7 Things People Still Get Wrong About Surrogacy — and the Truth Behind Them

At one point, we’ve all probably believed some pretty ridiculous things. Then, you listen, you learn, and your worldview opens up a little more.

It’s time to stop believing (and spreading) a few ridiculous things about surrogacy. Now is your opportunity to learn something new or to share your information with someone else!

Here are 7 things people still get wrong about surrogacy:

1. Women get rich by becoming surrogates.

At American Surrogacy, base compensation for surrogates starts at $30,000 for an approximately year-long journey. Does that seem like a lot? Consider what a surrogate goes through:

She’s expected to submit to a series of tests and screening processes, take an intense regimen of fertility medications, complete more tests and medical procedures, carry a pregnancy and have a relationship with the intended parents. That’s all in addition to caring for her own children and managing her career, if she works outside the home.

The surrogacy process usually takes more than a year of a woman’s time, effort, dedication and physical work. She takes on risks and responsibility. Accepting some amount of compensation for that is reasonable.

That’s all after one important fact: Surrogates aren’t in this for any money they receive. Time and again, women say that the reason they became surrogates is because they wanted to help intended parents.

2. Surrogacy is illegal.

Well, yes and no.

Each state sets its own regulations for the surrogacy process. They often fall under one of these categories:

  • Prohibit surrogacy
  • Have no laws on surrogacy, which makes the process legal — but the process must be completed with experienced professionals to do so safely
  • Outlaw certain types of surrogacy and are very welcoming of other types
  • Have detailed surrogacy regulations, which keeps the process safer for everyone involved and makes the legal steps involved easier and more streamlined

The misconception lies in the belief that there is a blanket ban on surrogacy in the U.S., which simply isn’t true. While there are some states that are more surrogacy-friendly than others, experienced national agencies like American Surrogacy work to guide intended parents and gestational surrogates throughout the country safely through this process.

It’s always important to work with a surrogacy professional that’s able to navigate the variations in state laws. American Surrogacy can help.

3. Surrogates might keep the baby.

A gestational surrogate can’t legally keep the baby she carries — and she wouldn’t want to in the first place! The baby isn’t hers, in more ways than one.

In most states, a gestational surrogate doesn’t have legal parental rights, because the baby isn’t biologically hers. Laws vary by state, but in states where the woman who gives birth to the baby is presumed to be the mother, intended parents can often officially confirm their legal parental rights with documentation before the baby is even born. Additionally, in every surrogacy contract, intended parents legally agree that they must assume all parental rights and responsibilities of the baby after he or she is born, no matter what. So, before a surrogate is even pregnant, custody is usually locked in.

On to the second point: A surrogate isn’t interested in keeping the baby. She has her own children to care for, so she isn’t “after” the intended parents’! She understands what surrogacy is, and she’s only interested in “babysitting” the intended parents’ child in order to help them have the family they’ve been longing for. Remember: Every surrogate is psychologically screened beforehand to confirm that she shares this mindset.

4. Women should carry babies for their friends or family members.

When friends or family members enter into a surrogacy arrangement together, this is called “identified surrogacy.” This type of surrogacy can work out great in many situations, but it can also pose unique emotional challenges that are less likely to occur in a matched partnership.

As long as everyone involved is fully aware of potential hurdles before they begin, and each party has separate legal representation for the creation of their surrogacy contract — an absolute must, no matter how much you love and trust one another — then identified surrogacy can be a mutually positive experience.

However, identified surrogacy is not necessarily the preferred method over a matched partnership. It all depends on the preferences of the surrogate and the intended parents involved.

5. Surrogacy involves intercourse between the surrogate and the intended father.

Ok, here’s how this works:

An embryo is created through IVF in a lab using egg and sperm from the intended parents or donors. That embryo will eventually be transferred to the gestational carrier’s uterus in a fertility clinic with a doctor.

That’s how surrogates become pregnant — not in the “traditional” way.

6. Intended parents choose surrogacy to avoid being pregnant.

Most intended parents would give anything to be able to carry their child themselves. Choosing surrogacy often comes after a long grieving process, letting go of some old dreams and experiencing a lot of pain ­— sometimes physical as well as emotional.

