A Guide to Virtual Surrogacy Meetings During COVID-19

How to Strengthen Intended Parent-Surrogate Relationships During COVID-19

In the midst of this global pandemic, people are having to find new ways to connect and communicate. Despite these scary times, families are still being created — intended parents and prospective gestational surrogates are beginning to move forward in their surrogacy journeys again.

If you’re a hopeful parent or a prospective surrogate who is still in the early stages of the process, the “match” experience of meeting and getting to know one another is probably going to look different as a result of COVID-19. It’s harder for people to travel, and safety should always be the first priority. Getting to know one another face-to-face will have to wait.

Surrogacy is a very personal and intimate journey shared between two families, so it’s important to grow a connection with your surrogacy partner, whether intended parent or surrogate. Fortunately, technology has made it easier than ever to share this life-changing experience across distances.

Whether you’re “meeting” your prospective surrogacy partner for the first time, or you’d like to find ways to stay in touch throughout the process while still social distancing, here are some easy tips for navigating your virtual surrogacy chats:

Remember that your specialist will be there to help.

The first time the intended parents and surrogate talk is always a little nerve-wracking for everyone involved. But don’t worry about things feeling awkward — your American Surrogacy specialist will be ready to help guide the conversation so everyone feels comfortable and confident moving forward.

Once you’re past the first introductions, conversations in a good match will come easily. Earlier “meetings” are a great time to get to know one another in a lighter, casual, friendly way — it’s important that both surrogacy partners feel that they can trust one another, and feel excited to share a surrogacy journey with one another.

Your surrogacy specialist will always be available if you need help navigating your surrogate-intended parent relationship, but that first virtual meeting is a good time to exchange contact information for more informal talks in the future.

Establish a schedule.

Even if the intended parents and/or the prospective surrogate are working from home right now, it can still be hard to find a time when you’re all available to talk. Many people are juggling work and kids at the moment.

Talk with your surrogacy partner and see if you can find a day and time where you’re all available. After the first few initial virtual meetings, you may find that even a quick 15 or 20-minute check-in chat is enough to keep one another up-to-date.

The frequency of your scheduled meetings will vary based on everyone’s availability and comfort level. Some intended parent-surrogate partnerships have a virtual meeting every couple of weeks, while others may just set up a monthly call.

Write down questions ahead of time.

You probably have plenty of questions for each other, ranging from serious to casual and light:

  • Why did you choose surrogacy?
  • What kind of intended parent-surrogate relationship are you envisioning?
  • What do you need from me throughout this journey?
  • What’s your family like?
  • What are your interests?

However, in the excitement of the moment, you may forget to ask something you were anxious to know! Write down questions or things you’d like to mention as you think of them, and have that list handy when you “meet.”

Hopefully the conversation will flow easily, you’ll learn a lot about each other and you won’t have to worry too much about checking questions off of your list.

Perform a trial run with your tech.

There are few things more frustrating than a spotty internet connection, laggy video or fuzzy audio when you’re trying to talk with someone. You don’t want to “show up” at your appointed time only to find that your FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom isn’t working correctly. Here are a few tips to help prevent technological difficulties the day of:

  • Make sure you know how to confidently use the platform you’ll be talking through.
  • Check that you’re getting a sufficient WiFi signal.
  • Test-call a friend or family member the day before, to make sure that they can hear and see you correctly.

Modern methods of communicating have revolutionized the way we’re able to connect with others, but only if they work as they should! It can take a few practice runs before you get the hang of it.

Embrace video calls.

There are a lot of advantages of virtual meetings via FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts calls, etc.:

  • You’ll be able to see one another — being able to see each others’ faces as you speak is an overlooked, but important, aspect of communication between people.
  • You can virtually meet each others’ families.
  • You can take little home tours, so surrogates can see the baby’s future nursery and intended parents can see where their baby will be staying in-utero.
  • As the pregnancy progresses, the intended parents can see the physical changes that their surrogate is experiencing, so you can all be a part of the journey together (even while apart).

Virtual meetings can be fun, as well as helpful!

Feel free to mix up communication methods.

Some surrogates and intended parents are comfortable with sticking to consistent, established meetings through video chat or phone calls. Others prefer to keep in touch less formally, but with the option to check in more frequently through quick texts or emails. You can even send one another photos or letters from your side of the surrogacy process.

