigate those expenses.

But, what if your surrogate’s personal policy excludes a gestational pregnancy?

This is becoming more and more common for insurance policies, and we’ve seen it happen often with our clients. Fortunately, your specialist will always help you find additional coverage for your gestational carrier — to protect her and the baby in the months ahead.

Often, the first step is searching the Affordable Care Act marketplace. Open enrollment takes place Nov. 1 to Dec. 15 each year, and you will have a variety of plans to choose from. Policies can run anywhere from $200–$700 a month (plus application fees), based on the level of coverage you choose. Your surrogate’s coverage will begin Jan. 1 of the next year.

Whether your surrogate’s policy excludes gestational surrogacy or they lose coverage through a job loss during pregnancy, your specialist will always be available to guide you through this process. We also recommend every intended parent purchase back-up insurance. To learn more, call your specialist anytime at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

In the meantime, here are some options for surrogacy-friendly insurance.

1. ART Risk Solutions

American Surrogacy frequently recommends ART Risk Solutions to intended parents looking for a surrogate insurance policy. Whether as a stand-alone insurance policy or a back-up policy, ART Risk Solutions can provide the coverage you are looking for at a fair price.

ART Risk is an insurance provider that exists solely to serve those pursuing assisted reproduction technology methods. They partner with other insurance companies to provide customer service and financial risk and case management to patients and medical professionals. The company works with more than 150 agencies and law firms across the globe, including many of American Surrogacy’s clients.

When you contact ART Risk Solutions, you’ll speak with an agent who will evaluate your personal situation and determine which coverage options are right for your surrogate. While your specialist will not directly interact with your insurance agent, they will be happy to provide any paperwork ART Risk Solutions may need to create your personal policy.

2. New Life Agency

Like ART Risk, New Life Agency is an insurance provider that works solely with clients pursuing assisted reproduction. They provide policies for fertility patients, intended parents, surrogates, egg donors and professionals in the ART industry.

New Life also offers fertility financing to assist intended parents through their family-building journeys.

3. SurroPlans

Another option for insurance is SurroPlans. This company provides both backup medical and full-coverage medical policies. Whether or not your surrogate currently has insurance, SurroPlans can provide services to protect you financially, just in case.

This provider also offers emergency medical planning and assistance with taxes and visas for international intended parents.

4. ArcLight

ArcLight is another surrogacy-insurance provider; however, it only operates in nine states. These agents will review your surrogate’s health insurance and search for a surrogacy-friendly option in her state, if necessary.  They will manage every step of the application and deductible process.

ArcLight also offers surrogate life insurance and disability insurance options, both of which will be required as part of your legal surrogacy contract.

We know surrogacy insurance can be a complicated subject, so remember that your specialist is always here to answer your questions and provide guidance as you go through this process. Don’t hesitate to email or call your specialist at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) for professional advice.

How Surrogacy May Change Your Friendships — and 5 Ways to Cope

Becoming a parent or helping someone else build their family though surrogacy is an exciting, joyful opportunity. But, as with every new adventure in your life, there are some changes that you won’t see coming until they happen. As you start to move further into an alternative family-building method, it can place some serious and unexpected stress on some of the closest relationships in your life: those with your friends.

If you start to feel like you’ve hit a wall with some of your favorite people, you’re probably unsure of what to do next. After all, these are connections that you’ve nurtured, some of them for many years, and you might not know how to turn the page of the next chapter of your life while still including them.

We want to reassure you that it’s normal to be scared of growing apart. But, the good news is that there are ways that you can cope with a changing friendship — and even ways that you can preserve it as you move forward in your surrogacy journey.

Below are five things to keep in mind if your friendship is evolving in a new way.

1. Expand Your Circle

It’s normal to gravitate toward people who share your own interests. Building a new support system — one filled with individuals who know exactly what you’re feeling — is the best way to cope with changes in your current relationships.

There are plenty of intended parents and surrogates who have been in your shoes and are looking for a new connection. No matter where you live, you can always reach out to other families online or through a local support group. A network of supportive friends can make all the difference during your surrogacy journey, so don’t hesitate to start making new connections. If you’re looking for the best place to start, contact our agency.

