Uncover the Financial Truth About Family-Building During National Infertility Awareness Week

Infertility is a struggle that affects millions of Americans. But, despite how common it is, it is still very much a taboo subject for many people — but National Infertility Awareness Week is here to change that.

Each year, RESOLVE chooses a theme to address during National Infertility Awareness Week. This year, we’re focusing on the significant lack of access to affordable family-building options and emotional support for the men and women struggling with infertility every day. As much as family-building options have expanded over the last few decades, there’s still a long way to go for making assisted reproduction and other non-traditional family-building methods affordable for every single person.

American Surrogacy is proud to help educate as part of National Infertility Awareness Week. Anyone struggling with infertility and considering gestational surrogacy can always talk to our specialists for free at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

In the meantime, here’s what you need to know for this important week:

Infertility Treatments Often Break the Bank

Coping with infertility struggles is a difficult emotional journey. But it can also be an extremely stressful financial journey for those who wish to become parents.

When a couple can’t conceive in a traditional manner, they often go through a long series of tests to determine their infertility issues. These tests often include physical exams, semen analyses, blood tests and other special procedures. Before a person even starts alternative family-building treatments, they have often sunk thousands of dollars into finding out what is “wrong.” Even more unfortunate? Sometimes these tests don’t reveal a cause of their infertility struggles.

Whether or not a “cause” of infertility is discovered, hopeful parents often move onto assisted reproduction methods next. These can be as simple as intrauterine insemination or as complicated as in vitro fertilization. Donor gametes may be involved, and intended mothers may go through several rounds of failed implementation and/or miscarriage before a successful pregnancy — if they get pregnant at all. And, with the average cost of a single IVF cycle at $12,000, intended parents often spend tens of thousands of dollars on treatment before getting pregnant or deciding on another family-building method.

When Infertility Treatments Don’t Work

If pregnancy is not achieved through basic assisted reproduction, hopeful parents are often left with one decision: surrogacy or adoption. Most parents who choose private domestic infant adoption or gestational surrogacy will spend at least $30,000 more on building their family. If they’ve previously gone through several rounds of IVF, the costs can become overbearing — forcing the parents to take out loans and be otherwise burdened during what should be the happiest time of their lives.

While many parents will tell you that it is all worth it when they bring their little ones home for the first time, there’s no denying just how expensive alternative family-building paths are. Getting pregnant is not simple for those struggling with infertility — and it’s not cheap, either.

Financing Options for Hopeful Parents

For this year’s National Infertility Awareness Week, we want everyone to be aware of the financial burden of alternative family-building today. But, in response, there is also an increasing demand for affordable family-building options — and more and more businesses are taking note.

One of the easiest ways to make alternative family-building more affordable is through employer support. Insurance coverage of infertility tests and treatments can be a lifesaver for hopeful parents. While more than 400 companies in the U.S. offer benefits for fertility treatments, the range of benefits from company to company vary greatly. Unfortunately, the majority of IVF patients still have to pay for all or some of their treatment out-of-pocket.

With infertility affecting 1 in 8 American couples, many family-building professionals wholeheartedly believe that infertility coverage should be included in modern insurance plans. Whether you’re a hopeful parent yourself or a supporter of these parents, speak with your employer about adding infertility coverage to your company policy. Advocate for those who may not be able to do so themselves for this year’s National Infertility Awareness Week.

Even with some degree of insurance coverage, many hopeful parents find themselves financially burdened during this family-building process. After all, they are trying to save up for the expenses of a new child at the same time they are paying a great deal to bring that child into their life! To aid these parents, many financial companies have started offering specific loans and grants to those looking to build their families.

Many intended parents also look to family and friends for personal, low-interest loans to make their family-building journey possible. If you can afford to, consider offering loans to your family and friends struggling with infertility or donating to a project that offers loans to intended parents.

There are many ways you can support hopeful parents during National Infertility Awareness Week. In addition to the methods mentioned above, you can get involved by sharing your story, hosting or participating in awareness walks, and fundraising for infertility research. Although it can be a silent struggle, infertility is an issue that affects all of us in one way or another. That’s why American Surrogacy supports intended parents during this week and throughout the year as they determine the best path forward for their family.

Want to learn more about our gestational surrogacy program? Contact our surrogacy specialists today at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

Managing Money Issues as an Independent Surrogate

For many, finances are a taboo topic. It’s tough enough to talk about them seriously with your loved ones and immediate family — so how do you get comfortable enough to talk about this topic with people you’ve just met?

Talking about finances and surrogate compensation with your intended parents can be an awkward conversation, but it’s a necessary one to have. A professional can help mediate these conversations in an agency-assisted surrogacy but, in an independent surrogacy, you will likely be on your own.

So, how do you talk about finances with your intended parents? How do you make sure you get paid on time and are not held responsible for any of your surrogacy costs?

It’s important to be aware of the financial aspects of an independent surrogacy journey before you even get started. That’s why we’ve tackled some of the biggest topics below. Remember that our surrogacy specialists are always available to discuss private surrogacy vs. agency-assisted surrogacy and explain how our services can make your financial matters a little easier.

Being Your Own Financial Advocate

When you are an independent surrogate, you will be responsible for a great deal of coordination and communication between professionals. You will be the one to find your surrogacy match, make sure your goals and interests align, and continue the relationship for the remainder of the journey. As part of this, you will also be responsible for your own financial matters.