Virtual meetings through video can be great, but feel free to explore other methods of communication and find what works best for you.

Despite the necessary limitations that COVID-19 has imposed on the world, we’re all still finding ways to remain close to one another. Your American Surrogacy specialist will help you and your surrogacy partner communicate however you can during these changing times. You can always contact us if you need help navigating this new aspect of your surrogacy journey.

How COVID-19 May Impact Your Prenatal Visits and Hospital Plans

A Surrogate’s Guide to Changing Policies & Recommendations

Beginning or continuing the surrogacy process as a gestational surrogate is still very possible for you, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there will be a few changes. Social distancing and safety measures may affect your hospital experience, interactions with the intended parents, prenatal checkups and surrogacy-related medical appointments, and more.

It can be upsetting to have your carefully made plans and excitement marred by an experience that isn’t quite what you imagined. But the health and safety of everyone involved, especially you and the baby, are what come first.

Here are some changes you may notice as you move forward in your journey as a gestational surrogate, as well as quite a few things that won’t be changed by COVID-19:

Your Time with Your Intended Parents

If your match is long-distance and the intended parents live in another city or state, many of your day-to-day interactions wouldn’t have been in-person anyway. Gestational surrogates and intended parents most commonly communicate through phone calls, video chats, texts or emails.

However, due to social distancing measures, you and the parents may not be able to have as much face-to-face bonding as other surrogate-parent partnerships might have had before COVID-19. Do your best to get to know one another and build that connection through other means — start a casual Words With Friends game with one another, swap a couple recipes to try out or send them letters “from” their baby throughout your pregnancy in addition to your virtual conversations. It can be fun, and you’ll hopefully get to know one another a bit better, even when you can’t meet in person.

Having the intended parents present for the baby’s birth is one of the most rewarding moments for a gestational surrogate and one of the most exciting moments for the new parents. But some hospitals may have policies about how many people can be in the room with you during your labor and delivery. This may mean that only one intended parent may accompany you, or neither of them, so that your spouse can be with you. This is something that we’ll touch on more momentarily, but that you’ll want to ask your hospital about in advance.

Your Prenatal Medical Care and Surrogacy-Related Medical Appointments

Contact your OB-GYN and your fertility clinic to ask about their COVID-19 policies. Do they prefer minor check-ins to be conducted virtually? Are you allowed to bring the intended parents or your spouse? If they do have new policies regarding COVID-19 prevention, you’ll want to know about it before the intended parents or your spouse come with you to these appointments and have to wait in the car!

Of course, in-person visits will be unavoidable throughout your surrogacy process. For these, you’ll want to bring a mask and sanitize your hands before and after your appointment. The doctor’s office or clinic will likely take your temperature before you enter, in addition to other precautions.

Your Hospital and Delivery Experience

Hospital policy regarding labor and delivery during this time will vary. Some hospitals, for example, will limit the number of visitors you may have during your labor, delivery and recovery. At other hospitals, they’ll simply take more precautions — like taking the temperature of visitors and asking that everyone wash their hands and wear masks.

In more extreme situations, surrogates have had to choose just one intended parent to have with them in the delivery room, or just the surrogate’s spouse was in the room to support them. This can be tough for everyone involved if your hospital has this type of policy. While American Surrogacy hasn’t encountered this yet, policies simply depend on the hospital and the rapidly changing pandemic situation.

Check in with your American Surrogacy specialist and your intended parents. Together, you’ll communicate with your chosen hospital to determine any changes that might need to be made to your ideal birth plan. It’s best to talk about these plans in advance, so you aren’t caught off guard when you go to the hospital and discover that they have a new COVID-related policy that affects you.

Your Precautionary Measures for Health and Safety

You already know how to stay healthy and safe when you’re planning to become pregnant (or are pregnant), even before the coronavirus became a factor. And everyone, not just pregnant women, should be taking appropriate measures to reduce and slow the spread of COVID-19 by staying at home as much as possible, social distancing, frequently washing hands and wearing masks when around others.

But now, carefully adhering to preventative measures regarding COVID-19 is especially important for gestational surrogates and the people around them.

