What Role Does Outside Monitoring Play in Gestational Surrogacy?

When you prepare for the medical process of surrogacy — either as a surrogate or an intended parent — there are a lot of new, confusing terms to learn. In addition to all of the medical phrases and procedures, there may be one other phrase you’ve never heard of before: “outside monitoring.”

Any kind of “monitoring” can be scary, especially when it involves the health of a surrogate and an unborn baby. But outside monitoring is nothing to be worried about. In fact, it’s a common part of the surrogacy medical process and one that our specialists coordinate on behalf of clients all the time.

Remember: If you ever have any questions about your upcoming medical journey, you can always talk to your reproductive endocrinologist or call your American Surrogacy specialist anytime. In the meantime, we’ve answered some frequently asked questions about outside monitoring below to help you learn more.

What is Outside Monitoring?

“Outside monitoring” refers to medical screening and appointments that are not performed at an intended parent’s fertility clinic. Most pre-surrogacy medical services — including screening and embryo transfer — are completed by the intended parent’s reproductive endocrinologist for ease of recordkeeping and information-sharing, but this is not always possible, often in long-distance surrogacy partnerships. In these cases, outside monitoring is used.

Typically, outside monitoring occurs at a fertility clinic or laboratory close to the gestational carrier. Outside monitoring most often involves preparing a carrier for embryo transfer. A medical professional at this clinic will measure a surrogate’s uterine lining and confirm that her body is ready for embryo transfer with certain blood tests and ultrasounds. After these tests are completed, that medical professional will pass along the information to the intended parent’s reproductive endocrinologist, who will review the records and decide whether the embryo transfer should be scheduled.

Why is Outside Monitoring Necessary?

Outside monitoring is not necessary in every journey, but it is required in most. Because the United States is so geographically large, and because we often match surrogates and intended parents across state lines, it’s simply not feasible to have a surrogate travel to their intended parent’s clinic for every medical screening. And remember — even surrogates who match with an intended parent in their same state may have to go out-of-state to visit the intended parent’s clinic!

Outside monitoring makes the process easier for all involved. It allows a surrogate to take less time away from work and her family for appointments than if she were forced to travel to the fertility clinic for every little medical screening. It saves the intended parents money on travel and lodging costs for those visits. In short, it makes everyone involved much happier.

Don’t worry — if you’re a surrogate, you’ll still be compensated appropriately for any medical screenings completed after your contract is signed. This could include lost wages, childcare and more. Make sure you discuss this with your attorney and specialist during the legal contract stage to ensure you receive the reimbursement you deserve.

How Do You Find an Outside Monitoring Professional?

If the intended parent’s fertility clinic is not conveniently located for a surrogate, she will need to locate an outside monitoring clinic or laboratory to complete her pre-transfer screenings and tests. But, finding the right professional can be complicated, especially if this is her first experience with the surrogacy process.

Fortunately, American Surrogacy is always here to help. When you work with our agency, our specialists will help you locate the right outside monitoring clinic for your needs. If you’re a surrogate, we will help you find a clinic that is conveniently located. And, if you’re an intended parent, we will help coordinate the sharing of records and other information during these pre-transfer screenings.

If a surrogate lives in an urban area, an outside monitoring clinic will be easy to find. While some fertility clinics will not work with surrogates who are not their patients, there are many laboratories and physicians who will be happy to complete the necessary pre-surrogacy procedures.

If a surrogate lives in a more rural area, outside monitoring may be a bit more difficult to locate. If there are no nearby monitoring clinics, intended parents should be prepared to pay for additional travel and compensation costs for these procedures — especially if an outside monitoring clinic requires a long drive and an overnight stay.

Whatever your situation, know that your specialist at American Surrogacy will always be on your side. They will help coordinate the details of outside monitoring and ensure all parties are safe and provided for during this step in the medical process. While these initial steps can be inconvenient and frustrating at times, remember that they are important in the long-term process to ensure a surrogate’s pregnancy is as healthy as possible — and that a healthy baby is born at the end!

For more information about the medical process of surrogacy, or how American Surrogacy will guide you through your journey, please call 1-800-875-BABY(2229) or contact us online.

Is Sperm Donation Right for You?

There are many amazing ways to start a family.

Your options today are more abundant than ever before. Even just a few years ago, medical technology and cultural understanding of alternative family-building options through assisted reproductive technologies were much more limited.

With choices come responsibility. A plethora of options requires substantial research. This is a life-changing decision. What’s the best way to start your family? Everyone is in a unique situation, which means the answer for you is going to be personal.