There are a lot of complicated things that go into surrogacy finances. You will need to be familiar with and manage:

From the very beginning of your journey, you will be responsible for keeping track of these expenses and notifying your intended parents when payment or reimbursement is due. Because you are the one who is pregnant, all of your medical bills will come to you, and you’ll need to take the extra step to get that information to your intended parents. Otherwise, you will be the one who is held financially responsible.

Discussing Sensitive Financial Issues

In an ideal situation, intended parents are up-to-date on the latest surrogacy charges and handle them quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately, not all intended parents are timely and organized. There is always the possibility that bills will go unpaid or you will be waiting for reimbursement for longer than you anticipate. Usually, these situations aren’t a result of intended parents trying to avoid their responsibilities, but they can hurt your family’s financial situation all the same.

Because you will ultimately be the one responsible for making sure you get paid or your bills are covered, you will need to be ready to have some difficult conversations with your intended parents, if this situation arises. You cannot just avoid the tough parts of your finance discussion; that will leave you responsible for the costs of surrogacy, which should never be the case.

Know that a lot of your financial matters will be detailed in your surrogacy contract. But, if things do not go according to your contract, you will need to step up to confront your intended parents about their responsibilities, no matter how close your personal relationship is.

Deciding What is Right for You

For some surrogates, an independent surrogacy journey is an easy path. They are comfortable discussing financial matters with their intended parents and making sure that they get the financial compensation they deserve.

For other surrogates, an independent surrogacy causes a great deal of financial and emotional stress. When you’re working so closely with your intended parents, it’s natural to develop a deep friendship. But, when this happens, many surrogates feel guilty about asking for money and reimbursement, just as they would feel uncomfortable asking for the same thing from their close friends and family. This can quickly get them into financial trouble if their family is depending on the surrogate compensation to make up for lost wages and other financial burdens related to the pregnancy.

Before you decide to become an independent surrogate, you should be 100 percent confident that you can handle money matters in a professional, non-confrontational and confident way. You will have no one to rely on but you, and that’s a big responsibility.

If you are not ready for this kind of responsibility, that’s okay — surrogacy agencies such as American Surrogacy are here to help. When you work with an agency, your surrogacy specialist will handle all of these matters for you. They will focus on ensuring your medical and surrogacy costs are always covered and that you receive the base compensation you are entitled to. You will only have to focus on a healthy pregnancy and maintaining a positive relationship with your intended parents.

Want to learn more about the pros and cons of an independent surrogacy journey? Feel free to reach out to our agency at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) to speak to a specialist today.

Switching Surrogates: Is It Possible?

In an ideal surrogacy situation, intended parents and their gestational carrier “click” from the very first time they meet. They share the same goals and preferences, are excited to start a relationship with each other, and are committed to the challenges and rewards of their upcoming surrogacy journey together.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

For reasons both in and out of their control, sometimes intended parents find that their gestational carrier is not the perfect match they thought she was. This can be an incredibly difficult situation to be in; you’ve already become attached to the idea of your surrogate and you are one step closer to having the child you have always dreamed about. It can be devastating to start back from square one with another surrogate.

Because it’s such a personal process, there is really no right or wrong when it comes to switching surrogates after starting your family-building journey. However, there are some important things you’ll need to consider if you find yourself in this kind of situation.

Having a surrogacy professional by your side can make all the difference. If you are wondering about the logistics of switching surrogates, or you’re not sure if looking for a new surrogate is the right choice for you, don’t hesitate to reach out to your surrogacy specialist. They can guide you through this complicated time.

Why Would I Need to Find a New Surrogate?

Sometimes, it’s hard to imagine having to switch surrogates until it happens to you. Maybe you’ve been blessed with a great surrogacy match from the very beginning, or maybe your surrogacy professional has spent a lot of time narrowing down prospective surrogates to find the perfect match. You may wonder why people would ever feel the need to completely start over in their family-building journey.

Every intended parent is different, but here are some reasons that some people find themselves looking for a different surrogate:

  • The surrogate doesn’t pass her initial screening. In some situations, a woman that seems perfect on paper won’t pass her medical or psychological screenings. This may happen because she lied on her application materials or a previously unknown factor interferes with her ability to be surrogate.
  • The surrogate becomes pregnant with her own child. While a surrogate undergoes her medical protocol, her contract stipulates that she must refrain from sexual intercourse. Sometimes women don’t follow those rules and accidentally become pregnant before the embryo transfer procedure. In other situations, a woman who is in the very early stages of the surrogacy process (and has not yet signed her contract) accidentally becomes pregnant.
  • Multiple embryo transfers fail. In an ideal surrogacy, a surrogate will become pregnant upon the first embryo transfer. However, there are situations in which multiple embryo transfers fail. Just like intended parents, surrogates can develop unexplained secondary infertility, and intended parents may be forced to find another woman to carry their child.
  • The surrogate and intended parents develop irreconcilable differences. Sometimes, situations and relationships change. Ideally, all of these issues are hammered out before the contract negotiation stage — but, if something arises during this negotiation that hasn’t been discussed before, it can be a deal-breaker for both parties.
  • The surrogate experiences major life changes. A woman who started surrogacy knowing it was 100 percent right for her may experience unexpected changes in her situation that now makes the journey impossible. Perhaps her spouse loses their job, her family is relocated to another area, or a close family member gets sick. Sometimes, things are just out of her control and require her to end her surrogacy journey.
  • The intended parents have a gut feeling that something is wrong. In other situations, it’s hard to pinpoint an exact reason why intended parents want to look for a new surrogate. If you have a feeling something is “off” about your surrogate, listen to your gut.

