When An Embryo Splits: An Intended Parent’s Guide

In most IVF and surrogacy journeys, creating one healthy pregnancy can be hard enough. But, what happens when the embryo you’ve transferred to your gestational surrogate splits — and you now have identical twins on the way?

This surprise is enough to make even the most level-headed hopeful parents’ heads spin. But you’re not the first parents to experience this shock, and you won’t be the last. What’s important is moving forward with a clear head and a clear set of steps and responsibilities.

Remember, your American Surrogacy specialist will always be there for you in unexpected situations, including identical twins. You can always reach out to them for support and guidance moving forward.

There are usually a few tips we recommend to intended parents in this position:

1. First, Take Stock of Your Situation

Getting the news you’re having twins can be a huge shock. It’s normal to need some time to process this change in your family-building journey. Don’t be afraid to take a beat to accept this news.

Talk with your spouse, if applicable. Talk with your gestational surrogate, too. There is often a great deal of complicated emotions that come with this exciting news, and you are all in this gestational surrogacy journey together. Wherever you go from here, you will need to be on the same page.

However, don’t take too long for this step. Your reproductive endocrinologist will likely present a few paths moving forward (we’ll talk more about those below).

2. Recognize How This Changes Your Financial Situation

It’s no secret that having one baby is expensive. When you have two babies at once, those costs will often more than double.

Being a parent of twins means spending more on:

  • Baby supplies (clothing, diapers, formula, etc.)
  • Childcare
  • Extracurricular activities
  • School and college tuition
  • And more

You should also consider the unique costs associated with a multiples gestational pregnancy. You will need to pay your surrogate an additional retainer for carrying more than one embryo, and you should be prepared for the extra costs associated with bedrest, invasive procedures or more time off work. These costs can quickly add up, so make sure you talk about them in depth with your surrogacy specialist.

Remember that a multiples pregnancy is much riskier than a singleton pregnancy. In the worst-case scenario, a gestational surrogate’s health could be permanently affected, and you could pay additional disability and even death compensation. While these situations are rare, they are always a possibility you should consider.

3. Remember the Risks of a Multiples Pregnancy

There’s a reason why most medical professionals no longer complete multiple-embryo transfers. The risks of a multiples pregnancy are just too great, to both the surrogate and the babies she carries. A multiples pregnancy can increase the possibility of:

  • Preterm labor and delivery
  • Low birth weight
  • Preeclampsia
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Cesarean-section
  • Placental abruption
  • Fetal death

Your gestational surrogate will always be at risk in a multiples pregnancy, no matter how careful she is. This is why intended parents must talk at length with their surrogate before transfer and determine what both parties are comfortable with. If you choose to move forward with a twin pregnancy, your surrogate will have to accept this increased risk, and you will need to pay additional retainers, as mentioned above.

Unlike with multiple embryo transfers, twins that result from a single split embryo transfer often cannot be reduced. Identical twins will most likely share a placenta, making it impossible to remove one fetus to give the other the best chance of a healthy birth. Most reproductive endocrinologists will offer an “all-or-none” option: Either the surrogate must carry both fetuses to term, or the pregnancy will be terminated in hopes of a successful singleton pregnancy next time.

These are complicated conversations to have, made more difficult in the emotions of the moment. That’s why surrogacy contracts are so important — they will address situations like this ahead of time and lay out a clear path forward, should they occur.

4. Prepare for Parenting Two Newborns at Once

There’s a lot more to preparing for twins than getting your bank account in order. You’ll have twice as many responsibilities as caring for a single baby, and you’ll need to take a few steps to make that as easy as possible.

If you can, put these measures in place prior to even coming home with your new additions:

  • Recruit some family members or friends to stay with you the first few weeks after the babies are born.
  • Talk to and get advice from other parents raising multiple babies at once.
  • Create a schedule for when your babies come home — who will feed the babies during the day and night, who will change diapers, who will put together your family’s meals, etc.
  • Set up your first pediatrician’s appointment.

While you can’t prepare for all of the unknowns that come with raising children, taking a few steps ahead of time will save you a great deal of stress in the long run.

5. Finally, Take a Deep Breath

Becoming a parent is stressful. When you’re unexpectedly becoming a parent to two little babies, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

Remember that every emotion you’re feeling — excitement, worry, sadness, guilt and terror — is all completely normal. You will never be a “bad” parent, as long as you take the steps now to prepare your family for this new journey. That means taking care of your mental health, too.

Don’t forget that your surrogate is likely feeling all kinds of complicated emotions, too. Take the time to reach out to her and remind her of your support. While the journey ahead may be unexpected, you can get through it together.

And, if you ever need any additional help or support, American Surrogacy will always be there for you.

5 Tips for Announcing Your Baby’s Birth Via Surrogacy

When your surrogate finally gives birth to a healthy baby girl or boy, you’ll want to shout the news from the rooftops. With baby announcements already drawn up and birth and newborn photos already taken, you’re ready to send those papers out to family, friends and even the slightest of acquaintances.

But hold on one second — announcements of children born via surrogacy deserve a little extra attention. While surrogacy doesn’t make you any less of a parent than if you had carried your baby yourself, it is a special process that you should celebrate in your announcements. But how?

You may have never seen a baby-born-via-surrogacy announcement. Knowing what to and what not to include can be confusing.

Don’t worry — American Surrogacy is here to help. Below, find a few tips we offer intended parents when it’s time to announce their baby’s arrival into the world.