2. Give Your Relationship Room to Breathe

If you feel stressed and overwhelmed trying to talk to your friend about your decision, it could be a sign that the two of you need some space. It’s unlikely that your friend will be able to support you 24/7, but this doesn’t mean they don’t care about you anymore. It probably just means that they need room to grow, too. The surrogacy process is a big change, and your friend is probably trying to make sense of everything while still trying to be supportive. After you’ve given them some time to adjust, we’re sure they’ll come around.

3. Teach Them About Surrogacy

Education is one of the best ways to bring the two of you together. This method of family-building is still new enough that many people, including your friends, might have a hard time wrapping their heads around it. Your friends will probably have a lot of questions they aren’t sure of how to ask, and they’re probably worried about coming across as rude or insensitive. Let them know that it’s okay to come to you with any concerns or questions they might have.

4. Cherish Your Supportive Friends

Big life changes — like college, marriage, or parenting — are really when the strength of a friendship is tested. As you progress further into the surrogacy process, you might start to realize that not everyone is as ready for the next step as you are. While we hope that you’ll have the unwavering support of your friends, it doesn’t always pan out that way.

With plenty of big changes coming your way, you’ll find out pretty quickly who your real friends are. We know that it’s hard, but keep in mind that if someone pulls back from your relationship, it is not a reflection of you. Everyone you meet is on their own journey. That’s why it’s even more important to cherish the special people who make an effort to continue to be a part of your life.

5. Stay Positive

The truth is that changing friendships are a normal part of life. Some friendships are meant to last a lifetime, while others are only here for a season. But, that doesn’t make their impact in your life any less special or meaningful. We know that it’s hard, but try to take care of yourself. Exercising, eating well, and finding new hobbies can help take your mind off the stress of your relationship. Staying optimistic during this difficult transition is one of the best things you can do for your mental health.

When some of the most important relationships in your life are changing, don’t forget that you always have people in your corner. No matter how hard it seems, there will always be people who love and support you and your new journey. If you ever need someone to talk to, don’t forget that you can reach out to a surrogacy specialist today.

National Birth Defects Prevention Month: Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy

When you become a surrogate, you’re tasked with one of the most important jobs of all: carrying someone else’s unborn baby. This is a weighty responsibility, and you’re probably wondering about everything there is to know. As January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, this year, we’d like to put our focus on everything a surrogate needs to know for a healthy pregnancy.

First, here’s what you need to know about potential factors that cause birth defects.

What Causes Birth Defects?

A birth defect can either be very mild or severe.  While the causes of one can vary, some of the most common risk factors are:

  • Genetic or hereditary traits
  • Lifestyle choices
  • Untreated infections during pregnancy
  • Being over the age of 35
  • A pre-existing medical condition
  • Exposure to certain chemicals

Finding out that the baby you’re carrying has a birth defect can be scary and overwhelming. But, if this were to happen, your surrogacy specialist will be there for you every step of the way. Your legal contract will also detail what happens moving forward if this unfortunate situation should occur. Remember: As long as you’ve followed your contract, this situation will never be your fault.

Thankfully, there are ways to reduce the likelihood of potential birth defects. Below are some tips to keep in mind during your gestational pregnancy.

7 Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy

1. Eat Right

It’s hard to make time for a healthy meal in the middle of your busy schedule. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a priority. Watching what you eat is one of the most important ways to ensure a healthy pregnancy. It’s also great for you, too! Make sure your plate is full of fresh fruits and veggies, and watch out for some of the most unsafe foods to eat during your pregnancy.

2. Drink Plenty of Water

Drinking enough water isn’t just good for you; it’s also essential for the baby. Water helps carry nutrients, flushes out toxins, and more. Not drinking enough water is also one of the leading causes of premature labor. Generally, you should drink about eight glasses of water a day. If you’re having trouble remembering to drink enough, try setting a reminder on your phone to stay hydrated.

3. Get the right amount of sleep

Your body needs sleep more than you think. You should try to get eight hours of sleep, but it’s okay if you need to take more. After the first trimester, you’ll probably need to start sleeping on your side. It’s common to have sleep problems during your pregnancy, in which case there are some suggestions on how to overcome them.  If you have any other questions, don’t forget that you can always reach out to your doctor.

4. Exercise

If you can, try to get at least 30 minutes of activity in a day. We know it’s hard to keep moving, and exercising is probably the last thing you want to do right now, but staying active will help you sleep better and keep your stress levels low. It can also help ease your pregnancy symptoms and make pregnancy and delivery easier on your body. If you can, try to get at a healthy weight before your pregnancy. Some good ideas include walking, swimming and jogging. As long as you don’t overdo your workout, you should be perfectly safe.