As you ponder your options, you may be considering sperm donation. It can be a great option. However, it’s not right for everyone.

How can you know if it’s right for you? We’re here to help.

This article will inform you on key points of sperm donation and give you several important things to consider about this family-building option.

What Is Sperm Donation?

Sperm donation is a medical procedure in which a man donates semen to help a hopeful parent (or hopeful parents) conceive.

There are two different ways that donated sperm can be used:

  1. The sperm is injected into the intended mother, who will use her own eggs in the fertilization process.
  2. The sperm is medically paired with a donor’s or the intended mother’s eggs, and the resulting embryo is placed in a surrogate through in vitro fertilization.

As a professional surrogacy organization, American Surrogacy has helped many intended parents using sperm donation as a part of the surrogacy process. While we are not medical professionals and cannot perform the medical procedures required for sperm donation, we can provide guidance during this part of the process and help create a plan for the rest of the surrogacy process.

One of the most important parts of this process is identifying a sperm donor. There’s much to consider, like genetics, appearance, medical history, intelligence and more. We can help you identify the character traits most important to you and guide you through this life-changing decision.

If this sounds like it could be the right choice for you, you can always contact us online.

Who Might Use Sperm Donation?

Hopeful parents in many different situations may discover that sperm donation will be an important part of their family-building process.

Female same-sex couples or single female parents often use a sperm donor as a way to start a family. Additionally, heterosexual couples who, for various medical reasons, have unhealthy sperm quality and have struggled to conceive may look into sperm donation. Couples who have genetic conditions they are concerned about passing on to their child may also consider sperm donation.

Things to Consider Before Choosing Sperm Donation

If you find yourself falling into a category listed above, or are experiencing something else that has led you to sperm donation, there are several things to consider before committing to this option. Your answers to these questions will be unique to you. Take your time thinking about them before making such an important choice.

Have you studied the unique situations that come with raising a donor-conceived child?

We believe strongly that family is more than biology. We also believe it is important to be honest about the unique situations any parent will face when raising a donor-conceived child. These are not necessarily struggles or negatives, but they are special to this circumstance.

For instance, it is important to be honest with your child about how they came into the world. A child who learns they were donor-conceived later in life can deal with a lot of shock and confusion that leads to a negative self-perception. Are you prepared to have age-appropriate conversations with your child about being donor-conceived?

With sperm donation, a donor-conceived child is likely to have many biological siblings (more on this later). Have you considered this and what it could mean for your child?

There’s a lot to think about. Raising a donor-conceived child can be a beautiful and amazing journey. It will also have unique situations and circumstances.

Are you prepared for the cost associated with the sperm donation, IVF and surrogacy processes?

If you’ve been researching assisted reproductive technologies, then you already know that there is a high cost associated with the process. It is a delicate, complicated process with legal and medical components. While there are emotional elements to consider if you hope to start a family, there are also practical ones.

Are you capable of bearing the financial responsibility that comes with sperm donation, IVF, surrogacy and then the parenting journey ahead? Take an honest assessment of your finances before committing to any process.

Are you aware of the Donor Sibling Registry?

When a man donates sperm, he often donates more than once. This is why, as mentioned earlier, it is likely that any child conceived using sperm donation will have biological siblings out there in the world. This can be a beautiful situation, but it’s also very unique and can be hard to know how to approach.

Many sperm donors will register with the Donor Sibling Registry, making it possible for children conceived using their sperm to locate each other, if they wish to. This is important to be aware of and discuss; it’s a topic that will someday come up with your child.

Have you identified a trustworthy professional to work with?

American Surrogacy has a proven track record of success. We work passionately to help you fulfill your dream of starting a family. While we are unable to perform any medical aspects of sperm donation, we can provide guidance and direction throughout the process. If sperm donation will be a part of a surrogacy process, we can provide excellent services throughout.

Working with a trustworthy professional is the key to a successful sperm donation and surrogacy process. If you have more questions about sperm donation, you can contact us online at any time. You can also call us at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) now.

Is an Egg Donor Right for You?

Assisted reproductive technologies are becoming more common and accessible to those hoping to start or grow a family. We believe this is a great thing. But with availability comes important decisions, too. If you are thinking about growing your family through egg donation or surrogacy, you have a lot to consider and a very important choice to make.

This decision will play a role in shaping the future of your family. Once it’s made, it can’t be taken back. So, take your time. Gather information and research as much as you can to put yourself in the situation to make the best choice for your life. This article is meant to serve as a guide to anyone searching for answers about egg donation — a viable and increasingly common way to start a family.

