What to Consider Before Using a Family Member’s Gametes

Thinking about using a family member’s sperm or egg to create your embryos? It may seem like an easy and obvious solution in a long and complex journey to become a parent.

There are a number of reasons you might be considering partnering with a family member as part of the surrogacy process. Maybe:

  • you’d rather talk to someone you know and trust about an intimate genetic donation.
  • you hope that by using gametes from within the family gene pool, the baby will look more like the intended parents.
  • you want to cut costs by not having to pay gamete donor fees.
  • you worry about working with a donor you don’t know.

However, this type of gamete donation requires more thought than an outside-the-family donation. The Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) advises that “programs that choose to participate in intra-familial arrangements should be prepared to spend additional time counseling participants and ensuring that they have made free, informed decisions.”

Fertility clinics and professionals such as American Surrogacy take extra care to educate people who are considering using a family member’s gametes as part of the surrogacy process. You can always contact our specialists anytime to learn more about this kind of surrogacy journey.

In the meantime, learn about a few unique aspects to this type of gamete donation.

Emotional Considerations

Gestational surrogacy and gamete donation within the family can be an intimate experience that brings family members closer together forever. But, despite the potential for benefits, these experiences can also be emotionally challenging and put strain on even the strongest family bonds.

Family members should be counseled about the ways in which gamete donation could affect their relationships, including how to prepare and work to preserve their bonds. The emotional implications of gamete donation should not be downplayed. Remember:

  • Your family relationships will be permanently changed.
  • The relationship of your child with some family members will change because of unique biological connections.
  • Existing insecurities, jealousies and tensions are often heightened, possibly permanently.

With proper counseling from a surrogacy professional, family members can decide if they’re ready for the benefits and challenges they may face with this specific type of gamete donation. They can also learn how to appropriately prepare themselves.

Financial Considerations

Using a family member’s donated gametes rather than selecting a donor from a cryobank, for example, may save you some time and money. This is one reason why intra-family gamete donation is often considered.

The costs of working with a donor through a gamete donor bank will vary, so ask your fertility clinic if they have an in-house gamete donor program or if they offer discounted rates when you work with a certain donor bank. Often, fertility clinics will have at least one donor bank that they frequently work with. They can provide advice about minimizing costs if you’re interested in that route.

If you do decide to work with a family member, remember that intended parents should cover the costs of the necessary procedures. This usually includes screening for health concerns, the cost of egg harvesting and the related fertility medications (if applicable), and more.

Legal Considerations

You already know and trust your family member, so why would you need to involve a lawyer?

The fact is many custody disputes in surrogacy occur when an extended family member is the biological parent of the child involved and the participants fail to receive proper legal counseling or contracts.

The ASRM recommends that “participants in these arrangements, including partners of donors and surrogates, should seek independent legal advice from attorneys with specific expertise in third-party reproduction to determine their legal rights and duties in entering into these relations.”

Surrogacy professionals, including American Surrogacy, also always encourage everyone involved in these arrangements to retain separate attorneys experienced in assisted reproduction law. Even when you’re entering into a donation agreement with a loved and trusted family member, it’s important that you establish a legally binding donor contract, just like you would with anyone else. This protects everyone involved (including the child) from future legal complications.

In family gamete donations, the donor is literally closer to home. Therefore, there should be additional discussions in the legal contract regarding inheritance, biology and the donor’s social role in the child’s life.

Always remember: Third-party reproduction laws vary by state and situation, so it’s even more necessary that you consult an experienced ART lawyer about this type of gamete donation, regardless of family ties.

The Takeaway

At first, using a family member’s gametes to create your embryos for surrogacy may seem like the obvious choice. But you should spend some time talking with an American Surrogacy professional about it to make sure that everyone involved is truly ready.

The ASRM agrees: “Providers should be prepared to spend more time screening and counseling participants compared to anonymous or unrelated known collaborative reproductive arrangements.” It goes on to say that, “Programs should strongly recommend that prospective participants, including partners of donors and surrogates, undergo psychological counseling by a professional experienced in surrogacy or gamete donation. These visits should focus attention on how participants will cope with the unique aspects of the proposed arrangement and on the consequences for the prospective child.”

American Surrogacy is equipped to talk to you and your family member about gamete donation, so you can mutually decide whether or not it’s right for you. If you decide against family member gamete donation, we can talk to you about finding a gamete donor from outside your family to help you complete your surrogacy journey.

Call us now at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) to learn more.

5 Tips for Choosing a Gamete Donation Bank

For various reasons, you may find yourself needing a sperm, egg or embryo donation for your gestational surrogacy journey. It can be hard enough to choose a surrogacy professional for your journey; how can you choose a sperm or egg donor for your future child?

It all starts with choosing the right gamete donation bank. There are a lot of options out there, but it’s important that you find the one that is best for your family’s needs.