Don’t ever believe that intended parents are just “getting out” of pregnancy. You don’t know what they’ve gone through to get where they are now.

7. Parents can’t bond with children born via surrogacy.

If parents need to give birth to their children in order to love and bond with them, then do you believe that families formed through adoption are also unable to establish these bonds? This is an absurd assumption that people make because they’ve never experienced anything other than traditional, genetic family connections.

Forming bonds with babies born via surrogacy, like adopted infants, can take some time and special care for some families. For others, the connection is instant. Either way, those bonds will form — no less strong or “real” than those of any other family.

You can learn more about the surrogacy process and receive information about becoming a gestational surrogate or intended parent by contacting American Surrogacy online or at 1-800-875-BABY

Why Don’t Intended Parents “Just” Adopt?

It’s a common question that intended parents pursuing surrogacy receive:

Why don’t you just adopt?

For those unfamiliar with gestational surrogacy, choosing this method to build a family may be hard to understand. For them, surrogacy brings up concerns over financial burden, genetic relationships, time and emotional complications.

While their concerns are often well-meaning, they can be hard for intended parents to hear. People who have struggled with infertility go through a lot before deciding on gestational surrogacy. They’re excited about this next step to build their family! But, when people ask them why they don’t “just” adopt, intended parents can feel judged for the personal decision they’ve made for their family.

The decision between adoption and surrogacy is a big one to make. So, before you start prying into this personal decision of intended parents, think about these reasons why adoption may not have been right for them:

1. They want a biological connection to their child.

People who have never struggled with infertility often take for granted their ability to have a genetically related child. It was easy for them to conceive a biological child, so they likely don’t think about the emotions tied to this seemingly simple connection.

But, intended parents have.

A biological connection is the biggest reason why intended parents choose to pursue surrogacy over adoption. Like many other parents, intended parents want a child who looks like them and shares their blood. While genetic relationship does not make a family, many intended parents want to have this relationship, if at all possible.

It’s not a simple decision to give up dreams of having a biological child. Parents who pursue adoption must go through a grief process as they accept their child will not have a genetic connection. It’s not as easy as “just deciding” to start the adoption process.

2. They have remaining embryos from infertility treatments.

For some intended parents, the idea of discarding or donating perfectly usable embryos is a difficult one. So, instead, they decide to use those embryos in a gestational surrogacy situation. This way, they feel better about the money they put into creating those embryos in the first place, and it gives them another chance for those embryos to develop into babies.

If you have leftover embryos you’re considering for surrogacy, you can always call our surrogacy specialists at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) for more information on the surrogacy process with our agency.

3. They want more control over their baby’s development in utero.

Parents who choose adoption to bring a child into their family must give up a great deal of control. No matter what kind of adoption process they use, there are likely unknowns when it comes to the child’s health history and the personal history of their birth mother.

Intended parents who choose surrogacy have a bit more control over their surrogate’s pregnancy than adoptive parents have over a prospective birth mother’s. Every preference and expectation for a gestational pregnancy is outlined in a legal surrogacy contract. Intended parents can be involved in medical appointments and the birth of their child, and they are reassured in knowing the personal health history of their child — because the child is genetically related to them. They also have the confidence that their child will be theirs at the end of the pregnancy — unlike in adoption, when a prospective birth mother always has the right to change her mind.

Don’t get us wrong: Intended parents do have to give up a certain amount of control. But, they are often more comfortable with this sacrifice in gestational surrogacy than in adoption.

4. The adoption process isn’t right for their family.

Just as gestational surrogacy isn’t right for everyone, neither is the adoption process.

Sometimes, intended parents don’t have the option of adoption. Perhaps they’re an LGBT individual or couple, and they are worried about finding an LGBT-friendly agency in their state or country. Maybe they’re too old (or too young) to meet adoption requirements. Maybe they simply aren’t prepared to raise an adopted child and cope with the challenges along the way.

