Should I Go Independent to Save My Intended Parents Money?

You probably really like your intended parents. We certainly hope so, anyway! You’re rooting for them. You know the surrogacy process can be expensive and — because you’re becoming a surrogate, we know you’re an empathetic and generous person — so you likely want to help the intended parents out in whatever way you can.

But will skipping the surrogacy agency route to save your intended parents money help or hurt you both? Here’s an honest look:

The Pros of Going Independent with Your Intended Parents

Pursuing surrogacy independently means that you’re not working with an agency. This is also sometimes called “private surrogacy.” You would still work with attorneys and medical professionals, so you’re not truly independent, but you’d be cutting out the agency that usually coordinates with those professionals on your behalf. In that sense, going independent is sort of like DIY-ing your wedding versus working with a wedding planner. Is it the right route for you?

Here are some of the benefits of going independent:

  • It may save your intended parents money, because they won’t have to pay any agency fees, although there will still be costs associated with medical and legal expenses and the professionals who handle those procedures.
  • It can give intended parents greater control over the process, as they’ll be responsible for overseeing and planning everything.
  • If you and your intended parents already have experience with surrogacy, you might not need guidance from a professional.

Who should pursue surrogacy independently?

  • Intended parent-surrogate partnerships that are already matched, know and trust each other
  • People who have extensive experience with the surrogacy process in their state
  • People who are prepared to coordinate all of the necessary services with the required professionals and who fully understand the risks and responsibilities of doing so on their own

The Cons of Going Independent with Your Intended Parents

Wanting to save your intended parents some money is a noble thought, but going independent may not actually be helpful to either of you. Not only would you both be missing out on important services, but everyone involved could be put at risk without the protection of an agency. Ultimately, what agencies do is protect intended parents and surrogates.

Here are some of the drawbacks of going independent:

  • You and the intended parents would be responsible for: coordinating with lawyers, fertility clinics; talking about tough topics like finances and potential pregnancy situations such selective reduction or termination; and more.
  • Screening, counseling and case management services that agencies provide might seem less important than the bare-bones legal and medical services, but surrogacy situations that didn’t have those safety measures are where surrogacy horror stories like unenforced contracts or the intended parents not accepting the baby come from. Counseling and case management ensures that both parties are communicating well, adhering to the agreement and considering both sides of situation.
  • Agencies have experience partnering with reputable legal and medical professionals, as well as navigating the surrogacy processes of various states. If you pursue surrogacy independently, you can’t take advantage of an agency’s connection to high-quality attorneys and fertility clinics and their ability to coordinate easily with those providers to get you through your surrogacy process smoothly, safely and quickly.

Who should pursue surrogacy with an agency?

  • People who don’t already have a match and want to find a surrogate or intended parent(s) who is safe and who shares their goals for a surrogacy experience
  • People who don’t have much experience with surrogacy and who want the guidance and protection of a professional
  • People who would feel more comfortable having an experienced professional coordinate the necessary processes on their behalf, facilitate communication with other professionals and provide all the services needed to complete the surrogacy process in full

The Takeaway

When you go interdependent, there is no guarantee the intended parents will actually be saving money, and you could all be put at an increased amount of risk. Your relationship with the intended parents could be jeopardized without proper counseling throughout the process and you could all be legally endangered if you don’t understand the complex surrogacy processes of your state from the very start.

Remember that skipping an agency doesn’t mean that surrogacy is free, either. There are still legal and medical expenses that’ll need to be paid, but without an agency, there’s no one to advise your intended parents about ways to minimize those costs or about how to avoid working with fraudulent legal and medical professionals. You would be cutting out the fees paid to an agency, but the other costs can add up for your intended parents. Remember: Even if you work with a surrogacy agency, you, as a surrogate, will never be expected to pay for any of your surrogacy journey.

In most situations, surrogates and intended parents are advised to work with an experienced surrogacy agency for everyone’s protection. This is even true (and sometimes especially so) in identified surrogacy situations where you’re very close to the intended parents, such as when you’re becoming a surrogate for close friends or family members. An agency will provide you both with the counseling necessary to make sure your relationship with the intended parents will be just as good, if not closer, than before you started your surrogacy journey together.

If you’re interested in learning more about working with a surrogacy agency, contact American Surrogacy now at 1-800-875-2229 for free information. You and the intended parents can ask questions and decide if going through an agency is what’s safest for you.

10 Ways to Cut Down Costs During Your Surrogacy Journey

It’s no secret — surrogacy can be expensive. For an intended parent using this process to build their family, surrogacy is a big financial commitment. Lots of thought must go into affording the process of surrogacy and ensuring that your family will remain in good financial standing during and after this journey. So, it’s only natural that many intended parents ask: How can I make surrogacy more affordable?

Because surrogacy involves so many different parts, there are actually more options for cutting down costs than you may originally think. The ultimate decision of how you reduce your surrogacy costs will always be up to you and your surrogacy professionals, though, as some of these cuts can severely impact your surrogacy process to come.

To learn more about American Surrogacy’s transparent surrogacy costs, contact our surrogacy specialists today. In the meantime, find a few tips for making your surrogacy journey more affordable below.

