Should You Become an Intended Parent During COVID-19?

We’ve all felt the widespread effects of COVID-19 in different ways. For some, it has brought about job loss and economic hardship. Others have struggled with loneliness due to social distancing, and many have felt an increase in anxiety as they go about their daily life with all of the new health and safety precautions.

COVID-19 has caused massive change and disruption to nearly every area of life, and that includes the surrogacy process. Intended parents who were ready to begin the process, and even those already in it, may be confused about what to do next. Should you continue to pursue surrogacy during COVID-19?

This is a personal choice, so we can’t make it for you. However, we can give you helpful information that puts you in a better place to make the right decision. And that’s why we’ve created this guide.

This is Part Two in our series on surrogacy and COVID-19. If you are a potential surrogate asking the same question, make sure to check out our blog for surrogates.

In order to decide whether or not pursuing surrogacy during COVID-19 is the right choice for your family, it may be helpful to understand how the process could change because of the pandemic.

How COVID-19 Could Change the Surrogacy Process

Every journey toward building a family through surrogacy is unique. That means the specific ways COVID-19 changes your process will depend on the details of your situation.

Has someone close to you contracted the virus, or have you gotten sick? How prevalent is the spread of the virus in your community? Are you a high-risk individual?

These (and other) personal questions will play a big role in determining how things change in your surrogacy process. Along with these things to consider, there are some bigger changes that most processes are experiencing in the face of COVID-19.

Clinic Policies:

Each fertility clinic implements unique precautions to protect clients from COVID-19. You should expect your experience to change. Consultations may move online, and in-person visits may require mask-wearing and other social distancing measures. Consult your fertility clinic to learn more about the guidelines they have put in place during this time.

Travel Plans:

Will your surrogacy process involve travel? Not all processes do. If you do expect to travel, then you will feel the impact on COVID-19 on this aspect of your journey. Airlines have enacted stringent safety measures, and flying is a higher risk activity due to the confined airspace shared with many others for several hours. If you have the ability to drive to your destination, that may be a preferable mode of transportation.

Surrogacy Funds:

The financial impact of COVID-19 has been devastating for many. Whether this comes in the form of job loss, reduced hours, stock losses or something else, your surrogacy budget may have been reduced because of the virus. You’re not alone in dealing with this. Speak to your surrogacy specialist and be totally clear about what your budget looks like because of the pandemic.

The Family-Building Timeline:

It seems like one feature of life in a pandemic is that everything takes a bit longer. Many places of businesses are still catching up on backlogged appointments from the shutdowns, and others simply run at a slower pace in order to follow all the required safety measures. The family-building timeline of your surrogacy process could be extended due to COVID-19.

These are several significant changes to the surrogacy experience that any intended parent should take into account when considering whether or not to carry on with the process in light of COVID-19.

Evaluating Your Options

Taking these considerations into account, should you move forward with the surrogacy process as an intended parent? The answer depends on several factors, including your personal risk tolerance, ability to be flexible and the current situation around COVID-19 in your area.

It should be noted that the impact of COVID-19 could change rapidly. Some communities have already weathered the worst of the virus and are operating under more normal procedures, while others are on the brink of lockdown. Make sure to take your local situation into account.

You might want to move forward with the surrogacy process if:

  • You are prepared to be flexible.
  • You surrogacy funds are secure.
  • You are OK with an extended timeline.
  • You are aware of the health risks involved with clinic visits, travel and other parts of the process.

You might want to consider pressing pause on surrogacy if:

  • The changes to the process will make you anxious.
  • Your surrogacy funds have been reduced due to the pandemic.
  • The fluctuating timeline and delays will be a source of frustration.
  • You or someone you know is at a higher risk for severe presentation of COVID-19, making the health risks associated with certain steps of the process more dangerous.

There’s no “right” or “wrong” decision in this situation. We’re all going through a pandemic for the first time, and it’s OK to feel confused or unsure. Whatever you choose will be the best decision for your life.

If pressing pause on your surrogacy process is what’s best, then that is OK. You’re not on a deadline. American Surrogacy will still be here to assist you months or even years from now.

Even if you had already stepped into the early stages of the surrogacy process, it’s OK to press pause and pick things back up when life is better. It’s not ideal, and it may be disappointing or frustrating. But, it’s better to be patient (even when it’s hard!) then to try and force the process at the wrong time.

Speak with a Specialist

Many intended parents find clarity when they speak to a surrogacy professional. If you have more questions about your specific situation, you can contact us online at any time or call 1-800-875-BABY (875-229) to speak with a specialist. We’d be happy to answer your questions, fill you in on how we are keeping our clients safe during the pandemic, and help you decide what will be best for your family.

