Happy Holidays from American Surrogacy!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from American Surrogacy & American Adoptions

From all of us at American Surrogacy, Merry Christmas and happy holidays! This time of year reminds us how incredibly lucky we are to help create families through surrogacy as well as adoption at our sister agency, American Adoptions.

Every year around the holidays, our families send us cards, notes and photos. We love seeing your families get bigger, your kids grow up and hearing about how you’re all doing.

No matter how your family came to be, we’re glad to have been a part of yours. You’ll always be a part of ours!

The holidays can be a difficult time for those who haven’t completed their family yet. You can talk to a surrogacy specialist at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) or an adoption specialist at 1-800-ADOPTION if you’re ready to begin your journey to becoming a parent.

Learning About Gestational Diabetes for World Diabetes Day 2018

This Wednesday, Nov. 14, is World Diabetes Day — a day designed to bring awareness to the millions of people around the world living with different types of diabetes. As a surrogacy professional, American Surrogacy recognizes the importance of this day for many of our intended parents and gestational carriers, and we join with the International Diabetes Federation to help bring attention to this important issue.

But, because we are professionals who frequently deal with pregnant women, there is one important type of diabetes that we wish to highlight today: gestational diabetes.

What is Gestational Diabetes?

Like other forms of diabetes, gestational diabetes affects how well your cells can convert sugar — leading to a high blood sugar and other potential complications. The key difference is that gestational diabetes develops only during pregnancy.

There is no clear reason why some women develop gestational diabetes. Some doctors believe the elevated levels of hormones during pregnancy interfere with the action of insulin — the hormone that helps convert glucose into energy. Therefore, some women will experience a rise in blood sugar that can put themselves and the unborn baby at risk.

Often, pregnant women can control gestational diabetes with diet, exercise and medication. Controlling this condition is imperative; left unchecked, gestational diabetes can have serious effects on a woman’s health.

In most cases of gestational diabetes, blood sugar levels will return to normal soon after the baby is delivered. But, if a woman has previously had gestational diabetes, she is more at risk for developing it again during pregnancy or developing type 2 diabetes. Early intervention from a doctor is key to reducing the risks of this condition during pregnancy.

Who is at Risk for Gestational Diabetes?

Any pregnant woman can develop gestational diabetes, which is why a proper prenatal screening is so important in all pregnancies, including gestational pregnancies. But, there are a few important risk factors to be aware of:

  • Being over the age of 25
  • Having prediabetes or a family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Having gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy, previously delivering a baby more than 9 pounds, or having an unexplained stillbirth
  • Having a BMI of 30 or higher
  • Being of a nonwhite race

If you choose to become a gestational carrier, your reproductive endocrinologist will review your medical history and complete certain screenings to determine your risk of developing gestational diabetes during this journey.

How Does Gestational Diabetes Affect the Surrogacy Process?

Gestational diabetes can be an unpredictable condition, and some gestational carriers develop it during their surrogate pregnancies. Rest assured: Your surrogacy and medical professional will always be there to support you through this challenge, should it emerge.

But, you may be asking: If I have a history of gestational diabetes, can I still become a gestational carrier?

The answer to this question always depends upon your personal medical history. While women with type 1 and type 2 diabetes will often be disqualified from the surrogacy process, women who have had gestational diabetes may still be eligible. If your condition was successfully managed with a change in diet and exercise during your previous pregnancy, it will be more likely that a fertility clinic will approve you to move forward with this journey.

If you have a history of gestational diabetes, make sure to be honest with your surrogacy professional about your health history. Moving forward with a gestational pregnancy without acknowledging this fact can put you and the intended parents’ baby in real danger.

Diabetes affects about 9 percent of the U.S. population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. World Diabetes Day is one of the ways advocates work to spread awareness about this number — and the work being done to reduce this number in the future. We at American Surrogacy are happy to share information about this day and how you can get involved.

For more information about gestational diabetes and how it could affect your surrogacy journey, please call our specialists at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

4 Facts to Know for Gynecological Cancer Awareness Month

For many intended parents, the path to surrogacy is paved with grief, loss and seemingly insurmountable hurdles. For some, one of those hurdles is gynecologic cancer.

