“Snowflake” Embryo Adoption: A Warning to LGBT and Single Parents

It’s becoming more and more common for intended parents to use donated embryos as part of their gestational surrogacy. For many people, it makes sense: Embryo adoption is usually much cheaper than a fresh IVF cycle, and gestational surrogacy gives a degree of control over pregnancy that private domestic infant adoption cannot.

However, embryo adoption — increasingly called “snowflake adoption” — is not for everyone. In fact, if you’re a single or LGBT intended parent, embryo adoption could likely be much harder for you than it would be for a married, heterosexual couple.

Why? Keep reading below to learn more.

The Religious Overtones of Embryo Adoption

As more hopeful parents go through the in vitro fertilization process to become pregnant, there’s been an unanticipated result: a growing number of frozen embryos being stored indefinitely. For many intended parents, the idea of discarding embryos that they worked so hard to create is emotionally difficult. And, for a group of certain intended parents, discarding embryos would be akin to “killing” frozen children.

For many reasons, leftover embryos have been donated to organizations promising to give these “snowflake babies” a chance at life with someone else desperate to become a parent. In turn, the process is frequently called “embryo adoption” — invoking the same emotions as the adoption of a child already born.

As a New York Times piece reveals, embryo “snowflake” adoption is increasingly tied to organizations affiliated with anti-abortion rights or Christian organizations — many of which receive federal funding. Whether intentional or not, many of these organizations have closely affiliated themselves with the mindset of “pro-life” advocates. In their views, donated embryos are not just cells that can become a child; they already are a child.

An intended parent need only look at advertising materials from some of the biggest embryo adoption centers to see the evidence:

  • From the National Embryo Donation Center: When couples decide that their family is complete but still have embryos remaining… they can thaw them out and let them die… Embryo adoption allows the genetic parents to give their embryos a chance for life.
  • From Nightlight Christian Adoptions: Just as each snowflake is frozen, unique and a gift from heaven, so are each of our embryo adopted Snowflake Babies. We hope to help each donated embryo grow, develop and live a full life.

For these professionals, an embryo is more than just a collection of cells; they are children waiting to be born. This viewpoint overlooks the fact that, for many intended parents, a created embryo may or may not grow into a fetus for many reasons — quality of embryo, likelihood of implantation and more.

What This Means for LGBT and Single Parents

Putting aside the never-ending controversy of that position, what does this ethical viewpoint mean for intended parents wishing to use a donated embryo in their gestational surrogacy?

Here’s the quandary: Organizations that have this view of life at conception often have specific ideas of who should be a parent — specifically, that only heterosexual couples should pursue embryo adoption.

Both the National Embryo Donation Center and Nightlight Christian Adoptions have specific requirements for hopeful adoptive parents. In the case of NEDC, only a couple of a “genetic” male and female who are married can adopt, and embryos cannot be adopted to be used in a gestational surrogacy. Similarly, Nightlight’s initial application requires a mother and father to fill out their information, and the agency’s overarching requirements necessitate that an adoptive couple have a “spiritual home environment,” among other things.

Clearly, those who don’t fit the heteronormative expectations of these adoption agencies don’t have this option with those agencies — no matter how well-prepared they are to become parents.

If you’re a single intended parent or a member of an LGBT couple, embryo adoption may not be possible for your gestational surrogacy. That’s why it’s so important to seek out LGBT-friendly adoption agencies and donor centers. Unfortunately, there is still a great deal of prejudice out there for nontraditional families, and the steps it takes to bring your new addition home may be a bit more complicated than for a heterosexual married couple.

For a more comprehensive look at requirements of embryo adoption agencies, check out the Embryo Adoption Awareness Center’s list. It’s always a good idea to speak with a professional in person to determine whether you are eligible for their embryo adoption program.

Even if embryo adoption is not a possibility for your family, there are many other paths you can take to achieve your gestational surrogacy. To learn more about them, give our surrogacy specialists a call at 1-800-875-2229(BABY). Our agency happily works with all intended parents — regardless of marital status or sexual orientation — and we’d be honored to help you bring a child into your life.

5 Steps to Take Before Pursuing Surrogacy to Build Your Family

Considering surrogacy as a way to build your family is a gigantic decision. It’s not one to rush into overnight — but how do you know that surrogacy is really right for you?

Every intended parent’s journey to surrogacy will be different, but there are a few general steps that our surrogacy specialists recommend every hopeful parent take beforehand. In our experience, those who are best prepared for the surrogacy process have usually completed these steps:

Step 1: Explore all of your family-building options.

Surrogacy is a complicated process, and it’s not one that an intended parent jumps to right away. Those struggling with infertility have many other assisted reproduction methods before gestational surrogacy, and it’s likely that a reproductive endocrinologist will recommend some of the less invasive and cheaper options first. These could include IUI, IVF and more.

On the other hands, LGBT intended parents considering gestational surrogacy should also consider adoption. Both are very different processes, but they are viable options for those looking to add to their family.

In order to know what is best for your family, you must fully understand all of the options available to you. Fortunately, the specialists at American Surrogacy are well-experienced in both the gestational surrogacy and adoption processes. You can call them at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) to learn more about the pros and cons of each.

Step 2: Be honest with your partner.

As you explore your family-building options, you need to ask yourself hard questions — and be honest with your partner when it comes to how you’re feeling.

If you’ve struggled with infertility, it’s important that you have completed grieved your dreams of a pregnancy experience before starting gestational surrogacy. Intended parents who start the surrogacy process without doing so often have to face their complicated emotions later on — which can negatively impact their relationship with their gestational carrier.

