Should You Get the COVID-19 Vaccine If You’re Pregnant?

On December 16, 2020, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) released a statement for people who are pregnant or who are planning to get pregnant regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. This has significant meaning for gestational surrogates and intended parents, who were previously in a wait-and-see holding pattern.

The statement says that pregnant people, and anyone planning to get pregnant, cango ahead and get vaccinated — as long as your health provider gives you the OK to do so.

Ultimately, you’re free to choose whether or not you get vaccinated. It’s a discussion that intended parents and gestational surrogates should have, along with their American Surrogacy specialist.

If you’re (understandably) nervous about COVID or about getting the COVID-19 vaccine, this guide will help gestational surrogates and intended parents to make a decision on what’s best for them, and for the baby. Please note: You should still talk to your doctor first! They can offer you medical advice based on your individual situation.

COVID-19 Vaccine Basics

Here’s a brief introductory lesson on the COVID-19 vaccine, and some considerations for surrogates and intended parents:

  • As you probably know, pregnant women are at a greater risk for becoming seriously sick as a result of COVID-19.
  • Two different pharmaceutical companies, Moderna and Pfizer, have produced COVID-19 vaccines — both are about 95% effective. You probably won’t be able to choose which one you receive.
  • More vaccines are on the way, and they will also probably be safe for pregnant women.
  • The vaccine requires two doses, administered 21-28 days apart, depending on which vaccine you receive.
  • You will need to receive both doses of the vaccine in order for it to be effective.
  • The first shot is a primer and then the second is a booster shot.
  • The vaccine does not contain the live virus itself, and cannot give you COVID-19.
  • You will need to continue wearing your mask, practicing good hand-washing and hygiene habits and social distancing even after you’ve received both doses of the vaccine.
  • Common side effects include injection site pain, fatigue, headache, muscle and join pain. A handful of people have experienced fevers or allergic reactions. You may want to consider taking a day off to rest up after receiving the booster dose — some recipients say they feel a bit tired and achy for a day or two.
  • Vaccine side effects are a sign that your immune system is working as it should, not a sign that a vaccine isn’t working or that something is wrong. However, monitor how you feel after receiving the vaccine, and call your doctor if you’re worried.
  • If you’ve had a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine in the past, you should check with your doctor before getting the COVID vaccine.
  • Pregnant people were not included in the testing groups for the vaccine, which was why health organizations were initially wary to conclusively state that the vaccine was safe for pregnant women. However, so far there have been no harmful effects for pregnant women or for fetuses, and these organizations have concluded that the likely benefits outweigh the unlikely risks. Because the vaccine does not include the live virus, experts have little reason to believe that the vaccine would be harmful to pregnant women or to unborn babies. But, we understand the lack of data may be too great a worry for you.
  • There are still some unknowns, like how long the vaccine protects you, whether it can protect you against an asymptomatic infection, or if you can transmit the virus if you do become infected and are asymptomatic.

Ultimately, when weighing the potential pros and cons, experts say that it’s fine to get the vaccine when it’s available to you. That being said, you should always consult with your doctor before getting vaccinated, especially if you are pregnant or are planning to get pregnant as a gestational surrogate!

Gestational surrogates and intended parents should also talk about the choice to get vaccinated with their American Surrogacy specialist. It’s important for you all to be on the same page.

What the ASRM Says About Pregnancy and the Vaccine

In the statement released December 16 of 2020, the American Society for Reproductive had this to say to anyone who is pregnant (or plans to become pregnant):

  • “The Task Force does not recommend withholding the vaccine from patients who are planning to conceive, who are currently pregnant, or who are lactating. These recommendations are in line with those of the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM).”

What that means for you: The general consensus among professionals who are responsible for the health of pregnant women and fetuses is that the vaccine can be administered to surrogates.

  • “Patients undergoing fertility treatment and pregnant patients should be encouraged to receive vaccination based on eligibility criteria. Since the vaccine is not a live virus, there is no reason to delay pregnancy attempts because of vaccination administration or to defer treatment until the second dose has been administered.”

What that means for you: Getting vaccinated is still likely safe for surrogates who are currently undergoing, or are planning to undergo fertility treatments, IVF, embryo transfers and pregnancy. It’s also probably safe for intended parents planning to harvest their gametes for the surrogacy journey. Wherever you’re at in your surrogacy journey, that journey will not be affected or delayed if you choose to receive a COVID vaccine.

  • “Recent studies have suggested that pregnancy is a risk factor for severe COVID-19 disease. Furthermore, many women who are pregnant or contemplating pregnancy have additional risk factors such as obesity, hypertension or diabetes which may further increase the chance of severe disease from COVID-19 infection. These considerations should be included in decisions regarding vaccination.”

What that means for you: As you probably know, pregnant women have a higher risk of experiencing severe COVID-19 symptoms. This will be a factor in the conversation with your doctor about getting vaccinated.

  • “Because COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are not composed of live virus, they are not thought to cause an increased risk of infertility, first or second trimester loss, stillbirth, or congenital anomalies. It should be noted that pregnant and lactating women were excluded from the initial phase III trials of these two vaccines, so specific safety data in these populations are not yet available and further studies are planned. However, the mechanism of action of mRNA vaccines and existing safety data provide reassurance regarding the safety of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines during pregnancy. The FDA EUA letter permits the vaccination of pregnant and breastfeeding individuals with a requirement that the company engage in post-authorization observational studies in pregnancy.”

What that means for you: Even though pregnant women weren’t included in the original trials of the vaccine, this type of vaccine has been extensively studied and is generally considered safe for pregnant women and for the pregnancy itself. However, we understand the lack of data may give you pause.

  • “While COVID-19 vaccination can cause fever in some patients (up to 16% of those vaccinated and mostly after the second dose), this risk should not be a concern when deciding whether to vaccinate a pregnant individual or a patient desiring pregnancy. While fever in pregnancy (particularly the 1st trimester) has been associated with an increased risk of neural tube defects, a recent study demonstrated the association no longer remained significant if the patient is taking >400 mcg of folic acid daily. Another large Danish cohort study did not demonstrate any increased risk of congenital anomalies of those who reported fever in the first trimester. Additionally, the most common symptom of COVID-19 infection itself is fever (83-99% of affected patients). Patients who experience fever following vaccination should take an antipyretic medication, like acetaminophen.”