It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Adoption isn’t “easy”; it’s a path that parents often take after they have exhausted all of their other options and have spent months and years preparing. Intended parents who choose surrogacy may not have been ready for that challenging process at this time.

5. They have the right to choose the family-building option that is best for them.

Finally, for people asking, “Why didn’t you just adopt?” ask yourself this: Why didn’t you adopt?

Every hopeful parent has the right to choose the family-building process that is best for them. Just as you may have never considered adoption yourself, perhaps intended parents considering surrogacy didn’t either. There’s a lot that goes into this decision, including costs, emotions, timeline and more.  After considering all of this, intended parents discover that gestational surrogacy is the right option for them.

No matter how you built your own family, it’s never your place to judge or question why people build their families in specific ways. It’s much better to support someone’s family-building journey, whatever it is. Offer your practical and emotional support, and your friends going through surrogacy will be thankful.

Trying to decide whether gestational surrogacy is right for your family? Reach out to our surrogacy specialists for more information and professional advice.

5 Steps to Take When Something Unexpected Happens in Your Surrogacy

In an ideal surrogacy, everything would go according to plan. The surrogacy plan set by intended parents and their gestational carrier would outline everything to expect in the months ahead, and both parties would follow their step-by-step process to successfully bring a new child into the world, with little to no stress for either party.

However, not all surrogacy journeys go this way. In fact, it’s more likely than not that something unexpected will happen during your surrogacy journey. Surrogacy is a process with many moving parts and complex factors, and it’s highly likely that something may not go as planned in the many steps along the way. This is completely normal — but it can be stressful, whether you are an intended parent or gestational carrier.

Remember, your surrogacy specialist at American Surrogacy will be there to guide you through every step of this process. They will be there to answer any questions you have and help alleviate any concerns that come up along the way.

That said, if you find yourself facing an unexpected development in your surrogacy journey, what should you do?

Step 1: Take a deep breath.

When something doesn’t go according to plan in life, it’s normal to be frustrated or even panicked. This is even truer in a surrogacy journey; adding to a family is an incredibly important journey, and feeling like something is going “wrong” is incredibly stressful for both intended parents and gestational carriers.

That’s why the most important thing to do when something doesn’t go according to plan is to first take a deep breath. It’s important to have a clear head when your journey goes off-book; otherwise, you can easily say and do things in the heat of the moment that you will later regret. Before doing anything else, sit down and take a deep breath (as long as there is no immediate medical risk to you or your surrogacy partner).

Step 2: Contact your surrogacy professional.

The first person you should always contact if something unexpected occurs should be your surrogacy professional. Your surrogacy specialist is trained to handle many kinds of difficult situations, and they will be able to guide you step-by-step through this situation that you find yourself in.

Believe us: We are always here for you, no matter what. As your full-service surrogacy agency, American Surrogacy is prepared to help you through every step of your surrogacy journey, even those which pop up unexpectedly. Some situations may require professional intervention, while others may not. Either way, we want to know about everything that happens in your surrogacy journey.

Step 3: Calmly think about your options.

As mentioned above, panicking or stressing about an unexpected development in your surrogacy journey is often counterproductive. When something unexpected occurs, it’s important to calmly think about the paths available to you. Obviously, they will vary based on your situation — but many surrogacy participants automatically jump to the most extreme, worst-case-scenario paths when there are so many gentler ways to address the situation.

This is where our surrogacy specialists can be so helpful. Because they have experience in these situations, they can calmly offer you the paths you may wish to take, as well as the pros and cons of each. Rather than jumping into the first option presented, take the time to evaluate what’s best for your family. For example, if your gestational carrier is having contractions earlier than expected, you may be tempted to book a flight and hop on a plane to her right away. However, she may be simply having Braxton-Hicks pre-contractions, and waiting for more information from a doctor can save you lots of time and money.

Step 4: Keep your surrogacy partner informed.

Just as you will want to inform your surrogacy professional of any unexpected developments along the way, your surrogacy partner should be your second call. Surrogacy is a partnership, and the process only works when both partners trust and respect each other. Keeping each other informed is an important part of maintaining that mutual trust and respect.