If you’re not ready to move on from infertility treatments — or if you’re uncomfortable with the surrogacy process — you need to tell your spouse. Entering into such a complicated process without being fully committed is a bad idea, and it will come back to hurt you in the end. If you’re coping with infertility, you may feel like your time to have a biological child is slipping away, but you should never rush into the surrogacy process until you and your spouse are 100 percent emotionally ready.

Step 3: Do your research.

If you think gestational surrogacy may be right for your family, research is your next step. There are a lot of options in a surrogacy journey — genetic relationship, cost, location and more — and intended parents should have a general idea of what they want before getting started.

Speak with surrogacy professionals and your reproductive endocrinologist to determine what this process may look like for you. Check out information from sites such as Surrogate.com to learn more about every aspect of the process.

At the end of your research, you should be able to answer these questions with some confidence:

  • Do you want to pursue gestational or traditional surrogacy?
  • Do you want to work with a surrogacy agency or complete an independent surrogacy?
  • Do you have a carrier in mind, or do you still need to find one?
  • What kind of program can you afford?
  • What are you looking for in a surrogate?
  • What surrogacy options are available in your state? Do you need to go out-of-state for a safe and ethical surrogacy?

Step 4: Get your funding in place.

One of the biggest hurdles for intended parents is the cost of gestational surrogacy. It’s no secret: Surrogacy is expensive. But it’s for good reason — there are a lot of complicated moving parts that require expertise and professional assistance.

As you research your surrogacy options, research your estimated surrogacy costs, too. Being aware of your financial situation beforehand will come in handy when it comes to paying your surrogacy expenses later on. When you know how much you can expect to pay, you can start fundraising and exploring your other financing options.

Learn more about affording surrogacy here.

Step 5: Interview surrogacy professionals.

If you’ve decided that gestational surrogacy is right for your family, you only have one more step before you officially get started! Finding the right surrogacy professionals for your surrogacy goals is the final thing to do.

There are a lot of choices when it comes to surrogacy professionals. You can choose to complete an independent surrogacy with only a lawyer and a fertility clinic, or you can work with an experienced surrogacy agency every step of the way. Which you choose will be up to you. How much responsibility do you wish to take during your surrogacy process? How comfortable are you with the requirements of the process?

We encourage all intended parents — whether they’re considering an independent surrogacy or an agency-assisted surrogacy — to speak with a surrogacy agency such as American Surrogacy. That way, you can learn more about the services an agency can offer and what steps you would need to take without professional assistance. Only then can you can make the best choice for your family.

Get answers to all of your questions about surrogacy by contacting our specialists today. We are here to give you all the information you need, whatever decision you end up making for you and your spouse.

A Letter to Hopeful Mothers on Mother’s Day

Dear Intended Mothers,

For many of you, today is a hard day. While many of your loved ones will be celebrating their Mother’s Day surrounded by children, you may be spending another Mother’s Day with only your dreams of motherhood. It’s an incredibly tough time. It’s hard to celebrate or look forward to something that has brought you so much pain in the past.

You may or may not have your own mother to celebrate with on this day. As comforting as her presence can be, it may not fill the hole in your heart. It’s still waiting for a little bundle of joy.

While you may not feel like it, today is about you, too. Hopeful mothers deserve just as much celebration as those who already have a child in their lives. Goodness knows you’ve put as much (or more) effort into getting pregnant as any other woman.

On this emotionally complicated day, however, it’s important to put yourself first. You’ve been through a lot to get to this point, and there is no requirement that you put on a brave face for your friends and family. Cry, if you need to. Treat yourself to something special. Get as far away from mothers and children as possible. Do what you need to do to keep yourself happy.

We know how tough this day can be for intended mothers. As you go through your Mother’s Day weekend, remember this:

  • You are still a mother if you didn’t give birth to your child.
  • You are still a mother if you have no biological relationship with your child.
  • You are a strong beautiful woman, and infertility can’t take that away from you.
  • You will be a wonderful mother, whether you have a child next year or years from now.
  • You are still a worthwhile person, even if you never end up having children.

Mother’s Day is a day fraught with emotions — good and bad. You don’t need to be happy about this day if you can’t find it in you. Remember: You are not alone. 1 in 8 American couples cope with infertility struggles. There are millions of other women across the country — and across the globe — who are feeling the same thing as you. If you can, take solace and strength from that knowledge.

American Surrogacy and our surrogacy specialists understand the complicated emotions that come with Mother’s Day. We are always here to answer any of your questions about surrogacy or to be a shoulder to lean on whenever you need us. Don’t hesitate to reach out online or call 1-800-875-2229(BABY) anytime.

Whatever your Mother’s Day brings you, know that you are special, you are loved, and we are here for you.

-The Team at American Surrogacy

Can Intended Parents Experience Postpartum Depression?

You probably know that some gestational surrogates can experience postpartum depression. The bombardment of hormones rushing through her body (coupled with the potential emotional stressors such as not returning home with a baby) can cause this condition, which usually goes beyond mild “baby blues.”

But did you know that the new parents of a surrogacy-born child can also experience a kind of postpartum depression that’s often just as severe, even though they didn’t give birth?

All New Parents Can Experience Forms of Postpartum Depression

Even though they’re not subjected to the hormonally-triggered changes that gestational surrogates are, new parents who have welcomed a child via surrogacy can just as easily suffer from post-surrogacy depression. This is an experience that’s commonly shared by new parents who have welcomed a child via adoption, too. Many of these parents are surprised to find that they’re experiencing a form of postpartum depression — without ever having given birth to their child.

