In many families, relatives would do anything to make each other happy — sometimes, including carrying a child for one of their loved ones. If you have struggled through infertility and are considering surrogacy to help you build your family, you may wonder whether you can (or should) ask your family member to be your gestational carrier.
Know this: Many intended parents have taken the route of surrogacy within the family, and you can, too.
Surrogacy is a life-changing journey and, when you include potential family members as a surrogate, you will take this important journey with the loved ones who are most important to you. It can be a sense of relief for you if a family member is willing to carry your child, but there are still some crucial things to research and discuss before you decide to embark on this process together.
At American Surrogacy, we are happy to complete a family member surrogacy, otherwise known as an “identified” surrogacy. Our specialists can explain exactly what steps are ahead of you, as well as the special identified program we offer for those in these surrogacies — a program with reduced agency costs. To learn more, please call our agency at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).
You probably have a few questions about this process before you begin. To help you out, we’ve answered some of the most common questions about family member surrogacy below.
1. Can a family member be a surrogate mother?
If you’re considering an identified surrogacy, this is probably one of the first questions you have. Know that the answer is yes — with certain restrictions.
Not just anyone can become a gestational carrier. Being a surrogate is a big commitment, full of risks and rewards. Therefore, the women who choose to become surrogates must meet certain qualifications, such as:
- Have had a successful pregnancy and delivery with no major complications
- Be raising a child in her own home
- Be between the ages of 21 and 38
- Have a BMI between 19 and 32
- Have not been on anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication for at least 12 months
To determine whether your family member can be a surrogate mother, we encourage you to contact our specialists. Exceptions to some of these qualifications may be made on a case-by-case basis.
However, if your family member has never been pregnant, she cannot become a gestational carrier. This is to protect both you and her from failed embryo transfers or pregnancies moving forward, as well as the emotional complexities of pregnancy. Know that there are plenty of healthy, pre-approved surrogates you can choose from if you are in need of a gestational carrier.
2. Can my daughter be my surrogate?
Sometimes, women come to us with a unique request: that their daughter be their surrogate. Perhaps you have remarried and wish to have another child with your new spouse, or you are experiencing secondary infertility after having your child very young.
This kind of surrogacy within the family is possible, as long as your daughter meets the required qualifications. You both should talk about the emotional complications of this journey, and she should seriously consider whether this is the right choice for her before moving forward. Surrogacy is a complicated journey and will require a lot from both of you moving forward, which is why proper research is so important in this decision.
3. Can my sister be my surrogate?
More often, women experiencing infertility have someone in mind to be their surrogate: an older sister. If your sister has already carried a child to term and has completed her family, she may be a great option for your family member surrogacy.
Again, your sister should meet all the requirements of surrogacy before you ask her to make this sacrifice for you. There are also some important things to think about when pursuing surrogacy with a sibling, including lingering sibling rivalries and complicated relationships. Fortunately, the surrogacy specialists at American Surrogacy can guide you through these discussions before you make your final decision.
Not all intended parents who ask their sister to be their gestational carrier are women. It’s becoming more common for surrogates to carry for their sisters-in-law or for their single or gay brothers. In fact, gay intended parents may think about having their sister serve as their surrogate to provide a genetic relationship that may not otherwise be there.
If you are considering traditional surrogacy with your sister (so that your spouse may use his sperm in the embryo), this can be a very complicated situation. Consider all the pros and cons of this process, and recognize that the majority of surrogacy agencies will not work with you for this traditional surrogacy.
4. What are the pros of surrogacy within the family?
There are many reasons that intended parents may pursue a family member surrogacy. Here are just a few:
- Decreased costs: When you have already identified a surrogate, you will not need to use agency and matching services to find one. Therefore, you won’t need to pay the costs associated with these services. Many agencies (including American Surrogacy) offer a smaller fee structure for those who have already found their surrogacy partner. You may also reduce your costs further with an altruistic surrogacy, if your gestational carrier is comfortable with not being paid base compensation for her services. At American Surrogacy, our program fees for an identified surrogacy are $11,000 for domestic intended parents and $13,000 for international intended parents.
- Shorter surrogacy journey: Surrogacy can take time, especially if you first need to find a surrogate to carry your child. If you have someone in mind, you can skip that initial step and go straight to screening and assessment. From there, you can quickly move forward to starting the medical process of surrogacy.
- Established relationship: Trusting a surrogate with your dreams of parenthood can take a great deal of faith. But, if you already know your surrogate, you are probably already comfortable with her ability to maintain a healthy pregnancy and protect your baby’s safety every step of the way. This relationship may also make it easier to communicate during the pregnancy and be a part of important milestones (like sonograms) along the way.
5. What are the cons of surrogacy within the family?
Surrogacy within the family is not always as easy as it may seem. It demands a lot from intended parents and surrogates, and it can be equally difficult for both parties.
Before committing to this journey, think about:
- Changes to existing relationships: When you pursue a family member surrogacy, you and your surrogacy partner will share the most intimate parts of your lives with each other. Whatever relationship you have will change. You will be forever bonded by this journey you have taken and the life you have brought into the world together. Be prepared for the intensity of your new relationship and how it may affect your lives in the future.
- Explaining the surrogacy story: Not only will you need to be ready to explain your surrogacy story to your child as he or she grows up, but you will also need to explain your surrogacy decision to your extended family, friends and perhaps your acquaintances. Ask yourself: How will you ensure your extended family speaks appropriately with your child as he or she grows up? What will you do if they do not accept your surrogacy decision?
- Emotional complications: Odds are, you have a pretty extensive history with this family member — otherwise you wouldn’t be considering them as your gestational carrier. This history can be both positive and negative; you may find that old arguments and feelings may reemerge when you take this journey together. In addition, by completing a family member surrogacy, your relative will be incurring the risks of being a surrogate — which can cause difficult feelings among family members should something go wrong. In order to alleviate these complicated emotions, many surrogacy professionals encourage a base compensation in identified surrogacy to put all parties at ease.
While a family member can be a surrogate mother, you and your relative should only commit to this journey when you are 100 percent ready. This means you’ll need to understand all the requirements and nuances of this process and be prepared for the many ups and downs that may come your way.
For more information, or to start your surrogacy within the family today, please contact our agency at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).