Of course, there may be certain unexpected situations that arise because of your relationship with your surrogacy partner, and those situations may be best solved with the mediation of your surrogacy professional. In all other cases, we recommend that you make sure your surrogacy partner is aware of your situation as soon as you can describe it calmly and clearly. They will appreciate being in the know, especially because your surrogacy plan is their surrogacy plan, too. Any changes you have to make will impact their upcoming journey.

Step 5: Remember that unexpected developments are normal.

Finally, it’s important to remember that, should something unplanned happen, it’s completely normal. In most cases, it won’t mean the end for your surrogacy journey. Because surrogacy involves so many complicated steps, it’s completely natural for something to occur in a more complicated way than expected. Instead of panicking, try to see this as a special part of your unique surrogacy journey. You’ll likely find that, once everything is complete and a baby is born, the things that caused you the most anxiety during your surrogacy journey will only be little blips on your radar — or even something that you laugh about later on!

Remember, if you ever have any questions about what is and isn’t normal during your surrogacy journey, don’t hesitate to reach out to American Surrogacy today at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

Is Surrogacy Safe? What to Know Before Starting

Yes — surrogacy is safe, if you take basic but essential precautions.

At American Surrogacy, we are committed to protecting every surrogate, intended parent and child in our program, which is why we take every precaution to make the surrogacy process as safe as possible. Your safety is our top priority.

Here are some of the potential medical, legal and emotional issues with surrogacy that could make it unsafe for surrogates and intended parents, and how to avoid these issues and minimize risk:

Emotional Safety

When first considering surrogacy, potential intended parents and surrogates are often worried about the emotional risks involved. Some of the most common emotional concerns associated with the surrogacy process for surrogates are:

For intended parents, emotional issues can include:

  • Post-surrogacy depression, not unlike postpartum depression
  • Feeling out of control during the surrogacy process, as you’re not carrying your baby
  • Worrying that you won’t bond easily with your baby
  • Dealing with infertility-related grief, or with your baby not being genetically related to you
  • Jealousy toward the surrogate

American Surrogacy works with surrogates and intended parents to avoid these emotional issues by providing both parties with constant support before, during and after the surrogacy process. We counsel you on how to build a solid emotional support system at home so that your loved ones can help you through the emotions of surrogacy. We’ll also help everyone involved to communicate honestly and openly about their needs and feelings to foster stronger intended parent-surrogate relationships.

Medical Safety

Both intended parents and surrogates will often undergo medical procedures throughout the surrogacy process and may worry about the medical risks involved. Here are some of the medical risks that prospective surrogates are most concerned about when considering surrogacy:

Prospective intended parents may worry about the medical risks of:

  • Egg retrieval (if an intended mother is using her own eggs for IVF)
  • Hormone treatments (if an intended mother is using her own eggs for IVF)

Most of the medical risk falls on surrogates. Many of these risks are the average risks that a woman takes anytime she becomes pregnant and gives birth. However, there are always additional, if minor, risks associated with the medical processes unique to surrogacy.

To minimize these risks for the safety of surrogates (and for the baby), American Surrogacy carefully screens prospective surrogates and has a list of medical requirements in place. Potential surrogates are thoroughly medically screened to ensure that they are healthy enough to undergo the surrogacy process before they begin, to prevent exposing you to any unnecessary medical risk.

Legal Safety

There are a few legal risks associated with surrogacy that many potential surrogates and intended parents may worry about, as well, especially after hearing sensationalized horror stories in the news. Surrogates are often concerned about:

  • The intended parents refusing to parent the baby after he or she is born
  • Legally questionable forms of surrogacy compensation
  • Being asked to terminate a pregnancy when you are uncomfortable doing so

Intended parents worry about legal issues like:

  • The surrogate “keeping” the baby
  • The baby not being “theirs”
  • Being scammed by a surrogate

All of these legal issues are entirely preventable when you work with a reputable surrogacy professional like American Surrogacy. The only instances these legal risks are possible are when people attempt surrogacy on their own without the legal protection of experienced professionals and surrogacy contracts. American Surrogacy ensures that each party is individually represented by a licensed surrogacy attorney, so that everyone is equally advocated for throughout the legal process of surrogacy. We insist on detailed surrogacy contracts, and will walk you through the surrogacy laws within your state so you’re fully informed about protecting your rights.