Tip #1: First, Decide When You’ll Send an Announcement

Before we get into the details of sending baby announcements, we know that you might be interested in sending surrogacy and pregnancy announcements, as well. Ultimately, it will be up to you and your spouse to decide what time is best to announce your new addition — but there are a few things to consider.

Many parents are so excited to finally begin their surrogacy journey that they announce their news right at the start. Or, they may be so thrilled at their surrogate’s positive pregnancy test that they can’t keep their news to themselves. It’s totally understandable to want to share your surrogacy journey with the world, but we encourage intended parents to be patient.

If you want to send a pre-birth announcement, doctors often recommend waiting until 12 weeks of pregnancy. At that point, the risks of miscarriage decrease greatly, and there is a higher chance that your surrogate will deliver a healthy, happy baby.

Because of the potential risks of surrogacy, many intended parents wait until their baby is born to share their parenthood news with the world. While we encourage intended parents to tell their close family and friends about their journey early on, it might be best to wait until your little one is home before telling every person in your network. 

But, again, this decision is always up to you.

Tip #2: Don’t Forget to Honor Your Gestational Carrier

You know birth announcements typically include a cute photo and the birth details. But, when your child is born via surrogacy, don’t forget one important detail: your gestational carrier.

Your surrogate will have sacrificed a great deal of time and energy to help you become a parent. And, while she will be fairly compensated and receive a great deal of satisfaction in her choice, you should also honor that journey. 

How exactly you do this is up to you. But a simple line like “Thank you to our gestational carrier Sarah for bringing our little joy into the world!” can recognize her unique role and show your appreciation.

Tip #3: But Don’t Overshare Info

Remember that your surrogate is her own person — and she has the right to tell her surrogacy story in her own way and on her own time. Don’t use your birth announcement to describe every step of your surrogacy journey (unless you’ve cleared it with her ahead of time). Details like the surrogate’s last name, location, age and family members should stay off the announcement. A simple shout-out will be enough.

Remember: If you post your birth announcement to social media, it can easily be seen by those not in your network, even with privacy settings.

Tip #4: Look to Other Examples for Ideas

While surrogacy is becoming more common, you may not have anyone in your community who has gone through this process. If you’ve never seen a surrogacy birth announcement, how do you know what yours should look like?

The good news is that you can use templates from traditional birth announcements for your surrogacy birth announcements. You may need to tweak a few details, but most of the basics will remain the same.

We’ve gathered a few examples here for you to check out. Hop on Pinterest for some more ideas.

Tip #5: Do What’s Right for You

Like most aspects of your surrogacy journey, there is no “right” or “wrong” way to announce your baby’s birth. If you’re a more private person, you may not send an announcement at all. Maybe you keep your announcements to a smaller group of people and don’t even mention your surrogate on them — because, by then, your gestational surrogacy is common knowledge.

Every one of these options (and the many more available to you) are perfectly okay. Gestational surrogacy is a long journey, and you’ll have to make a lot of compromises along the way. If you want to do birth announcements completely your way, that’s totally understandable.

If you ever need guidance on when and how to announce your gestational surrogacy journey, don’t be afraid to reach out to your American Surrogacy specialist anytime.

What to Expect After Bringing Baby Home: Intended Parents

The feeling of bringing your little one home for the very first time is indescribable. All those months of careful planning, hard word and patience have finally paid off — and your family-building dreams have come true.

But for parents who built their family through surrogacy, you’re probably worried about what to expect when you bring your baby home for the first time. Here, we’ll talk about some of the emotions that you might experience after meeting your little one.

Your First Week at Home

It’s common for new parents to have mixed emotions when they bring their baby home for the first time — so you’re not alone if you feel this way. Naturally, you’ll be nervous, just like any new parent would. And that’s okay. It’s possible to feel thrilled and uncertain at the same time.

You and your baby are going to go through a lot of changes during the first few months as you get to know one another. Even with all the parenting tips and books at your disposal, you might feel unsure of what to expect.

Here are just a few things that you should know during the first week:

  • It’s okay to ask for help from friends and family.
  • You’re going to need more diapers than you thought!
  • You’ll probably feel overwhelmed and stressed with a new person to take care, so don’t forget to rest.
  • After a bit, you’ll start to learn what your baby’s cries mean.
  • It might take longer than you thought to get your bearings.
  • You should take this time to build a support system.

If you need any other tips for bringing your baby home, remember that you can always reach out to your surrogacy specialist.

Bonding with Your Baby

Bonding is something that every new parent worries about  — so you’re not alone. While this process may be more difficult as an intended parent, it’s not impossible. Remember: There are even some biological parents who have a hard time bonding with their baby, so please don’t be too hard on yourself. Bonding with your baby is already difficult enough, so try to be patient.

Difficulty bonding with your baby doesn’t mean that you’re a bad parent or that you messed up at some point during the surrogacy process. It just means that adjusting may take you a little bit more time than you had hoped.

Many adoptive and intended parents worry that their child won’t take to them or won’t recognize them as their parent. Because you did not carry them yourself, these fears might be even more pronounced. All of these feelings and emotions  are understandable. But, with a lot of time, patience, and care, you and your baby will build a strong relationship in no time.

There are many ways for you to bond with your baby, even though you didn’t carry them — so if you need any tips, you can always ask your specialist.