What that means for you: Even if a gestational surrogate experiences vaccine side effects like a fever, it shouldn’t harm the surrogate or the pregnancy, especially if you’re taking your recommended folic acid.

  • “Patients who conceive in the window between the first and second dose of the vaccine should be offered the second dose of the vaccine at the appropriate interval.”

What that means for you: It’s OK if you become pregnant in between your first and second dose. Go ahead and get your second vaccine dose as scheduled.

  • “Physicians should promote vaccination to patients, their communities, and to the public. Preliminary data suggests that those populations at greatest risk of severe disease from COVID-19 may also be the most hesitant to be vaccinated, and specific efforts to increase vaccine uptake in these communities should be undertaken.”

What that means for you: We know you’re worried about the health and safety of this pregnancy, as well as your own safety. But, after checking in with your doctor, you’re free to schedule your COVID vaccine as soon as it’s available to you. The benefits may outweigh the risks.

What American Surrogacy Recommends

We know that if you’re a gestational surrogate or an intended parent, or if you’re thinking about starting your surrogacy journey as a surrogate or parent, you’re probably worried about how COVID-19 affects your surrogacy journey. During a surrogacy journey, the gestational surrogate and intended parents worry about everything that goes into the surrogate’s body — everyone’s priority is the health and safety of the surrogate and baby.

With that top priority in mind, and with the recommendations of trusted health organizations, American Surrogacy joins in recommending that gestational surrogates can receive the COVID-19 vaccine, as long as the surrogate, the intended parents and the surrogate’s doctor are all comfortable with this. However, a COVID-19 vaccine is not currently required for our surrogates — the decision to receive the vaccine is still at the discretion of the surrogate, the intended parents and the surrogate’s doctor.

Wherever you’re currently at in your surrogacy journey, we suggest speaking to your doctor about getting vaccinated. Ask your doctor when a COVID-19 vaccine might be available to you, and ask if they think you might have any health conditions or risk factors that would make the vaccine inadvisable in your situation.

As long as your doctor and your surrogacy partners agree with this choice, you’re free to get the vaccine when it’s available to you. But, when in doubt, consult your American Surrogacy specialist!

A Year in Review: The Biggest Surrogacy News from 2020

Surrogacy is an ever-changing field. Each year, legislation is changed, laws are fine-tuned and most important, families are made. However, more than ever, this year shook the surrogacy world. 

As all of us navigated the COVID-19 crisis, we watched as every aspect of our lives was impacted, including surrogacy. Here are some of the biggest developments that 2020 brought to the world of surrogacy:

IVF Procedures Were Temporarily Halted

This spring, fertility treatments and IVF procedures were temporarily suspended in response to the worsening outbreak of COVID-19. This was devastating news to the intended parents and surrogates who were about to undertake this next step in their journey.

Since then, fertility clinics have reopened with additional health and safety measures. Intended parents and surrogates have been able to resume the process and move forward.

Families Created through Surrogacy Faced Uncertainty and Separation

One of the scariest parts of the year for intended parents and surrogates was the inability to travel. As countries around the world instituted travel bans and in-country quarantines, surrogates and intended parents who were pursuing international surrogacy were separated.

Intended parents and surrogates who were pursuing domestic surrogacy were largely unaffected, but some international matches are still struggling with COVID-related travel bans.

International Surrogacy Became Too Great a Risk

In many ways, 2020 signaled the end of international surrogacy. While this type of surrogacy has always held greater risk than domestic surrogacy, the tragic separation of international intended parents and surrogates forced the world to reexamine this common path to parenthood.

Now, more than ever, intended parents and surrogates are urged to complete their surrogacy journeys domestically with agencies like American Surrogacy.

Gestational Carriers Stepped Up Even Further

In the worst-case-scenarios that many international surrogacy matches had to face this year, gestational carriers once again proved themselves to be fearlessly compassionate and giving. 

Devastated international intended parents were unable to be with their surrogate for her delivery and the arrival of their child. But many of these gestational surrogates bravely took on the task of caring for the intended parents child until they could be reunited. They adapted to the challenges at hand and rose above and beyond what they were originally asked to do.

As a result, international intended parents have since been able to reunite with their babies with peace of mind, knowing that their child was cared for in their absence.

American Surrogacy Keeps Making Families

Through this rollercoaster of a year, American Surrogacy has continued to help create families. We’re so proud of our specialists, who expertly navigated our intended parents and gestational surrogates through the unknowns of 2020. 

As we move into 2021, American Surrogacy will continue to be a safe and supportive place to grow your family. Intended parents and gestational surrogates who were originally considering an international agency have now turned to domestic agencies like American Surrogacy to help them pursue their surrogacy dreams. 

Despite all the challenges and uncertainties of 2020, American Surrogacy continued to grow families through the gift of surrogacy. We’ll continue to do the same in the coming year, and we’re honored to be a part of your surrogacy journey in 2021!

Should You Pursue Surrogacy in 2021?

2020 affected us all — including gestational surrogates and intended parents. As a result of all this uncertainty, many people are now asking themselves, “Should I still move forward with surrogacy in 2021?”

It’s important to note that international surrogacy should not be attempted in 2021, due to the continued travel restrictions related to COVID-19. Below, we’ll only cover domestic surrogacy (surrogacy within the U.S.).

You may not want to wait to complete your family, or to achieve your dream of helping others experience parenthood. We completely understand. Even though things feel less certain, you still have an overwhelming desire to pursue surrogacy. If you’re ready, we’ll help you do it.

How can you know if you’re ready to begin a surrogacy journey in the coming year? Here are 5 questions that you should ask yourself before pursuing surrogacy in 2021:

1. Are you financially stable enough for surrogacy?

Did your savings take a hit as a result of the economic fallout of the ongoing pandemic? If so, you may want to revisit surrogacy once you’ve built your emergency reserves back up. But, if you feel that you’re still financially able to pursue surrogacy, 2021 may be your year.

Talking with an American Surrogacy specialist can help you to assess whether or not you’re financially ready to begin a surrogacy journey. We may be able to offer some advice to help intended parents to afford their surrogacy expenses.

2. Are you emotionally ready for surrogacy?

2020 has been an emotional year for us all. Are you feeling up to the emotions of surrogacy right now?