It’s understandable to worry about the potential risks of surrogacy. But by working with American Surrogacy, these risks are reduced, if not completely eliminated. Surrogacy brings people together to create families, and the benefits far outweigh any minor risks. Contact American Surrogacy now at 1-800-875-BABY (1-800-875-2229) to learn how we work to minimize or avoid potential surrogacy risks for surrogates, intended parents and children.

New Year’s Resolution: Why We Should Stop Surrogacy Shaming

Each new year brings a fresh new slate. With the end of the old year and the start of the new one, we have a chance to break old habits, examine our strengths and faults and to try to be better. In 2019, let’s make it a priority to stop surrogacy shaming. It’s an old, tired argument that everyone is sick of. Here are six reasons why:

1. Families Expanded through Surrogacy are Families

Whether a family comes together through surrogacy, adoption, foster care, biologically or by any other means, they’re a “real” family as long as there is real love. Biological ties, how a child comes into a family, or whether or not a family is considered “traditional” are all pretty inconsequential in the big picture.

2. You May Not Know the Whole Story

Infertility, disrupted adoptions, lost pregnancies or children, medical treatments, or other heartbreaks — there are often rough patches in a person’s journey that has ultimately led them to surrogacy that you may not know about. Before you speak, even if you’re trying to be helpful or make suggestions, remember that this person may have already tried what you’re suggesting and it ended badly.

Be kind, be thoughtful and keep your “helpful suggestions” or opinions to yourself. This person or family has likely chosen surrogacy after a lot of careful thought, and you haven’t been in their shoes.

3. It’s Not a Moral Superiority Competition

There is no “right” or “wrong” way to have a family. Are you going to presume to know better than anyone else?

Children are not moral superiority trophies to argue over. You’re not a “better” or “worse” person for choosing a different path to parenthood. All that should matter is that you’re a good parent to your children, and that you’re raising them to be kind people.

4. If Someone Wants to Be a Parent, They Deserve that Happiness

Why would you spoil that with your judgment? If you’re a parent yourself, you can sympathize with those who long to know that joy for themselves. While there are many ways to become a parent, a person’s reasoning for choosing surrogacy is their own, and again, you may not know the whole story.

It’s simply not your place to decide who gets to become a parent or how they do so. Not everyone can (or chooses to) have and carry a child biologically. They may need help. Are you really going to try to take away all the happiness and unconditional love that parents get to experience?

Be happy for those who are about to become a parent. If you can’t manage that, keep your opinions to yourself.

5. If a Woman Wants to Help Someone Become a Parent, She Deserves Respect

We’ve talked a lot about why you should stop shaming people who become parents through surrogacy, but it’s no less important to stop the shaming of surrogates. Enough already with the judgmental nonsense.

Surrogates are extraordinary women who see a need and offer to help. They’re mothers themselves, so they know what it’s like to wish for a child. Perhaps they’ve known someone who has struggled to have a child, or maybe they simply feel compassionate towards those who have been waiting to complete their families.

Surrogacy shamers might assume that surrogates only want monetary gain. However, this is far from the truth. Studies like this 2014 report have shown that the main motivators for women who choose to become surrogates are the desire to help others and a love of being pregnant.

Thank a surrogate for helping to create families!

6. Children Born through Surrogacy Will Hear What You Say

Kids who come to their family through “nontraditional” means hear the things you say  to their parents, on social media and to other parents in the schoolyard — make sure what you’re saying is something that makes them feel good about themselves, because it’ll stick with them for longer than you might realize.

No matter how you feel about surrogacy, no child has any say in how they come into this world, but every child deserves to feel safe and loved. Is your opinion of surrogacy worth the peace of mind of a child?

Let’s make 2019 the year where we get over surrogacy shaming. It’s time we moved past quibbling over how families are made and instead started focusing on celebrating the many different kinds of loving families!