The CDC states that “pregnant people appear to have the same risk of COVID-19 as adults who are not pregnant. However, much remains unknown. We do know that pregnant people have had a higher risk of severe illness when infected with viruses that are similar to COVID-19, as well as other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza.

“We also know that pregnant people have changes in their bodies that may increase their risk of some infections. Therefore, if you are pregnant, it is always important for you to try to protect yourself from illnesses whenever possible.”

As for increased risks to newborns, very little is known at this time, but they may be more likely to suffer from severe illness stemming from the virus, similar to pregnant people.

The main takeaway: Protect yourself from illness just as you would with any pregnancy, but continue to:

  • Stay home when possible
  • Wash your hands often
  • Practice social distancing
  • Wear your mask when around anyone outside of your “quarantine bubble”
  • Remind your immediate family members to do the same in order to protect one another

You’ll need to be cautious about who you, and your family, come into contact with. Your family will need to practice the same safety measures as you to prevent them from contracting the virus and potentially spreading it to you. You probably aren’t at any greater risk than anyone else, but everyone should take reasonable precautions, regardless.

You can’t keep yourself in a bubble throughout the entirety of your surrogacy journey, and no one is expecting you to do so. However, being extra vigilant about reducing your exposure and increasing hygiene steps can help mitigate the risk of contracting or spreading the virus during your surrogacy experience.

If you have any questions about how COVID-19 may affect you as a surrogate — including through IVF, pregnancy, delivery and more — don’t hesitate to contact your American Surrogacy specialist. Remember: Becoming a surrogate or continuing your surrogacy process is still safe, as long as you continue to practice the prescribed basic health and safety measures.

5 Tips for Long-Distance Surrogacy Relationships During COVID-19

Our relationships are more important than ever during these uncertain times. If you’re in the middle of a surrogacy journey, it’s no different.

Your relationship with the intended parents or surrogate may look a little different than pre-COVID. If your partnership is long-distance, you may not be missing out on scheduled in-person meetings. But that doesn’t mean your relationship doesn’t also need special attention and focus during this time.

Whatever nerves you have about pursuing surrogacy during COVID-19, your surrogacy partner has them, too. Maintaining an open, honest conversation during this time will help you both relieve those worries and be better prepared for the journey ahead.

Finding energy and excitement about surrogacy during this pandemic can understandably be hard. But don’t let your surrogacy partnership suffer!

Here are a few tips to safely keep your long-distance surrogacy relationship strong right now:

1. Check in With Each Other Directly

There’s a lot of unknowns during this pandemic, and it can be tempting to call your surrogacy specialist asking for frequent updates. While we will always be here to answer your questions, the best way to check up on your surrogacy partner is by reaching out to them directly. If you wait for our specialists to check in for you, it will often take much longer; it can be a while before we catch everyone on the phone, and we have many other responsibilities on our list as hospital and clinic policies continue to change.

If you’re worried about the health of your surrogate or intended parents, please contact them directly. You’ll get the answer you’re looking for much more quickly, and your contact will show your surrogacy partner how much you care about them during this time.

2. Don’t Be Shy with Video Calls!

We get it; we’re all tired of Zoom calls. But there’s no better way to connect with your surrogacy partner during this time than by seeing each other face-to-face — safely through a screen, of course.

Think beyond your typical video call just to check in. Take advantage of this technology for doctor’s appointments and other important milestones. Intended parents may not be able to attend as many appointments as they originally planned, but using video calls can help them feel like they are still there.

If you set up video calls to check in, make sure to set an expected start and end time. Perhaps even plan some activities to prevent any awkwardness.

3. Set Expectations

With the pandemic situation changing so rapidly, it’s normal to want to check in as often as possible. But overstepping contact boundaries can actually put more stress on your surrogacy partner.

Remember that many parents are dealing with working at home at the same time they are caring for children with fewer activities to keep them busy. Constant calls or emails can just become one more thing on their to-do list.

So, set a schedule with your surrogacy partner. Talk about how often you will check in, and perhaps use quicker forms of communication like texts to let them know you’re thinking about them. And, if your surrogacy partner misses a scheduled contact, don’t freak out — give grace and remember that we’re all navigating this situation as best we can.