5. Vitamins

Prenatal vitamins ensure that you and the baby are getting all of the nutrients you need. Don’t forget that these vitamins need to be taken alongside a meal, not as a substitute. We know that taking your vitamins can be hard to remember, so try setting an alarm on your phone at the same time every day so that you don’t forget. (Don’t forget: All of your medical costs will be covered by the intended parents.)

6. Stay away from harmful substances

There are a few substances that every pregnant woman should know to avoid. Drinking, drugs, and smoking should never be consumed while pregnant, as outlined in your surrogacy contract.  There are also a few medications and chemicals that pregnant women need to avoid. Remember to talk to your doctor first before trying any new medication, as it could affect you and the baby.

7. Keep your stress low

With some much going on, and with your body changing in new, unexpected ways, it’s hard to stay positive. An important part of keeping the baby healthy is prioritizing your own mental and emotional health. If you find yourself struggling, remember that you can reach out to a surrogacy specialist or a counselor if you need someone to talk to. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, remember that there people here to help.

These tips are essential for any pregnancy, but they’re especially important when you’re a surrogate. By following just a few steps, you can ensure that your pregnancy will be a safe, healthy experience for you and the baby.

Following these guidelines are extremely important to have a healthy pregnancy. Most of the rules and suggestions will be outlined in your legal contract, too, but please don’t hesitate to reach out to a surrogacy specialist today.

Being a Surrogate With a History of Sexual Assault: What to Know

As you research becoming a gestational carrier, you may be surprised to see one requirement in particular — that every surrogate should not have any “untreated abuse (child, sexual or physical).”

It may seem like common sense that a prospective surrogate should be emotionally and mentally ready for the challenges of surrogacy, but how does a history of sexual assault play into that?

We know this can be a sensitive and complicated topic, so our specialists are always willing to address it personally when you call us at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) or contact us online. In the meantime, there are a few things we want you to know — for your own protection as a prospective surrogate.

The Sensitivity of the Surrogacy Process

When you become a gestational carrier, you agree to share the most intimate workings of your body and your life with people who are (at the beginning) complete strangers. It’s a great commitment for anyone, but especially so for someone who is dealing with complicated feelings over the control of their body.

It’s common for survivors of sexual assault and trauma to feel like their body is out of their control. Some women feel that, by becoming a surrogate, they can take back control of their bodies and use them to give an incredible gift to someone else. But, for some, gestational surrogacy can exacerbate those feelings.

The medical process of surrogacy revolves around a surrogate’s cycle, health and overall physical state. It can be frustrating for any woman to feel like her body is being discussed with insensitivity, and the clinical, no-nonsense nature of fertility treatments and procedures can make that worse. These steps can trigger negative experiences for many survivors, even those who generally feel they have successfully moved forward from their trauma. It can be a violating experience for anyone.

If you are a woman who is thinking about being a surrogate, but you have a history of sexual assault or trauma, you need to seriously evaluate your emotional state before moving forward. How will you feel when people talk about your menstrual cycle and the workings of your reproductive system with each other in such a straightforward way? How will you feel having doctors performing procedures on the most vulnerable parts of your body? How will feel having people talk about you — and not necessarily to you?

This is why treatment is so important prior to starting the surrogacy process. It will help you cope with the trauma you have experienced and prepare yourself for the reality of the upcoming experiences you may have.

Rule #1: Be Honest

Here’s what we want you to know: You can absolutely be a surrogate if you have experienced sexual assault or other kinds of sexual trauma in the past. You just have to make sure that trauma is treated and resolved prior to starting the surrogacy process.

Whether or not you’ve been through extensive treatment for a history of sexual assault or trauma, you need to let your specialist know early on in the process about this history. That way, she can ensure you get the support you need and that the intended parents you match with are aware of your situation.

It’s normal to feel nervous or uncomfortable talking about a history of sexual assault — but you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. When it comes to surrogacy, hiding this history is not a good idea. Whether consciously or not, the truth will come out.