A cancer diagnosis can be devastating, and when a hopeful parent learns that their cancer or treatment could impact their ability to have children naturally, they must deal with the added emotional challenges of overcoming infertility. And, because infertility is sometimes still considered a taboo subject, many patients don’t get the support or understanding they need as they grieve this loss.

September is Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month and, at American Surrogacy, we want to take the time to acknowledge the struggles that many women experience when faced with this illness — especially when they’re trying to have children.

If you are considering surrogacy as a result of infertility due to cancer, know that our specialists are always here to support you and answer any questions you may have. Surrogacy is not right for everyone, but it has offered hope to many women like you.

In honor of Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month, here are five things everyone should know about cancer, infertility and their family-building options.

1. There are many types of gynecologic cancer.

“Gynecologic cancer” is a broad term that refers to cancer of the reproductive organs in women. There are many types of gynecologic cancer, including cancer of the cervix, ovaries, uterus, vagina and vulva.

2. All women are at risk.

Cancer does not discriminate. While a woman’s risk may increase with age, genetics and certain lifestyle factors, any woman can develop gynecological cancer. More than 90,000 women are diagnosed each year — in America, that’s one woman diagnosed every six minutes.

3. Women are often unaware of the signs and symptoms.

The symptoms of gynecologic cancer vary based on the type and stage of cancer. Early detection is key to treatment, so it is important to be proactive about your health. Learn the signs and symptoms of different types of gynecologic cancers, and be sure to attend routine screening appointments to catch any problems early on.

4. Gynecologic cancer doesn’t mean you can’t have children.

Not all gynecologic cancer will result in the loss of fertility. Depending on the specific type of cancer and the stage at which it is diagnosed, fertility preservation is sometimes possible.

However, even when treatment will impact a woman’s fertility, it doesn’t necessarily mean she cannot add a child to her family. She may have the option to preserve her eggs for later use in gestational surrogacy, or she may choose to use donated eggs to complete the surrogacy process. Other times, survivors pursue adoption or other another family-building option.

Of course, in these scenarios, it’s always important for women to grieve the loss of having a biological child or carrying a pregnancy themselves — but once you do work through these struggles, know that motherhood can still be an option for you.

If you are ready to begin your family-building process today, or if you would like to know more about using surrogacy to have a child after gynecologic cancer, call a surrogacy specialist today at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

Israelis Protest New Surrogacy Laws Discriminating Against LGBT Parents

Surrogacy in countries outside of the United States continues to be a complicated process — and recent developments in Israel suggest the issue isn’t getting easier anytime soon.

The government of Israel enacted a new law this week that now extends surrogacy rights to single women. However, right-wing legislators also rejected an amendment that would have included same-sex couples and allowed gay men to father children through surrogates, reported the New York Times. The decision came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reversed his support after opposition from his Orthodox coalition.

In response, LGBT activists and protestors flooded the streets this weekend to protest the decision. One gay couple marched with their children born via surrogacy in Israel, saying, “We came to support others who also want to be able to establish a family but can’t because a religious minster tells us we’re not allowed to.”

With this restriction in place, hopeful gay dads would have to complete international surrogacy, a process that can cost exorbitant amounts of money and come with many ethical and legal risks. While surrogacy in the United States does offer a safe solution, it is a process that is cost-prohibitive for many hopeful parents.

The protests in the streets of Israel indicate a growing acceptance of not only LGBT rights but of surrogacy itself in this country. One can only hope it’s also an indication of future surrogacy understanding and acceptance across the world.

Stay tuned for more reports from the New York Times on developments with this law.

If you are considering surrogacy in the United States, please contact American Surrogacy at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) for more information about this process.

Creating Three-Parent Babies: The Facts About This Controversial Procedure

It’s a well-known fact that assisted reproductive technology is advancing at a rate faster than anyone could have imagined. In one way, these advances are providing new opportunities to families facing infertility around the world. On the other hand, the rapid changes raise concerns for professionals and others. Are these changes too much too quickly?

A new report out of Kiev, Ukraine, highlights those worries. In an effort to create the healthiest embryo possible for transfer to a woman’s uterus, doctors have done the previously impossible — created an embryo with the DNA of three people, or a “three-parent baby.”