You may find yourself in a similar situation — one in which you’re surprised or are even briefly in denial that you could be experiencing postpartum depression without giving birth. However, this is not uncommon for any new parent, regardless of how your family came to be.

That’s because many of the causes of postpartum/post-surrogacy/post-adoption depression seem to be non-biological. Instead, they are a result of other common stressors.

Why You?

Experiencing post-surrogacy depression can be uniquely affecting for new parents who have welcomed a child via surrogacy. You’ve likely had to work harder than most to have this child. You’ve probably been waiting for this moment for a long time, so the fact that you don’t feel like you’re “supposed to” can be even more devastating, because you’ve had to fight especially hard to become a parent.

You may be experiencing some difficulties bonding with your child. While this isn’t exclusively experienced by parents to surrogacy-born children, it’s not an uncommon obstacle in early days, and it can feed into a cycle of depression for you.

Many new parents, regardless of how they have a child, struggle with their new reality and this new person in their life. Parents are exhausted, overworked and emotionally fragile with worry for their young child.

Parents who had their child via surrogacy (or adoption) in particular have recently experienced a long and grueling emotional journey. Now that it’s over, some parents are surprised to find that it’s hard to return to normalcy after these emotional rollercoasters.

Ultimately, you need to be gentle and forgiving toward yourself for experiencing post-surrogacy depression. You’re certainly not alone, and there’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of.

What Are the Symptoms?

People experience depression in different ways, but some of the most common symptoms of postpartum depression for new parents include:

  • Depression and mood swings
  • Excessive crying
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Loss of appetite or eating too much
  • Intense irritability and/or anxiety
  • Difficulty bonding with the baby
  • Avoidance of the baby
  • Obsessive worrying about the baby or fixations on small anxieties
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby

Sometimes, the person experiencing the postpartum depression isn’t the one who first notices the changes in themselves. A friend or family member is often the first person to spot changes in mood or behavior.

If someone you love has suggested that you might be experiencing post-surrogacy depression, listen to what they have to say. If you feel that someone you know might be suffering from post-surrogacy depression, gently reach out and ask how they’re feeling.

Not sure what a normal post-surrogacy recovery should be like? Contact a surrogacy specialist at American Surrogacy.

Reading the stories of others who have battled postpartum depression, particularly those who have experienced it after going through IVF, surrogacy, or adoption, can sometimes bring comfort to new parents via surrogacy and also help them recognize symptoms in themselves.

What Can You Do to Treat Post-Surrogacy Depression?

You may need to try a few options to find what works best for you, but there are a number of ways to help ease the symptoms of post-surrogacy depression, including:

  • Talking to your loved ones. Lean on them for emotional support, as well as practical support for things like taking care of the baby when you need a short break.
  • Counseling or therapy. Reach out to your American Surrogacy licensed social worker or contact a therapist, preferably one who has experience with postpartum depression and surrogacy.
  • Many people are hesitant to try medications like antidepressants or antianxiety medications, but for some, even a low dose can help get you back in balance. Talk to your doctor.
  • Talking to people who have been in your shoes. Find support groups with parents to surro-born babies and ask them about their experiences with post-surrogacy depression. It can be helpful to talk with people who have had similar experiences.

Continuing to care for yourself physically, even when it feels difficult, will also do a lot to improve your mental and emotional state. Exercise regularly, stay hydrated, eat healthy and take moments to relax or meditate. These can seem low-priority as a new parent, but caring for yourself physically can help keep some of the minor symptoms of post-surrogacy depression at bay and help you to continue caring for your family.

If you ever experience suicidal thoughts, or thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, please call 1-800-273-8255 immediately.

Remember that any new parent can experience forms of postpartum depression, including parents via surrogacy. This is something that affects many people, and it’s not something you need to experience alone. Contact American Surrogacy at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) if you ever need to connect to more resources to help with post-surrogacy depression.

5 Things to Think About If You’re Considering LGBT Surrogacy

In many ways, the experience of deciding to become a parent is a universal one. It involves a serious reflection upon your lifestyle and your hopes and goals as a parent. You have to prepare for your new arrival and get ready for the way that your life will soon change — for the better!

However, there are extra steps that must be taken when nontraditional family-building methods are used — and when would-be parents may not meet heteronormative “ideals” for raising a child. If you are an LGBT intended parent considering surrogacy, you probably have a long list of things to consider before moving forward with this family-building process.

We always encourage anyone considering surrogacy — whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity — to talk with our surrogacy specialists at 1-800-875-2229(BABY). They can answer whatever questions you have and help you decide whether surrogacy is right for your family.

Every family’s situation is different, and what’s important to you in your family-building process will likely be different from that of another family. Still, there are a few important things we suggest LGBT intended parents think about before starting their gestational surrogacy journey:

1. Gamete Donation

By design, any LGBT intended parent who wishes to pursue gestational surrogacy will need a gamete donation — either a donated egg or sperm cell, usually combined with their own genetic material. This is a big decision to make; finding a biological parent for your child can be stressful and involve some big choices. It’s a good idea to start your search for a gamete donor before you even start your surrogacy journey.

Consider contacting a gamete bank early on in your family-building process. If you have a partner, make it a mutual experience of researching banks and donors to find the one that works for you. Our specialists highly recommend using an identified donor only; an anonymous donor can cause identity issues for your child as they grow up.