1. Consider asking a friend or family member to carry for you.

The biggest way to cut down on your overall surrogacy costs is by completing an altruistic, identified surrogacy. When you find a gestational carrier through an agency or another matching program, it’s highly likely that those women expect to be compensated for their services — which is entirely within their rights. However, with surrogate base compensation averaging around $25,000, it can be a huge chunk of your overall surrogacy costs.

To reduce these costs, you might find an altruistic carrier, or a carrier who is willing to accept a smaller base compensation. Many intended parent find these women through their own networks. Having a family member or friend carry for you is known as identified surrogacy — and many professionals, including American Surrogacy, offer discounted surrogacy services for intended parents who pursue this path!

2. Shop around for your gestational carrier’s medication.

Like many other aspects of your surrogacy journey, there is always the opportunity for you to save money on your gestational carrier’s medical protocol. Depending upon her insurance policy, you may save money by switching to generic medications or ordering them through a different pharmacy. Always discuss this with your gestational carrier and her doctor before making any major medication changes.

3. Consider a frozen embryo cycle, if possible.

Depending on your fertility clinic, a frozen embryo cycle may be cheaper than a fresh embryo cycle. There are many reasons for this: egg harvesting and in vitro fertilization processes are not necessary, fewer steps are involved in syncing a gestational carrier’s cycle, and the process is usually less complicated. For this reason, intended parents often pay less for a frozen embryo transfer.

If this is a possibility in your surrogacy journey, talk with your reproductive endocrinologist about the costs and which path will result in the best chance of success.

4. Shop around for fertility clinics.

In regards to your fertility clinic and reproductive endocrinologist, you may find that you pay less with one professional over another. Of course, many intended parents prefer to continue working with the fertility clinic who completed their previous infertility treatments, and that’s totally understandable. However, you may find that transferring your completed embryos to a different clinic can save you money, especially if you choose a clinic local to your gestational carrier — cutting down on her travel costs and other necessary expenses.

5. Find the cheapest travel options.

In most surrogacies, intended parents know about their carrier’s appointments and delivery schedule far enough in advance to make appropriate travel plans. One of the best ways to reduce your overall surrogacy costs is finding the cheapest options for your travel. If your gestational carrier’s appointment is somewhere that can be reached cheaper by driving than by flying, it can help you save money — even if it may be a bit more inconvenient. If you have to fly for appointments, find a budget airline and the cheapest tickets possible.

If you are comfortable doing so, consider reducing the number of trips you take to visit your gestational carrier. This will also cut down on your overall surrogacy costs.

6. Consider your gestational carrier’s insurance situation.

Some surrogates have comprehensive surrogacy insurance through their existing policies. Others do not. The specialists at American Surrogacy will always complete a thorough insurance review before matching a gestational carrier with intended parents, so you will always know your surrogate’s insurance situation before beginning.

If you need to purchase an additional insurance policy for your gestational carrier, shop around. Talk with your gestational carrier, your specialist and an insurance agency to determine which plan can provide the best benefits at the cheapest cost. Make sure to explore all of your options.

7. Have your primary care doctor complete your blood testing and medical screening.

As an intended parent, you will need to complete certain screening before being approved for the surrogacy process. You could choose to complete those with a fertility specialist, or you can potentially save money by completing this screening with your primary care doctor during your yearly wellness visit. Many insurance policies will fully cover this visit, where they may not do the same if you complete the screening with a specialist physician.

8. Talk to an accountant about tax break measures.

While there are no tax breaks for surrogacy as there are for adoption, there are still accounting moves that can be made to reduce your overall surrogacy costs. An experienced tax attorney or accountant can help you through this process.

You might consider putting the maximum amount possible into your Flex Spending Account — funds that you can use for medical expenses without them first being taxed. You may be able to write off some of your medical expenses when submitting your taxes for the year. Talk to an accountant about the steps possible for your situation.

9. Be picky about the services you need.

For many intended parents, surrogacy is the last chance they have for a biological child — and they want to do everything they can to make it as successful as possible. That’s understandable, but it may not be the best mindset if you are simultaneously looking to reduce your surrogacy costs.

Many fertility clinics and reproductive endocrinologists offer different kinds of screenings throughout the surrogacy and in vitro fertilization process. Not all of them may be necessary for your particular surrogacy situation. If you are looking to save costs, talk to your surrogacy specialist and your reproductive endocrinologist to determine which of these tests are absolutely necessary — and save money by turning down the ones you don’t need.

10. Consider an independent surrogacy journey.

Finally, another way you can consider cutting your surrogacy costs is by completing an independent surrogacy journey. Surrogacy agencies can be expensive, and choosing to complete the process on your own (with only the assistance of a surrogacy clinic and surrogacy attorney) can save you from paying those agency fees.

However, don’t jump into an independent surrogacy too quickly. Unless you do proper research ahead of time, you may find yourself paying more for surrogacy services a la carte than with a flat rate fee from an agency. There is also the emotional aspect; completing an independent surrogacy may save you money, but it also requires more responsibility and often brings more stress than working with an agency.