The Difficult Emotions of Parenthood

Being a parent is one of the hardest jobs out there. If you feel stressed, overwhelmed or exhausted, know that you’re not alone. Many parents have been in your shoes, and know exactly what you’re going through.

It’s common knowledge that many new moms experience “the baby blues,” which can sometimes develop into postpartum depression. But did you know that the same can be said for intended parents?

The truth is that any new parent, no matter how they chose to build their family, can experience different forms of postpartum depression. In some cases, it can be just as severe or even worse  for intended parents.

The factors of post-surrogacy depression can vary. You might be having trouble bonding with your child, or you might be emotionally exhausted and overworked. When you bring your baby home for the first time, you might feel emotionally exhausted and drained. Those feelings of excitement will likely take a lot out of you — and may make you more susceptible to serious mood disorders.

Some of the most common symptoms of postpartum depression include:

  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or the baby
  • Avoiding the baby
  • Difficulty bonding with baby
  • Frequent crying

If you experience any of these symptoms, please don’t hesitate to reach out for support. Post-surrogacy depression can be painful, but help is always available.

No matter what you’re feeling, we want you to know that you’re never alone. Your surrogacy specialist will always be here to support you. You can call us anytime, anywhere.

If you’re struggling with the emotions of being a new parent, please reach out to a specialist or a counselor for help.

5 Tips for Traveling with a Newborn after a Surrogacy Birth

The birth of your baby is a life-changing moment shared with your family and your surrogate. But what happens after your baby has entered the world, your surrogate is ready to go home, and your baby is ready to be discharged and leave the hospital with you?

Reminders About What Happens Before Your Baby is Born

Most of the preparations for post-birth steps will be completed by your specialist and attorney.

Your American Surrogacy specialist will be in touch with your attorney before the birth to make sure that all the appropriate paperwork is sent to the hospital ahead of time. We’ll remain in touch with your attorney throughout your surrogate’s labor, delivery and recovery, in case any additional paperwork is required. We’ll notify your attorney when your baby has been born so that they can complete any paperwork needed to discharge your baby to your care during and after the hospital stay. 

In many states, most (if not all) of the legal processes can be completed before the baby is even born, so everything can be sent to the hospital in advance. However, if there are any necessary legal steps after your baby’s birth, your attorney will already have walked you through those processes, and they will be ready to put the finishing touches on that paperwork once your baby is born. 

If any additional documentation is required in your situation, you may need to sign some paperwork or wait for those documents to be processed. However, this still won’t affect your ability to bring home your baby after he or she is born.

Generally speaking, most intended parents’ attorneys and specialists will have things ready to go once the baby is cleared for discharge.

From there, all that’s left is to travel home. Traveling with a newborn born via surrogacy will, in most respects, be the same as bringing any new baby home. However, intended parents often ask how they should prepare. Here are five of our tips:

1. Don’t Stress Too Much about the Birth Certificate and Social Security Card

Is it likely that anyone is going to eye you suspiciously and stop you to ask for documentation proving that this is your child as you travel home? No. But getting the standard documentation sooner rather than later never hurts, for bureaucratic purposes. So obtain those items right away if you can, but if you can’t, it’s alright!

Many states allow for pre-birth surrogacy orders, in which case, your baby’s birth certificate will be ready to go with your names listed when you’re discharged from the hospital. If, however, you require post-birth measures, your attorney will complete the necessary steps to update the birth certificate with your names as soon as possible. Processing that might take a little longer, so don’t stress if it’s not available right away.

You’ll be able to apply for a social security card as soon as your baby is born, but you may need your child’s birth certificate at some offices. This can be a pain if you don’t have the birth certificate right away; you might need to wait until you get it to apply for the card. It may be helpful to have any pre- or post-birth orders on hand, just in case officials would like to see those. You can begin applying for that card on the Social Security Administration’s website

Most parents don’t have any trouble with either step, but contact your specialist or attorney if you run into any difficulties.

2. Don’t Rush It

It’s understandable if you want to get back to “real life” with your new child, but this precious early time together is very short-lived. Additionally, there are two important reasons to take your time before heading home:

The first: More time with your surrogate and her family. This is the end of your journey together, and seeing your new family together will mean so much to her. Be sure to spend plenty of time with her while you can, even if you’re excited for some quality alone time with your own family!

The second: More time to make sure your baby is healthy and sturdy enough to travel. Newborns are surprisingly tough and ready to travel fairly quickly, but they can also benefit from a day or two of bonding time and adjusting to the world before they take their first trip. If you’re planning on flying, different airlines will have varying policies on the earliest they’ll permit an infant to fly with them, so this is something to be aware of before you book that flight.

3. Choose to Drive, If You Can

The first reason we recommend driving, if possible, is because of the aforementioned policies that airlines have regarding newborns. Some may require the baby’s birth certificate as proof of age, and if you don’t have that certificate yet, it can be an additional hurdle.

It’s absolutely possible to fly with an infant, but there are some benefits to driving your newborn home:

  • Reduced exposure to illness for a new immune system
  • The ability to make stops as-needed for diaper changes and feedings
  • Less chance of significant travel delays
  • No need for proof of age (if you’re nervous about not having all of your baby’s documentation yet)

Just like when flying, you’ll still want to follow basic newborn safety practices when driving. Otherwise, this route is fairly straightforward.

4. Bring Something to Organize Documents

Again, most of the surrogacy-related documentation will already have been sent to the hospital before the birth by your American Surrogacy specialist and your attorney. However, it never hurts to bring physical copies of relevant documentation with you to the hospital, just in case you or the hospital staff need to refer to something. 