If you have specific questions about your situation while you are reading, you can always contact us to speak with a professional.

What Is Egg Donation?

Egg donation is a delicate medical process that many intended parents will use to start a family. There are several people involved in this process:

  • An egg donor
  • The intended parents
  • Potentially a gestational surrogate

If intended parents decide to start a family using egg donation, they will first need to identify an egg donor. This can be done personally, but it is typically best to work with a professional. Intended parents often have specific character traits they want to see in an egg donor, and these can range from medical history to intelligence to personal appearance. An egg donor is half the equation in conceiving, so this is obviously a choice that should be made carefully.

After a donor is selected, her eggs are surgically collected. They are then paired with either donor sperm or sperm from the intended father and placed in the carrier through in vitro fertilization (IVF). The carrier may be the biological mother, or the intended parents could elect to work with a surrogate through the gestational surrogacy process.

Who Can Egg Donation Help?

People approach alternative family-building options from many different walks of life. Egg donation can help many kinds of people, such as:

If biological childbirth is not a legitimate avenue to starting a family for any reason, then egg donation via IVF or surrogacy is a route you can consider.

In most cases, an egg donation is used as a part of the surrogacy process. The only case where intended parents would use an egg donor but not a surrogate is when the intended mother is able to safely carry a baby to term, even though her eggs are not viable.

Questions to Ask Before Committing to an Egg Donor

As we said before, this is a very important decision. It will have a lasting impact on your family. Before saying “yes” or “no,” there are several things you should consider about using egg donation.

Are you prepared to raise a donor-conceived child?

We know that family is more than biology. Family is made of love. There are still differences to consider when it comes to raising a donor-conceived child, even if this isn’t a fun subject to think about. For instance, it is important, when age-appropriate, to be honest with your child about their story. This means talking about gamete donation and how they came to be. If this is kept a secret and they find out later in life, it could negatively impact them emotionally.

This, along with other unique challenges, is something you should consider.

Can you handle the additional cost of egg donation?

Egg donation is a delicate and complicated medical procedure. As such, it isn’t cheap. You are most likely already aware of the costs associated with assisted reproductive technologies as you are searching for options for your family. As you should with any other family-building option, be honest and practical about what you can and cannot afford.

Do you have clear ideas of what you are looking for in a donor?

It’s best to approach the egg donation process with a vision. What are some things you need in an egg donor? Consider genetics, medical history, blood type and more. Even an egg donor’s personality can come in to play, as personality is partly genetic.

Additionally, you should know at the start whether or not you want an anonymous or identified donor.

Have you found the right professional to work with?

Gamete donation and gestational surrogacy professionals, like American Surrogacy, can assist you in this process. While medical professionals and fertility clinics are necessary in order to perform an egg donation, we can provide as much guidance and support to you as possible. Have you found a professional with clear processes and a proven track record of success? Working with the right organization can significantly affect your experience with egg donation.

If you would like to learn more about egg donation, surrogacy and American Surrogacy’s history of success, we would love to talk. You can contact us online at any time or call 1-800-875-(BABY)2229 to learn more.

The Legal and Emotional Risks of Traditional Surrogacy

When choosing between the two types of surrogacy, traditional surrogacy may be an appealing option to many hopeful parents.

Traditional surrogacy — in which an intended parent’s or donor’s sperm is paired with the surrogate’s  egg — can appear to be an easier route, at least at first, due to its lower cost. While this is a completely understandable advantage, a deeper dive into the legal and emotional risks of traditional surrogacy reveals it to be a troubling choice for many.

The other option for intended parents pursuing surrogacy is gestational surrogacy. This type of surrogacy — when sperm and egg from the intended parents or donors create an embryo carried by the surrogate — has many safeguards in place that traditional surrogacy does not, which is why it is the preferred surrogacy option of nearly all professionals today.

If you are considering surrogacy as a family-building option, here’s what you need to know about the legal and emotional risks of traditional surrogacy.

The Legal Risks of Traditional Surrogacy

Starting a family is an emotional process. It holds the potential of your hopes and dreams. It’s easy, and totally natural, to get lost in the feelings of it all. But when you are considering something like surrogacy, you have to realize that starting a family is also a legal process.

And, when considering the legal process of traditional vs. gestational surrogacy, there are clear risks in the former.