What to Consider Before Asking for a New Surrogate

If something happens that leaves you thinking, “I want a new surrogate!” it’s easy to get worked up and panic about the future of your surrogacy process. However, it’s important to note that the first thing you should do is take a deep breath. Jumping to conclusions and making big decisions without forethought can add a lot of time and effort to your family-building journey.

Before you start the search for a new surrogate, ask yourself this:

  • Have you talked to your surrogacy specialist? When you’re working to bring a child into the world, the smallest things can sometimes seem like huge roadblocks. When you talk to your surrogacy specialist about the problems you’re having, they will be able to determine whether they are good reasons for finding a new surrogate or can be solved with a little communication. Your surrogacy specialist can also play a key role in mediating your conversation with your surrogate, if need be.
  • Have you signed a contract, or has your surrogate started medical protocol? If the answer is yes, the process of finding a surrogate will be much more involved and add a great deal of time to your surrogacy journey. Your surrogacy contract will need to be voided before you do anything else. If the answer is no, it will be a bit easier to start your search for a new surrogate, although it is best done with the assistance of your surrogacy professional.
  • Are these issues covered in your surrogacy contract? A contract is a great resource for clearing up disagreements. The surrogacy attorneys involved will have made notes about all kinds of situations you may have never imagined, and your disagreement or concerns may be alleviated by what your contract details for this kind of situation.
  • Can the issues be solved with open conversation? Unfortunately, miscommunication can be common during the complicated process of surrogacy, especially if you and your gestational carrier live in different states. It’s easy to jump to conclusions, but we encourage you to first try to talk it out with your gestational carrier. You may find that your worries are completely unfounded!
  • Are you ready for the added time of finding another gestational carrier? Sometimes, surrogacy matches just aren’t what intended parents expect. This can be disappointing; you deserve the best surrogacy partner for your family-building journey. However, remember that no one is perfect, and individual surrogates may have some flaws. Before you start searching for a new partner, remember that it takes time to find a gestational carrier. Switching surrogates can add months or even years to your journey. Think about this hard before making any important decisions.

If you are having trouble with your surrogacy relationship, don’t forget that your surrogacy specialist is always there to help. Call our offices at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) today to learn more about our process of finding you the perfect surrogate.

Determining Your Future Relationship with Your Surro-Baby

When you’re thinking about becoming a surrogate, there are a lot of resources out there about creating a positive, lasting relationship with your intended parents — and that’s important! But, there may be another relationship you haven’t thought a lot about.

If you haven’t asked yourself this question yet, do so now: What kind of future relationship do I want to have with the child that I carry?

Being a child’s gestational carrier is a decision that will impact you and the child forever. It’s not something you can just ignore or pretend didn’t happen, and you shouldn’t! It’s something that you should celebrate for years to come. For many gestational carriers, that involves having a personal relationship with the child they give birth to.

If you’re like most gestational carriers, you don’t have any experience with this kind of relationship. Don’t worry — American Surrogacy is here to help. Our surrogacy specialists can answer any question you may have about your future surrogacy relationship to help you be as prepared as possible before the baby is born.

To start, there are four important questions you’ll need to ask yourself:

1. What Kind of Role Do I Want to Serve in My Surro-Baby’s Life?

When it comes to the role that gestational carriers play in the lives of children they give birth to, the options are endless. Some surrogates and intended parents mutually end their relationship after the baby is delivered, while some stay in close contact for years to come, treating each other as extended family.

As a surrogate, you have a big decision to make. You will need to decide what kind of role you want to play in your surro-baby’s life. And, you’ll need to decide this long before the baby is even born.

Perhaps you want to be the cool aunt-like figure. Maybe you want to be an older mentor. Or, you may just want to be available to answer whatever questions the child may have as they grow up. Whatever you want, determining your role will always be up to you!

2. What About My Relationship with the Intended Parents?

It’s important to remember that if you want to have a relationship with the child you give birth to, you will also need to be comfortable with a relationship with their parents, too. After all, a small child can’t exactly manage a relationship on their own!

When you’re thinking about your future relationship with your surro-baby, take into account the relationship you have now and plan to have in the future with your intended parents. Not every surrogacy contract will detail this relationship ahead of time, but it’s a good thing to talk about with your intended parents early on in your journey. Of course, relationships ebb and flow over time, but setting up basic expectations (in-person visits, texts, emails, pictures, etc.) can help make the transition from surrogacy partners to lifelong friends a little easier.

Your intended parents may also have a preference for the future relationship their child has with you. You will need to respect those wishes, which is why being aware of them earlier rather than later can be so helpful.

3. How Will Distance and Time Play Into Things?

As you likely know, any long-term relationship requires a lot of work and commitment. If you and your intended parents live far apart, you will need to put in extra effort to maintain that relationship throughout the child’s upbringing, if you want to be a part of their life.

Keep in mind that life situations can change. You or the intended parents may move, or certain circumstances may occur that make it difficult for your relationship to continue. When going into a post-surrogacy relationship, know that you can’t predict the future, but you can plan for it. Think about how you will maintain a relationship when things get tough. You may even want to write a letter to your surro-baby when they are old enough to read it — just in case you can’t have the relationship you originally aspire for.