4. Offer Help However You Can

It’s easy to feel helpless right now, especially if your surrogacy partner is thousands of miles from you. So, don’t be afraid to offer them help in whatever way you can.

Some examples:

  • Purchase a gift card to a local restaurant for a take-out dinner.
  • Send a personalized gift basket of necessities (toilet paper and hand sanitizer, anyone?)
  • Send a bouquet of flowers or a similar surprise to brighten up their day.

As always, talk with your surrogacy specialist if you need ideas or suggestions for supporting your surrogacy partner during these times.

5. Don’t Make It All About COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted everyone’s lives. Just as it’s a constant in your everyday routine, it will be the same for your surrogacy partner. Yes, it’s made your surrogacy journey harder — but the last thing either of you will want is to have the same conversations over and over and stress each other out.

So, instead of worrying about COVID-19 and its effects on your surrogacy journey during every phone call or email, take the time to talk about other things. Babies don’t care what’s happening outside the womb, and life goes on during this pandemic.

If you’re an intended parent, don’t feel bad for asking about a surrogate’s pregnancy and the baby’s development. And, if you’re a surrogate, don’t be afraid to share those updates and stories! We all need some positive news right now, and sharing it with each other will remind you why you embarked on surrogacy in the first place.

Taking a break from all the coronavirus talk is not just smart — it’s necessary for your mental health. Do what you can to prepare each other for the unknown ahead, but don’t focus on it. Remember that your surrogacy specialist will be here to guide you through those upcoming steps, whatever they may look like.

When an Embryo Splits: A Surrogate’s Guide

When you go in for your first ultrasound post-embryo transfer, you and your intended parents will simply be hoping for a healthy, strong heartbeat. It will probably come as a shock to both of you if the doctor picks up two — it means you’re carrying twins!

Even though reproductive endocrinologists often do all they can to ensure a healthy singleton pregnancy with little risks, sometimes nature has other plans. You may not have seen yourself carrying twins for someone else for nine months. But, now that you’re in this situation, what can you do?

We know getting news of a multiples pregnancy can be shocking. Remember, your American Surrogacy specialist will always be there to answer your questions and support you moving forward.

While identical twins are rare, they can happen. Here’s what you should do if you find yourself in this situation:

1. First, Talk with Your Intended Parents

An identical twin pregnancy can bring up a lot of complicated emotions, and that’s especially true in a gestational surrogacy. You and the intended parents may need some time to process this news and what it means for your journey, but it’s crucial that you’re all on the same page moving forward.

Make sure that you are open about your thoughts and emotions during this time. Fortunately, you’ll have a roadmap for the next nine months (see below about your contract), but there will always be opportunities to update that plan as you figure out what works best for you. Having an open conversation and building a solid team dynamic from the beginning will make the challenges ahead much easier.

Remember: You have as much of a say in this gestational surrogacy as the intended parents, so don’t be afraid to share your feelings about this unexpected situation.

2. Look to Your Contract

The first decision you’ll make together is whether or not to continue this pregnancy. Because identical twins share a placenta, it’s nearly impossible to safely reduce the pregnancy to one fetus. Instead, you will be faced with an “all-or-none” decision: to continue with the twin pregnancy or terminate in hopes of a healthy singleton pregnancy during your next transfer.

Your path forward will be laid out in your surrogacy contract. Making this important decision in the heat of emotions is incredibly difficult; that’s why we require all intended parents to discuss these complex situations ahead of time with a lawyer. Your contract will likely inform your next steps.

Your contract will also address the additional compensation you are entitled to during a multiples pregnancy: the additional payment for carrying twins, bedrest compensation, wages for missed work and additional compensation for invasive procedures (such as a Cesarean-section). If you ever have any questions about your surrogate compensation, talk with your surrogacy specialist or attorney.

3. Remember the Risks

There’s a reason why reproductive endocrinologists take steps to ensure singleton pregnancies in IVF and gestational surrogacies. Carrying more than one baby increases the health risks for both carrier and babies.

If you and your intended parents will move forward with an identical twin pregnancy, you’ll need to be comfortable with the additional risks this can create, including:

  • Preterm labor and delivery
  • Low birth weight
  • Preeclampsia
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Cesarean-section
  • Placental abruption
  • Fetal death

You will need to be extremely careful and take certain precautions to keep yourself and the intended parents’ babies safe. This may mean you undergo a planned c-section before your due date or spend the last few weeks of your pregnancy on bedrest or limited in the activity you can do.