An NPR investigation describes how it works: Two eggs are fertilized, one with the egg and sperm of the intended parents, and the other with the sperm of the intended father and the egg of a donor. When the embryos are ready, a doctor extracts the DNA from the intended parents’ embryo. They also remove the DNA from the donor-egg embryo, except the mitochondrial DNA. Then, the intended parents’ DNA is inserted into the donor-egg embryo, creating a three-person embryo that contains genetic material from the intended father, the intended mother and the egg donor.

Often, using three genetic parents provides an opportunity for a healthier embryo, if the defect in the intended mother’s mitochondrial DNA has been preventing her from getting pregnant. In Kiev, out of 21 attempted procedures, 14 have failed — but the other seven women have either had “three-parent” babies or are currently pregnant.

It’s a stunning advance in reproductive technology. Foreign intended parents can complete this procedure for about $15,000. However, it is unregulated and untested, and other professionals warn against the risks of creating “three-parent” babies. They say there is no way to know how these genetic manipulations will affect children as they grow older. In other words, the cheaper cost of the procedure is not worth the medical and legal unknowns and risks.

Currently, the Food and Drug Administration prohibits this kind of genetic editing in the United States. Therefore, American Surrogacy stands with those professionals against this procedure. Until more standardized testing and screening has been done, this kind of assisted reproductive technology is simply too risky — both for the intended parents completing this procedure and the baby with three parents born from it.

We understand the appeal of “three-parent babies,” especially to give an intended mother the chance to be related to her child. However, if a woman cannot become pregnant on her own, she always has the option of gestational surrogacy — in which she can potentially be genetically related to her child, carried to term by a healthy and fertile gestational surrogate.

Unlike creating embryos with three parents, the gestational surrogacy process is a safe and legal one. Every intended parent and surrogate goes through rigorous screening to ensure this is the best path for their situation, and they are protected with an extensive, detailed surrogacy contract. Working with an agency like American Surrogacy provides more security with an experienced specialist’s guidance every step of the way.

As always, if you are interested in gestational surrogacy, you can contact our surrogacy specialists at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) today. Intended parents can also contact a fertility clinic for more guidance on which assisted reproductive technologies are possible and suggested in their situation. One thing is for sure: Until the FDA approves the process of creating “three-parent babies,” it is one that all American intended parents should make sure to avoid.

5 Things to Know About the Updated New Jersey Surrogacy Laws

As the home of the notorious “Baby M.” case, New Jersey has always had a complicated relationship with surrogacy. For many years, both traditional and gestational surrogacy contracts in this state were unenforceable — but recent developments in New Jersey surrogacy laws have now opened up this family-building process to many more intended parents and surrogates.

The amended New Jersey law introduces several new aspects. Let’s break them down:

1. Gestational surrogacy is now enforceable in New Jersey.

Before these amendments, neither traditional nor gestational surrogacy contracts were expressly permitted and enforceable by state laws. Now, if a gestational surrogacy meets certain requirements, it is enforceable by New Jersey laws.

2. Only certain expenses can be paid to a surrogate.

While this is not a “new” law, per se, it is laid out in a way that it had not been prior to this legal update. Gestational surrogacy agreements are only enforceable if a surrogacy is altruistic. Intended parents can pay for certain “reasonable” expenses of the surrogate, including legal costs and reasonable living expenses. However, gestational surrogates in New Jersey cannot be paid a base compensation.

This addition to the law reflects the standing tradition of treating surrogacy expenses as similar to those of an adoption, a practice which continues to apply to traditional surrogacy, as well.

3. Intended parents and gestational surrogates must meet certain eligibility requirements.

In order for intended parents and gestational surrogates to enter into a legal surrogacy agreement in New Jersey, they must meet new requirements:

  • Surrogate
    • Be at least 21 years of age
    • Has given birth to at least one child
    • Has completed a medical and psychological examination
    • Has retained an independent attorney for the agreement drafting process
  • Intended Parent(s)
    • Has completed a psychological examination
    • Has retained an independent attorney for the agreement drafting process

4. Gestational surrogacy agreements must follow certain steps to be deemed legal and enforceable.

New Jersey laws now have specific requirements for the way gestational surrogacy agreements must be created. First, the agreement must always be executed in writing by the gestational carrier, her spouse (if applicable), and each intended parent. Both parties (surrogate and intended parents) must be represented by separate attorneys during this process.