3 Things Surrogates Can Expect at Ultrasound Appointments

If you’re preparing to become a surrogate, you most likely know that this process is far from simple. There’s the intense screening before you get started, the exact timing of the embryo transfer, the relationship with the intended parents and 100 other things to consider.

In all of that, there may be one step that slips through the cracks: your ultrasound appointments. These appointments are obviously exciting. You’ve experienced this from ultrasounds for your own children, and maybe even previously as a surrogate. You know that ultrasounds are not very demanding, from a medical perspective.

What you may not know about are the unexpected and sometimes challenging emotions that may arise during the ultrasound appointments, both in yourself and in the intended parents. This step of the journey — as with the rest of the surrogacy process — is often more complex than it appears, but it is also so rewarding.

If you’re considering surrogacy or already in the midst of the process, here are three things you may not know about the ultrasound appointments.

1. You will probably feel excited and a bit nervous.

You’ve experienced an ultrasound before, and you know how amazing it can be. Seeing movement and the form of a baby taking shape, hearing the heartbeat — it can be a beautiful experience.

You may also be nervous. Doctor’s visits can make anyone nervous, even for the “routine” stuff. If the intended parents are there, that could add to your nerves, as well, since you want everything to go perfect for them. If you’re feeling nervous leading up to your ultrasound appointment, that’s completely normal.

Talk to your surrogacy specialist if your nerves are giving you trouble. They’ll understand and help you process your anxiety so that you can focus on the excitement. Or, if you’d like to hear what the experience was like for someone else in your position, you can ask a surrogate.

2. You may feel a confusing sense of sadness or jealousy.

Nervousness isn’t the only uncomfortable feeling that you could experience during your ultrasound appointment as a surrogate. Every experience is unique, but it’s common for surrogates to report feelings of sadness, confusion and even jealousy during the ultrasound.

What’s that all about?

Mentally, you know what you are doing. And you’re proud of it, as you should be! Biologically, it can be a bit more challenging to get your body to understand what’s happening — that you are carrying a baby that isn’t yours. This clash of biological mechanisms (like the hormones naturally released at the sight of a baby moving inside of you) and your cerebral understanding (this baby is not mine) can create an unexplainable sense of sadness. There could be jealousy toward the intended parents, too.

These are natural feelings. They are not bad; you do not need to feel ashamed if you have them. Be aware that this is a complex situation and you might feel sad, jealous or many other uncomfortable emotions. Rather than let these feelings make you feel defeated, you can prepare for coping with them.

3. There may be several awkward moments.

Ultrasounds when the intended parents are present can put the medical professionals in an awkward situation. Your doctor may lose track of who they should be talking to. They could look at you and tell you about “your baby,” or look at the intended parents when communicating medical information about your body.

Try to have some grace in these moments. Laugh them off instead of letting tension build. Everyone is on the same team, so it’s okay when these things happen. Be prepared for a couple awkward moments.

Understanding Intended Parents’ Feelings at the Ultrasound

Every intended parent has a unique experience at the ultrasound appointments. Oftentimes, they are experiencing a confusing mix of emotions, similar to the things you might feel. If things start to feel awkward during or after the ultrasound, it could be that the intended parents are trying to process what they feel.

Being aware of this can help you leave space for the intended parents to process their emotions, just as they create the space for you to process, too.

Speak With Your Specialist

Are you nervous about your ultrasound or confused about what to expect? Talk to your specialist. They can provide guidance and support for this, and every other, step of the process.

If you’re still considering surrogacy and don’t have a specialist yet, contact us today. You can reach out online or call 1-800-875-BABY(2229) to speak with a specialist, free of charge.

Can I Have a Child After Being a Surrogate?

Women from all walks of life can consider becoming a surrogate. There are plenty of reasons to choose this life-changing journey. Depending on your circumstances, you may be wondering if it is possible, or advisable, to start your own family after becoming a surrogate.

This is a good question to ask, and the most important thing for you to do is speak with your surrogacy specialist. Working through a decision like this takes care and experience, as well as professional guidance from someone well-versed in the surrogacy process.

While not a substitute for speaking directly with your specialist, we wanted to create this guide to address some of the biggest questions around having a child after surrogacy. There are risks to be aware of and several important things to consider.

Ultimately, this is a choice that should be made after consulting your partner and your surrogacy specialist.

Can I Have a Child After Surrogacy?

Yes, you can have a child after surrogacy. From a purely practical standpoint, surrogacy and the embryo transfer process do not take away your ability to bear children. However, when asking this question, you’re most likely looking for more than the baseline biological answer.