The surrogacy process is often very emotional, for both the gestational carrier and the intended parents. Again, talk to an American Surrogacy specialist about what to expect. That way, you’ll be ready to face the ups and downs ahead. Remember that we’re always here to support you!

3. Are you physically ready for surrogacy?

Women who are considering becoming a gestational surrogate have to meet a series of important physical health requirements to ensure that surrogacy is safe for them. Intended parents also need to be physically ready for surrogacy, but in a different way. They need to have a home and family that is truly ready for a new addition.

On top of these requirements, COVID-19 is going to continue to be a physical concern for surrogates and intended parents in 2021. We’ll touch more on that later.

But for now, if you’re unsure about the physical requirements of surrogacy, reach out to an American Surrogacy specialist. They’ll be able to provide you with more information and talk to you about the preliminary screening processes.

4. Do you have a support system?

This year, we’ve all been separated from friends and family — the people we usually lean on for support. Now, more than ever, it’s important for you to have a strong support system. Even if they’re cheering you on from a distance!

Intended parents: Do you have people you can turn to for emotional support and encouragement as you begin the surrogacy process in 2021? When you need to be with your surrogate, or when it’s time to welcome your baby, do you have someone who can house-sit/pet-sit/babysit?

Surrogates: Likewise, do you have people you can rely on for emotional support and encouragement? When you need to attend doctor appointments, when you advance in your pregnancy and when it’s time to deliver, do you have someone who can watch your kids and help you around the home?

Remember that your American Surrogacy specialist will always be here to support you in any way she can!

5. Would you feel more comfortable waiting until there’s a vaccine?

This is something that every prospective surrogate and intended parent will need to decide for themselves. We all hoped that there would be an effective and widely-available COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2020. But as we go into 2021, you’ll have to decide if you’re willing to put your surrogacy journey on hold until that vaccine is globally distributed, or if you’re going to move forward.

Pregnant women and newborns are in the “high-risk” category for COVID-related health complications. This is a scary thought for surrogates and intended parents. And while many people have had successful surrogacy journeys in the midst of the pandemic, you’ll have to decide for yourself if you feel comfortable moving forward.

It’s also worth noting that the early stages of surrogacy take some time — there wouldn’t be a pregnancy right away! First, you’ll need to complete the screening processes. Perhaps you feel comfortable starting those preliminary processes right now, knowing that it’ll be some time before you’re ready to move forward with an actual pregnancy. Again, that’s all up to you and your individual comfort level.


American Surrogacy has been successfully guiding our gestational surrogates and intended parents through the COVID-19 crisis, just like we’ve helped every family who has partnered with our agency. We’re committed to your safety, and to the safety of the children at the heart of surrogacy. So, if you’re ready, we’ll be here to help you safely pursue surrogacy in 2021!

Want to take the first steps toward this dream? Contact us now, and we’ll help you to achieve your surrogacy goals in the coming year.

How to Stay Safe While Celebrating the Holidays

With the holiday season in full swing, everyone is concerned about limiting the spread of COVID-19 while still finding ways to gather and celebrate with loved ones. Intended parents and gestational carriers have to be even more cautious — pregnant women and infants are considered are at high-risk for serious health complications caused by COVID-19.

Can intended parents and gestational surrogates still honor their holiday traditions in the midst of this ongoing pandemic? With some reasonable precautions, modifications and common sense — yes!

Here are 3 tips to help intended parents and surrogates celebrate safely this holiday season:

1. Know When to Say “No”

This has been tough for all of us this year. But for the health and safety of everyone, sometimes it’s best to say, “Sorry, we can’t come,” when invited to that gathering or event.

Any time you and your family are considering being around others this holiday season, whether you’re thinking about visiting family or hosting people in your own home, you’ll need to ask yourself some important questions:

  • Is this worth the risk of contracting COVID-19, or of accidentally exposing someone else?
  • Have you or anyone in attendance felt sick or experienced COVID symptoms?
  • Can it be done virtually?
  • Can we all practice social distancing and wear masks?
  • Can it be rescheduled?
  • Can we all quarantine before and after?

Nobody wants to be that person who turns down an invitation. But right now, for the safety of your family, it might be necessary. Someone else’s temporary disappointment is not worth the risking the lives of yourself, your family and potentially, an unborn baby.

2. Try Something Different This Year

Instead of trying to go about the holidays as usual, adapt to the current situation! Get creative. Skip the in-person get-togethers and consider:

  • Sending each of your friends or family members a handwritten letter. List all the reasons you’re thankful for them.
  • Swapping gifts long-distance through the mail.
  • Scheduling a regular virtual event throughout the season, like marathoning your way through cheesy Christmas movies together using a multi-viewer platform.
  • Skipping the huge, time-consuming holiday dinner this year and do something more fun. Make tacos, spaghetti, pizzas, or challenge each other to a bake-off.
  • Finding a way to make the holidays feel special when you can’t participate in your regular traditions, like having a Nutcracker dance-along in your living room instead of seeing it performed live.

3. Travel Safely

Although traveling is not recommended, if you do decide to travel for the holidays, make sure you’re traveling as safely as possible. That means:

  • Not traveling if you feel sick!
  • Driving instead of flying.
  • Taking the area’s number of COVID cases into account.
  • Wearing your mask — always!
  • Social distancing from other travelers.
  • Keeping hand sanitizer close by.
  • Quarantining before you leave and after you return (and encourage the people you’ll be around to do the same).
  • Keeping your get-together as small as possible.

Again, if you can, don’t travel at all! This year is the perfect excuse to cuddle up with your household family members, bake some cookies and binge your way through a TV series.

We know that not being able to participate in some of our favorite holiday traditions is disappointing. But, it’s more important for intended parents and surrogates to stay safe and healthy right now. Your family will understand. Hopefully, by this time next year you’ll be able to have a huge reunion. And, by next year, there will hopefully be a new baby celebrating the holidays with the intended family!

4 Ways to Introduce Your Newborn to Family During COVID-19

Socially distancing ourselves from one another this year, especially our own family members, has been hard. If you welcomed a baby in 2020 (or are about to), the inability to enjoy the magical meet-the-baby moments is especially disappointing and isolating for everyone — even more so if you’ve waited a long time for those experiences.

We understand how badly you and your family members want to hug each other and hold the newest member of the family. And we know that new parenthood is always a little lonely and isolating, even before those feelings became heightened by new parenthood in a global pandemic.