Your surrogacy specialist will always be here to help. Whether you’ve found yourself needing a gamete donation in the middle of your surrogacy journey, or you’re just exploring your family-building options, our team will be happy to provide references to local gamete banks. When your embryos are ready to go, we will be ready to start you on your journey.

In the meantime, here are a few tips to keep in mind as you search for the right gamete donation bank:

1. Start With Your Fertility Clinic.

If you’ve been working with a fertility clinic for previous treatments, start by reaching out to them. Many fertility clinics have partnerships with certain gamete donation banks. You may receive a discount for using that bank, or it can make the back-and-forth process between the donation bank and your fertility clinic easier. Your fertility clinic may even have recommendations on what kind of donor you should be looking for, based on your previous fertility treatment results.

2. Look for Banks that Offer Identified Donations.

There are a lot of things you’ll consider as you decide which sperm or egg gamete to choose, but we recommend one thing, no matter what – that you choose an identified donor. While anonymous gamete donors were popular in the past (and are still an option today), research has shown that choosing an identified donor is the best choice for all involved.

As your child grows up, he or she will naturally have questions about the donor who gave them half of their genetics. These inquiries won’t be a reflection on you as a parent; it’s a natural curiosity that many children brought to families in non-traditional ways experience. It’s important that they can get the answers they need. Whether it is simple information about where they come from or more critical information in response to a health scare, it’s important to have that contact connection with a donor.

That’s not even mentioning how an identified donor can help your child connect with their biological half-siblings in the future, thanks to programs such as the Donor Sibling Registry.

3. Ask What Information a Bank Retains on its Donors.

The truth? Some donor banks are more thorough than others. As a parent, you want your child to have all the information they need as they grow up. That starts with ensuring a donor bank gathers detailed information on its donors – and updates it as time goes on.

Ask a potential donor bank these kinds of questions:

  • Do you keep a medical history on the donor?
  • How long do you keep these records?
  • Do you do genetic testing on donors?
  • Do you require donors to update their medical information on a regular basis?

4. Ask About Donor Medical Screening.

On the other hand, it’s important that a donor bank does its due diligence in protecting recipients’ interests. That means screening every donor properly before their samples can be released for public use.

Before you can trust your donor bank, you will probably want to ask these questions:

  • What kind of screening does each donor go through before being approved?
  • Do you screen for (sickle cell anemia, hepatitis B and C, HIV and AIDS, other sexually transmitted infections and genetic conditions)?
  • How often are screening tests repeated?
  • Do you follow ASRM recommendations for donor gamete screening?

Your reproductive endocrinologist and personal physician might provide a full list of medical questions to help you through this interview.

5. Go With Your Gut.

While every intended parent should do diligent research when choosing professionals to help them build their family, they must also pay attention to how a professional makes them feel. A gamete bank can answer all of your questions right, but if you are not comfortable with their specialists, it’s not the right fit for you. Choosing a gamete bank – and, therefore, a gamete donor – is a big deal. It’s a highly personal choice.

More than anything else, you must be satisfied with your choice. It’s one that will impact the rest of your life.

If you’re ready to start your search, here are a few professionals to choose from:

Want more information on how surrogacy works with an egg or sperm donation? Contact our specialists anytime at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) to learn more.

Why Doulas Aren’t Just for Surrogates

It makes sense that your gestational surrogate might be interested in working with a doula. After all, she’ll be the one going through the childbirth experience.

But, did you know that you, as an intended parent, can also benefit from a doula’s services?

Keep reading for more information on how a doula can help you, even if you’re not the one giving birth.

1. What Does a Doula Do?

A doula is not a nurse or midwife but rather a birth companion who has some level of training and experience in supporting women, babies and families through childbirth. That support is practical and physical, but it is frequently also emotional and mental.

Services that doulas provide include:

  • Pre-birth planning, coaching and support
  • Labor and delivery support (emotional and physical)
  • Postpartum care for everyone involved, including the new baby

Whether they’re massaging a woman to ease contraction pains or explaining the next steps to family members, doulas offer a wide range of services, with different types of doulas specializing in certain roles.

2. How Does a Doula Help a Woman Who is Giving Birth?

You probably have some knowledge of doulas — how they can coach, comfort, encourage and guide pregnant women and babies during pregnancy, labor and delivery. These are some of their more common and popular services.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of a birth doula’s role:

Doulas and similar birth professionals may start working with a woman (and often her spouse) during her second or third trimester. During that time, the doula may help the woman create a birth plan, offer pain management strategies to practice and give general advice on how to prepare for what’s ahead — physically, practically and emotionally.

During labor and delivery, birth doulas provide support and encouragement.

After delivery, postpartum doulas continue to offer support to the woman and her family and make sure everyone is recovering well, physically and emotionally.