As an agency, American Surrogacy is always dedicated to providing the best surrogacy journey for its clients. This includes being transparent about our agency fees and answering any questions you have before starting. To learn more about the benefits of working with our agency, please call our specialists at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

How DNA Sites are Changing Gamete Donation

Not all gestational surrogacies use embryos made from the gametes of two intended parents. In many cases, a donated sperm or egg cell is needed to create a healthy embryo for transfer. Whether it’s because an intended parent has low-quality sperm or eggs, or because an intended parent is pursuing surrogacy as a single parent, using gamete donations is more common than you might think.

Like many different aspects of assisted reproductive technology, the use of donated gametes can be a complicated one — as it has advanced rapidly within the law few decades. But, there is one modern aspect of using donor gametes to really pay attention to: the rise of DNA- and genetic-testing sites.

Today, anyone can send off their information to a DNA or ancestry site and find previously unknown genetic details. They may even locate biological relatives they had no idea existed.

This is a mind-blowing advancement for modern society but especially so for those using gamete donations in their assisted reproductive technology, including surrogacy. In fact, it’s changing the field in a way never anticipated.

The Move From Anonymous to Identified

Years ago, anonymous sperm and egg donors were common and accepted. Intended parents choosing to have a donor-conceived child received only a small amount of non-identifying medical information to share with their child as they grew up — if they even shared that their child was born via a donor gamete in the first place. Previously, information about donors was kept anonymous and sealed for years, and questions from parents and children went unanswered.

For many reasons, this left a negative impact on children. Their medical history always had the potential to change without them knowing the most recent information. They could never get answers to questions about who they looked like, where their traits came from, and why their biological parent had donated their gametes. Many children suffered identity issues from these situations.

Donor banks have started to recognize these disadvantages. The Sperm Bank of California recently updated its policies to require all sperm donors to participate in a known-donation program, phasing out anonymous sperm donors in 2016. It makes clear that donors are not expected to have a parent-child relationship with someone conceived through their donation — just updated medical and contact information upon the child’s 18th birthday.

American Surrogacy stands with those donor banks in recommending identified donations for all intended parents needing them in gestational surrogacy. Our specialists are always happy to talk with you in more detail about identified and anonymous gamete donation, as well as provide references to trusted identified gamete banks. To learn more, call our surrogacy specialists at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) today.

The Unrealistic Expectations of Being an “Anonymous” Donor

These new advances should be considered by every person thinking about becoming a sperm or egg donor. Whether you are considering this path to help someone else become a parent or to earn a little extra money, you need to think about the long-term effects of this decision.

If you are interested in becoming an anonymous donor, your gamete bank will likely do all it can to protect your information from being released — through its program. They have no control over DNA websites designed to connect biological family, such as 23andme.com or ancestry.com.

Sperm and egg donors promised anonymity decades ago are now being tracked down and contacted by their biological children without their consent. Because of the way these websites are set up, a donor doesn’t even have to personally take the test to be located; if one of a donor’s relatives does, the donor can often be found by their biological child.

Before you decide to become a sperm or egg donor, think hard about the decision you are making. It may seem like a short-term choice to help someone have a baby, but that baby won’t stay young forever. They will grow up and, like anyone else, they will have questions about their history and genetics. The odds are heavily in their favor that they will eventually find you, their biological parent. Are you ready for that?

The Donor Sibling Registry: Your Responsibility as a Parent

If you are an intended parent using a donor gamete to conceive your child via surrogacy, it’s important that you think hard in advance about the kind of information you will give your child as they grow up. Some parents of donor-conceived children keep this a secret until they believe their child is “old enough” to get it — but when a child grows up believing one thing to have their whole worldview shifted in one conversation, it can have drastic effects.

When you have a child via gamete donation, it is your responsibility to educate your child about their history and celebrate their personal story. You will also want to take steps to help connect your child with their biological relatives. You can use an identified gamete donor to start, but you can also register your child on the Donor Sibling Registry as soon as they are born. This registry will help your child find their biological relatives as they grow up.

If you choose not to take this step, remember that your child will be able to find their biological relatives another way. By using a DNA or ancestry website, they can quickly learn about their genetic history and true biological relatives — regardless of what you try to “protect them” from or keep them from knowing. Openness and honesty is always the best policy, especially in the rapidly changing world of gamete donation.

Before you engage in gamete donation, either as an intended parent or donor, make sure to do your research about this assisted reproductive technology. American Surrogacy specialists are always here to answer any questions you have about donor gametes in surrogacy and connect you to more professionals, should you desire more information.

Traveling to the Hospital on Short Notice: What to Expect

Witnessing the birth of your baby is an incredibly special moment, and many parents having a child through surrogacy are able to share in this experience alongside their surrogate. As you know, babies don’t always arrive at the most convenient times or precisely on cue. This means that many intended parents like to be ready to be by their surrogate’s side as she nears her due date so they don’t miss the big moment.

Here’s what you need to know about being ready to get to the hospital for your baby’s birth as an intended parent via surrogacy:

How Most Intended Parents Handle Travel

People who have become parents through American Surrogacy have traveled to their surrogate’s location up to two weeks before the baby’s birth, staying in hotel rooms to wait for that call saying that it was time to go to the hospital.

While you don’t have to settle in that early to wait for your surrogate’s due date, some intended parents simply feel more comfortable being nearby. That’s entirely up to you and your surrogate.