Right now, you’re all eager to share in your excitement and love. But, as you know, now just isn’t the safest time to celebrate together in person.

Your infant isn’t the only one considered high-risk for COVID complications; your older or immunocompromised loved ones are also at risk. For everyone’s safety, things are going to have to look a little different.

While it’s still not safe for your friends and family to hold your newborn, there are a few creative ways in which they can meet and see your child while still prioritizing everyone’s health:

1. A Virtual Party

Zoom, FaceTime, Google Hangouts and other video call platforms have been a saving grace for all of us during the pandemic. With these tools, there’s no reason to cancel your baby shower or “welcome home” party.

It may not have the same feel as an in-person party, but there are some upsides to a virtual meet-and-greet:

  • No need to have a bunch of people in your home when you’re already juggling the chaotic messes and sleeplessness of a newborn.
  • You won’t have to clean up the mountain of spit-up rags and stray bottles scattered everywhere.
  • Everyone can attend, even if they live far away.
  • You’ll limit your family’s exposure to the seasonal flu, colds and other common illnesses in addition to serious illnesses like COVID-19.

You were probably already going to ask a friend or family member to help you organize a party pre-pandemic. So now, just ask that person if they’d be willing to schedule a virtual party and help coordinate the tech aspects with attendees.

2. A Drive-By Parade

One fun, lively and creative solution that has arisen in the age of COVID-19 is the drive-by parade. People throughout the world have lined up from inside the safety of their cars and slowly driven past the houses of friends and family members in honor of a celebration: birthdays, graduations, marriages, important anniversaries and, yes, to meet children for the first time.

If you invite your friends and family to participate in a drive-by parade past your home, you should probably ask them to skip the horn-honking — your baby wouldn’t appreciate the noise. However, this is a way for your loved ones to view your baby through their rolled-up car windows and offer their congratulations from a safe distance.

If they want to drop off gifts or food while they’re in the area, you probably don’t need to worry about disinfecting those items. As you know, COVID-19 is primarily spread through in-person contact (so keeping a rolled-up car window in between one another will do the trick) but it’s also completely fine to request that your visitors refrain from delivering gifts if you’re worried.

3. A Photo Shoot

Many parents-to-be were planning on having a newborn photo session long before COVID-19 struck. Now, those photos may be the only way for your friends and family to see your baby at the moment.

We know looking at a photo is a poor substitute for your loved ones cuddling your new baby, but it will give them the opportunity to see your baby closer than they would safely be able to right now.

Plus, scheduling a photo shoot with your newborn during this difficult time will someday serve as an amazing reminder of your child’s entrance into a world that felt a little upside-down. Someday, you’ll be able to show those photos to your child and explain to them what a blessing they were in the midst of such a scary and dark time.

When booking your photo session, make sure that your group is limited to the parents, the baby and the photographer. Talk with your photographer about precautions that you’ll all want to take, including but not limited to:

  • Quarantining before your photo shoot.
  • If available in your area, getting yourselves tested for COVID prior to the session, to be certain that you’re all negative.
  • Wearing masks as often as possible during your session — put them back on after you smile!
  • Taking photos outdoors rather than at home or in a studio.
  • Staying at least six feet apart from the photographer when possible. They may want to bring a zoom lens!

Don’t forget to take at least one photo with your masks on, if only to commemorate the strangeness of this moment in time!

Once your photos are ready, be sure to send an online link, physical prints, or a keepsake album of your family photo session to your loved ones, so that they can see your baby up close without being close.

4. A Safe In-Person Meeting

We understand that it may be a priority for certain loved ones to meet your baby in person and that waiting until this pandemic is completely over just isn’t an option. You may feel that it’s important enough for people like your parents or siblings to hold your baby that you’re all willing to take the necessary precautions, as well as accept some level of risk.

Not everyone will feel comfortable with an in-person visit right now, so always remain respectful of everyone’s individual levels of comfort and health concerns. However, if you and a few close family members mutually decide that an in-person meeting can’t wait, we recommend that you all take some important precautions, which can include but are not limited to:

Meeting at home.

Meeting outdoors is preferable to an enclosed space, but it might not be an option in your situation — caring for a newborn as well as local weather conditions may necessitate an indoors meeting. If you do meet inside, stay at home rather than meeting up in a public place to avoid contact with non-family members.

Quarantining before the visit.

Ask your loved ones to stay at home and avoid contact with non-household members for two weeks, and practice the same quarantine measures yourself. It may seem extreme, but it’s the best way to keep everyone (including your newborn) safe.

It may not be possible for you and your family members to get tested for COVID-19 in preparation for the visit, so quarantining in advance is the best way to prevent potential spread of the illness.

Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) during the visit.

Everyone but the baby should be wearing a mask throughout the entirety of the visit. Remember: Try not to touch your mask while you’re together. Wearing a mask won’t do anyone any good if you’re not using it properly!

Washing hands and sanitizing.

It may seem simple and it’s been said countless times, but you and your visitors should wash your hands in accordance with CDC guidelines before, during and after the visit. Even if visitors aren’t planning on touching the new baby, they’ll still probably touch a few shared surfaces or objects. Sanitizing frequently touched areas (doorknobs, tables, your phones, etc.) before and after the visit will also limit the risk of COVID-19 exposure.

Keeping your distance.

As tempting as it is to pass your baby around for long-awaited cuddles, everyone should try to maintain a six-foot distance as often as possible. If your loved one must hold your baby, ask that they refrain from kissing your newborn or removing their mask.

Additionally, make sure that you and your loved ones maintain a safe distance from one another. We know it’s hard not to touch, hug, kiss, or be physically close to your family during this important moment, but safely needs to come first right now. Remind everyone to keep touching to a minimum.

Celebrating the arrival of a child can feel strange in the middle of so many unknowns and stressors. But, it absolutely still deserves celebration and joy — even if those celebrations are a little bit different from how we had originally imagined!

Should You Become an Intended Parent During COVID-19?

We’ve all felt the widespread effects of COVID-19 in different ways. For some, it has brought about job loss and economic hardship. Others have struggled with loneliness due to social distancing, and many have felt an increase in anxiety as they go about their daily life with all of the new health and safety precautions.

COVID-19 has caused massive change and disruption to nearly every area of life, and that includes the surrogacy process. Intended parents who were ready to begin the process, and even those already in it, may be confused about what to do next. Should you continue to pursue surrogacy during COVID-19?