Share this to spread your New Year’s Resolution and to help end surrogacy shaming in 2019.

How Long Does the Surrogacy Process Take?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matching Stage: 1-3 Months

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pregnancy: 9 Months

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

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

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

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

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

5 Rules for Proper Etiquette with Your Surrogacy Partner

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

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

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

1. Don’t assume.

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

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

2. Be respectful.

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

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

3. Be cautious of over-sharing.

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

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

4. Be honest and open.

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

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

5. Remember surrogacy is a partnership.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Does “Medical Necessity” Mean?

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

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

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

5 Conditions that May Lead to Medical Necessity for Surrogacy

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

  1. Unexplained Infertility

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

  1. Lack of a Uterus or Vagina

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

  1. Scarring on the Uterus

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

  1. Complicated Previous Pregnancies and/or Miscarriages

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

  1. Existing Medical Conditions

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

What If You’re Experiencing Social Infertility?

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

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

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

Understanding Surrogacy Controversy: What’s the Big Deal?

Type the words “surrogacy controversy” into your web browser, and you’ll be inundated with sensationalized headlines about surrogacy scandals, scholarly articles detailing the social ramifications of this family-building process, and fierce arguments for and against surrogacy.

If you are considering surrogacy yourself, either as a hopeful parent or a prospective surrogate, this surrogacy debate can be alarming. You might be wondering, “Is surrogacy morally or socially wrong? What are the issues with surrogacy that I need to be aware of? Is it even possible to practice surrogacy ethically?”

At American Surrogacy, we are committed to completing every surrogacy to the highest ethical standards. When completed correctly, we believe that surrogacy can be an overwhelmingly positive experience that benefits everyone involved — the surrogate, intended parents and, most importantly, the child.

However, we also recognize that nothing is perfect, and there are some surrogacy issues worth considering. Here, we’re examining some of the common arguments for and against surrogacy so you can better understand this hotly debated topic.

Why is Surrogacy Controversial?

To understand the potential benefits and issues of surrogacy, it’s first important to have a basic understanding of the different types of surrogacy and the way this process actually works today.

There are two basic types of surrogacy:

  • Gestational surrogacy: The most common type of surrogacy today, in which the surrogate has no genetic relationship to the baby she carries.
  • Traditional surrogacy: A very rare form of surrogacy today, in which the surrogate’s own egg is fertilized using sperm from an intended father or donor via IVF or intrauterine insemination in the lab.

Surrogacy can also be categorized by the financial arrangements made between the intended parents and surrogate:

  • Compensated surrogacy: Surrogacy in which the surrogate is compensated for her time, energy, sacrifice and participation in the surrogacy process.
  • Altruistic surrogacy: Surrogacy in which the surrogate is not paid a base compensation beyond reimbursement of her medical and legal expenses.

Finally, surrogacy can further be categorized by where it takes place:

  • Domestic surrogacy: Surrogacy in which the intended parents work with a surrogate living within their own country. Because American Surrogacy is a U.S. surrogacy program, we define domestic surrogacy as a surrogacy completed within the United States.
  • International surrogacy: Surrogacy in which intended parents work with a surrogate living in a different country. Because the U.S. surrogacy process is well-regulated, foreign intended parents can complete an international surrogacy in the United States safely, ethically and legally. However, there are many ethical issues with surrogacy in some other parts of the world, especially in developing countries — and this is where much of the surrogacy controversy stems from.

So, why is there so much controversy surrounding surrogacy? Often, it’s because of misinformation. In fact, many anti-surrogacy arguments revolve around misconceptions about the modern-day gestational surrogacy process. Many people don’t know that today, the vast majority of surrogacies are gestational, not traditional. They may not understand why surrogates receive compensation or how that compensation is regulated. And they may assume that because of certain ethical dilemmas in international surrogacy, the same applies to surrogacy completed in the United States.

What are the Arguments Against Surrogacy?

There is no shortage of people ready to point out reasons why surrogacy is “bad” or “wrong.” However, when examining the arguments against surrogacy, it’s important to keep in mind the various types of surrogacy; not all of these arguments will apply to every type of surrogacy completed today.