Gestational surrogates — like all women experiencing pregnancy, labor and birth — can benefit from these services, if they feel it would be beneficial for their journey.

3. So, How Can a Doula Help Someone Who Isn’t Giving Birth?

It’s obvious why a pregnant woman might be interested in a doula, but why would anyone else?

Doulas are birth coaches, not nurses, so their services extend beyond physically helping your surrogate. They’re there to encourage you emotionally, too. Becoming a parent, no matter how you do it, requires plenty of emotional support and practical advice.

Just as a doula works with a woman giving birth, doulas can work with intended parents in surrogacy situations (and other family members) to prepare for this journey. With surrogacy, intended parents can talk to a doula about:

  • How you can help your gestational surrogate during her labor
  • What happens if there are unexpected medical issues
  • Who holds the baby and when, who cuts the cord and when, and other early-life decisions
  • Feeding plans for your baby
  • And more

Doulas emotionally and physically support gestational surrogates during birth, but they can also provide support to you as an intended parent. You will be going through a lot as you become a new parent; it can be helpful to have professional encouragement during an extremely emotional time.

After the baby is born, you can look to a postpartum doula for advice and continued support as you and your child settle in.

4. Where Can You Find a Doula, Birth Coach, or Similar Professional?

Your gestational surrogate’s doctor or preferred hospital may have a doula that they work with, so always ask for a referral.

You can also use these resources to find the type of birth assistance that you desire, whether that’s a birth doula, postpartum doula, or other professional:

Take your time when researching, interviewing and selecting a doula. This person will be your guide and source of support, so it’s important that you all feel comfortable with one another.

If you need help preparing for your surrogate’s upcoming due date, including deciding whether or not you’d like to work with a doula, you can always reach out to your American Surrogacy specialist at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) for advice.

One Embryo Left: Is Surrogacy Right for You?

There are a lot of questions intended parents have to ask themselves when they’re considering gestational surrogacy. If you’ve spent months or years on other fertility treatments, you may have already exhausted a great store of your family-building savings along the way.

You might also have depleted another store — that of your previously created embryos.

If other infertility treatments have not worked for you and you have one embryo left, you may be considering surrogacy as your best chance of success. Transferring a healthy embryo into a woman who has proven her ability to carry pregnancies to term may be the last opportunity you have for a biological child.

However, there are a few things to consider before starting the surrogacy process. It’s a long journey, and it will require a great deal from you, your spouse (if applicable) and the surrogate you work with.

While gestational surrogacy with one embryo is certainly possible, certain aspects can also make it more difficult. We encourage any intended parent considering this path to call our specialists for free at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) for answers to all of your questions.

In the meantime, it’s a good idea to think about the following:

The Time (and Expense) That Pre-Surrogacy Screening Takes

Surrogacy is not an easy process. It requires a long application journey, filled with background screening, medical and psychological screening, and matching with the perfect surrogacy candidate. It can take several months to get all of this done — and that’s before you even start the surrogacy medical process.

When most intended parents begin gestational surrogacy, they are committed to more than one embryo transfer. But, when you only have one embryo remaining, you may be limited to one transfer. This can make your surrogacy experience less economical; you will pay the same amount of fees and expenses as other intended parents but your journey may be a great deal shorter.

Here at American Surrogacy, a certain amount of our agency fees last as long as our partnership. You won’t need to pay those expenses again if your first embryo transfer fails; we will honor your payments until you are able to bring a healthy child home. It’s part of our commitment to an affordable surrogacy process.

If you are an intended parent with only one embryo, however, you will need to evaluate whether these expenses (and the pre-surrogacy time commitment) are worth it for you. If you only plan to complete one embryo transfer process, are you prepared for the commitment this process requires?

What happens if the embryo transfer fails? That will be time and money you cannot get back.

Wait Time for Appropriate Surrogates

Intended parents aren’t the only ones that go through a long approval process to start surrogacy; gestational carriers must undergo screening, too.

The women who choose to become surrogates are dedicated to helping someone else become a parent, whatever it takes. They want to create a genuine relationship with the intended parents they carry for, and they are committed to a long journey with those intended parents. Just like you, they want to make sure all the pre-screening and matching steps they go through are worth their time and effort.

That’s why many surrogates will only work with intended parents who are willing to complete two or more embryo transfers. If a surrogate partners with someone who only wants one embryo transfer, and that transfer fails, she will need to go through the screening and matching process all over again.

For this reason, you might expect a longer wait for a match if you are only interested in one embryo transfer. Your surrogacy specialist will do all she can to find you the perfect surrogate, but it must be a candidate who is comfortable with your anticipated timeline.

Your Plan if the Transfer Fails

Optimism is important in any fertility treatment. When you start the surrogacy process, you have to believe that your last embryo will take, and your surrogate will have a successful pregnancy.

But, what if this isn’t the case? What are your next steps?