This is a personal choice, so we can’t make it for you. However, we can give you helpful information that puts you in a better place to make the right decision. And that’s why we’ve created this guide.

This is Part Two in our series on surrogacy and COVID-19. If you are a potential surrogate asking the same question, make sure to check out our blog for surrogates.

In order to decide whether or not pursuing surrogacy during COVID-19 is the right choice for your family, it may be helpful to understand how the process could change because of the pandemic.

How COVID-19 Could Change the Surrogacy Process

Every journey toward building a family through surrogacy is unique. That means the specific ways COVID-19 changes your process will depend on the details of your situation.

Has someone close to you contracted the virus, or have you gotten sick? How prevalent is the spread of the virus in your community? Are you a high-risk individual?

These (and other) personal questions will play a big role in determining how things change in your surrogacy process. Along with these things to consider, there are some bigger changes that most processes are experiencing in the face of COVID-19.

Clinic Policies:

Each fertility clinic implements unique precautions to protect clients from COVID-19. You should expect your experience to change. Consultations may move online, and in-person visits may require mask-wearing and other social distancing measures. Consult your fertility clinic to learn more about the guidelines they have put in place during this time.

Travel Plans:

Will your surrogacy process involve travel? Not all processes do. If you do expect to travel, then you will feel the impact on COVID-19 on this aspect of your journey. Airlines have enacted stringent safety measures, and flying is a higher risk activity due to the confined airspace shared with many others for several hours. If you have the ability to drive to your destination, that may be a preferable mode of transportation.

Surrogacy Funds:

The financial impact of COVID-19 has been devastating for many. Whether this comes in the form of job loss, reduced hours, stock losses or something else, your surrogacy budget may have been reduced because of the virus. You’re not alone in dealing with this. Speak to your surrogacy specialist and be totally clear about what your budget looks like because of the pandemic.

The Family-Building Timeline:

It seems like one feature of life in a pandemic is that everything takes a bit longer. Many places of businesses are still catching up on backlogged appointments from the shutdowns, and others simply run at a slower pace in order to follow all the required safety measures. The family-building timeline of your surrogacy process could be extended due to COVID-19.

These are several significant changes to the surrogacy experience that any intended parent should take into account when considering whether or not to carry on with the process in light of COVID-19.

Evaluating Your Options

Taking these considerations into account, should you move forward with the surrogacy process as an intended parent? The answer depends on several factors, including your personal risk tolerance, ability to be flexible and the current situation around COVID-19 in your area.

It should be noted that the impact of COVID-19 could change rapidly. Some communities have already weathered the worst of the virus and are operating under more normal procedures, while others are on the brink of lockdown. Make sure to take your local situation into account.

You might want to move forward with the surrogacy process if:

  • You are prepared to be flexible.
  • You surrogacy funds are secure.
  • You are OK with an extended timeline.
  • You are aware of the health risks involved with clinic visits, travel and other parts of the process.

You might want to consider pressing pause on surrogacy if:

  • The changes to the process will make you anxious.
  • Your surrogacy funds have been reduced due to the pandemic.
  • The fluctuating timeline and delays will be a source of frustration.
  • You or someone you know is at a higher risk for severe presentation of COVID-19, making the health risks associated with certain steps of the process more dangerous.

There’s no “right” or “wrong” decision in this situation. We’re all going through a pandemic for the first time, and it’s OK to feel confused or unsure. Whatever you choose will be the best decision for your life.

If pressing pause on your surrogacy process is what’s best, then that is OK. You’re not on a deadline. American Surrogacy will still be here to assist you months or even years from now.

Even if you had already stepped into the early stages of the surrogacy process, it’s OK to press pause and pick things back up when life is better. It’s not ideal, and it may be disappointing or frustrating. But, it’s better to be patient (even when it’s hard!) then to try and force the process at the wrong time.

Speak with a Specialist

Many intended parents find clarity when they speak to a surrogacy professional. If you have more questions about your specific situation, you can contact us online at any time or call 1-800-875-BABY (875-229) to speak with a specialist. We’d be happy to answer your questions, fill you in on how we are keeping our clients safe during the pandemic, and help you decide what will be best for your family.

Should You Become a Surrogate During COVID-19?

COVID-19 has disrupted nearly every aspect of modern life. What was once an abstract idea — a respiratory virus in a relatively unknown region of south-central China — has become a fundamental fact of daily life around the world. From work to school to social life and everything in between, we’re always considering how COVID-19 will come into play.

It’s no different, of course, with the surrogacy process. There’s a chance you were considering surrogacy before the pandemic began. Or, you may have started giving surrogacy serious thought more recently. Either way, you’re probably wondering if you should continue to pursue becoming a surrogate during COVID-19.

This is a personal decision, and only you can decide what is right for you. American Surrogacy is active and operating according to the highest standard of safety procedures to keep our staff and clients safe in the face of COVID-19.

We’ve created this guide to help anyone trying to decide whether or not becoming a surrogate during COVID-19 is the right choice. If you’d like to speak with a surrogacy specialist about this decision, you can contact us online today.

COVID-19 and Surrogacy

Surrogates and intended parents have different considerations when it comes to COVID-19 and surrogacy. To give both sides the time and attention they deserve, we’ve split this blog up into two parts. Keep an eye out for Part Two, which is for intended parents considering surrogacy during COVID-19.

For those who might be thinking about becoming a surrogate, the primary risk factors to consider have to do with your health during pregnancy, changes to typical prenatal visits, and how labor and delivery could be different because of COVID-19.

Understanding Pregnancy Risks

The majority of people who become sick with COVID-19 have mild symptoms and recover within several weeks. While anyone can experience a severe presentation of the disease — which can result in hospitalization — certain groups are at a higher risk for severe presentation. Those include people who are:

  • Elderly
  • Overweight
  • Living with pre-existing conditions, like heart failure or type 2 diabetes

So, what about women who are pregnant?

The jury is still out on the risk of severe presentation for women who are pregnant. There have not been enough observable presentations of COVID-19 in pregnant women to clearly determine the increased risk. Still, caution is advised. According to the CDC, “Based on what we know at this time, pregnant people might be at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant people. Additionally, pregnant people with COVID-19 may be at increased risk for other adverse outcomes, such as preterm birth.”