If you can secure a gamete donation before your surrogacy process begins, it will likely cut down on the time spent preparing for your gestational surrogacy. You’ll be one step closer to having the child you’ve always dreamed about!

2. Response from Others

While it’s no one’s business but yours and your partner’s, your family-building process will likely become a topic of discussion among friends, family and even strangers. Everyone has an opinion on which family-building path is the “best” one. When you announce you are pursuing gestational surrogacy, be prepared for insensitive and ignorant questions and potential pushback.

People may ask, “Why don’t you just adopt?” as if adoption is as simple as going to an agency and “picking out” a child. They may ask intrusive questions about whose gamete is being used to create the embryo, or what kind of role your gestational carrier will play in the process. Remember that you don’t owe anyone an explanation when it comes to this personal journey, but you should be prepared for how to respond. If you feel comfortable doing so, treat these comments as learning opportunities for your loved ones.

3. Raising Your Child

Being a parent in and of itself is challenging. Being an LGBT parent adds extra complexities. While society’s acceptance of LGBT individuals is constantly progressing, there will always be the potential for prejudice and intolerance for those who don’t fit into the heteronormative image of a family. Unfortunately, it’s possible that your child will be the subject of some negative and insensitive comments as they grow up.

It’s important that you normalize your family makeup to your child from the moment you bring them home, as well as give them the tools to respond to questions and comments from peers during their childhood. Remind them that families can look many different ways, and there is nothing bad about the way that their family is built.

At the same time, you will also need to prepare for raising a child born via surrogacy. You’ll need to normalize and explain their birth story from a young age. In age appropriate ways, you’ll also need to explain the concept of a gamete donor and support them in whatever path they want to take regarding their biological parent (whether that’s meeting them, contacting them, etc.). Your surrogacy specialist can always provide guidance for these conversations, should you need it.

4. Local Surrogacy Laws

While adoption is now a protected family-building method for all LGBT individuals, this is not the case with surrogacy. Because surrogacy is a process regulated by individual state laws, certain states may make it incredibly difficult for LGBT intended parents to safely pursue gestational surrogacy. LGBT intended parents should specifically search out an LGBT-surrogacy-friendly state for their family-building process.

American Surrogacy can help. We can match you with a gestational carrier in a state where you will have the necessary legal protections to establish your parental rights, whatever your personal situation.

5. What’s Right for You

Finally, the biggest thing to consider before pursuing surrogacy as an LGBT intended parent is whether this family-building method is truly right for you. There are no clear answers to this question; it will involve you and your spouse thoroughly examining your personal desires and evaluating your ability to cope with the financial and emotional challenges of surrogacy. You have a few ways you can add a child to your family, and we encourage you to consider all of them before deciding what is right for your family.

Our surrogacy specialists are always available to help. They can answer whatever questions you may have and even discuss the pros and cons of adoption and surrogacy for LGBT intended parents such as you. We know this decision-making process can take some time, so please feel free to reach out early in your journey for the support and information you need. Good luck!

Switching Surrogates: Is It Possible?

In an ideal surrogacy situation, intended parents and their gestational carrier “click” from the very first time they meet. They share the same goals and preferences, are excited to start a relationship with each other, and are committed to the challenges and rewards of their upcoming surrogacy journey together.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

For reasons both in and out of their control, sometimes intended parents find that their gestational carrier is not the perfect match they thought she was. This can be an incredibly difficult situation to be in; you’ve already become attached to the idea of your surrogate and you are one step closer to having the child you have always dreamed about. It can be devastating to start back from square one with another surrogate.

Because it’s such a personal process, there is really no right or wrong when it comes to switching surrogates after starting your family-building journey. However, there are some important things you’ll need to consider if you find yourself in this kind of situation.

Having a surrogacy professional by your side can make all the difference. If you are wondering about the logistics of switching surrogates, or you’re not sure if looking for a new surrogate is the right choice for you, don’t hesitate to reach out to your surrogacy specialist. They can guide you through this complicated time.

Why Would I Need to Find a New Surrogate?

Sometimes, it’s hard to imagine having to switch surrogates until it happens to you. Maybe you’ve been blessed with a great surrogacy match from the very beginning, or maybe your surrogacy professional has spent a lot of time narrowing down prospective surrogates to find the perfect match. You may wonder why people would ever feel the need to completely start over in their family-building journey.

Every intended parent is different, but here are some reasons that some people find themselves looking for a different surrogate:

  • The surrogate doesn’t pass her initial screening. In some situations, a woman that seems perfect on paper won’t pass her medical or psychological screenings. This may happen because she lied on her application materials or a previously unknown factor interferes with her ability to be surrogate.
  • The surrogate becomes pregnant with her own child. While a surrogate undergoes her medical protocol, her contract stipulates that she must refrain from sexual intercourse. Sometimes women don’t follow those rules and accidentally become pregnant before the embryo transfer procedure. In other situations, a woman who is in the very early stages of the surrogacy process (and has not yet signed her contract) accidentally becomes pregnant.
  • Multiple embryo transfers fail. In an ideal surrogacy, a surrogate will become pregnant upon the first embryo transfer. However, there are situations in which multiple embryo transfers fail. Just like intended parents, surrogates can develop unexplained secondary infertility, and intended parents may be forced to find another woman to carry their child.
  • The surrogate and intended parents develop irreconcilable differences. Sometimes, situations and relationships change. Ideally, all of these issues are hammered out before the contract negotiation stage — but, if something arises during this negotiation that hasn’t been discussed before, it can be a deal-breaker for both parties.
  • The surrogate experiences major life changes. A woman who started surrogacy knowing it was 100 percent right for her may experience unexpected changes in her situation that now makes the journey impossible. Perhaps her spouse loses their job, her family is relocated to another area, or a close family member gets sick. Sometimes, things are just out of her control and require her to end her surrogacy journey.
  • The intended parents have a gut feeling that something is wrong. In other situations, it’s hard to pinpoint an exact reason why intended parents want to look for a new surrogate. If you have a feeling something is “off” about your surrogate, listen to your gut.

