10 Reasons You Might Switch Surrogacy Agencies

Beginning a second surrogacy journey, whether you’re a hopeful intended parent or a returning gestational surrogate, is an exciting opportunity. But depending on your situation, you’ll also be asking yourself a few questions like:

  • “Do I want to partner with the same surrogate/intended parents as last time?”
  • “Do I need or want to find a new surrogacy partner?”
  • “What else do I want to change about my surrogacy experience, knowing what I do now and having discovered my own preferences from my previous journey?”
  • “Do I want to use a surrogacy agency this time instead of trying to go it alone like last time?

And:

“Do I want to work with a different surrogacy agency?”

Now that you’ve been through the surrogacy process, you’ve likely discovered some likes, dislikes and aspects that would be perfect “if only X, Y, or Z.” In your upcoming surrogacy journey, you can learn from your experiences — and that might include working with an agency you think might be better fit for you.

It’s okay to work with a different professional from your last surrogacy journey! Many people do. Here are 10 reasons why you might switch surrogacy agencies:

1. You want national reach but personalized connections with your professional.

A lot of people work with a local professional their first time around. The biggest benefit of a smaller, local professional is that you’re often able to go into their office and have a personal connection with your professional. However, these local professionals are often understaffed; have fewer resources.connections and less experience; and aren’t able to match you as quickly.

By working with a national surrogacy agency, you can match with anyone in the U.S. However, you still want an agency that will be able to give you the personal attention that you and your surrogacy partner deserve. Choose an agency with national reach and nationwide connections — but with a one-on-one level of attention.

2. Your previous professional didn’t have any surrogates or intended parents waiting for your match.

Ideally, you won’t spend too much time waiting for the right match. However, some agencies will have a long list of waiting intended parents and no surrogates, or vice versa. Choose an agency that has a history of relatively quick matches (and successful, happy ones). 

A good surrogacy agency will actively be advertising for intended parents and surrogates who meet the necessary criteria, so anyone who is waiting for their perfect match won’t have to wait for long. This is another reason why national agencies like American Surrogacy are usually preferred over smaller, regional professionals. And this is especially why people choose to work with agencies rather than searching on their own: Agencies will find them a safe match in less time.

3. You want a more experienced professional who can provide you with support, resources and guidance both before and after your surrogacy journey.

Your surrogacy agency is your guide through a complex and emotional process. There are so many unknowns in surrogacy, even if this isn’t your first time. 

If your previous professional didn’t provide you and your surrogacy partner with the support that’s so vital to a successful and low-stress experience, then it can put you off from wanting to even pursue surrogacy again! 

A good agency will make sure that both parties are well-educated and prepared before ever beginning — and that everyone has access to support throughout their surrogacy journey and beyond. Neither you, your surrogacy partner, or either of your families will ever be on your own in this when you work with American Surrogacy.

4. You don’t want to be limited to matches within your immediate area.

This is a common frustration with people who previously worked with a smaller, local professional. A local agency or attorney is usually restricted to working within the immediate area. But the truth is, you aren’t going to find many matches that way, and the chances that you find the perfect match for you within your town are slim.

National surrogacy agencies like American Surrogacy are able to work with intended parents and gestational surrogates throughout the U.S., so your match is based on compatibility above location. The connection between intended parents and surrogates is one of the greatest indicators of a happy and successful surrogacy experience — location is the smallest factor in that equation.

5. You didn’t “click” with your previous surrogacy professional.

Again, surrogacy is a highly emotional experience for everyone involved. Many choices will be made with your “gut” and your heart, within reason. Not feeling a genuine connection with your previous surrogacy professional is an absolutely legitimate reason for switching agencies.

During this vulnerable and life-changing experience, you want to know that the person who is going to be guiding you through the ups and downs will have your family’s interests in mind. American Surrogacy’s specialists are always here for you and your surrogacy partner, and we’ll take the time to understand you and your needs before we ever begin the process.

6. You want a professional who focuses on the needs of children first.

Children are at the heart of every surrogacy journey. Surrogates are there to protect and care for children when their parents are unable to. Intended parents long for a child and entrust their unborn child’s care to a woman who is ready for such a responsibility. 

A surrogacy agency’s responsibility is to ensure that those intended parents and surrogates are putting the child first, too —ot just the health of children when they’re in utero, but their emotional and mental health as they grow. That’s why agencies like American Surrogacy educate intended parents and surrogates about supporting children who are born via surrogacy — encouraging pride in their birth story, staying in touch with those involved in the child’s birth and more.

7. You want support in facilitating a stronger bond with your surrogacy partner.

It’s always hoped that you and your surrogacy partner, whether that’s a gestational surrogate or intended parents, will share a deep emotional connection and that you’ll truly enjoy this life-changing experience together. Ideally, you’ll gain a lasting friendship from this, as well as the joy of bringing a new life into the world.

But new relationships can be a little awkward at first when you’re matched with a stranger. And it can be important to have an experienced professional help you all navigate the details of this process, including the legal and financial aspects. 

At American Surrogacy, your specialist will help you and your surrogacy partner work through the necessary details, have the important conversations and get to know one another. From there, you can continue your relationship to whatever extent both parties are comfortable with. We’ll just help you get off to the best possible start.

8. You want a professional that will ensure all candidates meet the highest screening standards.

More than anything, it’s important that everyone involved (especially the child) is safe, healthy and happy. That’s why it’s so critical that both parties complete thorough screening processes.