You might pack copies of:

Afterwards, you’ll walk out of the hospital with a new baby — and a lot of papers. You may receive:

  • A list of immunizations
  • A list of health screenings and panels completed
  • Your baby’s birth stats
  • Doctor’s notes
  • Discharge papers
  • Pamphlets for new parents to help with the care of their newborn
  • A birth certificate, in some situations
  • And more

Having a folder of some sort where you can safely store and access these papers — alongside whatever surrogacy-related documentation you brought with you as a just-in-case measure — will likely be helpful.

5. Follow Standard Safety and Packing Tips

Parents everywhere will have plenty of advice for you when it comes to packing for the hospital and the trip home. The biggest differences in your situation: You won’t need to pack for postpartum care, and you’ll want to pack some extra clothes and supplies in case you’re in the hospital for a while.

Of course, the most important things you’ll need to have ready before you head out of the hospital with your baby include:

  • An approved carrier/car seat, preferably already installed
  • A stocked diaper bag
  • Breastmilk (and something to transport it in), formula or a combination of both
  • Diapers and wipes
  • Extra clothes
  • Plenty of cloths and rags
  • Bottles (remember that you can always clean them on-the-go, if you need to, so don’t overpack)
  • Some plastic bags to temporarily seal up dirty spit-up rags and clothes 

Resist the urge to pack the cute, unnecessary things. For now, just make sure that your baby is safe, comfortable, warm and fed as you travel home. Keep your own bags packed with strictly practical and comfortable items, too.

If you have any questions, or you’re uncertain about preparing to travel home with your surrogacy-born newborn, you can always ask your American Surrogacy specialist, or check in with parents who have been in your shoes!

How to Prepare Older Children for a Sibling Born Via Surrogacy

If you have a child or several children, and you’re in the process of adding to your family through surrogacy, you’re also going to be preparing your children for a new baby brother or sister. So, in honor of National Siblings Day, American Surrogacy wanted to offer you some tips!

In most respects, you’ll talk to your children about the responsibilities of being a big sibling just like any family would. Your children will likely experience the same thoughts and feelings that most kids have when they find out they’re getting a new sibling.

However, because you’re welcoming a child via surrogacy, a few aspects of this experience will be a little different. For example, your kids won’t be watching Mom’s belly grow. They may wonder if their surrogate-born sibling will be different somehow. They may want to establish their own relationship to your surrogate and their unborn sibling.

You may not be sure of how to move forward, so here’s American Surrogacy’s advice on how to help get your children ready for their newest surrogate-born sibling:

1. Explain Surrogacy to Your Children

Having a basic, age-appropriate grasp of the surrogacy process is the first step. Reading some children’s books about surrogacy together can be a great introduction to the topic. 

Explain that there are many different but equally wonderful ways to grow a family, and this is just how your child’s brother or sister will be joining your family. Ask them if they have any questions about surrogacy, and express your excitement and pride in this shared experience — they’ll mirror your calmness and positivity!

Remember that your children will become their own ambassadors for surrogacy at school and among their peers, so give them the tools they need to answer questions they might be asked by inquisitive kids or teachers. Teaching them some basic language to use and practicing using that language at home can be helpful.

2. Continue to Talk About the Baby and Let Them Ask Questions

When you’re adding to your family via surrogacy, the concept of the new baby can be a little “out of sight, out of mind” for some kids. After your initial news, they may forget that the baby is still coming because they aren’t watching Mom’s body change. The baby’s arrival can feel very far away to a little kid!

Keep their new sibling a topic of conversation. Ask them what they’re excited to do with their little brother or sister when they’re older, or what names they like. Ask them for their help in setting up the baby’s nursery.

Take the opportunity to listen to their questions, as well. Your child might be wondering about how the baby is doing with the surrogate, or they might be unsure of what the hospital process will be like. They might also be nervous about typical big sibling concerns, too!

3. Involve Them in the Surrogacy Experience

It can be comforting for your child to feel included and clued in with what’s happening, in an age-appropriate way. Here are a few ways you could include your child in your family’s surrogacy journey:

  • Let your children meet your surrogate, if possible. You can show your child her picture or video chat with her if an in-person visit isn’t convenient. Getting to know the wonderful person who is carrying their sibling can make things feel a little more real and exciting.
  • Let your children meet their sibling at the hospital. This may also give them the opportunity to thank your surrogate for helping your whole family. 
  • Encourage your child to write letters or draw pictures to your surrogate and your baby. Mail them to her! It’ll probably bring a smile to her face.
  • Record your child reading a story to the baby, and send it to your surrogate to play. Get a jumpstart on sibling bonding!
  • Have your child pick out two special gifts — one for your surrogate and one for their baby sibling. Letting them choose a toy or stuffed animal for the baby can help things feel tangible.
  • Talk about your surrogate. Tell your child stories that she’s shared about the baby’s progress or movements. Tell your child about where she lives and what her family is like. Talk about how she’s taking amazing care of their baby sibling.

4. Be Reassuring and Express Your Excitement

Kids pick up on our emotions and look to parents to see if they should feel positively about a new situation. Speaking and behaving in a way that shows you’re proud of this surrogacy journey will set the example for your children to follow suit. Setting this tone now will especially be important for your surrogate-born child. Show your children that this is a happy and exciting time for your family. 