What to Consider Before Asking for a New Surrogate

If something happens that leaves you thinking, “I want a new surrogate!” it’s easy to get worked up and panic about the future of your surrogacy process. However, it’s important to note that the first thing you should do is take a deep breath. Jumping to conclusions and making big decisions without forethought can add a lot of time and effort to your family-building journey.

Before you start the search for a new surrogate, ask yourself this:

  • Have you talked to your surrogacy specialist? When you’re working to bring a child into the world, the smallest things can sometimes seem like huge roadblocks. When you talk to your surrogacy specialist about the problems you’re having, they will be able to determine whether they are good reasons for finding a new surrogate or can be solved with a little communication. Your surrogacy specialist can also play a key role in mediating your conversation with your surrogate, if need be.
  • Have you signed a contract, or has your surrogate started medical protocol? If the answer is yes, the process of finding a surrogate will be much more involved and add a great deal of time to your surrogacy journey. Your surrogacy contract will need to be voided before you do anything else. If the answer is no, it will be a bit easier to start your search for a new surrogate, although it is best done with the assistance of your surrogacy professional.
  • Are these issues covered in your surrogacy contract? A contract is a great resource for clearing up disagreements. The surrogacy attorneys involved will have made notes about all kinds of situations you may have never imagined, and your disagreement or concerns may be alleviated by what your contract details for this kind of situation.
  • Can the issues be solved with open conversation? Unfortunately, miscommunication can be common during the complicated process of surrogacy, especially if you and your gestational carrier live in different states. It’s easy to jump to conclusions, but we encourage you to first try to talk it out with your gestational carrier. You may find that your worries are completely unfounded!
  • Are you ready for the added time of finding another gestational carrier? Sometimes, surrogacy matches just aren’t what intended parents expect. This can be disappointing; you deserve the best surrogacy partner for your family-building journey. However, remember that no one is perfect, and individual surrogates may have some flaws. Before you start searching for a new partner, remember that it takes time to find a gestational carrier. Switching surrogates can add months or even years to your journey. Think about this hard before making any important decisions.

If you are having trouble with your surrogacy relationship, don’t forget that your surrogacy specialist is always there to help. Call our offices at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) today to learn more about our process of finding you the perfect surrogate.

4 Things to Consider About Surrogacy After Adoption

You love your adopted child, more than anything in the world. In fact, you don’t even think of them as “adopted” — they’re your child as much as any biological child is, and you wouldn’t change the way they came into your life for anything in the world.

Perhaps you’ve pondered the idea of adding another child to your family for a while. And, at this point in your life, adoption may not be the right answer. Perhaps, this time, you’re ready to try surrogacy as an alternative family-building method. You’re probably pretty excited — but you probably also have a few concerns about adding a surrogacy-born, biological child to your family after already adopting.

We know how complicated this situation can be. Choosing a way to build your family is never easy, and we know that both surrogacy and adoption come with their own pros and cons. Fortunately, here at American Surrogacy, our specialists have experience with both family-building methods, and we’re happy to help you decide which path is best for you.

You can always call our specialists at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) to discuss these options and what they will mean for your family. In the meantime, learn a little bit more about pursuing surrogacy after adoption below.

What to Consider Before Choosing Surrogacy After Adoption

The desire to have a biological child is one that many people share. Even if you’ve initially grieved the loss of having a biological child in order to adopt, you may still be curious about what having a biological child would be like. So, now that surrogacy is an option for your family, you may be considering it.

It’s 100 percent normal to have conflicting emotions when pursuing surrogacy after adoption. Like all nontraditional family-building processes, it’s not always an easy path — but being prepared can go a long way in making sure your journey is as positive as possible.

Here are some things you should think about before you even begin:

1. Your Reasons for Choosing Surrogacy

For many people, gestational surrogacy is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If you are at a point in your life where this path is right for your family, you may think you “have” to take it, because when else will you get the chance? However, surrogacy is a complicated emotional process (just like adoption), and it’s not something that your family should rush into without thinking hard about the pros and cons.

It’s no secret that one of the biggest reasons for pursuing gestational surrogacy is a biological connection to a child. But, if you’ve already adopted a child, you should have properly grieved that dream. If you haven’t, and you pursue surrogacy because of a long-buried desire to have a biological child, it may cause problems in your future relationships with your children — biological and adopted.

It’s a good idea to speak to a surrogacy specialist before starting to make sure your reasons are good ones for pursuing surrogacy after adoption. Other reasons intended parents choose to follow this path are:

  • Legal uncertainty with the adoption process in their area
  • A desire to be involved in their child’s development from conception
  • Upcoming life changes (such as moving or birthdays) that can make adoption difficult
  • Remaining embryos and the desire to give their child a sibling

Often, there are a few factors that lead to intended parents pursuing surrogacy after adoption — and that’s okay. It’s just important that you are aware of these motivators and exactly what they reveal about your family’s current state.