The way this virus attacks can be random and unique from person to person. There are so many variables involved in a pregnancy that the risk for a severe presentation of COVID-19 that requires hospitalization is unknown. The best course of action is to exercise caution and use all social distancing measures to stay safe.

When considering your level of risk, take into account things like preexisting conditions, history of anxiety or depression and the current level of COVID-19 spread in your area.

If you are considering surrogacy during COVID-19, you will need to decide whether or not stepping into the unknown risk of pregnancy and the coronavirus is something you can handle. If these risks during pregnancy because of COVID-19 will increase your anxiety and stress, then it may not be the best time to become a surrogate.

Considering the Surrogacy Process

Most of the surrogacy process can’t be done virtually. There are some things that can transition to video calls, like conversations with your surrogacy specialist and the intended parents.

However, when you’re a surrogate, there’s plenty that you have to do in person. Depending on the spread of COVID-19 where you live, this experience could be different because of the pandemic.

Your visits to the fertility clinic will likely involve wearing a mask and other safety precautions. You may have to be tested for COVID-19 before the embryo transfer process, depending on the guidelines of your fertility clinic.

Similarly, your OBGYN appointments following a successful embryo transfer process won’t be the same as they would be in a pre-pandemic world. You will most likely have to wear a mask and potentially take other precautions as well.

Finally, labor and delivery may not be what you would have experienced before COVID-19. Depending on the hospital rules, one or both of the intended parents may not be allowed in the room with you. Other social distancing measures may be in place during this time, as well.

It’s difficult to say exactly what your experience would be like if you choose to become a surrogate during the pandemic. So many factors come into play — like the spread of the virus in your area, the specific rules of your medical providers and your own level of risk tolerance.

You should keep in mind that the surrogacy process can take 12-16 months from start to finish. If you are considering becoming a surrogate today, things could be different (as it pertains to COVID-19) by the time you get to appointments at the fertility clinic and other parts of the process.

Making Your Decision

Taking into account the increased risks associated with COVID-19 during pregnancy and the changes to the process, should you pursue surrogacy now? Ultimately, it’s your decision. Your choice will depend on your risk tolerance and your ability to be flexible during uncertain times.

Surrogacy professionals are still providing the necessary services to complete the process. Intended parents are still seeking matches. If you want to become a surrogate, you can. Just keep in mind how things will be different because of this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.

Even if the risks and changes feel like they’ll be too much for you to handle, that’s okay, too. You’re under no obligation to become a surrogate, and there’s no shame in deciding that now is not the right time. Whenever you’re ready, American Surrogacy will be there to help you get started.

Contact a Professional

Finding clarity for a life-changing decision like this won’t be easy. If you’re still feeling confused, it could be helpful to speak with a professional. You can contact us at any time to connect with one of our surrogacy specialists, and you can also call 1-800-875-BABY (875-2229).

This conversation is always free of charge, and you’ll never be pressured into making a decision. We just want to help you make the right choice for you, whatever it may be.

Surrogacy and Vaccinations: Unpacking a Difficult Process

Surrogacy is an intimate process, and sometimes it requires uncomfortable discussions. The safety and happiness of everyone involved in the process — both the surrogate and the intended parents — is always the goal. To ensure that goal is achieved, one touchy subject has to be addressed: surrogacy and vaccinations.

The medical aspects of surrogacy make up a large part of the process. If you’re considering surrogacy — either as a surrogate or intended parent — then you’ll need to get used to in-depth discussions around medical issues. This can often feel invasive and uncomfortable.

Vaccines have become a delicate issue in our culture. What was once accepted almost universally as a good and necessary piece of modern medicine is no longer so simple. In fact, in many circles the mere mention of vaccines can cause tension. And ever since COVID-19 became a big part of our daily existence, the conversation around vaccines has only intensified.

If you’re interested in surrogacy, you’re going to need to push through this tension to understand how vaccinations can impact your journey. From agency requirements to finding a surrogacy match, vaccinations can significantly alter your experience with the process.

Surrogates and Vaccinations

Your health as a surrogate is a priority during the process. You may feel a strong conviction about vaccinations — whether you see them as necessary or harmful. What’s important to understand is how your views (especially if you are against vaccinations) could disrupt the process.

There are two levels of medical screening that surrogates must complete: the agency screening and the fertility clinic screening.

Each surrogacy agency has its own in-house medical screening standards. These agency requirements will determine whether or not you can begin the process as a surrogate. If you do not have all of your immunizations, you will need to check on your agency’s requirements before going any further.

The intended parents choose the fertility clinic that will perform the in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Each fertility clinic will conduct a medical screening before the procedure, and requirements differ from clinic to clinic. Many require a full vaccination record.

When you’re a surrogate, you don’t officially enter into your legal contract with the intended parents until the medical screening with the fertility clinic has been completed. A failed screening could result in the dissolution of a match, which can be very disappointing.

Our intent in saying this is not necessarily to change your mind. It’s important to remember that, when you are a gestational surrogate, you have the right to choose what you believe is best for your body.

However, it is our job to make sure you have all the information you need before making big choices. If you are interested in being a surrogate and are personally against vaccinations, it could become an issue in your medical screening.

Intended Parents and Vaccinations

The intended parents’ opinion on vaccinations can also be a factor in the surrogacy process. While intended parents do not undergo the same medical screening that surrogates do, their perspectives on vaccines can come up in the screening process and, as we’ll explore in greater detail below, could potentially become an issue when it comes to finding a match.

Intended parents who are against vaccines may want to find a surrogate who is also against vaccines. This could become an issue if it is not clearly addressed upfront. If a surrogate feels that immunizations are necessary to protect her health, the intended parents cannot force her to abstain.

Additionally, intended parents who are against vaccinations may have a hard time finding a fertility clinic that does not require them. Many fertility clinics have guidelines that include a long list of immunizations.  If this concerns you, you can ask a clinic if there are exceptions, or ask them to explain the safety of vaccinations during pregnancy. However, there is a chance that anti-vaccination views on the part of the intended parents could limit the number of professionals available to work with. 

Anti-Vaccination Views and Finding a Match

The aspects of surrogacy and vaccination covered above are primarily technical. But, there’s a more personal side to this discussion, as well. While medical screening and agency requirements should be considered, finding a surrogacy match is another topic of equal importance.