Rather than discussing the can, what’s really at stake here is should.

Should you have a child after being a surrogate? There are reasons for and against it. Many surrogacy professionals require that your family is already complete. It may be helpful to learn about some of the risks of having a child after surrogacy to understand why.

Risks of Pregnancy After Surrogacy

If you are considering becoming a surrogate, there’s a good chance your surrogacy professional will ask that your family be complete before beginning the process. This is a requirement, with rare exceptions, that American Surrogacy holds. There are practical, medical and personal reasons for this.

If you are considering surrogacy, but know that you’re not finished having children of your own, then these are the risks you should know about:

The Medical Risks

The surrogacy process isn’t dangerous, but it does carry the same risk as any other pregnancy would. This can include side effects like nausea, heartburn, weight gain, swelling and back pain. There is also the possibility of more serious (but rare) complications like hypertension or the loss of reproductive organs.

Additionally, the  preparation for the embryo transfer process can have some side effects, although they are often minor. This can include things like mild bruising at the fertility medication injection site or temporary allergic reaction, and some shots can be painful.

While these medical risks are not drastically different from any other pregnancy, there is always some level of risk involved in becoming pregnant. The chance that it should be your last pregnancy is also present. This should be taken into account if you hope to have another child in your own family.

The Emotional Risks

Surrogacy is an amazing experience. It can be beautiful and life-changing. It can also be emotionally challenging. When discussing the risks of surrogacy to future pregnancy, it’s important to consider the emotional experience alongside medical practicalities.

Any pregnancy can be overwhelming. When you are carrying a child of your own, you can use the rewarding connection at the end of pregnancy as a coping mechanism. But surrogacy, as you know, is different. Even though most surrogates feel a strong sense of pride and accomplishment, fluctuating hormones and postpartum depression are possible challenges.

Your specialist and American Surrogacy will provide all possible resources to work through these challenging feelings. Even still, the experience can make the idea of becoming pregnant again more difficult.

Take these emotional and medical risks into account when considering surrogacy before your family is complete. While having a child after surrogacy may be possible, it can also be more challenging.

Advantages of Completing Your Family Before Surrogacy

We support your dreams of starting and growing a family. When it comes to the timing of this in your life, there are several noted advantages to completing your family before becoming a surrogate.

The experience may make the surrogate pregnancy more manageable. You’ll know what to expect from prenatal care and other medical appointments, and understand the general flow of pregnancy and the impact it has on your body.

Additionally, knowing your family is complete is helpful while navigating the emotional complexities of surrogacy. Like we said, it can be a challenge to cope with the end of a pregnancy when the baby is not yours. The body, biologically, is not used to this. Returning home to your own, loving family can make this experience better.

Contact Us Today

Do you have more questions about becoming a surrogate? Let’s talk. Contact us online or call 1-800-875-BABY(2229) to speak with a specialist.

How to Find Patience in the Surrogacy Journey

Waiting is hard, especially when you know what you want. That’s why it can be so frustrating when steps of the surrogacy process seem to drag on and on. Why can’t things speed up, already?

If you’re preparing for the surrogacy process — as an intended parent or surrogate — you will need to find ways to develop patience. Unfortunate as it may be, there are aspects of this process that simply can’t be rushed. You might feel frustrated during those times, and that’s completely understandable. How you respond to that frustration will play a big part in your overall experience with the surrogacy process.

For the best experience on this life-changing journey, consider some of these tips and pointers on ways to find patience when things are moving slowly.

Finding Patience as an Intended Parent

You’ve likely been waiting for a long time when you’re an intended parent in the surrogacy process. The dream of parenthood has been in your sights for years, possibly many years, and now that you’re so close you just want it to be here now.

This is extremely understandable. It’s normal. In fact, it’s good. It’s a sign of your already deep love for your child and your desire to take on the responsibilities of parenthood. However, unchecked impatience can spoil the process.

Here are a few things to do and consider when you feel frustrated by the pace of the process:

Speak with your surrogacy specialist.

Your first and most important call is always to your specialist. An open, honest dialog with your specialist sets the foundation for a successful surrogacy process. Feeling impatient? Talk about it — and remember to be kind, because your specialist is working as hard as they can to support you during this journey.

Remind yourself what you’re waiting for.

One good way to do this is by writing it out. This forces your brain to consider the idea to the fullest extent. It may seem silly — of course you know what you’re waiting for.

But, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment when the process becomes frustrating. Taking time to re-examine your hopes and dreams of becoming a parent can reset your focus and help you find the necessary patience during a slow-moving step of the process.