Every surrogate must undergo a mental health evaluation with a trained psychologist. During this evaluation, it’s important to be as open and honest as possible about your history, so your mental health professional can determine whether you are truly ready for the process ahead. Even if you try to avoid the topic, these psychologists can commonly pick up on a history of sexual assault or trauma based on indicators you are not even aware of. That mental health professional will inform your surrogacy specialist, who will likely disqualify you from the rest of the process.

Being honest with your specialist from the start gives you a better chance at successfully reaching your surrogacy goals. Remember, your surrogacy specialist will always be there to help you and will never judge you. They want you to be comfortable and successful in your surrogacy journey, and they want to support you in that however they can. But, for them to do that, it’s important that they’re aware of your personal situation from the beginning.

So, don’t be afraid to apply as a surrogate if you have a history of sexual assault or trauma, but keep in mind the specific challenges this path may hold for you.

For more information on becoming a surrogate with our agency, please contact our specialists at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) or submit an informational form online.

Match Disruptions: Why They Happen and How to Avoid Them

In most surrogacies, the matching process goes smoothly: A surrogate and intended parent choose to work together based on mutual goals and preferences, and their partnership develops naturally, ending with the birth of a healthy child at the end of it all.

However, that’s not always the case. Although it’s rare, a match disruption can occur — and it can be a scary situation for surrogates and intended parents.

Here at American Surrogacy, our specialists work hard to reduce the risks of match disruptions and promote healthy partnerships from the very beginning. We also recognize the importance of informing our clients about all aspects of surrogacy. So, here we tackle this rare but complicated situation. What kind of situations cause a match disruption, and what can you do to prevent one from happening?

Good questions. Find the answers below.

Why a Surrogacy Match Disrupts

There is no “one” reason why a surrogacy match disrupts. Life is unpredictable, so the reasons behind a match falling apart are unpredictable, too. But, in our agency’s experience, there are a few major reasons why intended parents and gestational carriers may choose to go their separate ways.

Intended Parents and Gestational Carrier Have Irreconcilable Differences in Opinion

There are many decisions to make when planning a surrogacy journey, and some are more sensitive than others. Everyone has the right to their own opinion about topics such as contact, selective reduction and termination, and other subjects.

Before a surrogate and an intended parent are matched, they must share the same opinion on these topics. Otherwise, a match can quickly fall apart. In most cases, a surrogate and intended parent end their partnership because one party was not fully honest about their thoughts on sensitive topics, or they changed their mind at some point during the pre-surrogacy process. For example, if you have intended parents who would terminate a pregnancy if the child is not expected to survive outside the womb and a surrogate who is wholly against termination in any situation, that partnership is simply not going to work out.

Unexpected Life Changes

It’s possible that both a surrogate and her intended parents are 100 percent in agreement and on board with the surrogacy process, but something completely unexpected can throw the process off. Small life changes can easily be dealt with, but circumstances such as divorce, death, serious relationship issues, and medical malpractice with embryos can stop a surrogacy in its tracks. These situations are no one’s fault but, if it’s too emotionally stressful to move forward, partners may choose to end a surrogacy match in the best interest of all involved.

Unrealistic Expectations

While our surrogacy professionals explain in great detail what surrogates and intended parents can expect from surrogacy, it can be hard to fully comprehend the process until you’re in it. And, unfortunately, some people find out too late that it is more than they can handle.

That’s why our team of specialists works so hard to explain the process and what you can expect before you begin. Surrogacy is not an easy journey, but it is worth it in the end. If you are struggling during your surrogacy journey, remember that your specialist will always be there to support you and get you the help you need to keep your partnership strong.

How to Avoid a Match Disruption

No one wants a surrogacy match to fall apart. Fortunately, there are a few simple and easy steps you can take to strengthen your match and reduce the risk of a disruption occurring:

  • Be honest about your needs and opinions: The most important part of a successful partnership is shared preferences and goals. Therefore, you must always be honest about your own surrogacy preferences from the very beginning. Don’t try to convince yourself you want something different to try to impress a surrogate or intended parent or speed up your matching process. Whatever your personal goals, you will eventually find someone who shares them. But the only way your specialist can ensure this happens if you are honest about what you want out of surrogacy.
  • Communicate throughout the surrogacy process: Sometimes, as a person learns more about and actually experiences the surrogacy process, their opinions on certain aspects change. That’s okay — but you must share those changes in opinion with your specialist and your surrogacy partner. If you are uncomfortable at any point during the journey, express those concerns. Only that way can you and your partner work through any issues before they become major roadblocks.
  • Keep your surrogacy specialist informed: Finally, remember that your specialist is always here for you. They understand the stress and tension you will be under during your journey, and they are happy to provide you with the resources you need. By letting them know right away if something changes, they can help mediate a conversation with your surrogacy partner and hopefully prevent a match disruption from occurring.