2. Explaining Your Choice to Your Child

When you have an adopted child, you have to commit to celebrating where they came from.  Even though they are not biologically related to you, you love them just as much as you would any other biological child.

When you decide to have a child via surrogacy, it can seem contradictory to what you’ve told your child all their life — that genetics don’t matter. Depending on the age of your child, they may have a negative reaction to the news that you are having a biological child. They may be worried that you will prefer your biological child, that they were simply a “placeholder” until the biological child came along, etc. Without proper preparation, this conversation can quickly go south.

Your surrogacy specialist can always offer tips on how to handle this conversation, but you must be prepared for some difficult conversations now and in the future. It may take time for your child to warm up to the idea of a new sibling and gestational surrogacy, and you will need to be patient with them. Don’t just assume that your older children will be automatically well-adjusted when you pursue surrogacy after adoption.

3. Celebrating All of Your Children Equally

Similarly, when your surrogate is pregnant, a lot of your time and attention will go to her and your developing child. This can be stressful for any older child but especially for children who are adopted. Because they weren’t able to see how excited you were while waiting for them to come into your life, they may think your excitement about your biological child is greater — and that they are not important.

Whether adopted or not, children can have difficulties adjusting to younger siblings. You’ll need to expect those difficulties and consider the nuances of having a biological and an adopted child in the same household. Make sure to focus time on your older child during pregnancy and after the new baby is home; continue to celebrate their adoption and emphasize the fact that you will love both them and their sibling equally, no matter where they came from.

4. Other People’s Responses

While you’ll need to pay close attention to your own household’s conversations, you will likely also experience some insensitive comments when you announce you are pursuing surrogacy after adoption. You can anticipate that many people will question you about the genetic makeup of the child you’re trying to have via surrogacy. Unfortunately, this will often result in the question, “Will it be your ‘real’/‘own’ child?”

This is incredibly harmful language, and it may even be used in front of your adopted child. It’s important to be ready with your own responses that nullify their implications (that adoption is not a “real” family-building method) and celebrate your older child’s adoption story.

At the same time, you may get judgmental comments from those who see you pursuing surrogacy as a way to “make up for” choosing adoption for your older child. They may shame you for your family-building choice, asking you why you didn’t “just adopt” again.

It can be hard to feel like you’re “darned if you do, darned if you don’t” when it comes to choosing between adoption and surrogacy to bring another child into your home. If you feel comfortable doing so, take this as an opportunity to educate about gestational surrogacy and adoption — and why certain parents may choose one option over another. But, remember that you don’t owe anyone outside of your immediate family an explanation as to why you chose the path you chose. The only thing that matters is what is right for your family.

What Diet Rules Can I Make for My Surrogate?

As an intended parent, you want what is best for your future child. This involves a crucial step: selecting the woman who will carry your child for the first nine months of their existence. You know that every gestational carrier has to meet certain requirements before being matched with you — but what if you have other requirements you want your surrogate to meet?

It’s completely normal for intended parents to have preferences when it comes to their gestational carrier. In many cases, your surrogacy specialist will work closely with you to match you with the perfect surrogate for your situation. Did you know that you will actively be involved in this search? That’s right — you will play a key role in finding the woman to carry your child.

Intended parents have a lot of questions when it comes to what they can specify in their gestational carrier, but one request seems to be trending in the recent years.

Can I set specific diet restrictions for my surrogate?

In the article below, we’ve delved a little more into this topic. However, the best person to talk to about your particular surrogate preferences will always be your surrogacy specialist. Don’t hesitate to reach out today to learn more.

Can I Request a Vegetarian or Vegan Surrogate?

There are a variety of trending diets today: keto, Whole30, carb-free, and more. Two of the most popular are vegetarian and vegan diets. For various reasons — including ethical and health — an increasing amount of people commit to eating no meat or animal products in their daily diet.

If you’re an intended parent who commits to one of these diets, you likely have plans to raise your child on the same diet as they grow up. It may also be important to you that you hire a surrogate who shares your diet preferences. Know this: It is certainly possible to find a vegetarian or vegan surrogate, but it may require extra work and patience on your part.

As “trendy” as they may be, vegetarian and vegan diets are still fairly rare — only 5 percent of Americans are vegetarian, while 3 percent are vegan. For this reason, it will likely take longer to find a surrogate who already has this kind of diet restriction, as the percentage of women who choose to become surrogates is already low among the population.

In terms of finding a vegan or vegetarian surrogate, it’s much more likely for you to be matched with a woman who already practices this diet than for you to matched with someone and then request they change their diet. A diet change such as veganism or vegetarianism is a big commitment; remember that many surrogates have children and spouses who may or may not be able to share those diet restrictions, and it can make her life much harder if she is required to completely change her diet when she is already giving up a great deal to be your gestational carrier.

One of the best ways to find a surrogate who meets your diet preferences will be searching for one on your own. Working with an agency is possible, but it may take longer for your surrogacy specialist to find a surrogate who shares all of your other preferences, too.

For more information on how many vegan or vegetarian gestational carriers work with American Surrogacy, please contact a surrogacy specialist today.

What Diet Rules Can I Make for My Surrogate?

This topic brings up another relevant issue: a surrogate’s overall diet. When you are an intended parent, you don’t have the degree of control over your baby’s development as you would if you were carrying your child yourself. It’s normal to be frustrated and want to make sure your surrogate is having the healthiest pregnancy possible — which is why you may wonder what kind of diet and lifestyle rules you can have your surrogate abide by.