Remember that it’s completely normal for relationships to change over time, and it’s important to expect that in your surrogacy relationship, as well.

4. How Do I Decide What’s Right for Me?

It can be overwhelming to think so far in the future about a relationship that may or may not be. After all, it will often be up to the child born via surrogacy if they want to maintain a relationship with the woman who gave birth to them. Trying to decide what kind of relationship you want with them years in advance can be nerve-wracking.

Like with all relationships, you can’t predict the future this relationship. You can only hope. To help you decide what kind of relationship you want with this child, talk at length with your surrogacy specialist. They can provide examples of other relationships to help you figure out what is right for you. Of course, include the intended parents in your conversation, as well. You can all craft the perfect relationship goals together and figure out what is best for your surrogacy partnership.

4 Things to Consider About Surrogacy After Adoption

You love your adopted child, more than anything in the world. In fact, you don’t even think of them as “adopted” — they’re your child as much as any biological child is, and you wouldn’t change the way they came into your life for anything in the world.

Perhaps you’ve pondered the idea of adding another child to your family for a while. And, at this point in your life, adoption may not be the right answer. Perhaps, this time, you’re ready to try surrogacy as an alternative family-building method. You’re probably pretty excited — but you probably also have a few concerns about adding a surrogacy-born, biological child to your family after already adopting.

We know how complicated this situation can be. Choosing a way to build your family is never easy, and we know that both surrogacy and adoption come with their own pros and cons. Fortunately, here at American Surrogacy, our specialists have experience with both family-building methods, and we’re happy to help you decide which path is best for you.

You can always call our specialists at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) to discuss these options and what they will mean for your family. In the meantime, learn a little bit more about pursuing surrogacy after adoption below.

What to Consider Before Choosing Surrogacy After Adoption

The desire to have a biological child is one that many people share. Even if you’ve initially grieved the loss of having a biological child in order to adopt, you may still be curious about what having a biological child would be like. So, now that surrogacy is an option for your family, you may be considering it.

It’s 100 percent normal to have conflicting emotions when pursuing surrogacy after adoption. Like all nontraditional family-building processes, it’s not always an easy path — but being prepared can go a long way in making sure your journey is as positive as possible.

Here are some things you should think about before you even begin:

1. Your Reasons for Choosing Surrogacy

For many people, gestational surrogacy is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If you are at a point in your life where this path is right for your family, you may think you “have” to take it, because when else will you get the chance? However, surrogacy is a complicated emotional process (just like adoption), and it’s not something that your family should rush into without thinking hard about the pros and cons.

It’s no secret that one of the biggest reasons for pursuing gestational surrogacy is a biological connection to a child. But, if you’ve already adopted a child, you should have properly grieved that dream. If you haven’t, and you pursue surrogacy because of a long-buried desire to have a biological child, it may cause problems in your future relationships with your children — biological and adopted.

It’s a good idea to speak to a surrogacy specialist before starting to make sure your reasons are good ones for pursuing surrogacy after adoption. Other reasons intended parents choose to follow this path are:

  • Legal uncertainty with the adoption process in their area
  • A desire to be involved in their child’s development from conception
  • Upcoming life changes (such as moving or birthdays) that can make adoption difficult
  • Remaining embryos and the desire to give their child a sibling

Often, there are a few factors that lead to intended parents pursuing surrogacy after adoption — and that’s okay. It’s just important that you are aware of these motivators and exactly what they reveal about your family’s current state.

2. Explaining Your Choice to Your Child

When you have an adopted child, you have to commit to celebrating where they came from.  Even though they are not biologically related to you, you love them just as much as you would any other biological child.

When you decide to have a child via surrogacy, it can seem contradictory to what you’ve told your child all their life — that genetics don’t matter. Depending on the age of your child, they may have a negative reaction to the news that you are having a biological child. They may be worried that you will prefer your biological child, that they were simply a “placeholder” until the biological child came along, etc. Without proper preparation, this conversation can quickly go south.

Your surrogacy specialist can always offer tips on how to handle this conversation, but you must be prepared for some difficult conversations now and in the future. It may take time for your child to warm up to the idea of a new sibling and gestational surrogacy, and you will need to be patient with them. Don’t just assume that your older children will be automatically well-adjusted when you pursue surrogacy after adoption.

3. Celebrating All of Your Children Equally

Similarly, when your surrogate is pregnant, a lot of your time and attention will go to her and your developing child. This can be stressful for any older child but especially for children who are adopted. Because they weren’t able to see how excited you were while waiting for them to come into your life, they may think your excitement about your biological child is greater — and that they are not important.

Whether adopted or not, children can have difficulties adjusting to younger siblings. You’ll need to expect those difficulties and consider the nuances of having a biological and an adopted child in the same household. Make sure to focus time on your older child during pregnancy and after the new baby is home; continue to celebrate their adoption and emphasize the fact that you will love both them and their sibling equally, no matter where they came from.

4. Other People’s Responses

While you’ll need to pay close attention to your own household’s conversations, you will likely also experience some insensitive comments when you announce you are pursuing surrogacy after adoption. You can anticipate that many people will question you about the genetic makeup of the child you’re trying to have via surrogacy. Unfortunately, this will often result in the question, “Will it be your ‘real’/‘own’ child?”

This is incredibly harmful language, and it may even be used in front of your adopted child. It’s important to be ready with your own responses that nullify their implications (that adoption is not a “real” family-building method) and celebrate your older child’s adoption story.