For more information on finding a surrogate or intended parent, and how American Surrogacy can help you find the perfect partner, give us a call at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) or contact us online today.

Why It’s Important to Be Honest with Your Surrogacy Application

We understand — when you’re applying to be a surrogate, you want to put your best foot forward. No one is perfect, and you may have personal history or circumstances that are less-than-ideal. You may think omitting or lying about them in your surrogate application is no big deal.

It’s actually the complete opposite. It’s a huge deal.

Here at American Surrogacy, we are dedicated to providing a safe and successful surrogacy journey for those women who are eligible. But that’s the key — a safe surrogacy experience is only possible for those who meet certain requirements.

You may think you will be fine moving forward with surrogacy, even if you don’t meet surrogacy requirements, but this is a dangerous situation for all involved. Why? Learn more below.

Why We Set Certain Surrogacy Requirements

American Surrogacy, like all reputable surrogacy professionals, demands that all prospective surrogates meet certain requirements before being approved for this process. Surrogacy is not an easy journey; it requires a great deal of time and energy from a woman, and she must be mentally and physically healthy enough to withstand potential challenges along the way.

Every requirement that our agency sets has an important explanation behind it. They serve to protect you from the emotional and physical risks of surrogacy.

How?

  • Surrogates must have had one successful previous pregnancy to demonstrate their experience with the pregnancy process and the risks and challenges associated with it.
  • Surrogates must be done completing their family in case they lose their fertility during the surrogacy process.
  • Surrogates must have no untreated trauma or abuse, because the intimate dealings of their body will be exposed during surrogacy and allow them little control over what many see as an extremely private process.
  • Surrogates cannot be on antidepressants or antianxiety medication because of the potential emotional stressors of the surrogacy journey.
  • Surrogates must not be on state financial assistance to ensure they are not choosing this path simply for the compensation.
  • Surrogates must be raising their own children at home to alleviate some of mood swings that may result from returning home without a child after childbirth.

These are just a few of the requirements we set at American Surrogacy. Believe us when we say that every little requirement you must meet to become a surrogate has a purpose. Our specialists will be happy to explain them to you and evaluate the possibility of exceptions to be made for your circumstances.

We understand the desire to be a surrogate can seem like enough to overlook some of these requirements, but trust us — they are non-negotiable for your own safety.

Why It’s Important to Be Honest

As mentioned, surrogacy is not easy. It will require you to give up a year of more of your time and a great deal of your energy to become pregnant with and carry an intended parent’s child. There are many moving parts, which means there are also many opportunities for mistakes or delays.

But, when surrogates and intended parents are honest about their backgrounds and hopes and desires for surrogacy, the process moves much more smoothly. The success of surrogacy often centers on the strength of the relationship between the two partners. And that relationship is built on trust and honesty.

To protect yourself and the intended parents you will match with, you must be honest about not only your expectations but also your personal background. That is the only way our team can match you with intended parents who share your preferences and give you a surrogacy experience you are happy with.

The Truth Will Come Out

Every now and then, a woman will apply to our agency. Her paperwork will show that she meets every requirement to become a surrogate — but, upon screening by medical and mental health professionals, it becomes obvious that her personal background and history is not what she says it is. Often, she knows that she does not meet one of the requirements to become a surrogate, and so she instead lied about that requirement on her initial application.

Our surrogates go through extensive screening prior to being approved for the surrogacy process. While we trust our surrogates, it’s for liability reasons that we can’t just accept a woman based on her application alone. Intended parents are looking for a surrogate who can give them the best chance of a successful pregnancy, and it’s our team’s responsibility to ensure that prior to any matching of surrogacy partners.

What we’re trying to say? That at some point along the line, the truth about your personal and medical history will come out. It’s so much better to be honest from the very beginning. If you are, our specialists might be able to work in an exception to the rule. If you wait until later on to tell us — or we find out from a medical professional — you will have wasted a great deal of time and energy, and our team would be very unlikely to let you move forward with the surrogacy process.