Everyone must come to the surrogacy process completely ready — physically, emotionally, financially and mentally. Our specialists at American Surrogacy take this very seriously. That’s why we spend so much time talking prospective surrogates and intended parents through the process, screening everyone and making sure that they’re excited and prepared in every way.

9. Your previous professional wasn’t available when you had questions. 

Nothing is more upsetting than not being able to reach your professional when you need them. When you trust a surrogacy agency to act as your guide through such an important process, you also trust that they’ll be there for you should you ever have a question, concern or a new development.

American Surrogacy is always here for our surrogates and intended parents — before, during and after their surrogacy journeys.

10. Your previous professional only gave you (unrealistic) platitudes rather than transparent facts and options.

As you likely know from your previous experience with surrogacy (and parenthood), not everything is perfect all the time! All the preparation in the world can’t prevent something unexpected from happening.

American Surrogacy never sugarcoats or promises that everything will always go precisely according to plan. We all know that babies can be a little unpredictable, for one. We’re committed to providing surrogates and intended parents with honest, transparent and realistic descriptions of the choices in front of them at each stage of the process, and we’ll always offer our expert opinion in an effort to help you do what’s best for your families. 

Thinking about switching surrogacy agencies? We encourage you to reach out to a specialist at American Surrogacy to learn more about how we go above and beyond other professionals.

How to Handle Unsupportive Family Members as a Surrogate

The decision to become a gestational surrogate is not one that you’ve made lightly. You researched the process carefully, learned fact from popular fiction, considered how this journey may affect you and your family — and then ultimately decided that this was something you wanted and were ready to take on. 

But what if, now that you’re excited and in the midst of your journey as a gestational surrogate, your extended family members are less-than-supportive? Your immediate family and friends will all hopefully be instantly excited for you, but sometimes people need a little education about surrogacy before they feel comfortable with the idea. This is especially true for people who aren’t very familiar with “nontraditional” methods of family-building. 

As a surrogate, you may receive a few ignorant comments or encounter a few judgmental people. When it’s your own family, however, it can be hard to brush off their criticism. 

Here’s our advice for handling unsupportive extended family members when you’re a surrogate:

1. Give Them More Education

A lot of the fear and concern that people have about surrogacy stems from a lack of knowledge. Your family member may not understand how certain aspects of surrogacy will work for you — so walk them through it.

Let them ask questions, and be ready to offer answers. If you need some help, explore our website for information to provide to them. Their reluctance to accept surrogacy may just come from not fully understanding the process or because their existing knowledge is based on myth.

2. Reassure Them 

They love you, and they’re probably worried for you! Pregnancy and fertility treatments always involve some risk, but explain to them how the careful screening process that agencies like American Surrogacy require ensures that surrogates like you are healthy enough and that the risks are as low as possible. 

Surrogates are chosen because they’ve never had pregnancy complications before; they’ve had healthy, easy pregnancies every time. However, your family will probably still worry and wonder why you would put yourself in any kind of danger for the sake of someone else. 

Which leads us to our next tip.

3. Explain Why This is Important to You

You wouldn’t be pursuing a path as a surrogate if this weren’t something that you really believed in and felt strongly about. Your family might not understand your motivations or why this means so much to you. Talking openly about why you want to help an intended family and why you’re inspired to be a surrogate may help others to share in your excitement and passion. 

If you’re already matched with intended parents, it might help your family member if they hear a little about the parents — just be sure to be respectful of the intended parents’ privacy, of course. Picturing the baby living a wonderful life with his or her family, and knowing that you made that happen, can help your family member realize what an important thing it is that you’re doing!

4. Move Forward

Let your family member know how much you’d appreciate their support and positivity. But it’s also alright to let them know that you’re going to do what you think is right, regardless of their opinion. 

It’s a requirement for every surrogate to have the support of her spouse and immediate family (if applicable), so their encouragement — in addition to the support of your American Surrogacy specialist — will be enough to get you through the ups and downs ahead. 

If your extended family member still doesn’t support your surrogacy journey after you’ve shared your thoughts and feelings on the matter, it can be upsetting. But you should still move forward if this is something that really matters to you. As a surrogate, you’ll encounter far more people who will respond to you with positivity and support than the opposite. 

Maybe, after the baby is born and your family member can see him or her happy and healthy with their parents, your family will understand what a beautiful thing you did. Regardless, you’ll have plenty of support and excitement from loved ones, even if there are a couple people raining on the parade!

If you’re having a hard time handling the lack of support from your extended family, or if you’re not sure how to talk to your extended family about your decision to become a surrogate, contact your American Surrogacy specialist at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

Can You Be a Surrogate If You’re Going Through a Divorce?

You know that every married gestational carrier needs the approval and support of her spouse before she can start the surrogacy process. But, what if your marriage is on the rocks or you sense a divorce in the future? Can you still be a surrogate?

A spouse’s involvement in surrogacy is about more than just emotional support. There are practical and legal matters that must be discussed and agreed upon. If you and your spouse’s relationship is on shaky grounds, it can easily cause huge complications in your surrogacy journey.

Our specialists are always available to answer your questions about your spouse’s involvement in your surrogacy journey. You can contact us online or call us anytime at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) to get answers to your questions. In the meantime, we’ve provided some basic information below to help you learn more.