Before you begin surrogacy with one embryo, you and your spouse (if applicable) need to think long and hard about your next steps. For women under 35, the success rate of an embryo transfer is only 53.9 percent. That means your transfer is just as likely to fail as it is to succeed — and you need to plan for what happens if a pregnancy does not occur.

You have a few options:

  • Create more embryos: If you wish to continue with surrogacy, you will need more embryos. You can either create these from donated egg and sperm, or complete the in vitro fertilization process with your own gametes. Both of these paths can take some time, so you may have to pause your surrogacy journey and eventually find another surrogate once your embryos are complete. Talk to your surrogacy specialist before starting to see what how this choice may impact your journey.
  • Pursue adoption: If your last embryo transfer fails, and you don’t want to create any more, you can always become a parent through adoption. There are several types of adoption to choose from, and you will need to research each to determine which is right for you. Our team can always connect you to our sister agency, American Adoptions, for more information on this process.

Having a set plan in case of a failed embryo transfer is crucial. That way, you won’t waste precious time trying to figure out your next steps when you could be actively working toward bringing a child into your family.

If you’re unsure of how to proceed with only one embryo, you can always contact a surrogacy specialist at 1-800-875-BABY(2229). They can talk to you about your options for gestational surrogacy with our agency and help you make the best decision for your family, whatever it might be.

Are Women Choosing Surrogacy to Avoid Pregnancy? The Truth Behind the Myth

When it comes to discussions of the surrogacy process, we’ve heard it all before:

“Intended mothers pay someone else to carry their child for them because they don’t want to mess up their body. They’re so vain and materialistic.”

As all surrogacy professionals know, surrogacy is often a last resort for intended mothers who want a biological child. Yes, pregnancy is hard, and it can have dire effects on your body — but ask any intended mother, and she’ll be the first to tell you she would give anything to carry her child herself.

So, we’re here to clear the myth of intended mothers who use surrogacy to avoid pregnancy. Intended mothers aren’t celebrities paying someone for pregnancy so they can keep their own bodies in good shape; they are everyday people like you who, for one reason or another, cannot carry a biological child on their own.

What are those reasons? We’re glad you asked.

Fertility Struggles

The majority of intended mothers have attempted their own pregnancies before turning to surrogacy. In fact, many couples go through months and years of fertility treatments after unsuccessfully conceiving on their own. They may go through surgeries and other invasive treatments and procedures, all to no avail.

Some intended mothers receive a diagnosis explaining their fertility struggles. They may have a condition such as uterine fibroids or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Other women don’t even receive an answer; they go through many medical tests and treatments only to have unexplained infertility.

After experiencing so many miscarriages and failed transfers, an intended mother just wants a fertility treatment that can bring her a biological child. But, that’s not to say she completely forgets her desire to carry her own child. All intended mothers need to grieve the loss of the pregnancy experience before they can proceed with gestational surrogacy.

Dangerous Medical Conditions

Other intended mothers don’t even attempt pregnancy before choosing gestational surrogacy — but it’s not because they are lazy or want to avoid pregnancy for vanity reasons. Instead, they must avoid pregnancy to protect their health.

There are many chronic conditions that can be exacerbated by pregnancy and even put a woman in serious danger. For example, women who have type 1 diabetes put themselves at risk for preeclampsia, insulin resistance, hypoglycemia and other life-threatening conditions. Being pregnant can also exacerbate their diabetes complications for the rest of their life, not just during their pregnancy.

Many times, intended mothers with chronic conditions would love to carry their own children, but their doctors often recommend against it. It can be heartbreaking to give up this dream of pregnancy, but it’s more important for a child to have a healthy mother who can care for them throughout their life.

In other cases, women develop conditions during pregnancy that make carrying another child impossible. Take, for example, Kim Kardashian. After giving birth to two of her children, she developed placenta accreta, which made future labor and delivery difficult — and life-threatening. She was in the same position as many other intended mothers who choose surrogacy to protect their health and ensure they are around for their child’s future.

Tokophobia, or Fear of Pregnancy

It’s no secret that pregnancy and childbirth are strenuous and dangerous conditions. In fact, the majority of women in the world experience some degree of fear and anxiety about this experience, even when they are already pregnant.

Tokophobia, however, is the pathological fear of pregnancy and childbirth. Research indicates that 14 percent of women experience this fear, and it’s a rate that has been increasing in the last few decades.

Tokophobia can have serious effects on women. Like any phobia, it can be debilitating, and it can severely impact a woman’s mental health during a period where she should be as mentally and emotionally stable as possible. Tokophobia often involves feelings of dread, anxiety and depression, and it can cause women to have difficulty bonding with their children (both in utero and once they are born).