Here’s the simple truth when it comes to anti-vaccination views and finding a match: It may be more challenging to find a match if you hold this opinion of vaccines.

This can be true for intended parents or surrogates. If the other party accepts medical science on the safety and importance and vaccines and you do not, then it can often become an insurmountable disagreement.

Intended parents and surrogates do not have to perfectly agree on everything. In fact, disagreements on some level are common. However, vaccinations are too important for many people to simply “agree to disagree.”

The views of the intended parents and surrogate on vaccinations should always be discussed early in the process, so that a passionate disagreement can be avoided at a later stage.

The COVID-19 vaccine, specifically, could become a regular requirement for surrogates and intended parents when it comes to finding a match. While requirements from the agency side will vary, it’s expected that many surrogates and intended parents will want the other party involved to have received the vaccine once it is available.

On the other hand, there is a growing public wariness about vaccines, and the COVID-19 vaccine in particular. This could cause it to become a hot-button issue that impacts all areas of society, including surrogacy.

Once again, this information is not presented in an effort to change opinions. Rather, it’s vital that you fully understand the potential implications of anti-vaccination views when it comes to the surrogacy process.

Speak with a Specialist

Surrogacy can be a beautiful journey. Whether you are pursuing this opportunity as a surrogate or intended parent, we want you to feel encouraged and empowered. If you’d like to learn more about the process and speak to a specialist about this specific topic, you can contact us online today or call 1-800-875-BABY (875-2229).

How COVID-19 Has Impacted International Surrogacy

It’s Time to Shift to Domestic Surrogacy

Despite the availability of surrogacy situations within the United States, many intended parents turn to other countries in search of a gestational surrogate. Now, as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, intended parents and surrogates around the world are experiencing the fallout.

Now and in the future, domestic surrogacy is the safest option for all involved.

Here are a few of the situations that international intended parents and surrogates have found themselves facing as a result of the ongoing pandemic:

Babies have been stuck in foreign makeshift nurseries.

Hundreds of children are in quarantine limbo, thousands of miles from their parents, who have yet to meet their baby. Nurses are caring for these stranded babies in temporary nurseries set up in hotels.

Many of these babies have been stuck for months while countries are restricting or banning international travel, and it’s still unknown when they’ll be able to go home.

Intended parents have been unable to travel to their surrogate or meet their newborn baby.

On the rare occasion when international travel has been permitted, intended parents have still been met with countless legal and financial hurdles. Intended parents who are immunocompromised may not be able to travel due to the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

New precautions by countries and airlines regarding intercountry travel have delayed or halted travel plans for intended parents, so many were too late for their baby’s birth, if they were able to arrive at all. Some are still waiting to meet their child, months after delivery.

Intended parents have become stuck in their surrogate’s country.

Some intended parents who scrambled to beat the oncoming travel bans arrived in their surrogate’s country to get their newborn baby, only to find that they were not allowed to return home. Many are still quarantining in hotels within their surrogate’s country, waiting for it to become possible to leave.

This has become financially straining for many families, and they’ve had to find ways to care for their newborn in a foreign country.

Surrogates have had to care for the intended parents’ baby.

Some gestational surrogates for international families have had to assume responsibility for the baby during the COVID-19 outbreak. But these women were not prepared to care for a newborn — they don’t have cribs, carriers, diapers or the essentials.

They also were not expecting or wanting to care for a baby, let alone someone else’s. Most of these women are also raising children of their own, so providing for another is a serious burden.

Fortunately, women have risen to the occasion with compassion, even though it’s not part of their job description.

6 Reasons Why Intended Parents and Surrogates Should Choose Matches Within Their Own Countries

If the horror stories of intended parents, surrogates and babies being stranded thousands of miles apart from one another due to COVID-19 weren’t enough to convince you that it’s time to look within our own countries for surrogacy situations, these six reasons for choosing domestic surrogacy will.

1. Fewer ethical concerns

Eliminating the exploitation of women in developing countries is always a concern. Surrogates within the United States are required to be financially stable without the assistance of surrogacy-related compensation they accept, so you know they’re doing this because they want to and not because they need to.

There will always be a group of people who do not feel comfortable with the concept of surrogacy as a whole, but knowing that their gestational surrogate is in a stable and positive situation in her life will put the minds of many intended parents at ease.

2. Improved opportunities for strong surrogate-intended parent relationships

Intended parents and gestational surrogates who were separated by countries and continents typically had little to no interaction with one another even before COVID-19. This experience creates less of a shared, emotionally-centered experience, and is more akin to a transaction.

The most commonly cited reason why U.S. women want to become surrogates is because they have a desire to help intended parents know the joys of parenthood. So getting to know the family they will be carrying for is an exciting and rewarding part of the experience.

Not only do intended parents and surrogates benefit when they forge a genuine connection, the child will one day have the opportunity to know a bit more about the woman who helped bring them to their parents.

3. Less traveling with vulnerable newborns

A newborn baby’s immune system is especially vulnerable. Traveling transcontinentally is stressful for a newborn, and a lengthy travel will increase the risk for exposure to illnesses, including COVID-19.

Intended parents who partner with surrogates within their own countries often have the option to return home by car after the birth of the baby, or at the very least will have a much shorter journey.

4. No language barriers

Intended parents must communicate with their surrogacy agency and relevant professionals in addition to communication with their surrogate. If there are language or cultural barriers standing in the way of any of these communications, it can have a number of concerning effects on the surrogacy process, including but not limited to:

  • Legal misunderstandings
  • Financial miscommunication
  • Travel complications
  • A less emotionally connected experience
  • A lack of information or confusion with updates regarding the baby and pregnancy
  • A lack of support for the intended parents and/or surrogate

5. Fewer legal concerns

International surrogacy has far more legal steps than a domestic surrogacy situation, similar to international adoption. Visas and passports must be obtained, agencies and professionals will need to jump through hoops in both the sending and receiving country and there may be legal citizenship issues now or in the future. Changes within a country’s policies on the matter can occur rapidly, leaving intended parents out of money and options in the middle of the process.

Although states within the U.S. are each going to have their own set of surrogacy laws, surrogacy within the U.S. is still much better regulated than it is in foreign countries. In such an important experience, the legal protection of everyone involved in the surrogacy process (especially the baby) is a primary concern.