When it comes to diet, there is one important rule that every gestational carrier must follow: Eat a healthy diet that promotes the growth of the child inside of her. This includes getting her daily servings of fruits and vegetables and necessary vitamins and minerals. It also includes her required prenatal medication. All of this is part of her “healthy pregnancy” and will likely be detailed in the contract she signs with her intended parents.

Any additional dietary needs or restrictions will also need to be highlighted in the contract, as well — but the contract shouldn’t be the first time these issues are brought up. While they may seem small, these topics play an important part in the matching process. Your surrogacy specialist will make sure your match conversation with a potential surrogate includes your desires for her diet during pregnancy, which means a surrogate must be on board with these dietary changes before a match is even made. Then, the details will be solidified with your surrogacy contract.

It can be stressful for intended parents to think about their surrogate’s diet and lifestyle. Often, it can be stressful enough that they wish to detail every “can” and “can’t” in a surrogate’s contract. However, remember that the woman who carries your baby is just as dedicated to your child’s health as you are. She likely will already have plans for a healthy diet and lifestyle during her pregnancy, which means you will need to have a certain degree of trust and faith for her decision-making as your surrogate. Micromanaging her life may put you at more ease, but it can also negatively affect your developing relationship.

So, if you have any questions or concerns about your future surrogate’s diet and lifestyle, your first point of contact will always be your surrogacy specialist. They will always be the best person to explain their policy on these details and can help you find the surrogate that is perfect for your family-building journey, whatever your preferences may be.

What to Expect at the First OB Visit in Your Surrogacy

Prior to your surrogate’s first visit with her obstetrician (OB), she and you will have primarily worked with your fertility clinic, which will be very familiar with the surrogacy process. But your surrogate’s OB may have never experienced a surrogate pregnancy before and may not know what to expect. You and your surrogate may not know what to expect, either!

We know how confusing this time can be, which is why we’ve answered some of your biggest questions about prenatal appointments in gestational surrogacy journeys below.

What the Average OB Experience Is Like

The first OB visit generally occurs between 8 and 12 weeks of pregnancy. The surrogacy process won’t affect this first OB visit much, although the doctor may ask a few questions about gamete donors, if applicable.

If you’ve never experienced one before, a prenatal visit can be a little scary. Here’s what happens in the standard first trip to an OB for surrogates, depending on the week of pregnancy and the doctor’s recommendations:

  • The surrogate’s health and vitals will be checked, and she’ll be asked a lot of questions to make sure her first trimester is going well so far.
  • Your surrogate may receive a full physical, so you’ll need to step out and give her some privacy.
  • Your surrogate will have her blood drawn to test for fetal abnormalities.
  • There may also be a urine test, a pap smear, or other tests to check fetal and maternal health.
  • A transvaginal ultrasound may be performed to evaluate early development.
  • You may be able to hear the baby’s heartbeat.
  • The doctor will review the next steps and schedule the next routine appointment.
  • You and your surrogate will sign a lot of paperwork, usually HIPPA consent forms to release medical information. Most of this paperwork will be completed by your gestational carrier.

The first visit to the OB consists mostly of the doctor asking questions, some of which may be rendered inapplicable as a result of the surrogacy process. This is usually an exciting time for surrogates and intended parents alike, so enjoy the moment together!

How to Prepare for Your Surrogate’s First OB Appointment

These five steps may help you navigate your first visit together at the OB:

Step 1: Jointly Decide How Much You’ll Participate in Your Surrogate’s Pregnancy

You’ve probably already talked about this when you created your surrogacy contract together, but you’ll need to have an honest conversation with your surrogate about how much of your involvement she feels comfortable with during the pregnancy and about how much you’d like to participate, if possible.

Not all intended parents accompany their surrogate to her first OB visit — maybe they’re unable to due to distance, or maybe the surrogate feels more comfortable going to this appointment without them. Regardless, you’ll have the rest of your child’s life to participate in important milestones, so missing the first OB visit certainly isn’t the end of the world.

Step 2: Talk to the OB Before the Visit

This may require leaving multiple messages, talking to several nurses and playing phone tag, but it’s important that everyone involved (especially the doctor who’ll be overseeing the surrogate’s care) knows about your surrogacy partnership, and is aware of everyone that will be attending the appointment. The OB may need to talk to the patient (your surrogate), as well as you, prior to this visit.

If they’re prepared for intended parents and the surrogate, plus her spouse (or whoever might be attending the doctor’s visit), then they’ll be better prepared to do their own job of walking you through what comes next in your surrogate’s pregnancy.

Step 3: Be Prepared for Some Insensitivity

Not everyone at the OB’s office will be aware of your surrogacy partnership. Even those who are aware may slip up and say things that are insensitive. Try to be patient and understand that out of the many pregnancies this office sees daily, surrogate pregnancies are rare.

Remember that you’re in this together with your surrogate. People may congratulate her on “her” baby or ask her unwelcome questions about surrogacy. Remember that both of you will likely be subject to uncomfortable moments, but that you’ll get through those moments together.

Step 4: Remember that Conflicting Feelings Aren’t Unusual for IPs

It’s not uncommon for intended parents to have complicated feelings throughout a surrogate pregnancy, and these feelings may be especially heightened at your first OB visit. You may:

  • Feel jealous that your surrogate is the one experiencing this visit with the doctor.
  • Grieve that you’re unable to carry your baby.
  • Be hurt or feel awkward when office staff ask questions or make assumptions about the baby’s genetic background.
  • Feel frustrated that you’re not in control of the pregnancy and your baby’s health and protection.
  • Be scared that you’ll lose the baby, especially if you have experienced previous pregnancy loss.