Some intended mothers experience this phobia, and it can actually be the reason they seek out surrogacy. They may be excited to become mothers but are not confident in their ability to safely and responsibly carry a child to term. Mental conditions such as phobias are not to be taken lightly, and an intended mother may pursue surrogacy to give herself the best chance at being the mother she wants to be.

It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and it’s nothing to judge. Every person has the right to create their family in the way that is best for them. The only ones this decision should concern are the parents involved.

Here at American Surrogacy, we know intended mothers come to our program for many reasons. We never judge them. We are dedicated to helping parents build their family in their desired way, whatever their motivations for doing so. We are happy to work with intended parents — fathers and mothers — from many different circumstances, and we can help you, too.

If you are considering surrogacy for any reason, give our specialists a call at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) or contact us online. We will be happy to answer your questions and help you get started with the process ahead.

10 Ways to Stay Busy During Your Surrogate’s Pregnancy

For many people, the nine months they are expecting is a time full of excitement, joy and things to do. But, when you’re not the one who is physically carrying your child, you may find yourself sitting around twiddling your thumbs — and obsessively counting down the minutes until your gestational carrier gives birth.

Surrogacy is a hard journey for everyone involved, but it’s easy for intended parents to feel forgotten during their surrogate’s pregnancy. But just because you aren’t carrying your own child doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for his or her imminent arrival! On the contrary, you actually have a great many things you can do during these nine months while your surrogate is carrying your child.

Below, find some tips on staying busy during your surrogate’s pregnancy. Not only will this help keep your mind occupied during the wait ahead, but it will also help you cross some important things off of your to-do list!

1. Prepare your nursery.

Just like any other expectant parent, you should make sure you have your baby’s nursery ready to go long before he or she is born. This eliminates a great deal of stress and can help you feel more connected to your experience as an expectant parent.

If you have a spouse, make the nursery a team project. Pick out wall colors, put together furniture, and organize baby supplies together. It will help you develop your team skills as a couple and put you in the proper mindset for bringing your baby home soon!

Make sure you have a list of baby supplies so you don’t forget about any important items!

2. Take parenting classes.

Contrary to what many people think, not all aspects of parenting are instinctual skills — and are definitely not skills to learn on the fly. To be the best parent possible, you’ll need to attend parenting classes and educate yourself about the path ahead of you.

“Parenting classes” may conjure up images of rows of pregnant women sharing their pregnancy experiences, but that’s not the case at all. Today, there are many non-traditional ways people can bring children into their families, and you may be surprised to see you’re not the only one in the class waiting for a gestational surrogate or a prospective birth mother to deliver. Focus on the important aspects of parenting classes — the skills you’ll learn — instead of the experiences you may be missing out on.

3. Plan some date nights.

Your life will dramatically change the moment that you become a parent. Your priorities will need to shift, and you’ll have a lot less free time than you had before.

So, take advantage of the time you have now! You and your spouse can schedule some date nights out on the town, focusing on things you won’t be able to do with a newborn by your side. Or, you might take the opportunity now to try a new hobby or do something else you’ve always wanted to do. While being a parent is a change you’ve been anticipating for a while, don’t forget to enjoy this period in your life, too!

4. Spend time with your family and friends.

Remember that your loved ones are just as excited for your upcoming child as you are. Odds are, they are likely planning some baby showers and other exciting events during your surrogate’s pregnancy! Take the extra time you have during this period to share your excitement with them and solidify your relationships.

You will need a lot of help when you’re a new parent, and your friends and family will be there for you. Help them know the support you’ll want ahead of time; don’t wait until your baby is born to ask!

5. Support your surrogate.

This is an obvious thing to do during your surrogate’s pregnancy, but its importance can’t be overstated. Remember that your surrogate is giving up a great deal of time and energy to help you create your family, and she likely wants to involve you in any way she can. At the same time that she is sending you updates and making you feel a part of the pregnancy, you should also be doing what you can to help her out. Offer to take her and her kids out for a day trip to the zoo or another similar adventure, or suggest a special bonding activity like a spa day.

Pregnancy is hard, and your surrogate will appreciate the friendship and support you can offer her during these next nine months.

6. Record your story.

Surrogacy is a unique journey to go through, and intended parents often have a lot of emotions along the way. You can address those emotions by writing down your story — either for yourself or for your future child.

Just because you are not carrying your child doesn’t mean you can’t create a baby book for them! You can document your child’s surrogacy story in a scrapbook, detailing the different steps and people involved to bring them into the world. You and your surrogate can include letters to your future baby, as well as photos of her pregnancy and prenatal ultrasounds.

On the other hand, maybe you just want to document your surrogacy story for yourself. You might find that journaling can help you process your emotions during your family-building journey. It can also helpful for looking back later on when things are especially tough or especially joyful.