Most intended parent-surrogate matches are long-distance, so it’s very common for intended parents to travel across several states to get to their surrogate’s hospital. You can jump in the car or on the plane in anticipation of her due date, or when you get the call that she’s going into labor. Again, that depends on what you and your surrogate are most comfortable with.

This will typically be something that you’ll discuss with your surrogate in advance, often when you’re creating your surrogacy contract together. Having an established plan can make everyone feel more confident and relaxed, so that as the big day draws near you’ll at least have a rough idea of what to expect.

What Happens If Your Surrogate Goes Into Labor Early

The thought of missing their child’s birth keeps some intended parents up at night. True, some women do go into labor and give birth weeks before their due date. However, should this happen, that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t see your baby’s arrival.

If you get a call saying that your surrogate is in labor and you need to travel to meet your baby as soon as possible, here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Stay calm
  • Check in with your surrogacy specialist, if you haven’t already
  • Try to get on the first available flight or start driving

A few things to remember:

  • Everyone, especially your surrogate, wants you to be able to share in this moment, so be understanding
  • Your surrogate’s health and your baby’s health take priority above all else
  • If you get that call and need to start traveling, grab your paperwork but don’t worry too much about packing more than the absolute essentials — most things for you and baby can be bought or borrowed when you arrive
  • If you don’t make it in time for your baby’s birth, remember that you’ll have the rest of your life together, and that’s much more important

A few general tips to help you stay prepared for short-notice travel:

  • Have your hospital bags packed and ready a few weeks before your surrogate’s due date, including the essential newborn supplies you plan to take
  • Notify your work, family and close friends that you might need to leave quickly and that you could be gone for a while
  • Make arrangements for pets or children, so you can call someone quickly to care for them while you’re gone
  • Have a rough plan for how you plan on getting there and back, but stay flexible
  • Have a rough plan for accommodations, but stay flexible
  • Keep your phones charged and on you at all times

It can be tempting to want to plan out as much as possible, especially when it feels like so much is out of your control. But your baby will be born on his or her own schedule and sometimes, there’s just no planning for that. In the meantime, try to relax and be ready to roll with whatever surprises parenthood brings.

If you have any questions about what to expect when it’s time for delivery, or if you’re ready to start your surrogacy process, contact American Surrogacy now at 1-800-875-BABY (1-800-875-2229).

Is Surrogacy Safe? What to Know Before Starting

Yes — surrogacy is safe, if you take basic but essential precautions.

At American Surrogacy, we are committed to protecting every surrogate, intended parent and child in our program, which is why we take every precaution to make the surrogacy process as safe as possible. Your safety is our top priority.

Here are some of the potential medical, legal and emotional issues with surrogacy that could make it unsafe for surrogates and intended parents, and how to avoid these issues and minimize risk:

Emotional Safety

When first considering surrogacy, potential intended parents and surrogates are often worried about the emotional risks involved. Some of the most common emotional concerns associated with the surrogacy process for surrogates are:

For intended parents, emotional issues can include:

  • Post-surrogacy depression, not unlike postpartum depression
  • Feeling out of control during the surrogacy process, as you’re not carrying your baby
  • Worrying that you won’t bond easily with your baby
  • Dealing with infertility-related grief, or with your baby not being genetically related to you
  • Jealousy toward the surrogate

American Surrogacy works with surrogates and intended parents to avoid these emotional issues by providing both parties with constant support before, during and after the surrogacy process. We counsel you on how to build a solid emotional support system at home so that your loved ones can help you through the emotions of surrogacy. We’ll also help everyone involved to communicate honestly and openly about their needs and feelings to foster stronger intended parent-surrogate relationships.

Medical Safety

Both intended parents and surrogates will often undergo medical procedures throughout the surrogacy process and may worry about the medical risks involved. Here are some of the medical risks that prospective surrogates are most concerned about when considering surrogacy:

Prospective intended parents may worry about the medical risks of:

  • Egg retrieval (if an intended mother is using her own eggs for IVF)
  • Hormone treatments (if an intended mother is using her own eggs for IVF)

Most of the medical risk falls on surrogates. Many of these risks are the average risks that a woman takes anytime she becomes pregnant and gives birth. However, there are always additional, if minor, risks associated with the medical processes unique to surrogacy.

To minimize these risks for the safety of surrogates (and for the baby), American Surrogacy carefully screens prospective surrogates and has a list of medical requirements in place. Potential surrogates are thoroughly medically screened to ensure that they are healthy enough to undergo the surrogacy process before they begin, to prevent exposing you to any unnecessary medical risk.

Legal Safety

There are a few legal risks associated with surrogacy that many potential surrogates and intended parents may worry about, as well, especially after hearing sensationalized horror stories in the news. Surrogates are often concerned about:

  • The intended parents refusing to parent the baby after he or she is born
  • Legally questionable forms of surrogacy compensation
  • Being asked to terminate a pregnancy when you are uncomfortable doing so

Intended parents worry about legal issues like:

  • The surrogate “keeping” the baby
  • The baby not being “theirs”
  • Being scammed by a surrogate

All of these legal issues are entirely preventable when you work with a reputable surrogacy professional like American Surrogacy. The only instances these legal risks are possible are when people attempt surrogacy on their own without the legal protection of experienced professionals and surrogacy contracts. American Surrogacy ensures that each party is individually represented by a licensed surrogacy attorney, so that everyone is equally advocated for throughout the legal process of surrogacy. We insist on detailed surrogacy contracts, and will walk you through the surrogacy laws within your state so you’re fully informed about protecting your rights.