If You’re Currently Going Through a Divorce

Perhaps surrogacy was a journey you imagined going through together with your spouse — both of you helping to create a family in the most selfless and beautiful way possible. But, when your relationship begins to crack, that future may seem farther away than ever.

Still, your desire to be a surrogate probably isn’t something that will go away just because your marriage is reaching its end. Whether you’re in the middle of divorce proceedings or are wrapping up the final legal details, you may ask, “Can I start becoming a surrogate while I’m getting divorced?”

The process of becoming a surrogate does take some time, so you might anticipate your divorce being finalized long before any matching and medical steps take place. However, divorce proceedings can take a while, too, so there is always the possibility the two will overlap. For this reason, we encourage prospective surrogates to hold off on their applications until after their divorce proceedings finalize. After all, divorce takes a great deal of time and emotional energy. While you may want to distract yourself and look forward to the next adventure in your life, it can often be too much to try to start surrogacy before this step is complete.

You are always welcome to reach out to our specialists beforehand to learn more about the surrogacy process. They can answer your questions and help you determine whether being a gestational carrier will be the right move for you after your divorce is complete.

Starting Divorce Proceedings During Surrogacy

Ideally, every surrogate would enter into her journey with a solid, supportive relationship. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Either because of long-time disagreements or abruptly changing circumstances, some surrogates may find their marriages breaking down after they’ve already started the surrogacy process.

Before we get into those details, you need to understand why your spouse will always be legally involved in the surrogacy process. Laws on parental rights vary by state, and it’s possible that your spouse will be declared the legal father or mother of the child at birth, even though they are not genetically related to the baby. That’s why every surrogate’s spouse is required to sign surrogacy contracts and work with the attorney to ensure parental rights are assumed by the intended parents upon birth, not the surrogate and her spouse.

If you haven’t yet signed surrogacy contracts but anticipate an upcoming divorce, your specialist will likely want you to wait until the divorce is final before doing so. Otherwise, there may be additional legal issues with your spouse being declared the legal father after birth, which can complicate legal proceedings for the intended parents. You’ll also need your spouse to sign the agreement, as well, because their support is vital to your success. If you two are not on good terms, you may not get the signature you need.

If you have already completed legal contracts, and you and your spouse are discussing divorce, let your specialist know as soon as possible. We understand this is a personal and sensitive topic, but any drawn-out legal proceedings you enter into during your surrogacy can influence your journey moving forward. The intended parents have a right to know about this, too.

By keeping your specialist in the loop, we can offer the support and guidance you may need as you determine what steps to take from here. We can also refer you to counselors and other resources that can help you and your spouse during this difficult time.

If Your Spouse Isn’t On Board With Your Decision

When you first begin your surrogacy journey, your specialist will talk to you at length about the importance of your spouse being supportive of your decision. If you and your spouse are having issues in your relationship and they do not support your choice to be a surrogate, it’s not as simple as just ignoring them and continuing anyway. If you are still married at the time you begin your journey, they will have a role to play in your surrogacy.

Many surrogates’ spouses are uncomfortable with the idea of surrogacy at first, even those who have solid, supportive relationships. If your spouse is unsure about you being a surrogate, you’ll need to talk with them in depth about your decision. Take the chance to educate them about how the process really works and what will be expected of them along the way. Make it clear why you’re choosing this path and how much their support will mean to you. Even if you are not legally married at the time you start, your spouse’s help will be instrumental as you commit a great deal of time to this journey moving forward.

We know that surrogates come from many different backgrounds and life experiences, which is why our specialists are always happy to talk about how yours may influence your journey as a gestational carrier. Whatever your current marital situation is, give us a call anytime at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) or contact us online to get answers to your questions. We can also offer guidance on talking to your spouse about surrogacy, if it is needed.

7 Things First Time Surrogates Should Be Ready For

You know what it’s like to be pregnant and to give birth. But surrogacy is an entirely new rodeo. Here are seven things that first-time surrogates should know before they start:

The Number of Appointments

As you’ll remember from previous pregnancies, there can be quite a few appointments involved in a standard, healthy pregnancy. With a gestational pregnancy, however, the number of appointments will be significantly increased.

Even after all the appointments and scheduled tests confirm that you’re physically healthy enough for surrogacy, you’ll need to attend appointments for fertility treatments and embryo transfers. This stage involves close monitoring of your uterine lining and hormone levels, as well as how your body is generally responding to the medication, so you’ll be in and out of the fertility clinic often. Once you’re confirmed pregnant, you’ll still be much more closely monitored than you would be in non-surrogate pregnancies. In IVF situations, doctors want to make sure the embryo “sticks!”

Throughout the pregnancy, even if things are stable and progressing normally, you’ll attend more appointments with your OBGYN than you typically would. It’s a major time commitment, and first-time surrogates are often surprised at just how many appointments there really are.

The Side Effects of the Medications

Not every surrogate will experience side effects from the fertility medications she’s prescribed, but it can definitely be irritating. There are quite a few medications you’ll be expected to take and at very specific times. Some you’ll need to inject, some are taken orally, and some may even be administered via a patch.

Side effects of all these medications can vary, but surrogates have commonly experienced headaches, nausea, vaginal discharge and hot flashes. The severity of the side effects can vary, too. But for those who do experience medication side effects, the discomfort can detract from the excitement.