The foremost concern that legal professionals have with traditional surrogacy is that, because of how the process works, the surrogate is the biological mother of the child. Since it is her egg that is used in the fertilization process, the child is technically her baby until consent is signed over to the intended parents. This leaves the door wide open for potential disruptions. It also adds another legal step, as intended parents sometimes need to complete a post-birth adoption once the surrogate has signed away her parental rights to the baby.

Should the surrogate become attached the baby she is carrying, the traditional surrogacy process leaves the legal option on the table for her to keep the baby. This is a serious risk.

A secondary concern, which is rooted in the same issue of biological relationship between surrogate and baby, is that the surrogate has much more power to make medical decisions during the surrogacy process without consulting the intended parents. Ideally, this is a cooperative partnership. However, traditional surrogacy allows the surrogate to go in her own direction, if she chooses to do so.

Additionally, you should know that because of these factors and others, some states have outlawed traditional surrogacy. Many surrogacy professionals will not perform traditional surrogacy, even if it is legal in their state.

The Emotional Risks of Traditional Surrogacy

The legal process does not erase the emotional aspects of family building. The two run side-by-side. After considering the legal risks of traditional surrogacy, it’s important to be aware of some emotional risks, too.

As stated above, the most concerning legal risk in traditional surrogacy is the surrogate’s biological relationship with the child. The most volatile emotional risk stems from the same fact.

If you’re an intended mother, you will be working through a lot of feelings during the surrogacy process. Jealousy is often one of those feelings — and traditional surrogacy can make it much worse.

It is fairly common for intended mothers to struggle with feelings of jealousy when the surrogate has a biological connection to the baby, while the intended mother does not. These feelings can sour the intended-parent-surrogate relationship, which can in turn be detrimental to the entire process. A good surrogacy involves a solid relationship, and traditional surrogacy can make that more difficult.

The emotional risks for the surrogate are also increased in traditional surrogacy. Anyone who offers to be a surrogate is doing something wonderful and does not have any intention of keeping the baby. However, by maintaining a biological connection to the baby, the surrogate is at a much higher risk of struggling with feelings of strong attachment. Of course, this is natural when you are carrying a child who is biologically yours.

Gestational surrogacy mitigates this emotional risk, while traditional surrogacy amplifies it.

How Gestational Surrogacy Can Reduce Risks

Gestational surrogacy is the preferred option for nearly all professionals. In some states, it is the only legal option. There are several distinctions that make the gestational surrogacy process safer for everyone involved, from a legal and emotional perspective.

In gestational surrogacy, the egg used for fertilization is either given by the intended mother or an egg donor. The potential downside to this is that it is more costly, and it can take more time. However, the benefits far outweigh the costs. Gestational surrogacy gives the intended mother the opportunity to be biologically connected to her baby — a connection many mothers cherish.

Because of this process, there is no biological connection between a gestational surrogate and the baby. Gestational surrogacy mitigates the risk of the surrogate changing her mind and wanting to keep the baby. Since the surrogate has no biological connection, there are no parental rights to argue over.

Additionally, removing this risky aspect of traditional surrogacy creates a better environment for the intended parents and surrogate to develop a healthy relationship — unburdened by complicated emotions.

For these reasons, among others, American Surrogacy only offers services for gestational surrogacy. It is our belief, and the overwhelming belief of all surrogacy professionals, that gestational surrogacy offers the safest path both emotionally and legally for everyone involved.

Contact American Surrogacy Today

American Surrogacy can be your partner in the gestational surrogacy process. We would be honored to support you as you fulfill your dream of becoming parents.

Contact us today or call 1-800-875-BABY(2229) for more information and to start your gestational surrogacy process.

The Best Insurance Options for Gestational Carriers

It’s no secret: Pregnancy is expensive. And, when you add in the additional medical costs of gestational surrogacy, those numbers can seem astronomical.

Fortunately, medical insurance exists to mitigate those expenses.

But, what if your surrogate’s personal policy excludes a gestational pregnancy?

This is becoming more and more common for insurance policies, and we’ve seen it happen often with our clients. Fortunately, your specialist will always help you find additional coverage for your gestational carrier — to protect her and the baby in the months ahead.

Often, the first step is searching the Affordable Care Act marketplace. Open enrollment takes place Nov. 1 to Dec. 15 each year, and you will have a variety of plans to choose from. Policies can run anywhere from $200–$700 a month (plus application fees), based on the level of coverage you choose. Your surrogate’s coverage will begin Jan. 1 of the next year.