Even so, your child may still be afraid of the big changes ahead or may feel some uncertainty toward the surrogacy process. Keep assuring your children that things are going to be alright. The surrogacy process can be hectic and emotional, but your children will look to you for normalcy and positivity in the adventure you’re undertaking together.

In many ways, these feelings are the same that any family experiences with the arrival of a new child. Surrogacy can make things seem a little challenging at first glance, but the enormous benefit that it will have for your family will be lifelong.

Want more tips and suggestions on preparing your children for a sibling born via surrogacy? Reach out to your American Surrogacy specialist anytime for personalized advice.

Addressing Gamete Donors in Family Tree Assignments

School is back in session, and with it comes the familiar assignment that many young children tackle in their first few years of education — the family tree.

While it can be an interesting assignment for many families, it can be a confusing and even stressful one for those whose families have come together in nontraditional ways. While processes such as adoption, surrogacy and gamete donation are more common than ever, they still don’t tend to cross teachers’ minds when it comes to assigning out these traditional family-based projects.

If your child was born via surrogacy and gamete donation, you may be unsure of how to tackle this assignment when your child pulls it out of their backpack. The final decision will always be up to you and your son or daughter, but we’ve offered five ways you may address this topic in a healthy and positive way:

1. Consider whether it’s worth including.

The first thing to remember? That your family’s business is your business alone. Just because your child shares a genetic connection with a donor — anonymous or identified — doesn’t mean that you have to share that news with everyone.

Family trees are assigned for many reasons — to teach students about genetics, to help students get to know each other better, to practice presentation skills, and more. Learn what the focus of this project is for your child’s class. While it’s never a good idea to lie about your child’s personal history, when you’re the parent, it is always your role to safeguard your child’s story and whether or not you want to share it with people outside your family.

2. Ask your child about their thoughts.

Before you tell your child to include a sperm or egg donor on their family tree, make sure to talk to them! Children have as much right to their own birth and family story as anyone else, and it’s important that they play a role in their family tree assignment — and who they want to put on it.

Every donor-conceived and surrogacy-born child should know their personal story from an early age. If you’ve done your job right, your child will be aware of their surrogacy or gamete-donor story. They will likely have their own feelings about it, too.

3. Use an alternative family tree design.

When children are brought into a family in a non-traditional way, a traditional family tree structure can’t capture those nuances. If you and your child decide to move forward with a family tree, you should brainstorm together to find a way to best represent your child’s heritage and genetic background.

You might simply choose to add another line from your child to their sperm or egg donor, designating the difference between a genetic donor and an actual parent. Or, you may add your surrogate in the same way, with a line that makes it obvious your child isn’t genetically related to the surrogate.

Some adoptive and other non-traditional families choose to create “family forests” instead of trees. This way, they can emphasize the most important people in a child’s life, without necessarily pointing out genetic connections and non-genetic connections.

There are several ways you can create a non-traditional family tree. Work with your child to determine which is the best design for his or her preferences.

4. Talk to your child’s teachers about alternative assignments.

After discussion with your child, you may decide that a family tree is not the best assignment — especially if there are complications in your child’s family history, related or unrelated to their surrogacy story. Many teachers will be happy to work with you to find an alternative assignment. If your child doesn’t want to make a family tree based on their background, consider completing a family tree for a famous person in history, such as a president.

This brings up a good note for any parent: It’s a good idea to make your child’s teacher aware of any non-traditional aspects in your child’s family, to avoid awkward and complicated teaching moments throughout the whole school year.

5. Include the donor on the family tree — and use it as a teaching moment.

If you and your child are comfortable, don’t be afraid to use the inclusion of your child’s donor as a great opportunity to share the beauty of assisted reproduction methods with the classroom. While your child may be the only one in class conceived this way, remember that the number of nontraditional families in the U.S. is growing. Education plays a great role in tolerance and acceptance.

If your child is excited to share their surrogacy or donor story with their classroom, you’ll want to help them prepare for the class conversation. Give them some answers to ignorant comments and questions claiming that a surrogate “gave them up” or that their non-biological parent is not their “real” parent. You should also consider including the teacher on this preparation, so they can guide the class conversation is a positive and accepting way.

The pride that your child has in their own surrogacy story is a great example that you are doing a great job as a parent. Support them in this assignment; it will be the beginning of a lifetime spent answering questions and educating about surrogacy and gamete donation.

Have more questions about the nuances of raising a surrogacy-born, donor-conceived child? Talk to our surrogacy specialists anytime at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

5 Tips for Finding a Pediatrician for Your Child Born via Surrogacy

When you use surrogacy to add a child to your family, there are a lot of medical professionals involved: your reproductive endocrinologist, your surrogate’s personal physician and obstetricians, nurses at the hospital, and more.

But, have you thought about the most important professional you’ll need once your surrogacy is done — your child’s pediatrician?

Finding the right pediatrician for your child will take some time. One bright side of your surrogate carrying your child? You will have the time to research and choose the perfect doctor for your baby once they are born.

Below, find five important tips to keep in mind during this search. Remember: Your surrogacy specialist will always be available to answer your questions about raising a child born via surrogacy, including how your pediatrician can play a role in this journey.

Don’t hesitate to contact us at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) today for more information.

1. Do thorough research.

One of the best ways to spend the time waiting for your child to be born? Preparing yourself for their arrival — which includes finding the right pediatrician to look after their medical health.