Find something else to do.

The surrogacy process can feel all-consuming, but there are other parts of life that matter, too. Find something to take your mind off the process, if only for a moment. Nothing makes a wait feel longer than only thinking about the thing you’re waiting for. The clock will speed up if you begin investing your energy in other areas of life. This could be work, your relationships, or even something fun like a good book or movie. Give yourself a break — you deserve it.

Finding Patience as a Surrogate

Choosing to become a surrogate is amazing. It’s a brave, loving decision. If you’ve made it, then you’re probably eager to get started. You will play an essential role in the life of a family and experience something totally unique and life-changing for yourself, as well.

So, it’s completely understandable to become impatient when things aren’t moving as quickly as you’d like. There are things that take time — maybe a lot of time — for this process to be completed correctly.

About ready to pull your hair out waiting for the next step of the process? Here are several things to keep in mind when you feel impatient about a step of the process:

There’s a reason it takes a long time to find a match.

Your agency is hard at work looking for the perfect intended parents for you. The surrogacy process will be most rewarding with the right match. It may feel good in the moment for things to move faster, but that could lead to frustration later on if a match is forced.

All those legal documents are really important.

Sometimes the surrogacy contract can take weeks or more to draw up. Your attorney isn’t slacking — they are making sure that everything is covered. This contract protects everyone involved, and it needs to be airtight. It may take a long time, but it will protect you in the end.

Speak with your specialist.

Just like for intended parents, your surrogacy specialist should be your most trusted resource during this process. Feeling antsy about how long things are taking? Your specialist will understand. Give them a call.

Perspective: It Will Be Worth the Wait

Time is an illusory and subjective experience. Sometimes it flies; sometimes you could swear the clock is stuck. In the moment, it may feel like a step of the process is taking forever. But, try to remove yourself from the moment.

Looking back on your journey so far — during the surrogacy process and in your life before — doesn’t time always seem to fly by? Someday in the future, this process will be done. When you get there, these moments of impatience will fade away, and it will all be worth it. When that day comes, these long waits will, probably, seem like nothing.

Try to remind yourself of that when things become frustrating, when the process seems to moving slower than a snail. The wait will be worth it — we promise.

8 Books Every Surrogate Needs to Read

You can never find enough information and educational resources when it comes to surrogacy. When you’re a surrogate or considering becoming a surrogate, there’s a life-changing process ahead of you. And, if we’re being honest, it can be very confusing!

Our surrogacy specialists field all kinds of questions from surrogates and women considering surrogacy.

How does the process work? How will I be matched with a family? What are the emotional challenges of surrogacy that I should be aware of? How do other women feel after they’ve given birth and completed the surrogacy process?

These questions (and many more) are important. We want to help you find all the answers you’re looking for. Internet guides can be a helpful place to start, but sometimes you just need to dig into something a bit deeper. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of great books for surrogates and women considering surrogacy.

Ready to start reading?

Everything Conceivable

Often cited as one of the most important books on modern family-building options, Liza Mundy’s “Everything Conceivable” presents an in-depth look at assisted reproduction in America.

Mundy, a journalist and author, uses her journalistic background to construct a narrative using information, statistics, stories and first-person interviews. The outcome is a book that present a holistic picture of surrogacy, from the perspective of surrogates, doctors, intended parents, surrogacy specialists and more.

Buy the book today.

Surrogacy Was the Way: Twenty Intended Mothers Tell Their Stories

The relationship between the surrogate and intended parents is a unique and special element of this journey. You can prepare for this relationship by reading “Surrogacy Was the Way,” a book of personal stories from intended mothers.

The more you read this book, the bigger your heart grows. You’ll come to see the challenges these intended mothers have faced in their journey to parenthood and the deep love they carry for their families.

Buy the book today.

Labor of Love: Gestational Surrogacy and the Work of Making Babies

Experience is the best teacher. You probably don’t know that many people (or know anyone) who have personally been through this process as a surrogate. Books like “Labor of Love” are the best way to learn from the experiences of others.

Through a series of interviews, this book walks you through the surrogacy process from the perspective of everyone involved, as well as the family and friends of surrogates and intended parents. It’s a well-rounded view of the journey, with topics ranging from medical technologies, to the cultural perception of surrogacies, to the personal emotions of surrogates and intended parents at different stages of the process.

Buy the book today.

Birthing a Mother: The Surrogate Body and the Pregnant Self

If in-depth and high-concept works of research are your thing, this book is for you. Written from an anthropological perspective and with an eye on the global surrogacy landscape, this book explores how surrogates and intended mothers relate to each other throughout the process, forming a beautiful but complicated emotional bond. While not a beach read, “Birthing a Mother” offers a deeply researched perspective on the emotional bonds formed during the surrogacy process.