How Slow the Early Steps Feel

So much of the pre-pregnancy surrogacy process feels like you’re hurrying to wait. And then you’ll wait some more. Completing the application, going through the screening process — all that feels painfully slow when you’re excited to meet your intended parents.

And, then once you’ve been matched, you go through the legal stage, which can also feel like it drags on. You’re excited to get pregnant! But the process of getting pregnant feels like it takes forever, too — months of medications, appointments and more waiting for the perfect time to transfer an embryo.

Don’t worry; you’ll get there eventually. You’ll just need to develop some patience along the way!

How Fast the Pregnancy Feels

Despite how long the pre-pregnancy part of surrogacy feels, the pregnancy will fly by in comparison. Maybe it feels that way because you won’t be busy with any of the baby preparations you’ve had to handle in the past. All you have to do is attend appointments and take care of yourself!

In many ways, this pregnancy may be more relaxing than your previous ones, because the intended parents are the ones doing all the pre-baby prep.

The Vetting Process

Like most professionals, American Surrogacy carefully selects surrogates. Many women have a heart generous enough to carry a child for someone else, but only a few women will meet the physical and emotional requirements to become a surrogate.

The vetting process is lengthy and can be pretty tedious. There’s plenty of paperwork to submit, questions to answer, medical exams you’ll need to complete and more. All of this can feel frustrating and, at times, a little invasive — but it’s important for your health and safety, as well as the baby’s, and for the legal protection of intended parents.

We (and you) need to be absolutely sure that you’re physically, mentally and emotionally ready for this. So the screening process is a surprisingly big, but necessary, hill to climb. Remember that we want you to meet the requirements, too!

How Long it Takes to Collect Medical Records

Don’t underestimate how long it’ll take to gather the necessary paperwork and records for your screening process. A doctor will need to review your medical records, including prenatal records and birth histories. These are to ensure that your body handles pregnancy well, that you’ve had no past complications, to review any current medications or potential health risks and more.

Your American Surrogacy specialist will walk you through all the records you’ll need to submit, but obtaining those can be a pain. You might have to reach out to different doctors at different locations, and they can take a while to get back to you. A word of advice: Start as early as possible and keep at it!

How Different This Hospital Experience Is

In comparison to past births, many first-time surrogates are surprised at how relaxing their time in the hospital is. Once the baby is born and the hard part is over, your job is pretty much done. In the past, you’ve had a newborn on your hands, but now you can just focus on resting and recovering.

At most, you’ll be pumping for the intended parents, and that’s only if you’ve agreed to do so in your surrogacy contract. No feedings in the middle of the night, no crying baby — just well-earned sleep and the satisfaction of seeing the family you helped unite.

First-time surrogates are often surprised at the ways in which this experience differs from their past pregnancies. What were some of the things that you were surprised by in your first surrogacy journey? Let us know in the comments!

7 Types of People You Need On Your Surrogacy Team

Nobody completes a surrogacy journey alone. It takes a lot of people to have this baby — various medical and legal professionals, the intended parents, donors, the surrogate and her family and more!

Accepting the help of your surrogacy “team” can be hard for some people at first, but once you open your heart to that team effort, you won’t regret it.

Surrogates and intended parents alike will need key support from certain types of people. Here are seven people you’ll definitely want on your surrogacy team:

1. The Veteran

This is a former intended parent or surrogate who has been there and done that. Every person’s experience with surrogacy is going to be unique. After all, there are many types of surrogacy journeys, and no two partnerships are alike. However, the veteran on your team can often offer valuable insight on “do”s and “don’t”s, even if you listen to their stories with a proverbial grain of salt. They may have helpful suggestions regarding insurance, professionals and more.

Most veterans are happy to help, even if you don’t personally know them. They’ve been in your position, too. A good way to connect with former and current intended parents and surrogates is through support groups, or through your primary professional.

2. The Counselor

We mean this literally. Many agencies, including American Surrogacy, require prospective surrogates and parents to meet with a counselor before the surrogacy process even begins. This is done to ensure that you’re 100% emotionally prepared for this step. It’s also helpful for surrogates and intended parents to have access to a counselor who is familiar with surrogacy.

Maybe you never need to talk to your counselor again, maybe you check in with them sometime during your surrogacy journey, or maybe you need post-surrogacy support from him or her. It’s always good to have a licensed and experienced counselor on your team for ready access to support, should you need it now or in the future.

3. The Expert

Your American Surrogacy specialist will be your primary point of contact throughout your journey. They’re also the best all-around expert on surrogacy at your disposal. We’re always here if you need us for support or if you have questions!

You can look to the expert for anything, from help finding the best possible insurance coverage for all of you to managing communication. Even if we don’t offer a specific service ourselves, we’ll be able to put you in touch with the right people and help you to find the best providers in your area. Everybody needs an expert on their team.

4. The Doctor

The medical processes of surrogacy are complex and high-stakes. It’s understandable if everyone involved is nervous about what’s going on and whether or not things are working! However, it can be easy to over-worry and overwork yourself, especially for intended parents who have never experienced pregnancy before.

It’s good to have someone on your fertility team who is available to answer those nervous questions, present options honestly and soothe unnecessary anxiety. Someone you connect with at your clinic or your OBGYN may be able to be that go-to person for medical questions in between appointments.

