Finding a surrogate to help you become parents can be an exciting part of your surrogacy journey. However, it’s completely normal to have some reservations about partnering with a stranger for a year or more.
That’s why, at American Surrogacy, we make sure every prospective surrogate who works with us is physically and emotionally healthy and ready to commit to the surrogacy process. We know the concerns intended parents like you may have, which is why we put all of our prospective surrogates through extensive background screening to make sure they’re prepared — and to alleviate any of your lingering questions.
Every gestational carrier that’s presented to you will meet all of our requirements, protecting you from potential legal, medical or financial risks associated with an unprepared surrogate. Our surrogacy specialists are happy to discuss these requirements in more detail if you call us at 1-800-875-2229, but to help you understand our process now, we’ve laid it out for you below.
Our Requirements for Surrogates
Surrogacy is a complicated process, so before a prospective surrogate even begins her background screening, she must meet certain requirements to ensure the success of a surrogate pregnancy. When a surrogate first applies with American Surrogacy, she will fill out an informational questionnaire, which will determine whether she meets these requirements. By determining these requirements outright, we help protect intended parents from potential matches with a surrogate who’s not quite fit for surrogacy — and, therefore, reducing the amount of time your surrogacy process takes.
Each surrogate that works with us must:
Be 21-38 years old
Have a BMI of 19-32
Not smoke, use illicit drugs or be exposed to second hand smoke
Have had at least one successful pregnancy but no more than five cesarean births
Have waited six months after her last vaginal birth and 12 months after her last C-section birth before applying
Be currently raising a child
Had no major complications in previous pregnancies
Have completed a pap smear in the last year
Not be receiving state assistance
Be able to travel as needed for surrogacy appointments
Have no felony convictions
Have no tattoos or piercings within the last 12 months
Not be on anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication within the last 12 months
Have no untreated addiction, abuse (child, sexual or physical), depression, eating disorders or traumatic pregnancy, labor and/or delivery
By making sure a surrogate meets these requirements, we can generally ensure that a surrogate has the basic health situation needed for a successful pregnancy. However, we will still require her to undergo additional screenings to find out more about her health, financial and emotional situations before she is presented as a potential match to intended families.
While a surrogate is still considering surrogacy or is waiting on approval of her application, we will send her information about the surrogacy process and what to expect to help her prepare for and feel committed to her surrogacy plans. As she moves forward with her screening process, our surrogacy specialists will answer any questions she has to make sure she completely understands the process she’s agreeing to, before she even begins the process with intended parents like you.
How We Screen Prospective Surrogates
After a surrogate’s application has been approved, she will undergo a four-step screening process to further make sure she’s prepared for the surrogacy process. Each of these steps handles different aspects of the surrogacy requirements, some of which may address concerns you have as intended parents.
1. Surrogate Social and Medical History Form
These forms are given to a surrogate after her initial application has been processed and approved and ask a surrogate to disclose certain information about her history and her family history. By receiving information about her family medical history, American Surrogacy can better determine whether she can be a candidate for a successful surrogate pregnancy.
In this step, a surrogate will also be asked to sign a medical release for American Surrogacy to access her medical records from past pregnancies and deliveries. Her OB-GYN will also be required to recommend her as a prospective surrogate.
A surrogate’s social history is required so our surrogacy specialist can better understand who she is and why she’s chosen surrogacy. If our specialists have any concerns about her social history form, they’ll be able to address the issues with her and determine if they would impact her ability to have a successful surrogate pregnancy.
2. In-Home Assessment & Background Checks
Because all of our surrogates are required to be raising a child at the time of their surrogate pregnancy, it’s important that we see what kind of home environment that child is being raised in and whether it’s conducive to a surrogate pregnancy. This in-home visit also allows a licensed social worker to interview all adult members of the household to determine their thoughts on the pregnancy.
A prospective surrogate must have the support of her family, and this assessment helps us ensure that. A healthy, supported surrogate pregnancy will make sure that your unborn child develops properly while in utero. This assessment will also help you understand what kind of environment your child will be exposed to while in utero.
While the in-home assessment is taking place, American Surrogacy will also conduct general, criminal and child abuse background checks on the surrogate. This will help make sure a surrogate can provide a safe environment for a pregnancy and will not cause any legal problems later on — and helps to alleviate intended parents’ worries.
3. Mental Health and Psychological Evaluation
Just as important as a surrogate’s health situation is her mental state and whether she’s prepared for the emotional journey of surrogacy. That’s why we require all of our surrogates to meet with a psychologist to discuss their personality, the “what-ifs” that might occur during the surrogacy and how they would respond, and the emotions they may have when the baby is given to intended parents after birth.
How a surrogate will respond to certain aspects of surrogacy and the emotions they feel are a key concern for many intended parents. This psychological screening (which also includes personality testing) helps prepare surrogates on how to properly respond to certain emotions and keep the surrogacy process moving smoothly for all involved. This is also a great opportunity for a surrogate to learn more about how to interact with intended parents like you in a positive way.
4. Medical Evaluation
While American Surrogacy will receive information on the surrogate’s medical history through her applications, forms and medical records, the most important way of ensuring a surrogate is ready for the surrogacy process is through a medical evaluation completed by a fertility clinic. Each intended parents’ situation is different, so we complete this screening after a surrogate has matched with intended parents but before a legal contract has been signed — to make sure that the surrogate’s body and the intended parents’ embryos will work well together.
During this screening, American Surrogacy uses the standards set by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, which include:
A review of the surrogate’s sexual and personal history
A physical exam
Blood and urine lab testing
A saline sonogram to evaluate the uterus
Once this screening is complete and the medical evaluation approves the surrogate’s ability to carry your embryo, we will be able to formalize your match with a legal contract — and your surrogacy process can begin.
Obviously, the screening process for prospective surrogate mothers is lengthy — but all for good reason. We take this screening seriously because we understand how important the surrogacy process (and finding the right surrogate) is to you as intended parents. Many of our intended parents have been waiting for years to have a child, so we take these steps to reduce the likelihood of any additional waiting that may come from an ill-prepared surrogate match.
By screening both our prospective surrogate mothers and intended parents extensively before beginning the process, we protect you from future risks and liabilities that might occur. After all, surrogacy is a complicated process — but we seek to make it as stress-free as possible for intended parents like you.
To learn more about how we screen prospective surrogates and how to get started with surrogacy, please contact us today.