7. Share your story, if you’re comfortable doing so.

Surrogacy is still a fairly new way for people to add to their family, and there is a lot of misconception out there about exactly how it works. If you feel up to it, you can take the opportunity to educate others about the reality of the surrogacy process. Start with your friends and family — it’s important they understand proper terminology for how your little one is coming into the world. You can also be open about your journey with anyone who asks. After all, you will need to explain your child’s surrogacy story to many people as he or she grows up, so practice makes perfect!

8. Organize and update your affairs and official documents.

Surrogacy involves some complicated documents and processes. While your surrogacy specialist and surrogacy attorney will guide you through most of these, you will play a role in making sure all your “i”s are dotted and your “t”s are crossed. Important things such as insurance for your surrogate and your baby, pre- and post-birth parentage orders, and wills should all be arranged for prior to your child’s birth.

9. Choose a pediatrician.

Parents should always have a pediatrician picked out for their child long before he or she enters the world. This can be a process that takes some time, so take advantage of your surrogate’s lengthy pregnancy to interview professionals and determine the best choice for your family.

Remember: If you are matched with an out-of-state surrogate, the pediatrician who sees your child immediately after birth will be different than the pediatrician he or she sees for the rest of his or her life. If you can, explore your options for pediatricians both locally and where your child will be born.

10. Explore your childcare options.

If you’re like many intended parents, you will be lucky enough to take advantage of maternity and paternity leave after your child arrives. But, if you and your spouse plan to go back to work, it’s important that you think about the childcare options available to you.

Just like choosing a pediatrician, choosing a childcare provider is a big deal — and is often done well before a child is born. Take the time you have now to interview several providers and find the one that works best for your family’s needs. It may take you longer than you think.

American Surrogacy knows that the time between a successful pregnancy test and the arrival of a child can be tough for intended parents. That’s why our team of surrogacy specialists will always be there to support you, every step of the way. We are never more than a phone call away: 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

10 Moving Quotes from Intended Parents

Having a child can be a complicated business — especially for those who have struggled with infertility. Fortunately, gestational surrogacy offers a path for these people to become the parents they’ve always wanted to be.

Surrogacy is still a confusing process for many people. Sometimes, the best way to learn about how it works is from those who have been through it. We’ve gathered a list of emotional, moving quotes from intended parents who have been there to help you understand just what surrogacy is all about.

1. “It means more than the world; only very selfless people could [be a surrogate]. It’s such a huge commitment from a woman to carry a child — mentally, emotionally, physically — I can’t even realize it. I will be forever, forever grateful to Nichole.”

Nicholas, who worked with surrogate Nichole to bring his son into the world

2. “Jill has been amazing during this whole process. She lets me ask her all these weird questions, lets me touch her stomach; and it’s just amazing because this is the closest I could get to actually having the babies inside me.”

Whitney, whose twin sister carries twins for her and her husband

3. “I love my surrogate; we have a really good relationship. I really trust her, and I definitely see, like, the first time that I went through it, I was a little bit more anxious, and texting more and calling more, and I feel like my surrogate, this time around, really is such a protecting person, and I really trust that in her.”

Kim Kardashian, who has used surrogacy twice to add to her family

4. “It wasn’t necessarily saying goodbye to [our surrogate], but it was just a different chapter and a different part of the relationship… I never thought that it would go from complete stranger to best friend and a relationship that will always be there, so that’s pretty neat.”

Lindsay, who worked with surrogate Megan to add twin boys to her family

5. “I’m so grateful to a wonderful surrogate that I’m working with. I turned 50 this year, and it takes some people longer to get to that place and it took me this time.”

Andy Cohen, who became a father through gestational surrogacy

6. “I’d been waiting for her all this time. She was finally here. I want to do everything I can do to raise her as best as I can… Even though I’m only one, where a traditional family would have two parents, I will do everything I can to make it up more than double.”

Nathan, who became a father to a baby girl thanks to surrogacy

7. “I’m so glad I got over myself and my fear of what people would think of me if I did not carry my own child. It’s OK to bring your child into the world in a way that is not through your body… Every route to parenthood is perfect, worthwhile and amazing.”

Gabrielle Union, who brought her daughter Kaavia into the world via surrogacy

8. “We got to see the whole process unfold, from the time we got (to the hospital), to her starting medication, to the epidural and the birth, all the way through, and Heidi was totally gracious enough to let us be in the room for all of it. It was nothing I will ever forget. It was just amazing.”

Elizabeth, who became a parent with her husband after turning to gestational surrogacy

9. “My cousin had known about our struggles to conceive. She has two kids, and a few years prior she had written me an email asking how she could help. We didn’t know what that meant at the time, but I was grateful she asked. Then, after she heard about our second carrier dropping out, she texted me to ask if I ever considered working with a family member. I was crying so much when I read her note that I could barely respond. I never thought to ask my cousin or anyone I knew. It’s such a huge undertaking!”