5. The Shoulder to Cry On

Someone who can listen without trying to fix the situation will be your best shoulder to cry on. Because, sometimes, we all just need to vent, talk it out or even cry it out! Choose someone who won’t fly into a panic if you need to come over and be upset for a while. Mourning losses or frustrations in a surrogacy journey doesn’t mean that it’s going badly or that you want to quit. Ups and downs are natural.

Surrogates and intended parents alike will need someone they can talk to about the emotions of surrogacy. This is an emotional time, and you’ll need a comforting presence on your team.

6. The Reinforcements

These are the friends, family and neighbors that you can count on to call for practical help at any time. They’re ready and willing to drop everything to babysit your kids for a couple of days if labor begins suddenly. They know that you’ll need a casserole in the fridge when you don’t have time to cook after the baby is born.

Surrogates will need an extra hand around the house as they juggle pregnancy and their normal responsibilities, plus they’ll need a little help during postnatal recovery. Intended parents will likely need to travel at the drop of a hat, and when the baby comes home, they’ll be busy with their new addition. Everyone needs to be able to call for their reinforcements!

7. The Teammate

Your surrogacy partner — the intended parents or surrogate — will be your ultimate teammate. You’re both in pursuit of the same goal, and you’re both there to cheer each other on. Your losses and successes are shared. This often extends to one another’s immediate families — spouses and children. Include them as part of the team! You’re all in this together, so go ahead and look to each other for support.

Who’s on your surrogacy team? Let us know in the comments!

8 Responses to Invasive Surrogacy Questions: Surrogates

As a gestational surrogate, you’ll be met with a lot of curiosity. Typically it’s from a place of pure interest and a lack of knowledge.

But, what about when people ask those really awkward questions? How do you respond?

Here are eight questions you may encounter during your journey and ways you can handle them:

1. “What do your kids think? Is your spouse okay with this?”

Before women can be considered eligible for surrogacy, they have to have the support of their families. A surrogate’s children and spouse are an important part of the process, and so they have to be on board. Explain that this is a requirement.

People often worry that children are incapable of understanding things like surrogacy or adoption and will be sad or confused when the baby leaves. But kids understand much more than we give them credit for, and you’ve taken the time to educate your children and prepare them for your surrogacy journey.

You can also share the ways in which your kids and spouse have supported and encouraged you so far. This person is probably just worried about your family, even if they’re being a little nosy about it!

2. “Aren’t you going to get attached to the baby?”

Explain: Of course you’re emotionally attached! But not like you would be in a non-surrogate pregnancy. It can be a little confusing for people to understand how the deep bonds created in pregnancy are different in gestational surrogacy. Explaining that the baby isn’t biologically yours, nor that have you ever felt emotionally like he or she were your child, may help.

The comparison of babysitting, or loving this baby almost like an aunt loves a niece or nephew, often helps people to put it into a context they can relate to. Reassure them that you’re excited to unite the baby with his or her parents!

3. “Who is the baby biologically related to?”

This is information that should be kept private. Simply say that it’d be a violation of your contract to disclose personal information like that. There are a lot of things that are just between you and the intended parents, and this is one of those. It’s a good idea to remind the person that the baby is not biologically related to you, as a gestational surrogate.

They might need a quick explanation of IVF and embryo transfers, since these processes aren’t always common knowledge. If needed, remind them that biological ties aren’t as important as the love that exists within a family. Regardless of biology, this is the intended parents’ baby, and they’re going to love him/her more than anything in the world.

4.  “Do you breastfeed the baby?”

These types of decisions are between you and the intended parents and are established in your contract. Surrogates rarely breastfeed the baby after he or she is born, but many choose to pump breast milk for the family. Again, that choice is a personal one, so you don’t have to talk about it with anyone other than the intended parents if someone is making you feel uncomfortable.

Keeping your answers brief will usually get the point across. “No, but I plan on pumping for the family, if I’m able to.” Or, “No, the family has their nutritional plan ready to go.”

5. “How much are you getting paid?”

People often (incorrectly) believe that surrogates are getting rich. Or, they may worry that you’re being taken advantage of. This can be frustrating and hurtful to hear when you’ve put in so much time, effort and love into giving the most important gift to someone else, and you set out on this journey to help others.

Feel free to remind them of your motivations for pursuing surrogacy: helping families. Remind them of all the work and time you put in — surrogacy is a 24/7 job, and it’s fair that you accept some form of compensation for it. Rather than disclosing dollar amounts (that’s between you and the intended parents), let them know that financial questions distract from the important and difficult thing that you’re doing for someone else.

6. “How did you get pregnant?”

Another alarming myth that some people believe is that surrogates get pregnant “the old-fashioned way” with an intended father. If you feel that’s what they’re hinting at, go ahead and shut that down quickly and emphatically!

However, most people simply don’t know much about IVF or embryo transfers, and they certainly don’t know how carefully-regulated the medical process is for you. So walking them through these clinical processes will be helpful. They’re likely just curious about the science of it all.

7. “Can you get the baby back, if you want to?”

Explain that this isn’t your baby, and that your goal was always to help another family. You should also explain that legally, the baby already is (or will be) the child of the intended parents.  Assuring them that you’re happy to just “babysit” and that you’re genuinely excited to see the baby go home with his or her parents will probably comfort this person who is likely worried for you.

8. “How can you just give away the baby like that?”