It’s understandable to worry about the potential risks of surrogacy. But by working with American Surrogacy, these risks are reduced, if not completely eliminated. Surrogacy brings people together to create families, and the benefits far outweigh any minor risks. Contact American Surrogacy now at 1-800-875-BABY (1-800-875-2229) to learn how we work to minimize or avoid potential surrogacy risks for surrogates, intended parents and children.

Should You Use Embryo Donation & Surrogacy to Build Your Family?

Oftentimes, when intended parents pursue surrogacy, it’s because they desire a genetic connection that other family-building options like adoption can’t provide. But, choosing surrogacy isn’t always about having a biological child. For some intended parents, it’s about a degree of control that adoption can’t provide. For these intended parents, surrogacy provides the perfect solution to their family-building desires.

Combining embryo adoption with gestational surrogacy is becoming a more and more popular option for intended parents looking to grow their families. Here at American Surrogacy, we are happy to guide intended parents through this kind of assisted reproductive technology, as well as the unique considerations this path requires.

So, how do you know if embryo donation and gestational surrogacy are right for you?

1. You don’t need to have a biologically related child.

For many intended parents, gestational surrogacy is the only way they can bring a genetically related child into the world. For others, genetics aren’t as important. Instead, some intended parents are simply interested in having as healthy a pregnancy as possible, which surrogacy can provide.

Some intended parents have genetic conditions they don’t wish to pass down to their children. This is a very common reason for intended parents choosing gestational surrogacy with donated embryos. By adopting embryos, intended parents can choose the medical history of the biological parents to ensure their child has the best chance for health during their in-utero development and as they grow up in the years to come.

2. You want a degree of control you can’t find through adoption.

In adoption, hopeful parents always have the right to select what kind of history they are comfortable with their child and their child’s birth mother having. However, there are certain things parents have little control over: a birth mother’s desire for post-placement contact, how she takes care of herself during pregnancy, and her ultimate ability to choose whether or not adoption is right for her.

Gestational surrogacy, on the other hand, allows intended parents to choose the woman who will carry their child and to play a role in their child’s development in utero. There is no risk of a gestational surrogate changing her mind and “keeping the baby”; legal processes ensure that the intended parents are the legal parents of the child at birth, even if a donated embryo is used. When you pursue gestational surrogacy, your surrogacy specialist and your surrogacy attorney will ensure you have the degree of control you desire in your surrogacy plan.

3. You can’t carry a child on your own.

Embryo adoption isn’t just used for women who can carry pregnancies but don’t have healthy gametes; it’s also used for women who cannot carry pregnancies to term and single men who have low-quality sperm.

Many intended parents find out that a donated embryo is the only way to have a healthy child, due to the quality of their gametes. During their infertility treatment, they find that carrying a child (whether biological or not) can lead to complications they didn’t previously know about. In this case, they may choose to have another woman carry those donated gametes for them — through gestational surrogacy.

If you have adopted embryos with the intention of carrying them yourself, but your pregnancies have not been successful, you may turn to gestational surrogacy to give yourself a second chance with any remaining embryos you have. Similarly, if you are a single intended father pursuing surrogacy who needs a sperm donation, you may find that an embryo donation is an easier way to complete the necessary step.

4. You are looking for a way to cut down on surrogacy costs.

If you do not already have embryos created, you may be interested in embryo adoption as a way to cut down on your overall surrogacy costs. On average, one round of IVF costs $12,000 — and there’s no guarantee that a viable embryo will be created. That’s not including the cost for any donated gametes that you may need. On the other hand, adopting an existing high-quality embryo can cost about $12,000 to $15,000 — once. Donated embryos can be thawed and transferred to a carrier’s uterus when she is ready, rather than having to wait for an egg donor or intended mother’s cycle to match up.

If gestational surrogacy seems to be too expensive with the added cost of IVF, embryo adoption might be a good option for your family.

5. You have spoken to your reproductive endocrinologist about your options.

The best person to tell you whether embryo adoption and gestational surrogacy is right for you will always be your reproductive endocrinologist. They know the most about your infertility struggles and have access to necessary information to determine which options are available to you. If your reproductive endocrinologist is not optimistic about the quality of embryos created from your and your spouse’s gametes or your ability to carry a pregnancy safely, they may recommend embryo adoption and gestational surrogacy.

If you are exploring all of your infertility options, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor about this option — which, unknown to you, may end up being the best option to grow your family.

If you are interested in embryo donation, we recommend you reach out to these organizations:

For more information about gestational surrogacy, please contact our surrogacy specialists today at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

What to Expect from Your Surrogacy Mental Health Screening

We know there can seem like an endless amount of hoops to jump through before you can begin your surrogacy process — and we know a lot of them will be new to intended parents and gestational carriers. Perhaps one of the biggest surprises that our clients have is learning they will have to undergo a mental health screening before they can be approved for their surrogacy journey.