At the same time, you may get judgmental comments from those who see you pursuing surrogacy as a way to “make up for” choosing adoption for your older child. They may shame you for your family-building choice, asking you why you didn’t “just adopt” again.

It can be hard to feel like you’re “darned if you do, darned if you don’t” when it comes to choosing between adoption and surrogacy to bring another child into your home. If you feel comfortable doing so, take this as an opportunity to educate about gestational surrogacy and adoption — and why certain parents may choose one option over another. But, remember that you don’t owe anyone outside of your immediate family an explanation as to why you chose the path you chose. The only thing that matters is what is right for your family.

Should You Be a Compensated or Altruistic Surrogate?

When you decide to become a surrogate, there is a lot you have to consider. You have to make many decisions during your surrogacy journey — some of which are early decisions which will impact how your entire surrogacy proceeds. In addition to deciding to be a traditional or gestational carrier or to work with a short-distance or long-distance intended parent, you will also need to decide whether you wish to be compensated for your services.

As a surrogate, you will always have the right to receive compensation for your services, as long as your state laws allow for it. You should never feel forced into an altruistic surrogacy, whatever your circumstances. Being a surrogate is not easy, so you deserve to receive a surrogate base compensation if it’s something you are interested in.

But, what if you’re really on the fence about this decision? How do you choose the path that is right for you?

Below, you’ll find some helpful information to assist in your decision-making process. Remember: Your surrogacy specialist is always here to answer your questions about surrogate compensation. For personal assistance, please call our agency at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

4 Things to Consider About Each Path

Ultimately, you are the only one who can decide whether becoming a compensated or altruistic surrogacy is best for you. There is no shame in choosing one over the other. Plenty of women have had successful compensated and altruistic surrogacy journeys; it’s all about making sure you are choosing the right path for the right reason.

If you’re not sure which is best for you and your family, we encourage you to think long and hard about these four topics first.

1. Your Family’s Feelings and Financial Situation

While you are the one making a choice to become a surrogate, remember that your decision will impact the rest of your immediate family, as well. When you’re a gestational carrier, you have to give up a great deal of your time and energy to have a healthy pregnancy and maintain a relationship with your intended parents. This means that your time with your family may be impacted and you may not be able to take on the responsibilities you usually do for your family.

Logistically, becoming a surrogate may make things much more difficult for your family’s schedule. Even though your surrogacy contract will cover such things as wages from lost work and childcare expenses when necessary, your decision to become a surrogate can still cause unforeseen financial (and emotional) challenges for your family. Will your family be upset at all the time and effort you are putting into another family to receive nothing in return?

Before deciding to become an altruistic surrogate, you should talk at length with your spouse and a financial planner. It’s important to be aware of your current financial state before making this big decision.

2. Small Costs Along the Way

While a woman will never have to pay for becoming a surrogate, there may be small, unanticipated costs along the way. For example, even though your intended parents will pay for your long-distance travel costs, traveling back and forth to appointments will require you to pay for gas and put wear-and-tear on your car, which can lead to more costs later on — even after your surrogacy journey is over. Similarly, if you are busy all day doing surrogacy things, you may not have the time to have home-cooked meals as usual and find your family eating out more and spending more money.

Your surrogacy specialist and your lawyer will work with you to cover necessary expenses, but small personal costs do tend to pop up for gestational carriers. If you are being compensated for your services, those costs won’t be as big of a deal as if you were a surrogate altruistically.

3. How You May Feel as a Surrogate

If you’ve never been through the surrogacy process before, it’s easy to imagine that the next year or so will be a happy time when everything goes according to plan. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Being a gestational carrier can put you through some serious mental, physical and emotional stressors, and your mental and physical health can be impacted. If you are not receiving any kind of compensation for your surrogacy services, you may start to feel taken advantage of or not appreciated when you think of everything you are going through for your intended parents.

Of course, not every surrogate feels this way, but if you’ve never done an altruistic surrogacy before, there is a degree of uncertainty. Consider talking to other altruistic surrogates to learn more about what this journey is like to ensure that it really is the best choice for you.

4. Why You are Considering Each Path

Surrogates often become close with their intended parents, and a surrogate would often do a great deal to help make her intended parents’ surrogacy journey a little easier. In some cases, this means considering an altruistic surrogacy to save the intended parents a little bit of money.

There’s nothing wrong with taking this path, but we encourage prospective surrogates to choose an altruistic surrogacy only after they are 100 percent comfortable with what it means for them. You should never feel pressured into an altruistic surrogacy, even by a friend or family member. You should only become an altruistic surrogate if it’s a path you are excited for. If you waive your right to surrogate base compensation because of your intended parents and without recognizing your true feelings on the issue, it’s more likely that this choice will cause emotional difficulties in your relationship later on.

If your intended parents have asked you to carry for them altruistically, and you’re not sure whether it’s the right choice for you, please reach out to your surrogacy specialist today. She can discuss the pros and cons of each option in depth with you to help you make the best choice for yourself and your family.

No, Pregnancy Announcement April Fools’ Jokes Aren’t Funny

April Fool’s Day — a day of harmless hijinks and misadventures that some of us love, some of us hate. But, not all April Fool’s Day pranks are harmless. Today, we’re focusing on a growing trend of fake “announcements” that are the opposite of fun — and can instead be reminders of real sadness and grief for many people.