It can be hard for others to understand that you don’t feel like you’re giving the baby away, but that you’re giving the baby back to his or her parents! Reiterate that you’re not the genetic mother and that you also set out with the mindset that this wasn’t your baby in an emotional sense. Your goal was always to complete someone else’s family — your own family is complete and you feel whole. You just want someone else to feel that same joy that you have with your own children.

This is one of the most common (and frustrating) questions you’ll likely receive. Unfortunately, some people may never understand surrogacy in this way.

Respond However You Feel Is Appropriate

It’s okay if you just need to smile and nod sometimes! Nobody has the energy to be a surrogacy educator every minute of the day.

It’s also okay to politely let people know you’re unable to talk about certain things due to the privacy of the intended parents and the details of your surrogacy contract. This is a personal experience for you, the intended parents and your immediate families, and not everyone needs to be privy to details.

Try to remember that surrogacy is still a relatively new and misunderstood family-building path, so insensitive questions are unfortunately common. Most of those questions come from a lack of knowledge, not from a place of malice — so do your best to educate, and to respond gently.

If you need help responding to questions, or if you just need support, your American Surrogacy specialist is always there for you!

Can You Be a Surrogate if You’re also a Birth Mother?

If you want to be a surrogate, you probably have a deep altruistic desire to help create a family. You may even have prior experience doing so — by placing a child for adoption.

Here at American Surrogacy, we salute the bravery of every birth mother who has placed a child for adoption. Our roots are planted firmly in the adoption industry, which means our specialists completely understand the journey you’ve been through to get to where you are today. And, if you want to help create another family in a different way, we’ll be happy to guide you through this upcoming gestational surrogacy adventure.

But, before you get started, there are a few things you should know about becoming a gestational carrier. While both surrogacy and adoption end up creating beautiful families, they are very different processes. Each requires unique emotional investments and preparation, and neither is a path to jump into without thorough research.

Fortunately, our specialists will be there to help you every step of the way. You can always contact us online or at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) to speak with a team member about becoming a surrogate. In the meantime, you can learn a bit more about being a gestational carrier as a birth mother below.

Requirements to Be a Gestational Carrier

Whatever your personal background may be, you must always meet certain requirements before you can become a gestational carrier. Our agency sets these requirements to protect your mental, physical and emotional health during the surrogacy journey, which means they are non-negotiable. Don’t worry — intended parents have to meet certain requirements before starting, too.

In order to be a gestational carrier, you must:

  • Be between the ages of 21 and 38
  • Have a BMI between 19 and 32
  • Not smoke or use illicit drugs
  • Have had at least one successful pregnancy, but no more than five vaginal births and no more than four cesarean-sections
  • Have waited at least six months since your last birth
  • Have no major complications from previous pregnancies
  • Be currently raising a child in your own house

This last requirement is where things can get tricky if you’re a birth mother. While, yes, you have successfully given birth, if you’re not currently raising a child in your home, you don’t meet the requirements to be a surrogate.

You may wonder: If I’ve given birth and understand the risks of pregnancy and childbirth, why can’t I be a surrogate — regardless of whether or not I’m raising a child of my own?

It’s a good question, which is why we’ll answer it below.

Possible Emotional Complications of Being a Surrogate and a Birth Mother

When you place a child for adoption, you have to overcome intense feelings of grief and loss. It’s all completely normal, but it can take months and even years for a woman to come to terms with those emotions and be comfortable with her adoption decision.

When you become a surrogate, it’s likely that those feelings will reemerge. While the child you carry will not be biologically yours, there will still be some sadness and grief knowing that you will not care for this child after birth and that you will go home empty-handed from the hospital. These feelings can be magnified by the prior experience of having gone through that experience already.

For that reason, surrogacy professionals require you to be raising a child in your own home. Then, when you experience difficult feelings during pregnancy or after birth, you will have a child waiting for you. This will help you rationalize some of the emotions you are having, as well as remind yourself of the challenges of raising a child — instead of focusing on the “baby fever” feelings stemming from hormones directly after childbirth.

You will also be required to complete a psychological evaluation prior to being approved for surrogacy. During this evaluation, you’ll talk with a licensed mental health professional about your personal history (including your adoption history) and what you expect out of being a surrogate. The professional will ask you about what you would do in certain situations and help you evaluate whether you are truly ready for surrogacy — including whether your feelings about your adoption will cause challenges as you move forward with being a surrogate. You will likely dive into your adoption history in detail, especially how you dealt with that initial loss.

It may seem invasive at first, but remember that your mental health professional is just trying to help you. They want you to be 100 percent prepared for the emotions of the journey ahead. It’s for your best interest, as well as the interest of the intended parents.

Learn More About Becoming a Gestational Carrier

Here at American Surrogacy, your mental and physical well-being is of the utmost importance. That’s why we require prospective surrogates to complete so many steps before they can start this journey.

Your history as a birth mother won’t disqualify you from working with us, as long as you meet all of our agency requirements. We’ll be happy to help you create another family in a beautiful, selfless way — one that’s just as honorable as your prior adoption journey.

Learn more about becoming a surrogate with American Surrogacy by giving us a call at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) or contacting us online today.

How Surrogacy May Change Your Friendships — and 5 Ways to Cope

Becoming a parent or helping someone else build their family though surrogacy is an exciting, joyful opportunity. But, as with every new adventure in your life, there are some changes that you won’t see coming until they happen. As you start to move further into an alternative family-building method, it can place some serious and unexpected stress on some of the closest relationships in your life: those with your friends.