They often ask us, “But I’ve researched and I understand everything I need to about surrogacy. Why do I have to talk to a mental health professional about the process? Isn’t my surrogacy specialist enough?”

Actually, no — all intended parents and gestational carriers are required to complete a separate psychological evaluation by a licensed mental health professional before they can move forward. In fact, it’s even a legal requirement in certain states. While our surrogacy specialists can answer all of your practical questions, just as you will need a lawyer to answer your legal questions, you’ll need a mental health professional to ensure you are 100 percent emotionally prepared for this upcoming journey.

Many of our clients have never undergone a psychological screening before. Usually, these screenings take about one 60- to 90-minute session, but the process is unique for every intended parent and gestational carrier. It’s totally normal to be nervous — which is why we’ve broken down what you can expect from this visit below.

More questions about the surrogacy process? Don’t be afraid to contact our surrogacy specialists at any time.

Intended Parents

If you are an intended parent, you may deal with a lot of emotions during your surrogacy journey — anxiety over your lack of control, jealousy over someone else carrying your child, and excitement over your upcoming arrival. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed before and during the surrogacy process, which is why a mental health screening can be so important.

When you meet with a mental health professional, they will sit down with you and your spouse (if applicable) and discuss topics such as:

  • Your infertility history: It’s important that you have grieved all of your infertility losses prior to beginning the surrogacy process. You will need to be fully committed to the surrogacy journey, which means you must have accepted your losses and be looking forward to the positives of gestational surrogacy.
  • Your emotions regarding surrogacy: Surrogacy can be harder for some intended parents than others, especially those who are used to having a great degree of control or intended mothers who are grieving their loss of the pregnancy experience. Your psychologist will ask you questions about these feelings and help you work through them before you begin.
  • Your plans for parenting your child: Your child will be born through a unique manner, and it will affect how you parent them in the future. The psychologist will discuss with you your plans to tell your child(ren) about their surrogacy story, any gamete donors and other issues specific to raising a child born of assisted reproduction.

Gestational Carriers

If you are considering becoming a gestational carrier, you are making a life-changing decision to help another person become a parent. This is a beautiful, selfless choice — but not one that should be made without great forethought and consideration.

Before you can become a surrogate, your psychologist will discuss with you some important aspects of your surrogacy decision. This conversation will help you ensure you are making the right choice for not only you but also your spouse and your children. Some of these important topics will include:

  • Your reasons for being a surrogate: Not all women are eligible to be a gestational carrier, and their motivations can sometimes play a role in whether they are approved. Your psychologist will ask you about your reasoning for taking this path. Be honest; they can tell if you are simply interested in surrogacy for financial reasons instead of selfless, generous reasons.
  • Your feelings about pregnancy: It’s important that all gestational carriers are excited for their upcoming pregnancy experience. After all, you will have to accept the risks and side effects of pregnancy for a selfless reason; there will be no child of your own to take home after nine months. For this reason, your psychologist will ask you about your experiences with your prior pregnancies and what you are expecting from this one.
  • Your preparation for family expectations: Surrogacy won’t just impact you; it will impact your family, as well. For this reason, your spouse will need to complete a psychological screening, too. Your psychologist will talk with you both about your expectations for your family during your pregnancy to ensure you are ready for changing dynamics and the sacrifices you will all need to make.
  • Your understanding of the risks of being a carrier: Becoming a carrier means accepting certain risks and repercussions — some of which are more extreme than others. It’s important that you understand these risks before deciding to be a gestational carrier. Your psychologist will talk to you about these topics to make sure you are 100 percent comfortable with the path ahead of you.

Whether you are an intended parent or prospective carrier, your psychological screening is a big part of your pre-surrogacy process. Your surrogacy specialist will always help you prepare for this conversation and connect you with a trusted local professional for your screening. Still nervous? Think about the questions you may be asked and try to come up with some thoughtful answers ahead of time. Don’t be afraid to come into this screening with questions of your own; it shows you are mature and recognize the complexities of the topics you will be discussing.

For more information about psychological screening and other surrogacy requirements, please call our agency today at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

What to Pack for Your Surrogacy Hospital Stay – Surrogates

The moment when you place the baby you’ve been carrying for nine months into the arms of his or her parents is an incredibly special one. Now it’s time to get ready for that moment! Here’s what you should pack in your hospital bag as a surrogate:

Paperwork

These are probably the most important items you’ll pack. The hospital will usually have things like extra toiletries on hand, but especially with a surrogacy birth, only you’ll be able to supply some of this information.

It’s best to try to prepare your hospital by letting them know about your birth plan in advance, as they may not have had any experience with a surrogacy birth. Your American Surrogacy specialist will work with you, your intended parents and your hospital to create a hospital plan that you’re comfortable with and to make sure that everything is ready, so that everyone is prepared and on the same page.