Whether your surrogate’s policy excludes gestational surrogacy or they lose coverage through a job loss during pregnancy, your specialist will always be available to guide you through this process. We also recommend every intended parent purchase back-up insurance. To learn more, call your specialist anytime at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

In the meantime, here are some options for surrogacy-friendly insurance.

1. ART Risk Solutions

American Surrogacy frequently recommends ART Risk Solutions to intended parents looking for a surrogate insurance policy. Whether as a stand-alone insurance policy or a back-up policy, ART Risk Solutions can provide the coverage you are looking for at a fair price.

ART Risk is an insurance provider that exists solely to serve those pursuing assisted reproduction technology methods. They partner with other insurance companies to provide customer service and financial risk and case management to patients and medical professionals. The company works with more than 150 agencies and law firms across the globe, including many of American Surrogacy’s clients.

When you contact ART Risk Solutions, you’ll speak with an agent who will evaluate your personal situation and determine which coverage options are right for your surrogate. While your specialist will not directly interact with your insurance agent, they will be happy to provide any paperwork ART Risk Solutions may need to create your personal policy.

2. New Life Agency

Like ART Risk, New Life Agency is an insurance provider that works solely with clients pursuing assisted reproduction. They provide policies for fertility patients, intended parents, surrogates, egg donors and professionals in the ART industry.

New Life also offers fertility financing to assist intended parents through their family-building journeys.

3. SurroPlans

Another option for insurance is SurroPlans. This company provides both backup medical and full-coverage medical policies. Whether or not your surrogate currently has insurance, SurroPlans can provide services to protect you financially, just in case.

This provider also offers emergency medical planning and assistance with taxes and visas for international intended parents.

4. ArcLight

ArcLight is another surrogacy-insurance provider; however, it only operates in nine states. These agents will review your surrogate’s health insurance and search for a surrogacy-friendly option in her state, if necessary.  They will manage every step of the application and deductible process.

ArcLight also offers surrogate life insurance and disability insurance options, both of which will be required as part of your legal surrogacy contract.

We know surrogacy insurance can be a complicated subject, so remember that your specialist is always here to answer your questions and provide guidance as you go through this process. Don’t hesitate to email or call your specialist at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) for professional advice.

What’s the Deal with Donated Breastmilk?

Not everyone who wants to breastfeed their child can, and not every woman who produces breastmilk makes only enough for the child she is feeding. When an overabundance of breastmilk and the inability to produce meet, breastmilk donation steps in.

Breastmilk donation has existed in some form or another for centuries. Where wet nurses used to physically breastfeed extra children in the past, parents today have the convenience of having donated breastmilk shipped to their house.

Donated breastmilk is commonly used even among women who conceive and carry their own children, but it’s doubly important in surrogacy. If an intended parent doesn’t want to or cannot induce lactation, but still wants to give their child the benefits of breastmilk, milk banks step in to help out.

We know this topic can be confusing, so we’ve tackled some of the biggest concerns and questions you may have below. For more information, please call our specialists at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) or contact a local milk bank.

How Does Breastmilk Donation Work?

When it comes to donated breastmilk, safety is always the number one priority. It’s ill-advised to donate or obtain breastmilk outside of an official milk bank; there is simply too much possibility for contamination that could ultimately hurt the baby.

Official milk banks such as the Human Milk Banking Association of North America and La Leche League International require donors to pass certain screenings and requirements prior to giving their breastmilk. Typically, donors must:

  • Commit to a minimum donation amount (usually around 200 ounces)
  • Complete a phone interview and written health history questionnaire
  • Receive doctor’s approval from their personal doctor and the baby’s pediatrician (if applicable)
  • Meet certain health requirements, including abstaining from smoking and drinking
  • Submit breastmilk for screening and testing, to confirm its safety and quality

After a donor passes the screening tests, the milk bank will send her an insulated box with materials to collect and freeze the milk. Once it is collected back at the bank, it is typically thawed and mixed with milk from other donors to get the optimum balance of nutrients. The milk is then tested again, put into bottles, pasteurized and screened for bacteria.

Only after all of this is completed can donated breastmilk be distributed. It may be sent to hospitals or purchased by individuals for use. Some nonprofit milk banks will only offer donated milk to individuals once they have met the needs of premature babies and babies with other serious medical conditions currently hospitalized.

If You’re a Surrogate:

If you are considering donating your breastmilk after your surrogacy journey, we encourage you to speak with your surrogacy specialist. If you haven’t already talked to your intended parents about this desire, it’s a good idea to discuss it with them, too — they may be willing to accept your donation and pay you extra compensation for it.