Your surrogacy contract will address the worst-case scenario (disability compensation and life insurance), but you must be comfortable with these risks before you agree to continuing a multiples pregnancy.

4. Create a Plan for Your Family

Because a multiples pregnancy comes with the risks mentioned above, you’ll need to work with your spouse and immediate family members to create a plan. This will come in handy, should you be placed on bedrest, have to take maternity leave early or have an extended recovery from a c-section.

Your family should have a plan for:

  • Who will watch your children and pets while you are unable to
  • Who will put together meals for your family while you’re incapacitated
  • Who will bring you supplies when you’re at the hospital
  • And more

Your surrogacy specialist can give you suggestions of things to plan for, based on her experience with other surrogates.

This is where having a great support system of family and friends can come in handy. Reach out to your support system; see if someone would be willing to prep some ready-made meals for your family, or take some of your laundry to the laundromat after delivery. You may be surprised at just how much help you’ll get!

5. Take it One Day at a Time

In many ways, a multiples gestational pregnancy is no different from a singleton gestational pregnancy. Yes, there are some added risks but, by taking things slow and keeping yourself safe, you can still have a successful, memorable surrogacy experience.

The last thing you’ll want to do is stress yourself out with all the “what-ifs.” You and your intended parents should instead focus on all the things you can control: your birth plan, your relationship during surrogacy and the beautiful experience you’re having together. A positive outlook can make all the difference during the uncertainty of a multiples pregnancy.

Remember, if you are ever in need of additional support or guidance, American Surrogacy will always be there for you.

5 Tips for Bedrest During Surrogacy

When you became a surrogate, you probably had a vision in your head of how your pregnancy would go. You’d be able to carry the intended parents’ baby nine months without a hitch, simultaneously focusing on your job and your family with only minimal adjustments.

But we all know life doesn’t go according to plan — and pregnancy can be especially surprising. If you’ve found yourself facing down the remainder of your pregnancy on bedrest, you’re not alone.

While bedrest is important for your physical health, it can also seem like a death sentence for your mental and social health. But there are some steps you can take to make your bedrest as easy as possible for you, your family and your intended parents.

1. Prepare as Much as You Can

The success of your bedrest will depend upon what steps you take to prepare yourself. Bedrest certainly isn’t easy, despite its name, and you’ll need to actively prepare for how this will affect your life moving forward.

Your surrogacy specialist and doctor will always give you suggestions, but here are just a few things to think about:

  • Preparing yourself: A routine can make all the difference as you pass days with limited activity and interaction. Plan what you’ll do each day, and make sure you have everything (phone charger, laptop, fluids, snacks, etc.) close at hand. Talk to your employer to see if you can work remotely or if you’ll need to take personal leave.
  • Preparing your family: You won’t be able to take care of your normal responsibilities, so work with your spouse to create a plan. Who will manage childcare while your spouse works? How will you ensure your family has well-balanced, healthy meals to eat? How will you explain your bedrest to your children?
  • Preparing your intended parents: Your intended parents will be understandably worried about you if you develop a high-risk pregnancy, but try to reassure them as much as possible. Set expectations for how often you’ll update them on your well-being, and give them ideas for helping you and your family during this time.

2. Find Out What is and isn’t Allowed

Bedrest may conjure images of you stuck under the covers for weeks, with your only exercise being your walk to the bathroom. But that’s not always the case.

Like most medical prescriptions, bedrest isn’t one-size-fits-all. It’s important that you get all the important details from your doctor: Can you get out of bed to stretch and do gentle exercises? Can you still do easy chores around the house?

Bedrest in its traditional form is rarely prescribed today, but your doctor may use this term to mean a reduced amount of activity and work in your daily routine. While it’s important to play it safe for your health and for the baby’s, don’t be afraid to advocate for your needs and understand exactly what your doctor means when they use this term.

3. Get Creative with Entertainment

When we’re busy in our everyday lives, a day full of Netflix and the couch can seem like heaven. But, when it becomes the only thing you can do for weeks on end, it can quickly get old.