Before an agreement can be drafted, the surrogate and the intended parents must have completed their required screenings (see above) and be deemed fit for the challenges and rewards of the surrogacy process.

The contract must expressly state:

  • A surrogate’s intention to:
    • Undergo pre-embryo transfer and attempt to carry and give birth to a child
    • Surrender custody of the child after the child is born
    • Have the right to medical care of her choosing after she notifies the intended parent(s) in writing
  • The surrogate’s spouse’s agreement to those terms
  • An intended parent’s intention to:
    • Accept custody of the child after the child’s birth
    • Assume sole responsibility for the support of the child after birth

If an agreement meets all of these specifications, surrogacy officials will deem it enforceable and provide a safe path for the parties moving forward.

5. Intended parents can obtain a pre-birth order in a gestational surrogacy.

If a gestational surrogacy contract is enforceable, it also protects the rights of the intended parents to receive a pre-birth parentage order — regardless of their marital status or genetic connection to their child. A petition for a parentage order must include affidavits from both parties and their attorneys, as well as the medical facility that performed the embryo transfer.

After the birth of the child, the State Registrar will grant a birth certificate naming the intended parent(s) as the parent(s) of the child.

While these are the basics of the updated New Jersey surrogacy laws, the legal process of every surrogacy is unique and can hold certain considerations. The information in this article is in no way intended as legal advice; intended parents and surrogates in New Jersey should always speak with a local surrogacy attorney for more guidance on the new laws and what they mean for their surrogacy journey.

The specialists at American Surrogacy can always provide references to trusted surrogacy attorneys in New Jersey, as well as provide counseling and information if you are interested in surrogacy in New Jersey. For more information, please contact our agency today at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

How You Can Help #FliptheScript for National Infertility Awareness Week

This week, April 22–28, is National Infertility Awareness Week — a time for all people, regardless of how infertility affects them, to reflect on the current state of infertility in the U.S. and spread awareness about these struggles that do affect so many.

Organized by RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, National Infertility Awareness Week has existed since 1989 as a way to “reduce stigma and educate the public about reproductive health and issues that make building a family so difficult for so many.” In fact, 1 in 8 (or 15 percent) of couples in the United States struggle with infertility today.

This year’s theme is “#FliptheScript,” in an effort to clear up the misinformation about infertility that exists and educate the public about the true state of American infertility. It’s more than just numbers; infertility is a deeply personal experience that affects more people than many believe.

You can participate in National Infertility Awareness Week and help #FliptheScript in several ways:

1. Share your story.

For those unaffected by infertility, this difficult struggle can be hard to grasp. To help spread awareness, you can share your own story of infertility, no matter where you are in the journey. RESOLVE is accepting email submissions for posting on its website here.

But you don’t have to formally share your story online to make a difference. Take this chance to open up to friends and family who may not know about your infertility struggles, or simply promise yourself that you’ll be more open about discussing these struggles in the future. Allowing your friends to put a face to infertility — your face — can be scary but can go a long way in helping to spread awareness.

2. Get educated — and educate others.

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about infertility, as well as complicated family-building methods like surrogacy. Sharing your story and other information is only helpful if it’s accurate. That’s the only way we’ll be able to successfully #FliptheScript.

Once you know you have accurate and professional information, help others learn by sharing that on your social media platforms, hosting or joining a local awareness event and doing every little bit you can to help others learn more about infertility in the U.S.

3. Contribute to infertility research.

Infertility can still be a taboo subject in the United States, but there are organizations out there that are trying to change that. RESOLVE and its partners are working to improve the lives of Americans who struggle to build their family, either through infertility research or hosting awareness events like National Infertility Awareness Week. The more funds that goes to infertility research, the more positive solutions there will be — and the less taboo a subject infertility will be.