If you start to feel like you’ve hit a wall with some of your favorite people, you’re probably unsure of what to do next. After all, these are connections that you’ve nurtured, some of them for many years, and you might not know how to turn the page of the next chapter of your life while still including them.

We want to reassure you that it’s normal to be scared of growing apart. But, the good news is that there are ways that you can cope with a changing friendship — and even ways that you can preserve it as you move forward in your surrogacy journey.

Below are five things to keep in mind if your friendship is evolving in a new way.

1. Expand Your Circle

It’s normal to gravitate toward people who share your own interests. Building a new support system — one filled with individuals who know exactly what you’re feeling — is the best way to cope with changes in your current relationships.

There are plenty of intended parents and surrogates who have been in your shoes and are looking for a new connection. No matter where you live, you can always reach out to other families online or through a local support group. A network of supportive friends can make all the difference during your surrogacy journey, so don’t hesitate to start making new connections. If you’re looking for the best place to start, contact our agency.

2. Give Your Relationship Room to Breathe

If you feel stressed and overwhelmed trying to talk to your friend about your decision, it could be a sign that the two of you need some space. It’s unlikely that your friend will be able to support you 24/7, but this doesn’t mean they don’t care about you anymore. It probably just means that they need room to grow, too. The surrogacy process is a big change, and your friend is probably trying to make sense of everything while still trying to be supportive. After you’ve given them some time to adjust, we’re sure they’ll come around.

3. Teach Them About Surrogacy

Education is one of the best ways to bring the two of you together. This method of family-building is still new enough that many people, including your friends, might have a hard time wrapping their heads around it. Your friends will probably have a lot of questions they aren’t sure of how to ask, and they’re probably worried about coming across as rude or insensitive. Let them know that it’s okay to come to you with any concerns or questions they might have.

4. Cherish Your Supportive Friends

Big life changes — like college, marriage, or parenting — are really when the strength of a friendship is tested. As you progress further into the surrogacy process, you might start to realize that not everyone is as ready for the next step as you are. While we hope that you’ll have the unwavering support of your friends, it doesn’t always pan out that way.

With plenty of big changes coming your way, you’ll find out pretty quickly who your real friends are. We know that it’s hard, but keep in mind that if someone pulls back from your relationship, it is not a reflection of you. Everyone you meet is on their own journey. That’s why it’s even more important to cherish the special people who make an effort to continue to be a part of your life.

5. Stay Positive

The truth is that changing friendships are a normal part of life. Some friendships are meant to last a lifetime, while others are only here for a season. But, that doesn’t make their impact in your life any less special or meaningful. We know that it’s hard, but try to take care of yourself. Exercising, eating well, and finding new hobbies can help take your mind off the stress of your relationship. Staying optimistic during this difficult transition is one of the best things you can do for your mental health.

When some of the most important relationships in your life are changing, don’t forget that you always have people in your corner. No matter how hard it seems, there will always be people who love and support you and your new journey. If you ever need someone to talk to, don’t forget that you can reach out to a surrogacy specialist today.

National Birth Defects Prevention Month: Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy

When you become a surrogate, you’re tasked with one of the most important jobs of all: carrying someone else’s unborn baby. This is a weighty responsibility, and you’re probably wondering about everything there is to know. As January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, this year, we’d like to put our focus on everything a surrogate needs to know for a healthy pregnancy.

First, here’s what you need to know about potential factors that cause birth defects.

What Causes Birth Defects?

A birth defect can either be very mild or severe.  While the causes of one can vary, some of the most common risk factors are:

  • Genetic or hereditary traits
  • Lifestyle choices
  • Untreated infections during pregnancy
  • Being over the age of 35
  • A pre-existing medical condition
  • Exposure to certain chemicals

Finding out that the baby you’re carrying has a birth defect can be scary and overwhelming. But, if this were to happen, your surrogacy specialist will be there for you every step of the way. Your legal contract will also detail what happens moving forward if this unfortunate situation should occur. Remember: As long as you’ve followed your contract, this situation will never be your fault.

Thankfully, there are ways to reduce the likelihood of potential birth defects. Below are some tips to keep in mind during your gestational pregnancy.

7 Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy

1. Eat Right

It’s hard to make time for a healthy meal in the middle of your busy schedule. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a priority. Watching what you eat is one of the most important ways to ensure a healthy pregnancy. It’s also great for you, too! Make sure your plate is full of fresh fruits and veggies, and watch out for some of the most unsafe foods to eat during your pregnancy.

2. Drink Plenty of Water

Drinking enough water isn’t just good for you; it’s also essential for the baby. Water helps carry nutrients, flushes out toxins, and more. Not drinking enough water is also one of the leading causes of premature labor. Generally, you should drink about eight glasses of water a day. If you’re having trouble remembering to drink enough, try setting a reminder on your phone to stay hydrated.

3. Get the right amount of sleep

Your body needs sleep more than you think. You should try to get eight hours of sleep, but it’s okay if you need to take more. After the first trimester, you’ll probably need to start sleeping on your side. It’s common to have sleep problems during your pregnancy, in which case there are some suggestions on how to overcome them.  If you have any other questions, don’t forget that you can always reach out to your doctor.