Women who are on bedrest should think of alternative entertainment options. You might consider:

  • Buying an old gaming system to re-live the video games of your youth
  • Filling out crossword puzzles and coloring books
  • Finding a new hobby, like learning a new language or taking an online class
  • Finally reading the stack of books on your bookshelf

As you evaluate what entertainment option is right for you in the moment, don’t forget to evaluate your mental health, too. It’s easy to get into the habit of letting the TV drone on for hours, but taking the steps to challenge yourself mentally during this time is important. You could even include your family in a family game night, hosted from your bedroom!

4. Maintain Your Social Relationships

You will likely feel stir-crazy with only your family to talk to, so don’t forget your friends! While you may not be able to do much out of bed, you could always invite your friends over for a “happy hour.” Or, you can always do the tried-and-true phone call. Talking about something other than your pregnancy can give you a good mental break.

Your friends can also be a great source of support during this time. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, even if it’s something as simple as a pre-made casserole or a babysitter if your usual caregiver needs a break.

5. Keep Your Intended Parents Updated

While bedrest may be more of an inconvenience for you than anything else, a high-risk pregnancy can be extremely frightening for intended parents. There’s nothing they can do to ensure a healthy delivery at this point; they’re just relying on you, so it’s important to reassure them however you can.

Take the time to update them a few times a week on your well-being, if you’re comfortable doing so. Pass along any information from your medical providers, and try to still send happy pregnancy updates (“the baby is kicking!”). While you should only do what you are comfortable doing, remember that your intended parents are putting their whole future in your hands — and they are here to help you, too.

If you need more guidance or support during your bedrest, be sure to let your surrogacy specialist know. We are always here to help.

How Your OBGYN Visits Will Be Different as a Surrogate

The journey to become a surrogate takes careful planning, timing and, most importantly, patience. With so many steps involved in the process, it’s so important to make sure that the baby you’re carrying receives only the best care.

But going to the OBGYN as a surrogate is a bit different than your average doctor’s visit. As you can imagine, things will be a little different when it’s not your baby you’re carrying. Because this process is so unique, you may have a hard time imagining what your visits will look like.

To help answer some of your pressing questions, we’ve created a guide to prenatal appointments for surrogates below:

Your First Visit

Initially, you and the intended parents will be working with a fertility clinic. But after that, you’ll likely be working with your OBGYN.

For many women, surrogate or not, the first visit with an OB can be a little stressful. But the good news is that this visit won’t differ much from one for a traditional pregnancy. It normally takes place between 8 to 12 weeks of pregnancy, and your doctor will likely ask you some general questions about the surrogacy process and how you’re doing as well.

Because there’s so much to do during the initial visit, it’s often  one of the longest.

Here are some additional things that might happen during your first visit:

  • You might have your first ultrasound.
  • You should expect a urine test, blood work and a pap smear.
  • Your health and vitals will be checked, and your doctor will ask questions about your first trimester.
  • You’ll likely receive a thorough physical, which will include a pelvic and breast exam (after the intended parents have left the room).
  • You’ll be asked to fill out some important paperwork.

Involving the Intended Parents

The first obstetrician visit is usually an exciting time for both intended parents and surrogates. After all, this is an experience they’ve been waiting for for a very long time.

Both parties will have the opportunity to ask plenty of questions, if they have any. And, more than likely, you’ll be able to hear the baby’s heartbeat for the very first time!

If the intended parents aren’t able to attend the first visit, that’s okay. You can share how it went with them at a later point. And if you do receive an ultrasound, you can send them some exciting pictures in the mail.

How to Handle the Unexpected

As you can imagine, surrogacy is new for a lot of people — even doctors. You may run into some awkward situations.

During your initial visit, you’re going to be asked a lot of questions that may not be applicable to the surrogacy process (like questions about your partner’s health). Some surrogates get called “mom” during their appointments. And sometimes, doctors may ask the intended parents to leave the room during your appointment. When something like this happens, you might be unsure of what to do.

The best thing that you can do is to provide as much information about the surrogacy process as you can — as early on as you can. Although your OB might not understand the uniqueness of your pregnancy or your relationship to the intended parents, they should be someone you already know and trust. Even if they’re new to the process, your doctor should have a clear understanding of how to treat everyone in this journey.