Andrea, an intended mother and founder of pregnantish, a platform for those struggling with infertility

10. “Our child did come out of me, from us. Our bodies were married in a glass dish, and our boy was carried by another woman for nine months. He is our most vivid dream realized — the embodiment of the most blindly powerful force in the universe, brought to life the only way he could be. With a little help.”

Alex, who hired a surrogate to give birth to her child more than a decade ago

Interested in adding to your family through the surrogacy process? Call our surrogacy specialists at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) or contact us online today to get started.

Check out our “10 Moving Quotes from Gestational Surrogates” here.

When You and Your Spouse Aren’t on the Same Page About Surrogacy

Choosing a family-building option is no easy decision. If you and your spouse have been considering your infertility options, you’ve probably had a lot of hard conversations to get you to where you are now — seriously considering gestational surrogacy.

But, what if you know that you and your spouse aren’t quite on the same page when it comes to moving forward?

First, remember this: Everyone takes their own time to grieve their infertility, and that’s entirely their right. Trying to rush your spouse into a decision they are not ready for will only backfire. You want your parenting journey together to start off on the right foot, don’t you?

If you and your spouse are in a deadlock about your next steps in the family-building process, there are some important things left for you to do. One of them is to speak with a specialist at American Surrogacy. Our team is always here to answer your questions and address your concerns about the surrogacy process. Ultimately, we want to help you make the best choice for your family, whatever that may be. Give us a call at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) to get started.

In the meantime, to help get you and your spouse on the right page, we suggest you proceed with these steps:

1. Consider Infertility Counseling.

If you haven’t already done so, you and your spouse should think about speaking with an infertility counselor. This is a professional who is well-versed in all of your infertility options and will walk you through the pros and cons of each. They will also help you and your spouse come to terms with any remaining emotions you have about your infertility process. That way, they can help you move forward with the path that is best for you.

If you have previously worked with a fertility clinic, those professionals will likely have a list of trusted infertility counselors that you might choose from. It’s important that you and your spouse are comfortable with the counselor of your choice; only then can you be honest enough to have a productive conversation about your options moving forward. Remember: Speaking with a counselor is not a sign of weakness but a sign that you and your spouse are dedicated to your future together as a family.

2. Do Your Research — Together.

When one partner isn’t as enthusiastic as another, it shows. You may be frustrated that your spouse is not committing as much time to the research and interview process as you, and you may be tempted to  blame them for dragging their feet because they haven’t done the work. However, remember that building a family is something you will do together. That will include researching and learning more about your options.

Rather than get irritated at your partner for their lack of interest, try to meet them halfway. Is there a particular option in which they are more interested than any other? Would it be more enjoyable to talk to other parents who have gone through a certain process than search through dozens of articles online? You might consider setting a plan; you’ll research gestational surrogacy, while they’ll research infant adoption. Schedule interviews with family-building professionals at a time when you are both free, and come up with a list of questions that each of you will be responsible for asking.

Little steps can play a big role in motivating your partner to get excited about any family-building options. You may find that involving an infertility counselor (see above) in this step can be helpful, too.

3. Be Honest About Your Wants and Needs.

If you are the enthusiastic partner in the relationship, it can be tempting to do anything to get your spouse on board with your plan. But, if you end up compromising too much, you may find that the things you wanted in the first place from gestational surrogacy aren’t present anymore.

Before you have your open and honest discussion with your spouse, you should both take the time to write down what is most important to you in your family-building process. This can include:

  • Genetic connection
  • Involvement in pregnancy
  • Knowledge of your child’s personal background
  • Cost
  • Timeline
  • Professionals involved
  • And more

Once you and your spouse have created two honest lists of what you want in your family-building journey, you should compare them. Without judgement or questioning, consider what you have in common, where you can compromise, and what you are uncomfortable giving up. That may bring you one step closer to finding the right family-building path for you.

4. Take Time to Reevaluate.

At the end of the day, choosing a family-building path is not a decision to be made lightly. As much as you prepare and discuss your options, it may simply take time for you and your spouse to grieve your infertility struggles and truly be open to a nontraditional family-building method such as gestational surrogacy. That’s completely okay.

Many intended parents feel rushed when contemplating their family-building options, especially if they have already spent years on unsuccessful infertility treatments and want a child as soon as possible. However, we encourage intended parents to take a deep breath and, if necessary, take a small break from their family-building journey if they need to. Sometimes, you are able to see much clearer when you’re not in the midst of the emotions that come with infertility and family-building. This time may also help your spouse reevaluate their opinions. They may even come to a realization during this time that gestational surrogacy is right for your family after all!

Wherever you and your spouse are at in your family-building journey, remember that American Surrogacy’s team will always be here for you. If you are interested in gestational surrogacy, but your spouse isn’t yet on board, we are happy to provide educational materials about our program to help them learn more. We can also provide references to trusted infertility counselors, should you need them.