Even today, infertility struggles do not mean the end of someone’s hopes and dreams of becoming a parent. Increasing the access to affordable family-building options through donations and continuing research is an important part of helping people realize this.

How will you #FliptheScript this National Infertility Awareness Week? Comment below to let us know.

If you are struggling with infertility and interested in learning about surrogacy as a family-building option, please contact our surrogacy specialists at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) today.

Failure of Frozen Embryo Storage — What’s the Next Step?

Like many in the assisted reproductive technology world, American Surrogacy was extremely shocked and saddened to hear about the recent failure of two embryo cryopreservation and fertility clinics this week — putting more than 500 families’ dreams of having biological children at risk.

The Associated Press reported that a clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, and a clinic in San Francisco — both of which were storing thousands of frozen embryos — experienced failures in their storage tanks on March 4. Low amounts of liquid nitrogen in certain tanks may have damaged the cryopreserved embryos and eggs inside, and officials from the clinics are still investigating. It’s being reported as a “bad, bad, bad coincidence.”

For the families affected by these damages, it’s more than just a loss of the thousands of dollars they’ve spent on the in vitro fertilization process — it’s the loss of their opportunities to have a biological child. Knowing their loss will implement new backup measures and safety procedures for other couples may not be much of a comfort.

So, what is left for these families after their frozen embryo storage fails, and all the work they’ve put into freezing their embryos or eggs is for naught?

Fortunately, there are a few alternative family-building options still available.

Surrogacy with a Donated Gamete

Infertility is a tricky issue. While two-thirds of cases can be traced to reproductive issues from either the man or the woman in a couple, one-third of cases are either a combination of factors or un-diagnosable.

Intended parents who go through IVF and freeze embryos due to one partner’s reproductive problems could conceivably still have a biological child if their frozen embryos are compromised. They can create fresh embryos with a donated gamete. If an intended mother cannot carry a pregnancy safely to term (or if there is no intended mother), an intended parent can pursue surrogacy with that fresh embryo.

While surrogacy with fresh embryos is rarer than surrogacy with frozen embryos, medical professionals can still complete this process for those in need — such as intended parents whose plans of pursuing IVF with frozen embryos are compromised. If an egg or sperm donor is needed, a fertility clinic or donor bank can be used, and medical professionals will guide intended parents through this process.

So, why should those moving forward from the failure of freezing embryos choose surrogacy with a donated gamete?

  • It allows one intended parent to be genetically related to the baby.
  • It allows LGBT intended parents to have a genetically related child.
  • It protects an intended mother who cannot carry a pregnancy to term safely.
  • It allows intended parents to be involved with the development of their unborn baby, such as being there for ultrasounds and the birth of their child.

If you are interested in pursuing a fresh cycle transfer surrogacy with an inability to use your cryopreserved embryos, please contact American Surrogacy today. Our surrogacy specialists can discuss your situation and your options in depth to help you find the path that is right for you. Recovering from losses due to improper embryo freezing can be a difficult emotional and financial time, but our specialists are here to support you through it.

Adoption

Surrogacy is not the right family-building option for everyone, especially for intended parents who have spent thousands of dollars previously freezing embryos and are cautious about spending more on assisted reproductive technologies. It’s a valid concern. While our surrogacy program guarantees you will have a baby, there is unfortunately no guarantee as to how many rounds this at-times-tricky process can take before success is found.

However, failed freezing of embryos does not mean a couple cannot become parents. After all, parenting is less about biological connection than it is about genuine care and proper raising of a child. This is why so many great potential parents turn to adoption — knowing that love is what truly makes a family, not genetics.

Hopeful parents can either choose a foster care adoption, an international adoption, or a private domestic infant adoption to add to their family. Many who desire to adopt a baby end up choosing the last path, and our sister agency American Adoptions can guide them through this process.

Adoption involves a pregnant woman choosing an adoptive family for her baby and, typically, maintaining some kind of open adoption contact as the baby grows up.

So, why do hopeful parents choose adoption after failed embryo cryopreservation?

  • They are comfortable having no genetic connection to their child.
  • They do not wish to spend thousands more dollars on assisted reproductive technologies.
  • They want to give a child in need a loving home with their family.
  • They are comfortable with and excited to have a relationship with their baby’s birth mother.