If you have any trouble during your visits, or if you have an OB who isn’t understanding of surrogacy, don’t be afraid to look for a different doctor. You deserve to receive the care that you need and feel comfortable doing so.

We’re sure you have plenty of other questions about your first OBGYN visit as a surrogate, the medical process for surrogacy, and much more. For answers, reach out to your surrogacy specialist at any time.

7 Deeper Things to Look for in Intended Parents

When you’re a surrogate, carrying someone else’s child is a life-changing responsibility and partnership that you take very seriously. You understandably want to make sure that you have a strong connection with the parents — you shouldn’t settle for carrying for just anyone. 

There’s no such thing as a “perfect” intended parent, because there is no such thing as a perfect person. There is, however, the ideal match for you! They’re out there right now, longing for a child and waiting for someone like you to help them. Remember that American Surrogacy will help you to find and match with those parents, so contact us whenever you’re ready to get started.

But, how will you know when you’ve found those intended parents that are truly right for you? Aside from that important gut instinct of “just knowing” and, of course, sharing the same surrogacy goals, here are seven deeper things to look for in an intended parent:

1. They’ve Grieved Any Fertility Loss, and They’re Excited About Surrogacy

You’ve likely thought about how, if you were to match with a couple who struggled with fertility or pregnancy loss, this grief may affect your relationship. Will feelings of pregnancy envy mar the joys of the shared journey? Can you all honor those losses while moving forward?

In most matches, intended parents are absolutely ready and able to move forward with surrogacy after grieving infertility.

American Surrogacy works with intended parents to make sure that they’re emotionally ready for surrogacy after infertility grief, but you yourself will also need to feel that these intended parents are as excited about this as you are.

2. They Don’t View Surrogacy as a Business Transaction

Gestational surrogacy is far from transactional! There is compensation and a lot of paperwork involved, certainly. But neither you nor American Surrogacy would want to work with intended parents who view this experience as some kind of business transaction.

And no child wants to feel as if they were the result of a simple transaction. 

You’re pursuing surrogacy because you love families, and you want to help someone create their own family. So, it’s important that you find intended parents who are also coming to surrogacy full of love — for you as well as for their future child.

3. They Get to Know You

It can be a little awkward to get to know strangers at first. Surrogacy is an intimate and vulnerable experience in many ways. But your American Surrogacy specialist will help you all get through the early stages and have the important conversations.

However, the sign of a good fit is the intended parents’ interest in getting to know you for you. It’s important that they ask questions about your abilities as a surrogate, to be sure. Hopefully, they’ll ask questions about you, your family and your interests, too, purely for the sake of creating a connection.

4. They Aren’t Just Looking for the Cheapest Option

Surrogacy is not an inexpensive family-building process for hopeful parents. It’s more than reasonable to receive fair compensation for the sacrifices, risk and effort you take on when completing fertility treatments and carrying someone else’s child — but some intended parents will want to cut corners on costs where they can.

You aren’t in this for the money, and the right intended parents will understand this. They’ll also have researched everything you’ll need to undertake as their surrogate, and they’ll understand why some amount of compensation for that is fair. 

If an intended parent is making choices based purely on cost, then they’re likely not a good fit.

5. They Talk about How Surrogacy Will Be Discussed With Their Child

This is something that all intended parents should be ready to talk about with you. Like with children who were adopted, the best policy for children born via surrogacy is openness, honesty and positivity from day one.

The right intended parents will express how they plan to talk about you with their child. Will you stay in touch so that their child can meet you someday, if he or she is interested? Will they share details about you so their child can have a clear picture of his or her birth story? Children need to understand their personal histories, and you’ll be a small but important part of that. How do you want to be talked about?

6. They Respect Your Opinions

Although this is their child and the intended parents will be leading for much of the surrogacy process, the right intended parents will also understand that this is your body. You’ll know it’s a good match when you meet intended parents who ask about your wishes and express that they will respect your input when decisions need to be made.

As the parents of this child, these people will be making many of the choices that lie ahead. However, their decisions will affect you. The right intended parents will understand this and will never put you in a position that makes you uncomfortable. This is a team effort, and they should see you as the “Most Valued Player!”