Not all intended parents want donated breastmilk, and that’s OK. Their decision is not a comment on you as a surrogate. If they decline your offer, you can still help other new parents by donating your breastmilk through your hospital or a nonprofit milk bank.

Before you make this commitment, talk to your doctor. They can evaluate your health and ensure that this path is the best one for you.

You should also ask yourself these questions:

  • Can I commit to pumping a minimum of breastmilk as defined by the milk bank I use?
  • Am I ready for the time commitment of pumping throughout the day and the night?
  • Am I prepared for the extra steps of washing and sanitizing pumps and bottles more than I might when pumping for my own child?
  • Am I mentally and physically healthy enough for this commitment?

Not every surrogate chooses to pump and donate her milk, and that’s OK. If you would rather stop your production, let your doctor know during your pregnancy. She can help you get the medication you need to safely and comfortably suppress lactation.

If You’re an Intended Parent:

If you are an intended mother, it’s likely that you want to try inducing lactation before buying donated breastmilk. After all, you’ve already missed out on the pregnancy experience, and don’t want to miss out on the bonding experience of breastfeeding, too.

It’s actually very common for intended parents to breastfeed their own children. But, just as women who naturally produce breastmilk do, intended parents can have difficulties lactating, as well. It’s a good idea to have a backup plan if this occurs with you: Will you switch to formula, or would you like your surrogate to pump milk for you?

Many surrogates are happy to pump milk for their intended parents. You will be expected to compensate her for her time and effort, and this should be a discussion that happens as part of your surrogacy contract. Asking your surrogate to donate her breastmilk will likely be a better path than trying to buy breastmilk from a donation bank, due to supply and demand inequalities in the industry.

If you are interested in having your surrogate pump for your baby, please reach out to your surrogacy specialist. They can help mediate this conversation and ensure all parties are comfortable with the agreement going forward.

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.

How to Save Money on Surrogacy Fertility Meds as an Intended Parent

It’s well-known that surrogacy can be an expensive family-building choice for hopeful parents, often costing in the $60,000–$150,000 range. It’s only normal that intended parents look for ways to bring those costs down.

One of the costs that intended parents have to worry about is the fertility medications that their gestational surrogate takes in preparation for the embryo transfer procedure. If an intended mother plans on using her own eggs to create the embryos used in this process, she’ll also be prescribed a course of fertility medications prior to an egg retrieval procedure.

The costs of the required medications can certainly add up, and they’re not cheap. There are, however, a few ways you can try to save on the costs of those fertility medications:

Talk to Your Surrogate and Your Doctors

Your gestational surrogate doesn’t want you to have to pay a fortune for medical expenses, so she’ll help you out whenever possible. Ask her if she’ll talk to her fertility specialist about money-saving tips on meds. Her clinic might have recommendations for lower-cost brand substitutions that are equally effective, or offer medication promotions or discounts and other helpful suggestions.

Fertility clinics don’t always offer you the lowest-cost medications unless you specifically mention your budget desires. That means you need to ask, and ask early on!

You can talk to your own fertility specialists, but it’s a good idea if your surrogate does this, too. Her doctors will have her medical history, so they can make sure any brand swaps won’t interact with what she’s currently taking, won’t trigger an allergy she may have, or cause another harmful result.

Wait for a List of Your Surrogate’s Prescribed Medications

Remember that not every gestational surrogate will be prescribed the same medications or dosages, so there’s only so much price research you can do in advance. But, once your surrogate has been prescribed her regimen of fertility drugs and has been given a list of supplies to purchase by her fertility clinic, you can use that list to look for potential deals.

Doing some price-scouting and research ahead of time won’t hurt — just as long as you know that your surrogate might not end up taking certain types or brands of medications.

Resources for Fertility Medication Comparison Shopping

Your fertility clinic’s pharmacy partners aren’t always the cheapest option, although the clinic may have some recommendations about places you can look. Checking around for discounts can yield some decent results.

Here are some websites where you can compare medication and pharmacy prices and check for discounts. These specialty pharmacies may have cheaper meds than traditional pharmacies:

If your surrogate has a local specialty pharmacy, check there, as well. Specialty pharmacies tend to carry the correct medications and supplies — and at a better price than the place you go for your everyday medication!

Always talk to your doctor about any specialty pharmacies to ensure they provide legitimate products. American Surrogacy cannot ensure the validity of or endorse the specialty pharmacies listed above.