Many adoptive families have gone through infertility struggles before deciding on adoption, and adoption specialists are trained to counsel these families through the grief of the infertility process. To talk to a specialist about whether adoption is right for you, call 1-800-ADOPTION today.

Moving forward from a loss of frozen embryos — such as in the two notable clinic failures listed above— can be an emotionally difficult thing to do. Remember, just because you don’t have any frozen embryos does not mean you can’t be a parent.

There is a family-building path out there for you. Let us help you find it.

Get to Know Program Director Angie for National Social Work Month

For those who don’t know, March is National Social Work Month, and we’re taking this chance to highlight the amazing work that our social workers do within American Surrogacy. Surrogacy is a practically and emotionally challenging process, and we are proud to count trained and certified social workers as some of the critical professionals that guide our intended parents and surrogates through this family-building process.

One of our most important social workers here at American Surrogacy is Angie Newkirk, who works with surrogates and intended parents through every step of their surrogacy journey. As program director, she oversees every surrogate and intended parent that comes through our agency and makes sure that their surrogacy process meets their personal surrogacy goals and needs.

Learn a little bit more about Angie below! And, to speak with her about American Surrogacy’s program, please call 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

Angie Newkirk, American Surrogacy Program Director

Professional Background:

LBSW-Licensed Bachelor of Social Work.

“I worked with American Surrogacy’s sister agency American Adoptions since 2000 and moved over to American Surrogacy in 2014.”

How I Got to Be with American Surrogacy:

“I live in Kansas City and, while with American Adoptions, worked with birth mothers placing their children for adoption. After five years of this, I began to work with adoptive families.  In 2014 I was asked to help build American Surrogacy. I was so excited for the opportunity to offer another way to create families.”

Why I Love Working with American Surrogacy:

“In this profession of adoption and surrogacy, you hear a lot of heartbreaking stories from people and their journey to become parents.  It astonishes me how far science has come and the opportunity available to families who choose to use a gestational carrier — whether with their own embryo or the use of an egg or sperm donor. By the time they get to me, they have had a long journey and just want to become parents; they don’t care how. While I have never experienced infertility, I have been in this field for over 15 years so I have seen and understand the struggle many people go through to become biological parents.

“Surrogates, like birth mothers, are completely unselfish. Each one I talk to loves being pregnant and almost always has a story of a family or friend who struggled to get pregnant. They want to be able to help people become parents or add to their family. I adore working with surrogates!”

A Little More About Me:

I have two kids who are 9 and 12.  Most of my time is spent watching their activities such as baseball, basketball and soccer. I am a huge Royals fan and enjoy watching them play! In my spare time I enjoy binge watching a good drama on HBO or Netflix or curling up with a good book. In 2015, we rescued a 6-year-old dog who was abused and dumped, and I have been an avid dog lover ever since. I am very passionate about animal rescue, and as my kids get older and take up less of my time, I will volunteer for local rescue organizations.”

We would like to thank Angie and all other social workers around the country, no matter what their field, for all of their hard work in helping people through difficult points in their lives and advocating for those who may not otherwise have a voice. American Surrogacy and our sister agency American Adoptions could not be possible without the loving assistance of these professionals.

25 Books About Surrogacy for Read Across America Day

Today, March 2, is Read Across America Day — and, to get in the spirit, we’ve gathered some of the best surrogacy books available to put on your reading list now and for months to come.

Whether you’re looking for books to share with your children or informational books to help you learn more about the surrogacy process, celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday with some suggestions below.

Surrogacy Books for Children

Books can be a great way to introduce the idea of surrogacy to children in an age-appropriate way. Here are some you may consider:

Surrogacy Books for Adults

If you’re looking to learn more about the surrogacy process, either as an intended parent or a prospective surrogate, you may consider these titles:

Remember, if you ever want to learn more about surrogacy, you can talk to the specialists at American Surrogacy anytime. We can answer any questions you have about this family-building process and, when you’re ready, start you on a journey to meet your personal surrogacy goals.

Contact our agency today at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) or submit our online form here.