Finding a pediatrician involves more than just choosing the closest doctor to you. Your child’s pediatrician will provide preventative care to your child throughout their childhood, and they will play an integral part in your child’s physical and mental development. They will also be a great resource to you by providing education about child development, safety and more.

When you first start researching options for pediatricians, you’ll want to consider:

  • Location, hours and after-hour care
  • Insurance coverage
  • Whether the doctor is accepting new patients
  • The doctor’s certifications and awards
  • The doctor’s experience and any areas of specialization
  • And more

2. Ask for references and recommendations.

If this is your first child, you may be unsure of what you are looking for in a pediatrician. Talking to those who have been through this process before can be helpful.

One of the best ways to find a good local pediatrician is by asking your friends and family members with children. They can let you know who they are seeing, what they like about them, and what they wished they had known about pediatricians before starting. Their experience can serve you well in your personal search.

You might also reach out to your (or your surrogate’s) obstetrician. They may have advice for finding a good pediatrician based on your and your surrogate’s health background, and they might even recommend a few physicians to start with.

3. Interview potential pediatricians.

Once you have a list of prospective pediatricians, you will need to interview the ones you are seriously interested in. Your first time meeting your baby’s pediatrician shouldn’t be at your baby’s first visit; you should establish a relationship with the doctor prior to your baby even being born.

There are a lot of great doctors out there, and many of them may work as your personal pediatrician. To determine your best fit, you’ll need to meet the doctor in person. This will give you a chance to ask any questions you may have about their practice and their medical opinions, as well as determine whether you two “click” and have a good relationship.

This can be the lengthiest part of finding a pediatrician, so make sure to start your interviews early! The more doctors you talk to, the better idea you’ll have of what you’re looking for in a pediatrician for your child.

4. Keep your surrogacy experience in mind.

In many ways, the process of finding a pediatrician for a child born via surrogacy will be very similar to that of a child born in a traditional manner. However, there are a few things you should consider.

If you are matched with an out-of-state surrogate, the first pediatrician to see your child will likely be in the city where your gestational carrier gives birth. You’ll want to talk with your surrogate’s obstetrician for local recommendations, and you’ll want to keep your own pediatrician up-to-date on pregnancy and delivery news as it occurs. You’ll also want to ask your local pediatrician when they would like to see the baby after you return home and make sure that the hospital at which your child is born sends the proper paperwork to your local doctor.

If your child has been conceived with a gamete donation, you’ll need to inform your pediatrician, as well. This may play a role in your decision — is your pediatrician familiar with the ins-and-outs of sperm and egg donation, and do they have experience tackling this issue with current patients? How will they navigate the issue of social and medical history from a donor when caring for your child?

You’ll need to work with a pediatrician who is comfortable with your child’s surrogacy background — and is willing to do more research whenever necessary. So, make sure your surrogacy experience is an important topic of your initial conversation with a prospective doctor.

5. Don’t be afraid to change your mind.

The pediatrician that you choose for your child will most likely be there throughout the years (and even decades!) to come. It’s a big decision — and it’s completely normal if your needs and wants end up changing over the years to come. Fortunately, there are many pediatricians out there, and you will find the one that is best for your child.

Say you choose one pediatrician to start with. But, on your first visit with the doctor and your baby, you’re not satisfied with the level of care you receive. Alternatively, your child may develop a condition during childhood that your pediatrician may not be able to adequately care for. Changing doctors is totally acceptable — it’s not a comment on your ability as a parent or even the doctor’s ability to do their job!

You are never obligated to remain with a certain medical professional just because you started with that person. As a parent, you must always do what is right for your child!

Want more tips and hints for life as a parent after surrogacy? Reach out to your surrogacy specialist anytime at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

What are Surrogacy’s Effects on Children Born via this Method?

While assisted reproduction methods have been around for decades, gestational surrogacy is still the relatively new kid on the block. Because of its novelty, surrogacy can be a controversial topic of discussion — especially when it comes to the long-term effects on those involved.

While intended parents and gestational carriers enter into this process fully aware of the risks and rewards of doing so, the children who are born via surrogacy have no choice in the matter. Therefore, it’s normal for many people to ask, “What are the effects on children born via surrogacy?”

Researchers have been studying the families created through gestational surrogacy for years now. While there are no definite and conclusive answers to this question, a fair amount of reports have been released over the past few years that shed some light on this topic. We’ve summarized them for you below.

Remember: If you ever have questions about the surrogacy process, our specialists are here to help. Contact us anytime online or by calling 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

Physical Effects on Children Born via Surrogacy

For many people, there’s been a long-standing question about children conceived through in vitro fertilization: How does it affect them in the long run?

The good news is that researchers have not found any solid evidence to show that children conceived via IVF are any less healthy than those conceived in the traditional manner.

One of the most recent and most extensive studies on this topic comes out of Israel. In a 2017 study, Israeli researchers evaluated the health of young adults enlisting in the military, all of whom were born via IVF from 1982—1993. The physicians looked at all medical and psychiatric diagnoses recorded, as well as cognitive function. Overall, there were no major differences between the adults conceived and born via IVF than adults conceived and born in the traditional way.

Studies on children born via surrogacy tend to have the same results. While the rate of multiple births and low birth weight are higher among those pursuing gestational surrogacy, long-term results have not indicated that the entire classification of children born via surrogacy is any less healthy than their traditionally born counterparts.