4. Exercise

If you can, try to get at least 30 minutes of activity in a day. We know it’s hard to keep moving, and exercising is probably the last thing you want to do right now, but staying active will help you sleep better and keep your stress levels low. It can also help ease your pregnancy symptoms and make pregnancy and delivery easier on your body. If you can, try to get at a healthy weight before your pregnancy. Some good ideas include walking, swimming and jogging. As long as you don’t overdo your workout, you should be perfectly safe.

5. Vitamins

Prenatal vitamins ensure that you and the baby are getting all of the nutrients you need. Don’t forget that these vitamins need to be taken alongside a meal, not as a substitute. We know that taking your vitamins can be hard to remember, so try setting an alarm on your phone at the same time every day so that you don’t forget. (Don’t forget: All of your medical costs will be covered by the intended parents.)

6. Stay away from harmful substances

There are a few substances that every pregnant woman should know to avoid. Drinking, drugs, and smoking should never be consumed while pregnant, as outlined in your surrogacy contract.  There are also a few medications and chemicals that pregnant women need to avoid. Remember to talk to your doctor first before trying any new medication, as it could affect you and the baby.

7. Keep your stress low

With some much going on, and with your body changing in new, unexpected ways, it’s hard to stay positive. An important part of keeping the baby healthy is prioritizing your own mental and emotional health. If you find yourself struggling, remember that you can reach out to a surrogacy specialist or a counselor if you need someone to talk to. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, remember that there people here to help.

These tips are essential for any pregnancy, but they’re especially important when you’re a surrogate. By following just a few steps, you can ensure that your pregnancy will be a safe, healthy experience for you and the baby.

Following these guidelines are extremely important to have a healthy pregnancy. Most of the rules and suggestions will be outlined in your legal contract, too, but please don’t hesitate to reach out to a surrogacy specialist today.

Being a Surrogate With a History of Sexual Assault: What to Know

As you research becoming a gestational carrier, you may be surprised to see one requirement in particular — that every surrogate should not have any “untreated abuse (child, sexual or physical).”

It may seem like common sense that a prospective surrogate should be emotionally and mentally ready for the challenges of surrogacy, but how does a history of sexual assault play into that?

We know this can be a sensitive and complicated topic, so our specialists are always willing to address it personally when you call us at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) or contact us online. In the meantime, there are a few things we want you to know — for your own protection as a prospective surrogate.

The Sensitivity of the Surrogacy Process

When you become a gestational carrier, you agree to share the most intimate workings of your body and your life with people who are (at the beginning) complete strangers. It’s a great commitment for anyone, but especially so for someone who is dealing with complicated feelings over the control of their body.

It’s common for survivors of sexual assault and trauma to feel like their body is out of their control. Some women feel that, by becoming a surrogate, they can take back control of their bodies and use them to give an incredible gift to someone else. But, for some, gestational surrogacy can exacerbate those feelings.

The medical process of surrogacy revolves around a surrogate’s cycle, health and overall physical state. It can be frustrating for any woman to feel like her body is being discussed with insensitivity, and the clinical, no-nonsense nature of fertility treatments and procedures can make that worse. These steps can trigger negative experiences for many survivors, even those who generally feel they have successfully moved forward from their trauma. It can be a violating experience for anyone.

If you are a woman who is thinking about being a surrogate, but you have a history of sexual assault or trauma, you need to seriously evaluate your emotional state before moving forward. How will you feel when people talk about your menstrual cycle and the workings of your reproductive system with each other in such a straightforward way? How will you feel having doctors performing procedures on the most vulnerable parts of your body? How will feel having people talk about you — and not necessarily to you?

This is why treatment is so important prior to starting the surrogacy process. It will help you cope with the trauma you have experienced and prepare yourself for the reality of the upcoming experiences you may have.

Rule #1: Be Honest

Here’s what we want you to know: You can absolutely be a surrogate if you have experienced sexual assault or other kinds of sexual trauma in the past. You just have to make sure that trauma is treated and resolved prior to starting the surrogacy process.

Whether or not you’ve been through extensive treatment for a history of sexual assault or trauma, you need to let your specialist know early on in the process about this history. That way, she can ensure you get the support you need and that the intended parents you match with are aware of your situation.

It’s normal to feel nervous or uncomfortable talking about a history of sexual assault — but you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. When it comes to surrogacy, hiding this history is not a good idea. Whether consciously or not, the truth will come out.

Every surrogate must undergo a mental health evaluation with a trained psychologist. During this evaluation, it’s important to be as open and honest as possible about your history, so your mental health professional can determine whether you are truly ready for the process ahead. Even if you try to avoid the topic, these psychologists can commonly pick up on a history of sexual assault or trauma based on indicators you are not even aware of. That mental health professional will inform your surrogacy specialist, who will likely disqualify you from the rest of the process.

Being honest with your specialist from the start gives you a better chance at successfully reaching your surrogacy goals. Remember, your surrogacy specialist will always be there to help you and will never judge you. They want you to be comfortable and successful in your surrogacy journey, and they want to support you in that however they can. But, for them to do that, it’s important that they’re aware of your personal situation from the beginning.

So, don’t be afraid to apply as a surrogate if you have a history of sexual assault or trauma, but keep in mind the specific challenges this path may hold for you.

For more information on becoming a surrogate with our agency, please contact our specialists at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) or submit an informational form online.