Save on Supplies

Some of your surrogate’s medications will need to be administered using specific medical supplies, and you may be able to save some money by shopping around for those supplies. She’ll likely need a stash of particular syringe sizes, alcohol wipes to clean injection sites, and more. Talk to her fertility clinic about what she’ll need, and be sure to get your surrogate’s input on products she prefers. You may be able to find your surrogate some coupons for her supplies, or discount offers for options like bulk purchasing or recurring deliveries.

Again, do your research to ensure the supplies you receive from non-traditional pharmacies are new and safe to use.

Other Options

The fertility drugs themselves can be extremely costly, yes. But keeping medical costs low starts at more immediate sources: your insurance and benefits.

Ask your employer if a flexible spending account (FSA) or a health savings plan (HAS) is available to you. These plans allow you to use your pre-tax income for medical expenses, and fertility treatments are usually a permitted spending use for these types of plans by most employers.

If you aren’t already, make sure you’re working closely with your insurance provider to get the most out of your plan throughout the surrogacy process. Your American Surrogacy specialist can help guide you through this to make sure you’re as covered as possible.

Saving money on IVF medications themselves is often possible; there’s no doubt about that. Just make sure you first double your efforts on getting medications covered by insurance whenever possible and see if there are any benefits available through your employer you may have missed.

Need more help financing your surrogacy journey? Learn more cost-saving strategies here, or reach out to American Surrogacy at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) to talk to a surrogacy specialist.

4 Ways to Choose the Best Surrogacy Clinic for You

Just as selecting the right surrogacy partner and primary surrogacy professional is integral to a successful surrogacy experience, choosing the right surrogacy clinic is an important decision. Whether you call them “surrogacy clinics,” “fertility clinics,” or “IVF clinics,” intended parents and their gestational surrogate will all need to coordinate with this type of professional to complete the medical steps of the surrogacy process.

Here are four things you should always take into consideration when choosing a fertility clinic:

1. Location

Typically, both the gestational surrogate and the intended parents will work with the same fertility clinics individually in coordinating for certain appointments. The intended parents will work with a fertility clinic to create and prepare embryos, using gametes from the intended parents or donors. There may also be egg retrieval involved for the intended mother in some surrogacy situations.

Meanwhile, the surrogate will work with the intended parents’ fertility clinic to prepare for embryo transfer by taking the necessary fertility medications. She’ll need access to the clinic for scheduled testing, monitoring and more. For a surrogate, a conveniently located surrogacy clinic is a very important consideration, because she may be traveling back and forth to this location for appointments regularly until she’s pregnant.

Convenient and consistent access to a reputable surrogacy clinic isn’t always easy to come by, especially if you live in a rural area. Does a larger national clinic have a branch or an affiliated doctor at a local hospital near you? Can you realistically travel back and forth to a certain location? Location is something you’ll need to consider at the beginning of your surrogacy journey.

At Surrogate.com, you can find local surrogacy resources listed by state, including surrogacy clinics. Just click on your state, and go to the “Surrogacy Professionals” page listed there.

2. Cost

Surrogates will have the medical costs of their surrogacy journey covered, but finding a cost-effective fertility clinic that accepts your insurance is an important consideration when choosing a surrogacy clinic. Intended parents have probably invested a large sum of money toward having a child already, and they’ll need to budget their expenses at the fertility clinic carefully.

Your reproductive endocrinologist can help walk you through different IVF package options that a prospective clinic may offer, so you can choose what’s most cost-effective (and what’s most likely to be successful) based on your individual situation. That way, you’ll know you aren’t paying for anything you don’t need. We’ll also help intended parents and surrogates sort out their insurance policies, so everyone is covered as much as possible before you begin.

Of course, choosing a clinic exclusively on cost isn’t a good idea. The cheapest options aren’t always going to be the best options. You can always ask American Surrogacy for recommendations when you’re comparing costs of fertility clinics.

3. Success Rates

You’ll likely see intended parents and gestational surrogates discussing statistical success rates of fertility clinics in online forums. Another quick scan of these discussions, and you’ll also learn that some fertility clinics consistently accept patients with a lower (or higher) chance of success, which can skew their overall success rates.

There are organizations in the U.S. that track the reported success rates of surrogacy clinics, but you always have to take those reports with a grain of salt. Those numbers often don’t reflect the types of patients they work with, the cases they’re best qualified to handle, the experience of the providers, how many cases they take on, and other factors — so choosing a surrogacy clinic based solely on their statistical rate of success is never a good idea.