We know surrogacy requirements can be frustrating and confusing, especially if you are new to the surrogacy process. Please contact our specialists anytime online or by calling 1-800-875-BABY(2229) for more information on what exceptions may be made for your circumstances.

A Year in Review: The Biggest Surrogacy News From 2019

And, just like that, another year is gone. Here at American Surrogacy, we celebrated many achievements during 2019, and we look forward to those that 2020 will bring, too.

As is our tradition, we take this chance now to look back on what 2019 brought to us and to gestational carriers and intended parents across the U.S. Catch up on what you missed or remind yourself of all the good things that happened here!

At American Surrogacy…

Our surrogacy specialists have been hard at work all year helping intended parents and gestational carriers prepare for the surrogacy process. Since January, they have guided many of our clients through the steps of this journey, from screening to matching to delivery. In fact, we have many gestational carriers and intended parents at different steps in this process as we close out the year.

We are also happy to announce that American Surrogacy helped to bring more babies into the world in 2019 than we did in 2018 — and we are on track to do the same in 2020!

In U.S. Legislation…

As gestational surrogacy becomes more popular across the country, state legislatures continue to update outdated laws to make the family-building process more accessible to all kinds of parents. Here are just a few of the major changes:

  • Washington State Implements New Legislation: The new year started off with a positive note when Washington state enacted new legislation that: made compensated surrogacy legal and enforceable; set standards for enforceable gestational surrogacy contracts; protected intended parents’ rights to their children; added new requirements for traditional surrogacy; and gave new protections to any child born of the assisted reproduction process. Way to go, Washington!
  • Nevada Prohibits Surrogacy Discrimination: In response to insurance companies setting coverage exemptions for surrogate pregnancies, Nevada’s State Assembly and Senate passed a law in June that prohibited insurance providers from “denying certain coverage for maternity care because the insured acts as a gestational carrier.”
  • Virginia Makes Surrogacy Law Gender-Neutral: After a gay couple in Virginia went through a custody battle for their surrogacy-born son, their story inspired a state delegate to file legislation for “Jacob’s Law,” which would protect parental rights of same-sex couples and single parents who used a surrogate in the state. The governor signed the bill into law in June.
  • Utah Supreme Court Protects LGBT Parents’ Rights: A ruling by the Utah Supreme Court in August made it clear that, just because LGBT intended parents may not have an intended mother in their surrogacy agreement, they can still pursue this family-building process.
    The ruling struck the language referring to an intended mother being “unable to bear a child” from legal statute. Now, Utah intended parent couples who do not include intended mothers are afforded all the same protections under marital law as any heterosexual couple.

In other important worldwide news, India officially passed long-in-the-works legislation that bans commercial surrogacy and sets strict requirements for any Indian nationals that want to build their family in this way.

In Pop Culture…

While there are thousands of intended parents and gestational carriers going through this process every day, the most visible journeys are often those completed by people in the public eye.

Here are just a few of the celebrities who used gestational surrogacy to add to their families this year:

  • Michelle Buteau: The comedian and actress welcomed twins in January. Seven months later, she wrote candidly about her experience with infertility, IVF and gestational surrogacy for Glamour.
  • Andy Cohen: Bravo host Andy Cohen welcomed his first child — son Benjamin Allen — via surrogate on Feb. 4. He thanked the wonderful surrogate who was “carrying [his] future.”
  • Kim Kardashian and Kanye West: The parents welcomed their fourth child, Psalm, via gestational surrogate on May 9. Psalm is their second child born via surrogacy; their daughter Chicago was born via surrogate in 2018.
  • Ricky Martin: The singer and his husband Jwan Yosef welcomed their fourth child, born via gestational surrogacy in October. Martin already has a set of twin boys born via surrogacy in 2011 and a daughter also born via surrogacy earlier this year.
  • Kandi Buress: The “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star and her husband Todd Tucker welcomed their second child together via surrogacy on Nov. 22. Her journey with surrogacy had been documented on the Bravo reality show, and she stated on her Instagram that she felt like she “gained a new friend” with her gestational carrier.

PBS Independent Lens also took an in-depth look into the gestational surrogacy industry with “Made in Boise,” a documentary following four gestational carriers living in Boise, Idaho, and their intended parents. It’s an interesting look at the ups and downs of the surrogacy process in the “unofficial” surrogacy capital of the U.S.