Bringing more information than less is a good idea, just in case. Some things you should pack include:

  • Your insurance cards
  • Your driver’s license or I.D.
  • Your surrogacy contract
  • The pre-birth order (if possible)
  • Copies of relevant prenatal medical information (if necessary)

The hospital should have a way to identify you and your family (like your spouse and children if they visit you) as well as the baby and the intended parents. Most hospitals are accommodating of the intended parents once they understand your special birth plan, so check with your surrogacy specialist to confirm what paperwork you should have ready.

Clothes

Comfort is definitely key. Some hospitals tend to keep the temperature uncomfortably low, while others set it too high. You can’t go wrong with light layers. A few essentials you should pack include:

  • A robe to put on over your hospital gown
  • Socks or slippers
  • A couple of loose and comfortable outfits that you could go home in
  • Extra underwear
  • Nursing bras

Toiletries

Again, the hospital will likely have spares of anything you might need, so don’t over pack, but you might have preferences about brands. Think back to your last delivery and what would have made you more comfortable. Helpful things to pack include:

  • Your toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Hairbrush
  • A hair tie, headband, or whatever you prefer to keep your hair out of the way
  • Breast pads
  • Pads for post-partum bleeding
  • Nipple cream or Lanolin if your breasts get tender
  • If you plan on pumping breast milk for the baby, a breast pump
  • Post-partum ice packs

Miscellaneous

Don’t stress too much about packing. If you forget something, ask your spouse to run home and grab it for you. Your past deliveries will be your most helpful guide when considering what to pack for your hospital stay. Some additional things you might want to toss in your bag before you forget include:

  • Your phone charger
  • Anything from home that’ll make you more comfortable (a book, headphones, a specific pillow, blanket, sleep mask, etc.)
  • A little gift or memento for the child, like a photo album of your pregnancy or a special stuffed animal if you’d like them to have something to mark the nine months you spent together

Giving birth as a surrogate is an incredible and unique experience. Packing your hospital bag may seem small, but it’s all part of something exciting. Enjoy it!

American Surrogacy is here to help you create a hospital plan that you can feel confident about, and is with you every step of the way, preparing you for what to expect at the hospital with a surrogacy birth. Contact us now at 1-800-875-BABY (1-800-875-2229) to learn more about how to become a surrogacy and to make a surrogacy birth plan.

What to Pack for Your Surrogacy Hospital Stay – Intended Parents

One of the most exciting days of your lives is almost here! You’re about to meet your child for the first time. Do you know what you need to bring? We’ve got you covered. Here’s what you should pack in your hospital bag if you are an intended parent who is having a baby through surrogacy:

Paperwork

Your surrogate will be bringing the same information, but you should pack your own copies of this documentation in case she’s busy (she will be having your baby!) and hospital staff needs to reference something. Make sure you bring:

American Surrogacy will work with you to coordinate with your surrogate’s preferred hospital, and we’ll help make sure that they’re prepared for a surrogacy birth, as some hospitals haven’t experienced this before. Ensuring that the necessary hospital staff members are informed about your birth plan will help prevent any snags in you, your surrogate and her family, and your baby being able to access one another freely.

Having your relevant paperwork on hand can help communicate this to hospital staff, which rotates frequently.

Occupation

You will likely be actively involved in supporting your surrogate during labor, but there is often also a lot of waiting and idleness for intended parents during the hospital stay, which might make you feel a little anxious or helpless. Bring some things to keep yourself occupied during this time, like:

  • A book
  • Headphones
  • Snacks (try to eat in the waiting area, out of politeness to surrogates who might be sensitive to smells while in labor and who aren’t permitted to eat while laboring)
  • Your phone charger

Having something quiet that can keep you busy while you wait for your baby’s delivery can be surprisingly helpful for both you and your surrogate!

Clothes

The average duration of labor is about 8 hours, but it can vary widely. You’ll also need to stay at the hospital so your baby can be monitored, so your surrogate may be discharged before you if all goes well. This means that you could need to pack for a few days’ stay. Here are a few things you should consider bringing:

  • A few sets of comfortable clothes that you can sleep in if necessary, with light layers, since hospitals can sometimes run pretty warm or chilly
  • Overnight clothes and supplies, as a 24 hour post-birth observation period for all babies is usually required by most hospitals
  • A front buttoning shirt if you’d like to have skin-to-skin contact with your baby, which is recommended for intended parents

Toiletries

You’ll likely be staying at the hospital overnight, so have whatever you need for that stay ready to go, such as:

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Hairbrush
  • Daily prescription medications
  • Contacts and glasses

Miscellaneous

You’ve probably waited for this day for a long time, but try not to over-pack, especially if you have to fly to your surrogate. It can be helpful to ask your surrogacy professional what other intended parents have found useful in their hospital bags, and what you can leave at home. However, there are a few additional items you might want in your bag, such as:

  • Whatever you need to be comfortable, like a blanket or sleep mask, as you might be there 1-3 days
  • A labor care kit for your surrogate with little supplies like lip balm and slipper socks
  • A small gift for your surrogate to mark the closing of your journey together. Talk to your surrogacy specialist about some appropriate gift ideas

For Baby

Don’t worry about bringing along the entire baby aisle of the store. The hospital will have extra newborn diapers, bottles and other basics. You can handle most supplies when you get home. Some things you should pack for baby include:

  • A weather-appropriate coming-home outfit (in a couple sizes in case one doesn’t fit)
  • Blankets
  • A hat
  • Two or three comfy onesies for sleeping
  • Socks or booties
  • A few burp or spit-up cloths
  • An approved baby car seat
  • Diapers and wipes
  • Bottles, formula, or whatever supplies you need to transport breast milk

Bring what’s essential for keeping your baby warm, comfortable, safe and fed. Most importantly, have the car seat ready. The hospital usually won’t let you leave unless they know it’s safe and installed correctly.