Buy the book today.

These books can be a great resource for anyone in the midst of the surrogacy process or anyone considering surrogacy. From personal stories to education guides, each of the books listed above will help you gain a better understanding of the process.

Books for Children About Surrogacy

You may be looking for resources to help your kids understand this complex process. Thankfully, there are several great children’s books that explain surrogacy at an age-appropriate level and help children form a positive understanding of this process.

Check out a few of these options:

Learn More

For more succinct information about what it means to become a surrogate, how the process works, and how you can get started, see our in-depth guides to every aspect of this journey.

If you have more specific and personal questions about becoming a surrogate, please contact us today. One of our surrogacy specialists would be happy to answer your questions and help you start your process.

7 DIY Projects to Benefit Your Surrogacy Journey

Are you the crafty type? Have you ever thought of putting your skills to work for your surrogacy journey?

While many steps in the surrogacy process must be left to the professionals, there’s still plenty you can do on your own to make your experience easier. From handmade gifts to personalized organization systems, there is a long list of DIY projects that you take advantage of for your surrogacy journey.

We hopped on Pinterest to find some of the best DIY surrogacy projects out there. Check out a few of them below, or share some of your favorites in the comments!

1. Something to Organize Your Surrogacy Paperwork

Surrogacy involves a lot of moving parts — and a lot of paperwork. Whether or not you’re the naturally organized type, a little help won’t hurt!

Use your DIY skills to put together a filing system to keep all your medical, escrow, legal and other paperwork neatly organized. Your surrogacy partner and specialist will thank you; having all of your documents easily accessible will prevent delays in the process and keep your surrogacy on track.

2. Something for the Baby and Nursery

Nothing shows how much a child is loved like handmade gifts and nursery decorations. Whether you’re the intended parent prepping the nursery or the surrogate carrying the child, you can harness your creativity into the perfect nursery addition.

While there are plenty of general DIY nursery projects out there, you can always find surrogacy-specific ideas (or tweak adoption-specific ideas to fit your surrogacy situation). And don’t forget all the cute DIY baby gifts you can find!

3. Something to Commemorate the Journey

Surrogacy is a journey few people take, and it’s one to celebrate! If you have time to kill and the creative inclination, why not put together a special book commemorating the ups and downs of this process?

Having a surrogacy photo album or life book can serve a double purpose. It’s not just something intended parents and surrogates can look back on years later; it can also be a helpful tool in explaining a child’s surrogacy story as they grow up. If you want to commemorate your surrogacy journey with a book, start collecting documents and photos from the very start to include the whole story. Let your surrogacy partner know you’re working on a book, and see if they have anything specific they would like to add!

4. Something to Help You Raise Surrogacy Funds

It’s no secret that surrogacy is expensive. If you’ve gathered funds for your family-building journey through traditional methods, why not think a bit out of the box with different fundraising ideas? The tried-and-true garage or bake sale is always a good option, but consider harnessing any unique skills you have (like sewing or home improvement) and offer your services on your local Facebook Marketplace or Etsy.

5. Something for the Baby Shower

Baby showers are exciting for everyone involved in the surrogacy journey. Intended parents deserve to be showered just like those who are pregnant with their own children, and there are countless ways to make a baby shower unforgettable.

Before you go about making any of these baby shower crafts, check in with the intended parents or the loved one throwing the shower. They may have specific tasks they want help with, or you may find they’ve already added these DIY projects to their list!

Keep in mind that many traditional baby shower crafts and games reference the pregnancy of mom-to-be. That obviously doesn’t apply in surrogacy, so update those accordingly to avoid confusion and hurt feelings.

6. Something to Give Your Surrogacy Partner

If you’re a surrogate, you’re already giving your intended parents the greatest gift of all. But you may want to do a little something special to help them prepare for and enjoy their new lives as parents. Don’t feel like you “have” to give the intended parents anything but, if you want to, stick to something handmade and personal that they will love, like the ideas below:

If you’re an intended parent, you probably want to shower your surrogate with gifts for the amazing gift she’s giving you — your child! Your surrogate may have gotten pregnancy gifts from you the last few months, but don’t forget about a delivery and postpartum gift. Even though your surrogate won’t be caring for a child after birth, she’ll still have a recovery period. Why not put together a special postpartum recovery basket full of all her favorite things? Or gift a beautifully framed photo of the baby that she can cherish?