As we wrap up 2019, our team at American Surrogacy wishes everyone a happy New Year and only the best in the surrogacy journeys to come in 2020!

Is starting your surrogacy journey your New Year’s resolution? Contact our surrogacy specialists today to get started.

How to Support Your Child as They Go Through the Surrogacy Process

Your child approaching you with the news that they’re pursuing surrogacy may be a bit of a shock at first, especially if you didn’t previously know much about this family-building process. But, now that you’ve learned more about the process for gestational surrogates and intended parents, you’re likely getting more and more excited for your child’s upcoming journey.

As a parent, you always worry about your child, no matter how old he or she may be. You’ll want to support and help them however you can in this upcoming journey. Here are some ways to do that, whether your child is an intended parent or a gestational surrogate:

Parents of Intended Parents

If your child has decided to pursue surrogacy as a way to grow his or her family, you may have already endured a long and emotional journey already. Your child may have struggled with infertility, perhaps for years. You’re likely very excited to welcome a grandchild at this point, and your child is even more excited to have a baby!

Throughout the surrogacy process and beyond, here are some ways you can support your child and their spouse, just like you always have:

Supporting Your Children

Surrogacy, like many alternative paths to parenthood, comes with some unknowns and ups and downs. Often, your child may just need you to listen while they vent. No need to fix anything — listening is enough. Offering encouragement and being a calm voice when emotions run high can be invaluable to your son or daughter.

The process can also become very costly, which can be difficult if your child spent a lot of money pursuing fertility treatments prior to surrogacy. Helping your child to fundraise is a great practical way to make a difference.

This is still a relatively new and often-misunderstood family-building method. Take the initiative to educate yourself thoroughly about surrogacy! It’ll save your kids from having to constantly answer questions about the process they’re experiencing, you’ll have a better understanding of what’s happening, and you’ll also be able to serve as their advocate to the rest of the world.

Your family and friends may be curious about your future grandchild, so know how to answer their questions and clear up any myths they may still believe about surrogacy. Your children (and grandchild) will thank you!

Supporting Your Grandchildren

If the intended parents (your children) already have older kids, continuing to shower them with love and support will be even more important during the surrogacy process. Their parents will likely be a little preoccupied with their surrogate and baby, so stepping in to help out and even just remind them how much they’re loved will mean a lot.

This is probably your first grandchild born via surrogate. You might have fears about not loving the baby as much as you would if he or she were born the “traditional” way. Remember: Grandparents via adoption are the perfect example that neither genetics, nor who gives birth to a child, has any effect on how much that child is loved. If you’ve experienced those concerns, they’ll disappear when you meet your grandbaby.

Parents of Surrogates

If your child has made the beautiful decision to become a surrogate for someone, you may be proud of her, but you might also be a little worried. Is this safe? Will your grandchildren be confused by her pregnancy? As her parent, you want to support her and you also want her to be healthy, happy and safe.

Here’s how you can help:

Supporting Your Children

The process of getting pregnant for gestational surrogates is often long, complex, time-consuming and frustrating. She’ll go through fertility treatments, attend a lot of doctor’s appointments, medical screenings and more — all before she even becomes pregnant. Encourage your child, be there to listen if she needs to talk, and let her know how much you admire her for doing something so amazing for another family!

Even though your child’s pregnancy won’t result in a new grandchild for you, she (and her whole family) will still need your help and support. Just like you have with her previous pregnancies, pitching in with tasks around the house like cooking, cleaning or babysitting will mean the world to your daughter and family.

You’ve probably been one of your child’s biggest cheerleaders her whole life. She’ll need you to keep that up, including when she’s not around! Educating yourself about surrogacy so that you can answer other peoples’ questions about the process will ensure they don’t have any misconceptions about the incredible thing your daughter is doing for another family. Speak about her surrogacy journey with pride, and she’ll know how much you love her.

Supporting Your Grandchildren

Your grandkids’ parents will be spending time with the intended parents and attending appointments, and will likely appreciate your babysitting services. And, like during any pregnancy, sometimes kids can feel a little jealous or sad that their parents’ focus is split during surrogacy. Spending some extra time with grandparents can be reassuring for them.