  • Surrogacy commodifies the human body. A common anti-surrogacy argument is that the practice (particularly of commercial surrogacy and particularly in developing countries) commodifies babies and women’s bodies. Some have even gone so far as comparing surrogacy to prostitution, arguing that in both cases, women “sell” intimate, physical services.

  • Surrogacy exploits women. Critics of surrogacy argue that intended parents who “use” surrogates are interested only in their reproductive ability; they see this practice as “womb-renting,” especially when the woman carrying the pregnancy is in a financially disadvantageous position to the intended parents. This is especially true in international surrogacy, where women may be particularly vulnerable and surrogate compensation can be especially life-altering.
  • Surrogacy is risky. There are, of course, inherent risks involved in any pregnancy, and surrogacy critics sometimes point to these medical risks as a reason to be against surrogacy. They also argue that children born through assisted reproduction may be at greater risk for certain health conditions (though there is no evidence that this is true). Additionally, those against surrogacy may argue that the process is legally, emotionally and financially risky, citing highly publicized and sensationalized cases (like the “Baby M” case or the “Baby Gammy” case) as evidence — even though these cases are not at all representative of most surrogacies completed today.

  • Surrogacy goes against religion. Finally, some object to surrogacy on religious grounds. Many religions emphasize the importance of a husband and wife conceiving naturally on their own, and assisted reproduction is sometimes viewed as going against these religious beliefs.

What are Some Arguments for Surrogacy?

At the same time, just as many people will argue for reasons why surrogacy is good — not just for hopeful parents who desperately want to have a baby but also for the generous surrogates who help them to reach this goal. Advocates for surrogacy will tell you:

  • Surrogacy is mutually beneficial for the parties involved. For intended parents, surrogacy offers the chance to finally have the child they’ve always dreamed of. Surrogacy gives LGBT parents and couples struggling with infertility an opportunity for parenthood they may not have otherwise. Surrogacy also offers many benefits for surrogates, financially and emotionally.

  • Surrogates are compensated fairly for their services. Some argue that surrogate compensation commodifies human life, but it’s important to understand the reality of a surrogate’s commitment and the importance of paying her in exchange for these services and sacrifices. It’s also worth noting that there are protections in place to ensure vulnerable women are not forced into surrogacy in the United States; surrogacy professionals require women to be able to support themselves and their family without state assistance in order to be a surrogate.
  • Surrogacy professionals minimize risks. Through a careful screening and selection process, surrogacy professionals ensure all prospective surrogates and intended parents are truly prepared for the process ahead of them. This is done to minimize risks to everyone involved, especially the surrogate. Surrogacy attorneys also work closely with intended parents and surrogates to ensure their rights and interests are protected, eliminating legal risks, as well. And, contrary to popular belief, the emotional risks to surrogates are minimal; because most surrogates are not related to the children they carry, the vast majority report no emotional complications with the process.
  • Everyone has a voice in the surrogacy process. In domestic surrogacy, intended parents and surrogates enter into the process knowingly and willingly. Screening and counseling services are offered to ensure every prospective surrogate and intended parent is motivated to do surrogacy for the right reasons, and every party plays an active role in the process.

Should Surrogate Motherhood be Allowed?

So, after reviewing both sides of the argument, should surrogacy be allowed? We tend to think so. Should society regulate the practice of surrogacy? Absolutely.

At American Surrogacy, we are able to say with confidence that the surrogates, intended parents and children involved in our program all benefit from the process — and that’s largely because surrogacy issues in the United States are minimized by the well-defined laws and processes that are in place here.

By working with a trusted U.S. surrogacy professional like American Surrogacy, you can ensure that every step of your surrogacy process is legal, ethical and well-regulated, and that everyone involved in your journey is protected from start to finish.

To learn more about surrogacy, or to start your journey now, please contact our surrogacy specialists at 1-800-875-22299(BABY).