For more information on how IVF plays a role in a child’s health, we encourage intended parents to speak with an experienced reproductive endocrinologist at a surrogacy or fertility clinic.

Emotional Effects on Children Born via Surrogacy

The lack of a negative physical effect is all good and well — but is there a possibility that a child is psychologically affected by the fact that they were born via surrogacy?

The answer is yes — and no. As with any other child brought into a family in a non-traditional way, the psychological health of a child born via surrogacy will depend upon how their parents celebrate their surrogacy story. If there’s anything family-building professionals have learned from adoption and gamete donations, it’s that honesty and openness are always the best policies.

The psychological health of people involved in the surrogacy process has always been of interest to researchers. There are many studies out there that evaluate the psychological health of a child born via surrogacy, the relationships between intended mothers and their children, the emotional effects of surrogacy on gestational carriers, and more.

For this article, we’ll focus on the emotional health of children born via surrogacy. The vast majority of studies today show no major differences in emotional health of children born via surrogacy and those children conceived naturally. One extensive 2011 study showed that surrogacy children grew up well-adjusted throughout their childhood, with no noticeable differences in maternal positivity, maternal negativity, and child adjustment. In fact, mothers and fathers of children born via surrogacy were shown to have more positive parent-child relationships and less stress (respectively) than those who had a child naturally.

Of course, there are studies out there that claim children born via surrogacy are more likely to be depressed and experience identity issues as they grow up. But, that makes sense; if intended parents don’t take the time to fully and positively explain a child’s surrogacy story as they grow up, it will be a great shock to a child when they eventually find out. That’s why we at American Surrogacy encourage all intended parents to normalize their child’s surrogacy story from the moment they are brought home from the hospital.

For many children, the idea of being carried in another woman’s womb is more disruptive than the idea of not being genetically related to their parents. This is likely because surrogacy is still uncommon in comparison to other family-building methods like adoption. So, proper explanation and honesty is key to helping a child develop their identity as a surrogacy baby.

Whatever your interest in surrogacy, we know that it can be scary to think of the future when you’re so focused on the present. That’s why our surrogacy specialists are always here to answer all of your questions about gestational surrogacy before you begin.

To learn more today, give us a call at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

What is Colostrum, and Should I Consider it for My Baby Born via Surrogacy?

When you hire a surrogate to carry your baby, there are a lot of decisions you’ll have to make. But, have you given thought to breastfeeding once your child is born?

It may surprise you to know that many intended mothers (and adoptive mothers) are able to breastfeed their children after birth, even though they weren’t pregnant themselves. The decision of whether or not to breastfeed — or whether or not your surrogate pumps for your baby — will always be up to your preferences.

Whether you’re considering breastfeeding your child, or you are interested in having your gestational carrier pump breastmilk for you, there’s an important thing you should know about first: colostrum. It may very well make a difference in what path you eventually choose.

For this year’s National Breastfeeding Month, find some basic information below about this medical marvel.

Remember: The information presented in this article is not intended to be and should not be taken as medical advice. We encourage you to always speak with your doctor for advice on what will be best for your newborn baby.

What is Colostrum, and Why is it so Special?

Colostrum is a special kind of breastmilk that is only produced right after a woman gives birth. It’s a sticky, yellow fluid that has everything a baby needs to transition to life outside the womb. All infants can benefit from colostrum, but studies have shown that colostrum has an immense benefit for preterm babies.

So, what are the advantages of colostrum?

  • It contains antibodies and white blood cells that help a baby build its immune system.
  • It creates a tough coating on a baby’s stomach and intestines to protect from germs.
  • It acts as a laxative to help a baby pass its first poop.
  • It helps prevent jaundice.
  • It provides the right nutrients to help the brain, eyes and heart grow.
  • It’s an easy first food for babies to digest, containing high levels of protein, salts, fats and vitamins.

Colostrum is usually produced within the first few days of birth. Women typically stop producing colostrum about two to five days after delivery. Then, “transitional milk” (a mixture of colostrum and more mature milk) comes in. By this time, a baby’s stomach will be ready to digest larger amounts of more mature milk.

Should Your Surrogate Pump Her Colostrum for Your Baby?

Because of colostrum’s benefits, many new mothers who don’t plan to breastfeed extensively still ensure their baby receives colostrum directly after birth.

But, if you’re having a child via surrogacy, getting colostrum to your baby isn’t as simple as it is in a traditional birth. Even if you plan to induce lactation to feed your baby, you will not produce colostrum (which is related to the production of human placental lactogen). If you want your baby to receive the benefits of colostrum, you will need to have your surrogate pump after birth.

Asking your gestational carrier to pump breastmilk for you is not a question to bring up for the first time in the delivery room. It should be a conversation that you have long before she delivers — possibly even during the drafting of your surrogacy contract. It’s important to iron out the details, such as how long she will pump, how the milk will be delivered to your baby, and whether she’ll receive any extra compensation for doing so. Remember: Pumping breastmilk is a big commitment, so your surrogate needs to be actively involved in this decision.

If you decide to have your surrogate provide colostrum to your baby after birth, you’ll need to talk to your surrogate about the details of this experience, as part of your overall hospital plan. Will your surrogate need to pump directly after delivery? Will you have her breastfeed your child instead? Your surrogacy specialist can also help mediate this conversation.