Addressing Gamete Donors in Family Tree Assignments

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

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

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

1. Consider whether it’s worth including.

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

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

2. Ask your child about their thoughts.

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

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

3. Use an alternative family tree design.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Tips for Bonding with Your Baby After Birth

Intended parents often have a lot to worry about during the surrogacy process — whether they will find the right surrogate, whether their embryos will implant, whether their surrogate will have a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

But, there’s another worry that some intended parents have after the whole journey is done — whether they will be able to bond with their baby born via surrogacy.

Every new parent has fears of not being able to bond with their new children, but those parents who have not physically carried their children through pregnancy appear to have an instant disadvantage in this process. Biological connection or pregnancy doesn’t make a family but, for many, it can help ease the transition into parenthood.

If you’re worried about properly bonding with your child after they are born, preparation is key. Your surrogacy specialist can always offer suggestions for your stay at the hospital and following time at home to help you feel more comfortable. Remember: You are not alone in feeling the way you do.

Here are a few tips to help you bond with your child after they come into the world:

1. Use skin-to-skin contact.

The best way to bond with your child occurs immediately after birth. When babies are born, they crave contact with a strong, warm human body to feel safe and secure. Having skin-to-skin contact with your child directly after they are born is the easiest and quickest way to catch up on the bonding you didn’t have during their in-utero development.

Skin-to-skin contact has been linked with certain benefits:

  • Reduces an infant’s responses to painful stimuli (vaccinations, blood sampling, cord-cutting)
  • Calms babies and allows them to sleep faster during skin-to-skin contact
  • Improves physiological benefits such as improved thermoregulation, cardiopulmonary stabilization, blood glucose levels, enhanced oxygen saturation levels and more
  • Decreases separation anxiety
  • And more

Skin-to-skin contact should be a part of your surrogate’s delivery plan. This way, both parties will know what to expect once the child is delivered. Many experts recommend post-birth skin-to-skin contact to last as long as possible (at least an hour).

Physical touch will remain an important part of bonding with your child in the weeks and months to come, as well.

2. Take advantage of feeding time.

Another great opportunity for bonding with a new baby can be found during feeding time — especially if you are an intended mother who breastfeeds her child.

That’s right; intended mothers can breastfeed just as any woman who carried her own child can. It will require a certain medical protocol with your doctor, but you can share this experience with your child born via surrogacy, if you desire.

Breastfeeding gives the added benefit of skin-on-skin contact but, if you choose not to breastfeed, you can still share this contact while bottle-feeding your baby. Make sure to also share plenty of eye contact during this time, and limit distractions to have as effective a bonding experience as possible.

3. Frequently communicate and interact with your baby.

It’s important that your baby become familiar with your voice, especially because they’ve spent their entire time in utero listening to your surrogate’s voice. It may feel foolish at first, but try to narrate your activities when you’re around your child. They will automatically pay attention and be comforted, recognizing your role as their caregiver and parent.

At the same time, play with your baby every day. Not only will this encourage your baby’s brain development, but it will also provide a fun bonding experience. When you play up-close with your child, they will start to recognize your face and mimic your actions.

4. Pay close attention to your child’s needs.

It may seem obvious, but anticipating and responding to your baby’s needs will help you bond with them in a way nothing else will. After all, this is the mark of a good parent. Meeting your child’s needs will help both you and them feel fulfilled in your roles and in your relationship with each other.

Don’t worry if you don’t anticipate your child’s needs correctly every time. Parenting is a learned skill, and it may take some time to recognize a “feed me” cry from an “I’m tired” cry. Your bond, as it grows, will help you be more confident in your parenting skills.

5. Remember that bonding may take some time.

Finally, be patient with yourself. You’ve probably heard lots of stories about parents having an “instant” connection with their child after birth, but it’s totally normal to take some time to properly bond with your child. A baby is a big adjustment in your life, and being a parent can be overwhelming at first.

If you don’t feel an instant connection with your child, it doesn’t make you a bad parent. It just makes you human. Follow the suggestions from your surrogacy specialist and your pediatrician for proper bonding, and you will feel like the parent you’re meant to be in no time.

Remember: You Don’t Have to Wait Until Your Baby is Born!

Just because someone else is carrying your baby doesn’t mean that there is no bonding you can do during pregnancy. In fact, there are a few common steps that intended parents take to create a bond with their child before they even enter the world:

  • Talking to their baby, or having their surrogate play recordings of their voice during pregnancy
  • Being involved in important milestones, such as ultrasounds
  • Providing a transitional item for your surrogate during pregnancy
  • Accustoming your child to your home environment with certain music, smells and more

Remember: Your surrogacy specialist has helped many intended parents through this process, and she is available to help you through your bonding before and after birth. Don’t hesitate to reach out at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) or online to receive some more suggestions for building a bond with your new baby.