Meeting your child is one of the most important moments in your life, but you don’t need to bring a bunch of extras. Just focus on a few essentials and yourselves!  Your American Surrogacy specialist will help you and your surrogate to create a surrogacy birth plan that you’re comfortable with, and make sure you’re ready for your hospital stay. Contact us now at 1-800-875-BABY (1-800-875-2229) to begin your surrogacy process.

What to Look for in a Gamete Donor

Like choosing a gestational surrogate, selecting the right gamete donor — whether you need an egg, sperm, or both — can be difficult. You might not be sure what to look for in a potential donor, but this person will contribute 50 percent of your child’s genetic makeup, so it’s important that you choose wisely!

If you’re beginning your search for an egg and/or sperm donor, this guide will help.

Anonymous vs. Identified Donors

First, you’ll need to decide whether you want to work with an anonymous donor or an identified donor.

An anonymous egg or sperm donor has a profile that usually includes basic, non-identifying information about the donor’s health, appearance and a bit more. It’s usually noted on each profile whether or not the donor is to remain anonymous or is willing to be identified if the need arises for more information in the future.

An identified egg or sperm donor, also called a known donor, is willing to provide their identifying information or exchange contact with the intended parents before or after the intended parents’ child is born. There is more information offered about these donors to intended parents through their profiles, and these donors are willing to talk to you and your child if contacted.

Identified donors can also be someone that you know, like a close friend.

Today, many professionals recommend using an identified donor whenever possible. Research on open adoption has shown that a child’s knowledge of his or her genetic history can be incredibly important, not only for medical purposes, but also for identity development and emotional wellbeing.

The 6 Things You Should Consider in a Potential Egg or Sperm Donor

The importance of each of these points will probably rank differently to everyone, but you should consider all of them when looking at a potential donor. In no particular order, here are the six things you should keep in mind for a donor:

1. Health

All egg and sperm donors must meet certain health requirements before they may donate. Check with your individual professional to learn more about their criteria for donors, as these requirements can vary. Generally, donors must prove that they’re in good health through a medical screening process, and must provide family history on both sides. Keep in mind that nobody’s family health history is spotless, including your own.

The surrogacy process also includes preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) and prenatal testing to look for, prevent or potentially treat any birth defects, disorders or diseases that could be present and genetically inheritable.

2. Blood Type

Having a child who shares your blood type can be helpful in an emergency, in the event that one of you needs to donate blood to the other. This is a lower priority for most intended parents, but if a donor you feel drawn to matches your blood type or your spouse’s, it can be an added benefit.

3. Appearance

For many intended parents, having a child that looks like them or their spouse is important. Identified donors are usually asked to provide current photos of themselves as well as a childhood photo so you can try to imagine what your child might look like if you work with a particular donor.

Remember that the appearance of your child is largely guesswork. For example, maybe both of your parents were very tall, and you’re barely five feet tall. Your fertility specialist can help you find donors that match what you’re looking for appearance-wise, but nature can still be unpredictable, so don’t get too caught up in finding someone who looks just right.

4. Intelligence

Similar to the health requirements, sometimes donors must meet minimum education requirements as a means to measure intelligence and drive. This may mean having at least an undergraduate degree, meeting minimum SAT scores or other educational accomplishments.

There are many different kinds of intelligence, and a person’s interests and upbringing can play into how they perform in certain fields academically. While your donor may affect your child’s intelligence to some extent, genetics are not the only determining factor in intelligence.

5. Personality

It can be difficult to feel as if you know someone through an online profile, but often, a donor’s personality shines through. Certain personality traits can be genetically influenced, in addition to being affected by a person’s environment and upbringing.

Perhaps you’re hoping for a child to share in your sense of humor, and you’d like to find a donor who also has that same personality trait in the hopes that it might be passed on to your child. Or maybe you admire a certain personality trait, like a special talent that a donor has, and you hope your child might receive that gift, too. Either way, personality may not always be inherited by a child, but it’s an important thing to consider in a potential donor nonetheless.

6. A Connection

This is likely the most important thing to look for in an egg or sperm donor. When you view a potential donor’s profile, you’ll hopefully feel a sense of connection with the right one. Many intended parents describe a sense of “rightness” or of having a thought of, “That’s the one.”

Nobody is absolutely perfect, so if a donor meets most of your preferred criteria but doesn’t check off all of your boxes, don’t worry — especially if you feel a connection with that donor.

The best advice for intended parents who are choosing an egg or sperm donor is surprisingly simplistic, but very effective — trust your gut. If you have any questions about using donor gametes in surrogacy, or if you’re ready to start the surrogacy process, call 1-800-875-BABY (1-800-875-2229) now.