Remember: You are in Charge of Your Breastmilk Preferences

When you’re an intended parent, you always get to decide what the best medical decisions for your child are. If you want to induce lactation and feed them yourself, great! If you choose to bottle-feed instead, that’s okay, too! It’s all up to what your doctor recommends and what will work best for your own schedule.

No matter what you decide, you are still a good parent. Unfortunately, there is a lot of debate out there about breastfeeding vs. bottle-feeding, but one is not inherently better than the other. As long as you do your research and talk to your surrogate about your plans for breastfeeding colostrum and mature milk, you will be able to make the decision that is right for your family.

Want to learn more about how breastfeeding works with surrogacy? Talk to our surrogacy specialists today at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) or contact us online.

Getting Your Newborn Home After Their Birth via Surrogacy

It’s more common than not that intended parents are matched with an out-of-state surrogate. Sometimes, it’s legally necessary; the intended parents may live in a state that is not particularly surrogacy-friendly. In other cases, it’s simply because the best surrogate for their goals and preferences happened to live in a different state.

Many of the aspects of a long-distance surrogacy are easily managed with a bit of organization and professional guidance. But, there is another important thing to think about, and it comes after the surrogacy process is complete: how to bring your new baby home across state lines.

When you have a brand-new baby, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, especially if this is your first go at being a parent. Getting ready to bring your baby home requires all kinds of preparations, but you may be unsure of how to do this safely.

Don’t worry: American Surrogacy is here to help. Below, find out your options for bringing home your little one after birth. Don’t hesitate to contact your surrogacy specialist at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) for more guidance on this matter.

The Big Debate: Flying vs. Driving

When it comes to bringing a baby home that was born out of state, there is often one question: Should I fly home on a plane or drive home instead?

First, know this: Which path you take should always depend upon your pediatrician’s recommendation. Your baby’s health will play a crucial role in this decision, and only your doctor will know what is best for your family. Always stay in close contact with them leading up to and after your carrier’s delivery.

In general, here are some things you should know about each option:

Putting a Newborn on an Airplane

Taking a newborn baby on a plan comes with certain pros and cons. You’ll need to consider these before booking your flights.

First, the advantages:

  • Shorter travel time: When you’re looking at a 12-hour drive or a couple-hour flight, choosing to fly may take a lot of stress off of you as intended parents. It’s likely that you want to get home as soon as possible, and a plane ride is often the way to best do so.
  • More travel options: There is always a degree of uncertainty when a baby is born. The baby may come early, or they may overstay their welcome in your surrogate’s womb. If you rely on a car to get you there, you may miss your baby’s birth! A plane, on the other hand, offers more frequent options to leave (and return) whenever you need to. This can give you a bit more leeway when bringing your little one back home.

But, there are also some disadvantages, too:

  • Potential for more germ exposure: Newborn babies are vulnerable, and a plane’s atmosphere can be the worst place for an underdeveloped immune system. If you choose to take your infant on a plane, you must be comfortable with the exposure to viruses and bacteria that other travelers are carrying.
  • Flight changes can be expensive: While flying gives you more opportunity to update your travel plans if necessary, these changes can be expensive. For this reason, many intended parents buy one-way tickets on airlines with minimal change charges (check out Southwest) and wait to buy their return ticket until they are more aware of their baby’s situation.

If you think flying might be the right option for you, always speak with your baby’s doctor. Certain airlines will require a doctor’s note for a baby under a certain age to travel. Make sure to always research tips to make your return journey as stress-free as possible.

Taking a Road Trip with a Newborn

Another way you can return home with your baby is by driving them. Whether or not this is an option for your family will depend upon your personal situation.

So, why do intended parents choose to drive home with their newborn?

  • Cost savings for shorter distances: In some cases, driving to and from a surrogate’s state is much cheaper for intended parents than flying. In many cases, if intended parents have a drive of a day or less, they will save substantial money in comparison to buying flights on short notice, as baby delivery can sometimes necessitate.
  • Safer immuno-environment: When you travel with a newborn in a car, you are in more control over the bacteria and viruses exposed to them than if you were on a plane. You can take steps to keep your car as clean as possible, and you may be more comfortable knowing that your son or daughter will only come in contact with you on this journey.
  • More control over journey: When you drive, you are in charge of your journey. This includes how frequently and where you stop, as well as deciding what is best for your child. You aren’t at the mercy of an airline; if you need more time to get home, or if you and your child need a break on the way home, you can always take it.

But, keep in mind these disadvantages before you strap in your newborn to their car seat:

  • Fatigue on long journeys: If you are taking a long road trip, make sure you have a partner to help you out. Driving long hours is exhausting for anyone but especially so for a new parent caring for a brand-new baby.
  • Cleanliness of stops along the way: You’ll need to stop at rest stations along the way to stay safe. If you are taking a longer journey, you may even spend the night at a hotel. Will your hotel be clean enough for your newborn baby? Are you prepared to haul all of your baby supplies across state lines and in and out of your hotel rooms?
  • Distance from a doctor or hospital: Even if your newborn baby is 100 percent healthy at birth, it’s normal to be worried about their health in the weeks after they are born. When you take an extended road trip after their birth, there will be times that you are a distance away from any doctor or hospital. While many intended parents bring their children home safely via car, this is an important consideration not to overlook.

Remember, the best person to talk to about returning home will always be your baby’s doctor. They are likely the one who will make the ultimate decision in which option is right for you.

Your surrogacy specialist will always be there to support you. To learn more about this topic or about surrogacy in general, please contact our team at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).