Having your support and encouragement will be so important to your child throughout the surrogacy process. When in doubt, you can always ask your child’s American Surrogacy specialist for advice by calling 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

What’s the Deal with Donated Breastmilk?

Not everyone who wants to breastfeed their child can, and not every woman who produces breastmilk makes only enough for the child she is feeding. When an overabundance of breastmilk and the inability to produce meet, breastmilk donation steps in.

Breastmilk donation has existed in some form or another for centuries. Where wet nurses used to physically breastfeed extra children in the past, parents today have the convenience of having donated breastmilk shipped to their house.

Donated breastmilk is commonly used even among women who conceive and carry their own children, but it’s doubly important in surrogacy. If an intended parent doesn’t want to or cannot induce lactation, but still wants to give their child the benefits of breastmilk, milk banks step in to help out.

We know this topic can be confusing, so we’ve tackled some of the biggest concerns and questions you may have below. For more information, please call our specialists at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) or contact a local milk bank.

How Does Breastmilk Donation Work?

When it comes to donated breastmilk, safety is always the number one priority. It’s ill-advised to donate or obtain breastmilk outside of an official milk bank; there is simply too much possibility for contamination that could ultimately hurt the baby.

Official milk banks such as the Human Milk Banking Association of North America and La Leche League International require donors to pass certain screenings and requirements prior to giving their breastmilk. Typically, donors must:

  • Commit to a minimum donation amount (usually around 200 ounces)
  • Complete a phone interview and written health history questionnaire
  • Receive doctor’s approval from their personal doctor and the baby’s pediatrician (if applicable)
  • Meet certain health requirements, including abstaining from smoking and drinking
  • Submit breastmilk for screening and testing, to confirm its safety and quality

After a donor passes the screening tests, the milk bank will send her an insulated box with materials to collect and freeze the milk. Once it is collected back at the bank, it is typically thawed and mixed with milk from other donors to get the optimum balance of nutrients. The milk is then tested again, put into bottles, pasteurized and screened for bacteria.

Only after all of this is completed can donated breastmilk be distributed. It may be sent to hospitals or purchased by individuals for use. Some nonprofit milk banks will only offer donated milk to individuals once they have met the needs of premature babies and babies with other serious medical conditions currently hospitalized.

If You’re a Surrogate:

If you are considering donating your breastmilk after your surrogacy journey, we encourage you to speak with your surrogacy specialist. If you haven’t already talked to your intended parents about this desire, it’s a good idea to discuss it with them, too — they may be willing to accept your donation and pay you extra compensation for it.

Not all intended parents want donated breastmilk, and that’s OK. Their decision is not a comment on you as a surrogate. If they decline your offer, you can still help other new parents by donating your breastmilk through your hospital or a nonprofit milk bank.

Before you make this commitment, talk to your doctor. They can evaluate your health and ensure that this path is the best one for you.

You should also ask yourself these questions:

  • Can I commit to pumping a minimum of breastmilk as defined by the milk bank I use?
  • Am I ready for the time commitment of pumping throughout the day and the night?
  • Am I prepared for the extra steps of washing and sanitizing pumps and bottles more than I might when pumping for my own child?
  • Am I mentally and physically healthy enough for this commitment?

Not every surrogate chooses to pump and donate her milk, and that’s OK. If you would rather stop your production, let your doctor know during your pregnancy. She can help you get the medication you need to safely and comfortably suppress lactation.

If You’re an Intended Parent:

If you are an intended mother, it’s likely that you want to try inducing lactation before buying donated breastmilk. After all, you’ve already missed out on the pregnancy experience, and don’t want to miss out on the bonding experience of breastfeeding, too.

It’s actually very common for intended parents to breastfeed their own children. But, just as women who naturally produce breastmilk do, intended parents can have difficulties lactating, as well. It’s a good idea to have a backup plan if this occurs with you: Will you switch to formula, or would you like your surrogate to pump milk for you?

Many surrogates are happy to pump milk for their intended parents. You will be expected to compensate her for her time and effort, and this should be a discussion that happens as part of your surrogacy contract. Asking your surrogate to donate her breastmilk will likely be a better path than trying to buy breastmilk from a donation bank, due to supply and demand inequalities in the industry.

If you are interested in having your surrogate pump for your baby, please reach out to your surrogacy specialist. They can help mediate this conversation and ensure all parties are comfortable with the agreement going forward.