7. Something Just for You

Who said DIY surrogacy projects had to only be practical? Don’t be afraid to indulge in some DIY self-care, whether you’re carrying a child for intended parents or you’re the intended parent stressing out about your upcoming family addition.

Explore some DIY projects for your mental and physical well-being. Surrogacy can be an exhausting process, and it’s no surprise if you need some “me” time. Something as simple as a bullet journal to finish your to-do lists or a homemade spa basket to help you unwind and relax may be just what you’re looking for.

Have some more DIY surrogacy ideas? Drop them in the comments below!

5 Tips For Your First Meeting With Your Surrogacy Partner

Surrogacy is a life-changing journey for the intended parents and their surrogate. Once a match is made, things can progress quickly, especially when it comes to the relationship between both parties involved.

This is one of the great joys of surrogacy. Not only are you taking part in an amazing process, but you also have the opportunity to build a new relationship that could become a lifelong friendship.

But, you’re not there yet. Right now, you have to get through that very first meeting with your surrogacy partner. Just like any first meeting, things can be awkward! Adding the intimate nature of the surrogacy process to the “first date” jitters only makes it more difficult to know how to handle this meeting.

We’re here to help. Your connection with your surrogacy partner can be special. Here are five things to keep in mind when you meet for the first time.

1. Take it Slow

Take the pressure off yourself and your partner by setting appropriate expectations. There’s a temptation in these meetings to dive right into the deep end. You’re about to embark on a truly unique journey that will change everyone’s life. So, of course, it would be natural to talk all about that — and nothing else.. However, it’s best to avoid this.

Instead, try starting small. You’ll have a lot of time to talk about the big stuff. Keep in mind: You’re meeting for the first time! Just like any other relationship, you may need to begin with the basics.

You’re at the starting line of a marathon. So, take your time.

2. Make it Casual (and Keep it Short!)

Pick a low-key spot, like your favorite local coffee shop, for your first meeting with your surrogacy partner. It may be too soon to meet at one of your homes, and dinner can feel a bit uptight.

You want this first meeting to be casual, relaxed and (probably) short. A cup of coffee typically takes 30 to 45 minutes to sip — the perfect amount of time for a “get to know you” conversation and a good signal to everyone when the meeting is over.

3. Focus on Them

What’s dominating your mental space right now? If you’re at the beginning of your surrogacy journey, it’s probably the process that lies ahead. However, you should resist the urge to focus on the details of the process during your first meeting with your surrogacy partner. Otherwise, you could end up focusing on yourself for most of the conversation.

Try to get to know them. What do they do for work? Where did they grow up? What are their favorite past times? What do they enjoy talking about?

There will be plenty of time to talk about the process, your concerns and your desires. Use this time to get to know your partner. And remember — try to listen just as much (if not more) than you speak!

4. Accept the Awkward

It’s going to happen. One line of discussion is going to end, nobody will be ready to start the next one, and you’ll sit there silently for a few seconds — long enough for everyone to consciously recognize that you are experiencing a dreaded awkward moment.

It’s okay. This is nearly impossible to avoid, and you shouldn’t let it get to you. Don’t beat yourself up when it happens. Simply pick a new topic and move on.

5.  Make a Plan

When’s the next meeting? Should you be texting and calling? How frequently do you want to hear from each other?

Establishing expectations for communication can make the beginning of this relationship better for everyone.

This doesn’t need to be a detailed list of regulations. Rather, create clear boundaries that help everyone feel confident. This can help you know what’s expected in the early stages of this conversation and put you on a path toward a strong relationship.

You don’t need to be rigid when setting expectations. Plan the next meeting, and a simple, “I’ll reach back out this week to check in,” can get things started.

Learn More about Surrogacy

The surrogacy journey is unlike anything else you’ve experienced. If you’re in the process now, you know this to be true. If you are still considering whether or not surrogacy is right for you — as a surrogate or as an intended parent — we would love to talk.

Contact us online for more information or give us a call at 1-800-875-BABY (2229). Our specialists are eagerly awaiting your call.

What to Consider When Choosing an ART Attorney

There’s more than one way to become a parent. Assisted reproductive technology (ART) is becoming more common and widely accessible. This journey can be an incredible way to fulfill your dreams.

While becoming a parent through the surrogacy process is a deeply emotional journey, it is also a legal one. There are laws and regulations that need to be followed in order for any ART process to be completed successfully, legally and ethically. That’s why finding a good surrogacy attorney is so important.

This is true for intended parents and for women who are interested in becoming surrogates. This journey can change your life, and it’s important that you have a legal advocate looking out for your best interests.

Choosing a surrogacy attorney can feel overwhelming. It’s not like this is a decision you have prior experience with. Where do you even begin?