7 Fun Bonding Activities for Surrogates and Intended Parents

In most surrogacies, intended parents and prospective surrogates are lucky enough to meet each other before the baby is born. Intended parents may travel to a surrogate’s state to get to know her before a match is solidified, before the embryo transfer takes place or to be present at one of her prenatal appointments. A surrogate, on the other hand, will travel to the intended parents’ clinic as the same time they do and likely spend a few days in the area.

All of these opportunities offer great chances for intended parents and surrogates to get to know each other better and create a solid relationship and partnership through their upcoming journey. But, what exactly should surrogates and intended parents do when they meet face-to-face? How do you approach building a relationship with someone who will be so important to you for the next year or more?

The answer is always whatever both parties are most comfortable with. Some surrogates and intended parents will jump into a friendship more easily than others, and that’s okay. It’s about doing what is right for your and your partner’s preferences to be as successful as possible while moving forward.

If your surrogacy partner is scheduled to be in your city soon, here are a few great bonding activities to consider:

1. A Family-Friendly Activity

Women who become surrogates with our agency are required to be raising at least one child in their own home — which means intended parents who are visiting should consider including their surrogate’s family in their bonding activities. After all, a surrogate’s family is just as impacted by her surrogacy decision as she is, and it will mean a great deal to her if all of her immediate family is able to get to know and build a relationship with the people she is carrying a baby for. It may even help her children understand the process ahead.

If a surrogate’s (or intended parent’s) family is able to participate in a bonding activity, consider a fun activity like going to the zoo, the museum or the park. Finding an activity where children can be occupied allows their parents to focus more on bonding with their surrogacy partner while also including the child in the process.

2. A Local Attraction

On the same train of thought, if you are looking for a unique activity to do while spending time with your surrogacy partner, think about the local attractions in your area. Whether it’s a museum, a park, or another kind of local feature, taking your surrogacy partner there allows you to “do something” while bonding and will give your partner a taste of the area that you live in.

3. A Spa Day

Spa days aren’t just for ladies; men can enjoy the benefits, too! Both intended parents and surrogates will likely go through their own set of stressors during surrogacy, and a spa day can help them relieve those feelings. Take time to get some massages, pedicures or whatever else floats your boat; your body, mind and relationship will thank you for it.

4. A Nice Dinner or Lunch

If you’re not comfortable enough to commit a full day to bonding quite yet, having lunch or dinner with your surrogacy partner can be a great way to start getting to know each other. It provides a great opportunity for conversation, and you get a meal out of it, to boot.

If you decide to take this route, think of a few conversation topics ahead of time. Odds are you have already talked about the logistics of the surrogacy journey before this point, so use this meal as a way to learn more about your surrogacy partner’s personal life and family.

5. A Concert or Other Live Show

If you and your surrogacy partner have similar interests, you might choose to add something fun like a concert to their visit. While you may not be able to talk to each other as much as you would with another activity, it can be a great bonding experience and help kick-start your relationship. It will also be a memory that you’ll be able to look back on for years to come.

6. An Outdoor Excursion

If you are both outdoorsy people, a hike, bike ride or similar outdoor activity can be a great way to get your blood pumping! Surrogates may not be able to continue their exercise regimen once they are far along in their pregnancy, so take advantage of the opportunities to explore the great outdoors — talking and encouraging each other every step of the way.

Always make sure that a surrogate is cleared for appropriate physical exercise before making plans for this activity.

7. A Tour of the Hometown

Finally, if your surrogacy partner is coming to you, offer to give him or her a tour of the town where you live. This gives intended parents an idea of what a surrogate’s community will be like during her pregnancy, and it gives surrogates an idea of what the parents’ child will be like as he or she grows up. It can be as detailed as you want; whatever you choose to share with your surrogacy partner will help them get to know you in a completely different way.

For more suggestions on how to build a strong relationship with your surrogacy partner, you can always talk to your surrogacy specialist at 1-800-875-BABY (2229). She can discuss with you in more detail what she thinks is appropriate for your personal relationship.

Whatever you choose to do, remember this: The relationship that you have with your surrogacy partner will play a large role in the success of your journey moving forward — so always take the time to make it the best it can be.