We’re talking about those fake social media pregnancy announcements. You know the ones: Someone posting a fake sonogram photo they’ve found online, captioning it with some lengthy pregnancy news — only to follow it up with a “clever” comment about it being April’s Fools and, psych, the pregnancy isn’t actually real.

We want to ask: Who thought this was a good idea?

And who can we get to shut this trend down for every April Fool’s Day in the future?

Why Joke Pregnancy Announcements Aren’t Funny

First off, we’ll start with the obvious: Fake April Fool’s pregnancy announcements aren’t new. They’re not original and likely won’t garner more than an eye roll from your social media friends. Why not go for something more tried-and-true, like the classic saran-wrap-on-the-toilet-seat trick?

That said, there’s been a growing backlash against joke pregnancy announcements for years, especially in the age of social media. The fact is that, for many people, pregnancy is a private and sacred thing, and it doesn’t always recall positive thoughts and celebrations. It’s certainly not a joke.

Today, about 1 in 8 American couples struggle with infertility. That means the odds are that 1 in 8 of your Facebook friends has, had or will have trouble conceiving when they want to have a child. There are also plenty of would-be parents out there who have suffered miscarriage or infant loss, whether they coped with their grief publicly or privately.

Whether or not they share their infertility struggles with their loved ones (which is completely their right), infertility and pregnancy is likely a sensitive topic for them at some point in their lives.

So, when they see your joke pregnancy announcement, they don’t see “funny.” They see a disregard for what it actually takes for many Americans to get pregnant today — the countless negative pregnancy tests, the in vitro fertilization hormone shots and gamete harvesting, the loss of pregnancies in their early stages, and even the acceptance that a biological pregnancy is not in the cards for their family. To them, pregnancy is not a joke; it’s a long-sought-after wish that may or may not eventually be granted.

So, what some may intend as funny and playful is actually offensive and distasteful. Some will argue that you can’t control what other people feel about your announcements (real or not) — but why not at least try to make the world a kinder place by avoiding this sensitive topic?

 

There are a lot of emotions involved in infertility and pregnancy. If you have never had this experience before, it’s easy for the potential psychological harm of this kind of April Fool’s joke to never even cross your mind. For many people struggling with infertility, seeing authentic pregnancy announcements is hard enough — but fake pregnancy announcements are like a gut punch.

As one woman trying to conceive told ABC News, “Try and put yourself in my shoes…. You wouldn’t make a joke about losing your child or your child getting injured. It feels the same way. People don’t realize that.”

That’s not even taking into consideration another subset of people: biological parents who aren’t raising their own children. For birth mothers and birth fathers, pregnancy announcements can remind them of the time they learned of their own unplanned pregnancies — and the emotions they went through in eventually choosing adoption for their children. They certainly might have wished that their pregnancy was a “joke” at one point — another April Fool’s Day prank to scroll past — but their pregnancy and the path they took is likely something that impacts them every single day, both positively and negatively.

Here at American Surrogacy, we know the complicated emotions that many of our clients (both intended parents and gestational carriers) associate with the pregnancy process. We empathize with those emotions, and our specialists are always here to provide emotional support and counseling throughout your family-building journey.

So, this April Fool’s Day, take our message to heart. Share this blog post on your social media to let people know that it’s not okay to use pregnancy as the butt of a joke, even today.

What to Do When Your Intended Parents Ask You To Carry Again

Surrogacy is a beautiful journey — so much so that some intended parents decide to do it all over again! When you’re a surrogate, you may be surprised to find yourself contacted months or even years after you give birth, with your intended parents asking you a question: Will you be our surrogate again?

If the prospect of a sibling journey was never mentioned in your first surrogacy, you may be a bit caught off-guard. Maybe surrogacy was a one-time thing for you and your family, and you’ve never thought about doing it again. Maybe you’re not ready for another journey, but now you feel pressured into one because of the people that you care about so much.

So, what do you do when your intended parents ask you about carrying for them again? While many women see it as an honor to be asked about a sibling journey, it’s just as important to evaluate the pros and cons of this process as you did when you first became a surrogate. Even though the intended parents may be the same in a certain surrogacy situation, many other factors are unique and should be dutifully considered before moving forward.

Remember, your surrogacy specialist is always available to help you navigate these conversations when they arise. Don’t be afraid to reach out to our agency for guidance if you are asked about a sibling journey — whatever your personal feelings may be.

Is This Something You are Prepared and Ready for?

It’s easy to feel pressured into a sibling journey when your intended parents ask you to carry again. If they’re asking, odds are they had a positive enough relationship with you during the first journey to want to repeat it again. They probably already trust you and care for you, and they want to repeat the same positive experience they had with their first child born via surrogacy.

If you had a similarly positive experience, you may initially feel the same way about carrying for them again. But, just because you’ve carried for a couple once doesn’t mean a second journey is an automatic guarantee. Just as you had to during your first surrogacy journey, you will still need to meet specific requirements and ensure you (and your family) are ready to embark on this journey again. Just because you have been a surrogate before doesn’t mean that you can automatically become a surrogate this time around.

If your intended parents were the ones who reached out to you, it’s possible that you hadn’t considered becoming a surrogate for them again. Before you engage in this conversation, you can always call your surrogacy specialist for more details about how this journey will work.

You will also want to ask yourself these questions:

If you’re having trouble deciding whether or not being a surrogate again is right for you, call your surrogacy specialist at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) for counseling.