6. Reduced cost

Without the high costs of international travel and lodging, intended parents will save money by choosing surrogacy situations within their own countries. Additionally, there are often more hidden costs in international surrogacy than the parents were aware of. Surrogacy can already be a costly process — adding international travel to the total is unnecessary when there are surrogacy situations available domestically, perhaps even nearby.

American Surrogacy exclusively works with U.S. intended parents and surrogates in an effort to avoid the aforementioned concerns. Want to learn more about domestic surrogacy within the United States? Contact American Surrogacy now, or start by viewing our available surrogate situations of waiting women located within the U.S.

Caring for Mental Health During COVID-19: Intended Parents

How to Practice Self-Care Throughout Your Surrogacy Journey

Becoming a parent through surrogacy is always an exciting but nerve-wracking experience. There is so much that is out of your control. Your baby’s health and safety are in the hands of a woman you may have only recently met (perhaps only virtually), and that can be a scary thought.

Now, with the global threat of COVID-19, there may feel like even more things to worry about as you try to grow your family through surrogacy. During these new and evolving times of social distancing and lockdowns, everyone’s mental health is feeling a little taxed. But when you’re in the midst of a surrogacy journey you’re even more stressed — and it’s important that you not neglect your emotional wellbeing.

Remembering to take time for self-care will not only help you mentally and physically, it’ll also help you be able to better emotionally support your gestational surrogate. We’re always most able to care for others when we first care for ourselves!

With that in mind, here are some tips to help you find some peace as you progress through the surrogacy process during COVID-19:

Find work-life balance when working from home.

If you’re able to work from home right now, it can be both a blessing and a curse. When you’re already stressed about your surrogacy process, it can be tempting to throw yourself into your work. You might find yourself replying to emails at 1 a.m., forgetting to have lunch when you’re trying to finish that project, or generally forgetting to “turn off” from work.

Try to establish your work routine and stick to it, so you can set your work down at the end of your day and be fully present in your home life. Set boundaries for yourself as to when you’re “at work” and when you’re “at home,” even if both are just in your living room!

Keep yourself healthy.

Not only will focusing on your physical health boost your immune system in the midst of a pandemic, you’ll also feel mentally and emotionally better if you’re taken care of physically.

In addition to the standard COVID-19 precautions of wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing, there are simple things you can do every day to help keep yourself physically healthy:

Don’t forget to exercise.

If you were a gym person before the pandemic, you’ve likely had to adjust how and where you work out. But don’t let your routine slip just because you’re at home!

Now is the perfect time to try something new in an effort to properly socially distance, or to start exercising more regularly in general. There are plenty of ways to stay active while maintaining a safe social distance, like:

  • Going for a walk or run
  • Riding bikes
  • Playing your favorite games in the yard with your family
  • A long play session with the dog
  • Yoga or pilates

Engage in your favorite hobbies.

Some of the things you enjoy the most can help you unwind and take your mind off of worrying about the surrogacy process. Plus, many hobbies can be enjoyed from home while we all social distance.

Now is also a great time to explore some new interests that you’ve always put off, like:

  • Getting more into cooking or baking
  • Reading something new
  • Getting crafty, like learning to knit or sew
  • Hopping into new exercise routines
  • Playing games with friends remotely
  • Trying your hand at music, drawing, writing, etc.
  • Starting up a jigsaw puzzle

It might seem silly, but taking time for hobbies (whether small amusements or lifelong passions) can give your mental health a serious boost.

Set aside time to relax.

Many people are juggling work, kids being home and now a surrogacy journey. It can feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day.

But try to make relaxation one of your priorities. Surrogacy is an emotional and often busy experience. Set aside even just a few minutes of every day to relax, slow your heart rate and calm your mind.

Find whatever works for you, but consider:

  • Meditation or prayer
  • Sitting outside and just taking in your surroundings free of distractions
  • Going for a walk
  • Taking a long bath
  • Treating yourself to a quick spa-style pampering session at home
  • Having a slow cup of tea
  • Trying breathing exercises
  • Stretching out any physical tension

Talk it out with your loved ones.

Whether you want to vent out some stress about surrogacy, or you’d like to chat about anything but surrogacy to take your mind off of it, calling up your friends or family can be helpful. If you’re married, continuing to openly communicate and strengthen your relationship will be even more important as you work to grow your family.

Now more than ever, it’s important to find ways to stay close and connected, even while we’re apart. A video chat with someone you haven’t caught up with in a while may be just what you’ve both been needing.

What’s better to calm your worries than hearing words of reassurance from someone you love and trust?

Get to know your surrogate from a distance.

When you’re not able to meet or spend time together in person, it can be hard for the reality of surrogacy and pregnancy to sink in for you. Additionally, the relationship between the intended parents and surrogate is important — you’re sharing an intimate and personal experience.

Feeling like you know your surrogate well and that you have a strong connection will help you to feel more at ease and trusting during a particularly scary time. This is the perfect opportunity to get to know one another through phone calls, video chats, texts, emails, photos or whatever everyone prefers.

You can talk about the process, the baby, what you’ve all been up to during quarantine, each others’ families, or just about your shared interests. Talking with your surrogate can be reassuring and fun, and it’ll help you remember to feel excited about this experience rather than stressed out!

Try not to obsess.

Having this child is going to be on the forefront of your mind. It can be easy for surrogacy to consume your thoughts, and it can even more easily spiral into obsessive worrying, especially with fears of COVID-19.

But if you’re spending too much time worrying about whether or not your surrogate and her medical team are taking proper precautions against the virus, or you’re focusing too much on the anxieties of surrogacy, then it’s time to take a step back. Your mind can be your own worst enemy right now.

When you feel like you’re starting to obsess, take a moment to breathe and refocus that energy elsewhere. Anything that gives you a mental vacation from surrogacy can be beneficial:

  • Call up a friend and talk about something other than surrogacy for a while.
  • Grab the remote and binge a new series.
  • Tackle a home project that you’ve been putting off.
  • Take a break from baby preparations.
  • Take a short road trip to your favorite park or camping spot.

Lean on your American Surrogacy specialist.

We’ll always be here to support you. Reach out if you have questions or concerns regarding COVID-19 and your surrogacy process, or about your journey in general.

Remember that you’re not facing this on your own. You’re in good hands. Your specialist is doing everything they can to protect your child, and to make sure you and your surrogate have a safe, healthy and positive experience.