There are ways to make this choice easier. Intended parents and surrogates working with American Surrogacy will be referred to a trusted and experienced legal professional. However, the choice of which attorney to work with is still ultimately up to you.

Here are several things to consider when you’re mulling this over. Take your time selecting a legal professional — it can make or break your experience with this process.

Look for Experience

ART laws are constantly evolving, and they differ from state to state. It’s an area of practice that many family law offices are just beginning to specialize in. However, there are some who have been around longer than others.

You will want an attorney who knows their stuff — who has dedicated time and resources to becoming an expert in this area. Ask any potential attorney how long they have been practicing ART law and how many cases they handle in an average year. You can also ask if the attorney is a member of the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproductive Attorneys (AAAA).

This should weed out the offices that have simply tacked ART law onto their practice areas without really investing in it.

Learn Applicable Licensing Requirements

Each state has its own licensing requirements for attorneys, as well as unique surrogacy laws. If an attorney is not licensed in the right state, they will not be able to fulfill the necessary legal requirements of your process. For surrogacy, this means that the attorney should be licensed in the state the baby will be born. This may not be the state where you live if you are an intended parent. Keep this in mind as you consider lawyers to work with.

Pay Attention to How You Feel

While less technical than the other recommendations, this is no less important. How do you feel when you speak with the attorney? Do you feel safe or intimidated? Are you at ease or on edge?

Ask plenty of questions and trust your natural instinct. Peace of mind is an important feeling throughout this journey. You should work with an attorney who gives you confidence and makes you feel like everything is going to work out for the best — because it will!

Read Reviews

You can’t completely trust what people say online, but honest reviews do exist. Take a look at the reviews your attorney has on Google and other legal resource websites. Cross-reference any attorney you find on a search engine with the AAAA Directory.

While it may be uncomfortable, you could even ask about particular negative reviews you read. What happened there, and what has the office done to make things better?

Consider the Cost

Choosing an attorney is not the time for budget shopping. You get what you pay for, as the saying goes. Fees that seem too low to be true likely come with services that are less quality than desired.

With that said, it is important to understand your budget. Be honest about what’s doable for you. When you’re an intended parent, you are likely paying other agency fees and medical costs during the surrogacy process, and it’s important to not get in over your head financially. (If you’re a prospective surrogate, remember that your legal fees will always be paid for by your intended parents.)

When you ask an attorney about their costs, look for total transparency. Are these fees fixed? Will there be unexpected costs late in the process?

Some professionals will lure clients in with low-ball estimates only to spring hidden fees on them later in the process. A higher upfront cost with no hidden charges is preferable, and that is a sign you are working with an upstanding legal practice.

Learn More about Finding an Attorney for Surrogacy

One of the best ways to ensure you are working with a good surrogacy attorney is to also work with an excellent agency. American Surrogacy could be that agency for you.

It’s nearly impossible to start the surrogacy process on your own. By working with an agency, you can begin the journey and find a match for your process, either as a surrogate or as an intended parent.

Typically, all parties wait until a match is made to find an attorney. American Surrogacy can guide you up to this point, recommend trusted attorneys and stick with you through the end of the process.

Interested? Contact us today to learn more about starting your journey and finding the right ART attorney for you.

7 Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy During COVID-19

How Gestational Surrogates Can Protect Themselves (and Stay Sane)

Becoming a gestational surrogate has always been an exciting, but stressful, experience. Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s even more so.

How can you protect yourself, your family and the intended parents’ baby?

You already know how to have a healthy and positive pregnancy, but the coronavirus brings new challenges. Here’s how you can enjoy a healthy and happy pregnancy and surrogacy journey, even in the midst of global pandemic:

1. Follow the CDC Guidelines

This is a fairly obvious tip, but is nonetheless important for everyone.

Remember to:

  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • Limit contact with people outside your household.
  • Wear your mask when in public.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Try to maintain a six-foot distance from others.
  • Immediately call your doctor if you experience any symptoms of COVID-19.

While it’s easy for you to control your own vigilance in adhering to the prescribed precautions, it’s harder to enforce it upon others. Remind your family members to keep up with the same safety measures, so they don’t expose you to the illness or become sick themselves.

2. Keep Up With Your Prenatal Appointments

You’re probably a little hesitant to go to the doctor’s office or the fertility clinic right now. But skipping necessary appointments isn’t really an option, either.

Ask your doctor to arrange telemedicine appointments whenever possible to help limit your risk of exposure. There will, of course, still be plenty of appointments that you must attend in person. When you do go into a clinic or hospital, always follow the CDC-recommended precautions and adhere to your doctor’s new COVID-19-related policies.