How a Sibling Journey May Be Different

While the relationship parts of a sibling surrogacy journey may certainly be easier than in your first surrogacy journey, that doesn’t mean that every part of your second surrogacy will be as easy or uncomplicated as the first. On the contrary, carrying for someone you already know can come with new complexities that may not have ever crossed your mind.

Some of these difficulties come from the assumptions that many intended parents make when they work with the same surrogate for the second time. They may assume that you are okay with the same travel schedule, contact preferences, surrogate compensation and more. It can be uncomfortable for you if your preferences have changed and you want a slightly different journey; you may be afraid asking for those changes shows that you are “ungrateful” for or were unhappy in your previous journey.

But, the fact is, no matter how long it’s been between surrogacy journeys, things are different. You are older, and your family situation may require more of you with older children and more responsibilities. You may not be as clinically “healthy” for pregnancy as you were before; getting pregnant may not be easy (or even possible) like it was before.

Even after you start a sibling journey, the expectations you and your intended parents have may lull you into a sense of security. If things don’t go as they did during your first surrogacy, it can be uncomfortable and scary. In the worst case scenario, the positive relationship you had in your first surrogacy can quickly deteriorate should something unfortunate happen in your sibling journey.

Remember: Every surrogacy is unique, even if the partners involved are the same. Therefore, every journey must be treated as so.

Don’t Be Afraid of Saying “No”

When intended parents approach you about carrying a sibling for their first child born via surrogacy, you’ll probably feel a lot of emotions. You may even feel guilty if you are not open to this idea — and that you’ll have to let your intended parents down by rejecting their proposal.

Remember this: You are never obligated to become a surrogate for anyone, no matter your personal history. Being a surrogate is a great commitment, and it’s important that you and your family are 100 percent comfortable before agreeing to this journey. When you signed up to become a surrogate the first time, you were only obligating yourself to one surrogacy journey. Your intended parents should respect that.

Saying “no” can be hard, but it is important that you advocate for yourself. Make sure to emphasize how honored you are by the intended parents approaching you, but be strong and clear about how becoming a surrogate is not in the cards for your life at this time. Your intended parents should understand. If you have trouble navigating this conversation, your surrogacy specialist will be there to help.

Whatever you end up deciding when it comes to a sibling surrogacy journey, remember that it is your decision alone. You are always the one who knows what is best for you and your family.

How Skin-to-Skin Contact Works in Surrogacy

Parents of a baby born via surrogacy don’t have the opportunity to carry their baby in utero, which is how many parents emotionally and physically bond with their baby before he or she is born. But this certainly doesn’t mean that you’ll have a weaker bond with your child if they are born via surrogacy. It simply means that you might need to play catch-up and bond a little differently.

Like in any new relationship, you and your baby might need to spend some time working on your physical and emotional bond. Remember that families who come together through surrogacy love each other no more or less than any other family, and they’ll tell you that. It might be disappointing if you don’t feel that magical instant bond with your child right now, but don’t worry — it’ll happen!

This is where these surrogacy-specific bonding tactics come in.

The Benefits of Skin-to-Skin Contact

There have been many studies on the physical, emotional and mental benefits of skin-to-skin contact for babies and their parents. Here are some of the findings:

  • Healthy infants were shown to have reduced responses to painful stimuli like vaccinations, blood sampling, or cord cutting during skin-to-skin contact.
  • Babies cried less, were calmer and went to sleep more quickly when on their parents’ chests.
  • Newborns that had immediate skin-to-skin contact experienced physiological benefits that included improved thermoregulation, cardiopulmonary stabilization, blood glucose levels, enhanced oxygen saturation levels, breathing and sleep patterns.
  • For preterm infants who spend time in the NICU, skin-to-skin contact is even more important for brain development.
  • Skin-to-skin contact has been linked to decreased separation anxiety.
  • Reduced risks of hospital-acquired infection were shown in babies who received skin-to-skin contact, as they acclimated to the surrogate’s and intended parents’ bacteria and received the protective benefits of that bacteria.
  • The salivary cortisol levels (a biochemical marker for stress) were significantly decreased in all babies when the length of skin-to-skin increased beyond an hour. The levels continued to decrease with longer contact periods.

You can learn more about the research on skin-to-skin contact through these sources:

How to Do Skin-to-Skin Contact with Your Baby

Skin-to-skin contact is simple. When the baby is born, parents often like to place the naked baby on their bare chests as quickly as possible, for as long as possible, sometimes even while the baby is being cleaned and the cord is being cut. This is recommended for a minimum of an hour, if possible. You may have also heard this method called “Kangaroo Care.” Some parents will delay routine medical steps until after this bonding time if their baby is healthy and stable.

If you’re unable to have skin-to-skin contact with your child moments after he or she is born, don’t worry. Bonding through physical touch with your child is something that will continue to be beneficial to both of you as they grow up. Physical contact between a parent and their child is a good way to strengthen bonds, no matter when it starts.