You can certainly take a clinic’s reported success rate into account when selecting the clinic you’d like to work with, but it shouldn’t be the only criteria you examine. You can view reports of IVF success rates for fertility clinics in the U.S. with these resources:

4. Ability to Meet Your Needs

Finding a surrogacy clinic that offers the services you’ll need may take a little research. For example, you may need to check to make sure a particular clinic offers:

  • Medical screening
  • Cryopreservation
  • Genetic screening of embryos
  • In vitro fertilization (IVF)
  • Connections to gamete banks
  • Gamete retrieval
  • Pregnancy testing for gestational surrogates
  • And more

What you’re looking for in terms of services will depend on your individual surrogacy situation, but take note that not all fertility clinics or endocrinologists will offer the same range of services. Know what you’ll need, and what you can do without. Your American Surrogacy specialist can be a good voice of experience here.

Asking plenty of questions will be a good way to assess whether or not a surrogacy clinic is going to be the right fit for you and your surrogacy partner, so write down everything you can think of! Not sure what to ask? Your American Surrogacy specialist and former surrogates/intended parents who have been through this process themselves can give you suggestions to start with, so ask others for their advice. It’s a big decision, but you don’t have to make it alone.

Need some help finding the right surrogacy clinic? Ask an American Surrogacy specialist now by calling 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

Tips for Surviving a Failed Transfer: Surrogates

You’ve spent weeks preparing for your embryo transfer date. You’ve taken the pills, given yourself the shots, gone to the appointments and “thought sticky thoughts” at your transfer procedure. Now, you learn that this transfer failed.

Every gestational surrogate will have a different reaction to a failed embryo transfer. However, the following general tips may help you cope with this loss and begin to take the next steps in your journey as a surrogate:

Do:

Acknowledge your intended parents’ feelings.

If your intended parents struggled with infertility or pregnancy loss prior to pursuing surrogacy, this failed transfer may come as a serious emotional (and financial) blow to them. They may pull away for a while, or they may turn to you for support. Try to be aware of their needs, and acknowledge the importance of this loss for them. It can be tempting to want to “fix” this for them, but letting them know that you’re there for them will be more important.

Acknowledge your own feelings.

The intended parents aren’t the only ones who will need to grieve a failed transfer. Gestational surrogates often say they feel a sense of guilt or failure, in addition to sadness and disappointment. You put so much effort and hope into this transfer, and finding out that it failed is a loss for you, too. Talking through what you’re feeling can help you begin to process this. Talk to your loved ones, your surrogate specialist, a counselor or other gestational surrogates who have been in your shoes. You’re not alone!

Understand the many reasons why this happens.

An embryo’s failure to implant can happen for any number of reasons, but ultimately, this particular embryo would not have been able to survive a pregnancy. All of the conditions have to be absolutely perfect for a human being to be created — on a chemical level, within an embryo, within a woman’s body and more. This is nature’s way of trying to create only healthy babies. That doesn’t make this loss any less sad; it’s just important to remember that this was out of your hands.

Don’t:

Blame yourself.

Again, those feelings of guilt are not uncommon for surrogates (and women in general) who have experienced a failed transfer. You may feel as if you’ve let your intended parents down somehow. You might wonder, “Did I do something wrong? Could I have done something more carefully?” The answer is, emphatically: No.

You’ve done (and are doing) an amazing job! Failed transfers are not uncommon, and they’re not anyone’s fault. If you’re struggling with a sense of guilt, please reach out to your surrogate specialist and your support system. We’re always here for you!

Lose sight of the big picture.

After weeks of a careful routine, medications, preparation and excitement, only to be let down by a failed transfer, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and a little lost. In the emotions of a failed transfer, you can become caught up in second-guessing and questions like, “Is this worth it? Will this work?”

It’s not always easy in these low moments, but try to remember why you wanted to do this in the first place: to help your intended parents. Don’t forget that a failed transfer doesn’t mean a failed surrogacy journey.

Rush into another cycle if you’re not ready.

The preparation necessary for an embryo transfer is physically and emotionally taxing. You may still be recovering from the physical effects of the medication involved in the last cycle, and you may still be emotionally recovering from this failed transfer. Regardless, you might feel like you need some time before you try again.

This is something you’ll need to talk about with your intended parents, surrogate specialist and fertility clinic. That way, your next transfer attempt can be timed correctly with your cycle while still giving you space to rest.

Need to talk to someone after a failed embryo transfer? You can always contact a surrogate specialist at American Surrogacy by calling 1-800-875-BABY(2229).