These types of emotions are usually coupled with the excitement, joy and nervousness that is typical of parents in an OB’s office. If you need to talk to someone, remember that you can always turn to your American Surrogacy specialist for support.

Step 5: Your Surrogate May Look to You

Surrogates have their own emotional support systems, but they’re doing this to complete your family. They want to make sure that you enjoy this appointment at the OB, too.

This appointment is a good opportunity for you to grow closer together and to remind your surrogate of how much you appreciate her and how much you’re looking forward to meeting your baby. Some ways to affirm your excitement to your surrogate can include:

  • Going out to lunch before or after your appointment together
  • Bringing her a little gift, like a card or a pregnancy pampering kit you put together
  • Giving her a hug
  • Taking a photo together to mark the occasion
  • Showing her something you plan to give to the baby, or telling her about name options
  • Or simply telling her how excited you are and how happy you are to have her in your life.

Seeing that you’re excited is what makes surrogacy worthwhile to surrogates!

Remember that if you have any questions about the medical processes of surrogacy, including the upcoming OB appointments, you can always call American Surrogacy at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

Someone You Know Offered to Be Your Surrogate: How Do You Tell Them ‘No’?

“I’d be honored to carry your baby!” “I’d be your surrogate for free.” “Why would you go to a surrogacy agency when I could just do it for you?”

When someone you know says something like this to you, it comes from a place of love. Becoming a surrogate for someone is one of the most loving things a person can do. But identified surrogacy, — where you partner with someone you know, like a friend or family member — can come with some emotional complications and can sometimes make the process riskier for those involved.

So, how do you convey to this woman that although you’re grateful for her expression of love, you have to decline her generous offer? Here’s how:

Step 1: Thank Her!

She may be a little hurt that you’re declining, but growing your family is a big deal, and you need to do this your way.

Start by thanking her (a lot) and letting her know how much her offer means to you. Understanding where her offer to carry your child comes from can help her to feel more heard. She probably loves you, sees how much you want to have a baby and wants to help.

Your relationship with this woman is unique, so you’ll probably know best how to approach this delicate topic. Just a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Trust your instincts and your knowledge of your relationship.
  • Make sure she knows how you feel about her offering such an incredible gift to you.
  • Let her know how much you love and appreciate her.
  • Maybe offer other ways in which she can help in your journey to grow your family.

Step 2: Explain Why You Need to Decline

She may feel better if she understands the complexity of surrogacy and your reasons for declining her offer. Sometimes over-explaining can feel like a cop-out, so use your best judgment and your instincts of your relationship with this person.

There are a number of reasons why you might be turning down her offer to be your surrogate. Some of the reasons you might have, and feel the need to explain to her, can include:

  • You don’t want to jeopardize your relationship with her. The surrogacy process is an emotional one. Jealousy isn’t uncommon, finances are something that needs to be worked out in detail, things like pregnancy complications or selective termination are difficult topics you’d need to talk about, and more. All of this can put strain on even the strongest relationship.
  • She doesn’t meet the requirements. There are strict health, emotional and legal requirements for prospective surrogates, and not every woman is going to meet them. You may have greater knowledge of these requirements, so you already know she won’t be eligible for surrogacy.
  • She doesn’t have much knowledge of the surrogacy process.Becoming a surrogate, although rewarding, can be demanding, and the women who do so go into the agreement knowing what they’re in for. They’ve carefully researched the process, and they’ve signed on with an agency after being thoroughly screened and proving their commitment. Offering to become a surrogate is a kind thought, but actually committing to do so after seeking out the process is another matter.
  • You don’t want to have your surrogate present in your everyday post-surrogacy life. Feeling constantly indebted to this woman — who is likely a friend, family member or peer — would become too much if you see her on a regular basis after the baby is born. However, when you work with a surrogate that you only see occasionally, you don’t have the same kind of pressure on a relationship.
  • You know you would worry about the baby and pregnancy more often if you saw her more. Sometimes, a little distance is good in a surrogacy relationship. There’s a lot that’s out of your control in surrogacy, and if you see your surrogate regularly, it can be tempting to micromanage her pregnancy or obsess about her health. A surrogate who you see a little less can be equally stressful, but you wouldn’t have the constant visual reminder stirring up anxieties.

Step 3: Avoid Identified Surrogacy, Avoid More Hurt Feelings

If you agree to any identified surrogacy situation, you’ll have a potential for legal, financial and emotional issues. You may damage your relationship with the person who offered to be your surrogate. For these reasons and more, it’s generally recommended to avoid partnering with someone you personally know — unless you and she have discussed the process of surrogacy and your personal expectations for a long time and in detail.

While surrogacy partnerships often lead to close emotional bonds and friendships, in some ways, the process is often a little business-like. You wouldn’t think that a group of people who are excitedly joining together to have a baby would ever want to avoid emotions, but due to the by-the-book nature of surrogacy, sometimes having a surrogacy partner to whom you’re not already close can help those clinical moments feel less awkward. When you enter into a surrogacy journey with a woman you already know, your relationship will change forever — for good or for bad — and there will be no going back to the relationship you had before. Are you and your loved one prepared for that?

Turning down an identified surrogacy offer can be uncomfortable, but hopefully the woman who offered will understand that building a family is a deeply personal path and that you need to do it in your own way.

If you’re ready to match with a surrogate who shares your surrogacy goals and whom you feel a connection with, contact an American Surrogacy specialist at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).