7. They Feel “Right” to You

Most of our surrogates (and intended parents) at American Surrogacy say that, outside of sharing the same surrogacy goals, they had a gut instinct that the match was just “right.” Sometimes, even something as small as a shared interest will spark that serendipitous feeling, while in other moments you may feel drawn to intended parents because of their personal story. It might just be something about their personalities and relationship.

Whatever it is, as long as you share the same goals for the relationship and journey ahead, go ahead and follow that feeling! It’s likely your heart and gut telling you that this is the right decision.

Ready to find your ideal match? Contact American Surrogacy for more information about becoming a gestational surrogate now.

What if the Intended Parents Miss Their Baby’s Birth?

Intended parents are usually able to get to the hospital with plenty of time to spare, so they can welcome their baby alongside their surrogate. But it’s always a fear in the back of the mind of gestational surrogates and intended parents, especially in long-distance matches — what if the intended parents don’t make it in time? 

What if they miss their baby’s birth? Who would be responsible for the baby’s care and for making any necessary medical decisions until the intended parents arrive? 

While this is extremely rare (it’s never happened with American Surrogacy so far!) it’s certainly possible for an unavoidable impediment like unexpected/emergency labor, a travel ban or flight delay to prevent the intended parents from being present at the time of the baby’s birth.

Here’s what surrogates and intended parents should know:

Always Stay Calm

In the unlikely event that this happens in your surrogacy journey, both parties will be understandably upset that things aren’t going according to plan. The arrival of the baby is an important moment, and you all want to be together for that event. 

However, if something unexpected and unavoidable occurs, all that really matters is the health and safety of the baby and surrogate. No matter what, the baby will be born and the families will be united — even if it’s not as soon as everyone would prefer. Until then, stay calm and trust that each party (along with your American Surrogacy specialist) will take care of their end of things. 

The Baby Would Be Cared for By the Nurses

If the parents are significantly delayed for some reason, the gestational surrogate cannot care for the baby in the interim because she’s not the parent and has no legal rights to the child. That will be the hospital’s policy, even if the intended parents give permission for her to temporarily take over for them until they arrive. 

The hospital’s pediatric staff would assume care of the baby until the parents arrive.

Talk to Your Attorney

Your surrogacy attorneys may be able to work a clause into your contracts that outlines what would happen in this situation, including some advanced medical directives. Ask them what’s possible in your situation, and coordinate with your surrogacy partner as well as your specialist to make sure any relevant legal information is provided to hospital staff in advance.

Talking to your attorney will be especially important if you’re stationed overseas and need to travel back to the United States mainland to be with your U.S. surrogate. Ask your attorney and hospital if there are any exceptions that can be made in your situation, or if you can make some decisions regarding your newborn’s care in advance.

Keep Phones Close at Hand

Some of the medical and newborn care decisions that need to be made by the parents may be done over the phone. This can be tricky if the parents are mid-flight or are traveling through an area with spotty reception. However, surrogates and intended parents can try to keep an open line of communication before, during and after the baby’s birth for important updates, so we always recommend having that phone fully charged, close at hand and with the ringer on.

This will also be important in case your surrogacy specialist tries to get ahold of either of you for updates or important information!

You’ll Have the Rest of Your Lives to Make Up for One Missed Moment

If, as an intended parent, you can’t imagine missing your baby’s first breaths, try to keep things in perspective. Missing your child’s birth would be incredibly difficult. But you’ll have a lifetime together ahead of you!

Surrogates: If you’re comfortable doing so, and you know that the intended parents are about to miss their baby’s birth, consider asking your spouse or a nurse to video or photograph your labor and delivery. Being able to see their baby come into the world (even after the fact) may mean a lot to the parents. 

Your Surrogacy Specialist Will Be Ready

Whether you’re an intended parent or a surrogate, remember that your American Surrogacy specialist will be watching over your journey and making sure that things are going smoothly. Even if something unexpected and unavoidable happens, like the intended parents being delayed on their way to the hospital, your specialist will be ready. 

She will be communicating with hospital staff, your attorneys and both parties as often as possible to keep everyone in the know. We understand that sometimes things unexpectedly happen and throw a wrench in our carefully-made plans! But we’ll be ready to help everyone deal with whatever comes your way and make sure the baby is safe, happy and healthy until he or she is placed into the parents’ arms.

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).