Your doctor’s office will likely ask you to keep your mask on and wash your hands before and after entering the building, and they’ll probably take your temperature before you come in. It’s also a good idea to call ahead and ask about their policy regarding people accompanying you. If your spouse or the intended parents wish to be at an appointment, you’ll want to know whether or not they’ll be permitted to go with you before you all show up.

3. Designate a Person to Help With Groceries and Errands

To help reduce unnecessary potential exposure to COVID-19, you may want to ask your spouse or another trusted loved one to handle the shopping and errands for your family for a while.

You might consider grocery delivery when possible and try to limit trips to necessary shops. You might also remind your designated shopper to be extra careful with the standard COVID-19 precautions — remind them to wear a mask in the store, to wash their hands before and after their shopping trip and to try to stay six feet away from others. Wiping down shopping carts before use is also a helpful prevention measure.

Because you can’t control how well your designated helper protects themselves while they’re out and about on your behalf, ask someone who you trust. You might even consider organizing a person to bring the essentials to your elderly or immunocompromised neighbors, too, so you could all help to pay your shopper while getting what you need and staying safe.

4. Get Your Exercise In

Many gyms are still shut down, and it can be hard to find new ways of exercising while social distancing. However, it’s important to keep moving. Exercise is necessary for your mental and emotional health, as well as your physical well-being.

Regular, low-impact exercise is even more important for women who are planning to become pregnant or who are already pregnant.

A few simple ways to get active while staying cautious during COVID-19 could include:

  • Taking the kids or pets for a long walk or bike ride
  • Going for a jog on a quiet trail
  • Trying out some YouTube workout sessions in the living room or yard
  • Playing some casual sports with your family in the yard or in a spaced-out area of the park

Even just 20 minutes of activity can keep you (and your family) feeling healthy, strong and positive.

5. Continue to Hydrate and Eat Healthily

A lot of us are succumbing to unhealthy snacking and are getting sick of cooking during the pandemic! Even though you’ve been cooped up, try to focus on eating healthily and drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

If you need some help, rope your family members in for meal preparation. It’s hard to remember to eat healthy when you’re busy caring for children and handling daily tasks, so it’s alright to ask for some help.

Your physical, mental and emotional state will benefit from it, and staying healthy will boost your immune system.

6. Take Time to Care for Your Mental Health

These are stressful times. And while becoming a surrogate has always been a very emotional experience, those natural worries and feelings are now intensified by the threat of the pandemic.

It has always been important to reduce your stress if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. But with more stressors at hand, it’s even more important for you to take care of yourself mentally and emotionally. Your mental and emotional state also has a large impact on your physical health.

With kids at home and day-to-day tasks to deal with, it can be hard to set aside “you time,” but start considering it as part of your health routine. Even 15 minutes of relaxation per day can make a difference in your mood and overall well-being.

Try to make some time for whatever recharges and relaxes you, whether that’s:

  • Taking a soothing bath
  • Reading someplace quiet
  • Going for a walk
  • Listening to a podcast or some music
  • Engaging in your favorite hobby
  • Getting some exercise
  • Taking time for meditation or prayer
  • Or catching a quick nap

Try to limit your stress as much as possible, and try to make some extra time for rest and relaxation.

7. Remind Those Around You to Adhere to the Appropriate Precautions

This is something you have less control over, but it is still vital for minimizing your risk of exposure to COVID-19 and illnesses in general.

You may need to limit the number of people you come into contact with during your surrogacy journey. Try to stay within your “quarantine bubble,” and when you are around people outside of that “bubble,” ask them to follow the CDC’s recommendations for coronavirus prevention. Now may not be the best time to have people over for a backyard barbecue, but you and your family still have to go out into the world to function sometimes!

It can be awkward to ask others to wear their masks, wash their hands around you, or ask them to keep a six-foot distance — but you have the perfect (and very valid) excuse of being a gestational surrogate who must be overly cautious of her health.

It’s even more important for the people in your “quarantine bubble” to adhere to precautions when they leave the home, so they don’t expose themselves and then spread the virus to you. It can be tough to get your children to take the necessary precautions or for your spouse to completely eliminate risk of exposure if they’re back at work. Just ask that they all do their best, and encourage them to continue to use caution as much as possible.

It’s still safe to become a gestational surrogate or to continue your surrogacy journey during this pandemic. Just remember to take care of yourself and exercise reasonable caution! You can always contact your American Surrogacy specialist with any questions or concerns about how the coronavirus may affect your pregnancy and journey as a surrogate.

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.