If you do plan on trying to initiate skin-to-skin bonding with your baby at his or her birth, here are a few tips:

  • When packing to meet your baby at the hospital for the first time, include shirts that can be unbuttoned to allow quick access for skin-to-skin contact with your baby on your bare skin while preserving your modesty and comfort.
  • You and your surrogate will need to talk to your hospital nursing staff in advance about your wishes for skin-to-skin contact, and explain that you’re the intended parents in this birth plan. You’ll likely need to remind the hospital staff of these details in the busy aftermath of birth, but this way they’ll know not to swaddle the baby immediately, to avoid placing the baby into an incubator right away, or to hold off on some of the routine medical procedures like weighing your baby until after you’ve had time to hold him or her.
  • There are some studies that show that having skin-to-skin contact with the surrogate first may be beneficial for the baby, as a newborn is able to colonize her bacteria (maternal flora vs hospital flora) faster. This may reduce the chances of your child forming allergies and getting an infection. If everyone is comfortable with this, your baby’s health can benefit from this step, and then you would be able to have skin-to-skin contact with him or her next. This is another transitional step for your baby; remember that they’ve become attached to your surrogate in the previous nine months of development.

Remember to follow the advice of the hospital staff at your baby’s birth! Sometimes even carefully planned births don’t go exactly as we envisioned, so you may not be able to have that early skin-to-skin contact with your baby for whatever reason. Again, don’t worry. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to bond with your child soon.

Other Ways to Bond with Your Baby

Bonding with a baby born through surrogacy doesn’t start and end at birth or is achieved solely through skin-to-skin contact. Here are a few ways you can bond with your baby before he or she is even born:

  • Talk to your baby in your surrogate’s womb. Try giving your surrogate a recording of your voice reading books to play to your baby through headphones on her belly so your child can hear your voice.
  • Give your surrogate a “transitional item.” This could be a teddy bear that your surrogate sleeps with that will later go home with you after the baby is born, so that your baby has the familiar scent of your surrogate to help her or him transition. This can help with “emotional transference.”
  • Stay active in the pregnancy process as much as your surrogate feels comfortable with. This is more for your sake than for your baby’s, but participating in your surrogate’s pregnancy and staying in touch with her can help you feel more like your baby is “yours” and facilitate your own emotional attachment.
  • If you want and are able to, you can try to breastfeed your baby. This is not a necessity for bonding with your child, but it can be a wonderful experience for both of you. Breastfeeding is possible for many intended parents with preparation.

On the other hand, there are some ways you can bond with your child after he or she is born. These are applicable not just to parents of children born via surrogacy but also for families who come together through adoption, “traditional” methods or any other way. Try these bonding tactics:

  • Give lots of gentle touch and physical affection. Hugs, baths, play time, holding hands, brushing hair, carrying your baby in a sling or just holding and cuddling your child is important for newborns as well as for young children.
  • Talk to your child. Studies have shown that talking to your children at any age vastly improves their language skills in addition to promoting bonding. Tell them the story of how they were born, sing to them, read them lots of books, give them verbal praise and affection or even just tell them again how much you love them.
  • Prioritize routines. Getting into a regular feeding and sleeping schedule can sometimes be tricky, particularly with newborns. However, the ritual of those routines will not only make your life a little easier, but your child may also benefit from the bonding time during those daily rituals. Bath times, getting dressed, feeding times, reading a book together in your arms before their nap, singing the bedtime song — whatever you do for your daily routines, try to use it as an opportunity to spend some quality time together and focus solely on your child.

With time, you’ll likely find ways of bonding that work best for you and your baby, because every family is different. In the meantime, don’t stress too much. The parent-child bond may or may not be immediate for you, but it’ll happen, and when it does, it’ll be just as strong as it is with any parent and child.

You can always contact an American Surrogacy specialist at 1-800-875-BABY (2229) if you need additional post-surrogacy resources.

Thank You to Our Staff During National Social Work Month!

Social workers play a huge role in many different aspects of life. For those who build their family in a non-traditional way, social workers are the ones who ease them on their path and guide them through the complicated and emotional steps of adding to their family. Whether it’s through adoption or assisted reproduction, the help of social workers can be invaluable to those who have been dreaming of welcoming a child into their homes.

At American Surrogacy, we are so proud of the work that our amazing social workers do within our agency. Our team is headed by director Angie Newkirk, LBSW, who leads a group of social workers in daily activities aimed to make your surrogacy journey easier. We know how complicated surrogacy can be — for both intended parents and gestational carriers — and we are proud to be here to help in whatever way we can.

Our social workers are an implemental part of the surrogacy journey from start to finish. They work tirelessly day-in and day-out tackling the biggest responsibilities of managing a surrogacy journey:

  • Answering questions and explaining the process to prospective surrogates and intended parents
  • Screening intended parents and surrogates to make sure they are physically, mentally and emotionally ready for surrogacy
  • Finding the perfect surrogacy matches for intended parents and surrogates based on their personal preferences
  • Offering references for fertility clinics, gamete banks, surrogacy attorneys and other necessary professionals
  • Mediating contact between gestational carriers and their intended parents
  • Coordinating case details like medical coverage, insurance and other important details
  • Providing emotional support and counseling from start to finish of the surrogacy process
  • Advocating for intended parents and gestational carriers every step of the way
  • Creating a hospital and birth plan with intended parents and gestational carriers
  • Managing financial details such as surrogate compensation
  • And more

It’s a lot of work, but our social work team loves what they do. More importantly, they love being a part of your surrogacy journey and helping your surrogacy dreams come true.

So, for this year’s National Social Work Month, we’re sending our thanks out to our tireless team of social workers who have helped many intended parents and gestational carriers reach their personal surrogacy dreams. Want to get to know our social workers better, or start your own surrogacy journey today? Don’t be afraid to reach out by calling 1-800-875-2229(BABY).