Thinking about becoming a surrogate? Maybe you’re not sure what questions to ask before becoming a surrogate mother to ensure you’re well-educated about the process. Or, maybe you already have plenty of questions and you’re not sure where to start! Either way, American Surrogacy can help.
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions by women who are thinking about becoming surrogates (and our answers). For more information, contact American Surrogacy now at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).
1. What is surrogacy?
Surrogacy is where a woman becomes pregnant through an embryo transfer on behalf of intended parents. The intended parents assume all legal parental rights when the baby is born, and surrogates are compensated for their time and effort.
2. How does surrogacy work?
Although every surrogate’s journey will vary somewhat, you’ll follow these general steps:
- Pass the screening process and background checks before being confirmed as eligible for surrogacy
- Find intended parents and get to know them
- Finalize a legal surrogacy contract with attorneys and the intended parents
- Complete the medical stages of the surrogacy process
- Give birth to the intended parents’ baby
- If applicable, complete any post-birth parentage orders under the guidance of the attorney
There are a number of variables that can affect your individual surrogacy process, like where you live, the surrogacy path you choose, your preferences, goals and more, so ask an American Surrogacy specialist about what your process might look like.
3. Why do women choose to become surrogates?
Again and again, women cite their desire to help others as their main reason for becoming a surrogate. Specifically, women who become surrogates want to help people have a child and become parents. Surrogates usually enjoy being pregnant and have completed their own families, so they’d now like to carry a child for someone who is unable to do so themselves.
4. What’s the difference between traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy?
There are two types of surrogacy. In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate uses her own eggs, meaning she’d be the biological mother of the baby she’d carry. In gestational surrogacy, a gestational surrogate does not use her eggs. Instead, an embryo (created from donor or intended parent gametes) is transferred to her uterus.
American Surrogacy only completes gestational surrogacies. Because of the legal and emotional risks inherent in traditional surrogacy, that type of surrogacy is very rare, and few (if any) surrogacy professionals will complete them.
5. What are the benefits of being a surrogate?
There are many benefits of surrogacy, but we’ll highlight just a few. Women who become surrogates experience something unique and walk away with the sense that they changed an untold number of lives. Surrogates also receive financial compensation, which they often use toward specific financial goals, like paying off student loans or putting a down payment on a house. Lastly, many surrogates develop meaningful friendships with the families they help create.
6. What are the risks of being a surrogate?
Many of the risks associated with surrogacy are the risks inherent in every pregnancy. Aside from the standard pregnancy-related risks, prospective surrogates should always consider the risks of the medical process of surrogacy, like the embryo transfer process. There’s also the possibility of emotional risks as a surrogate, like postpartum depression.
This is a very different way of becoming pregnant, so there are some risks you might not be familiar with. That’s why it’s important to be honest about your medical history when talking with American Surrogacy and your medical providers.
The potential for these risks to occur is low, but it’s always important to know what they are and how likely or unlikely they are to happen. It’s also important to note that experienced professionals like American Surrogacy work to minimize risks for surrogates in every way possible, and make your physical, legal and emotional protection our priority.
7. What does a surrogacy agency do?
Surrogacy agencies (often called “surrogacy programs”) provide most, if not all, of the services that surrogates and intended parents will need to complete the surrogacy process. American Surrogacy is a full-service agency that matches intended parents and surrogates who are looking for a surrogacy partner, provides screening services, professional counseling, case management and more. When you work with an agency like American Surrogacy, you won’t have to juggle multiple professionals or navigate the complex process of surrogacy on your own. Your surrogacy specialist will be your primary point of contact from your first phone call through the hospital stay and beyond. She’ll be there to offer support, answer your questions and coordinate the services you need every step of the way.
8. Can I be a surrogate for a friend/family member/someone I already know?
If you both meet the eligibility requirements for surrogacy, then yes, American Surrogacy can help you both complete the surrogacy process. When you already have a surrogacy match in mind, it’s called identified surrogacy. Surrogacy is a unique and intimate partnership —even the closest relationships like family members or friends will need an outside party to help navigate this change in your relationship.
It’s important that you both understand the potential risks and benefits that are unique to this type of surrogacy. We’ll help you to understand and prepare for possible emotions that are specific to identified surrogacy situations so you can proceed fully informed.
9. How do I find intended parents to carry for?
For those who don’t have a surrogacy partner in mind, American Surrogacy’s matching services can help. Together, we’ll discuss the kind of intended parents you’d like to carry for, your preferences in a surrogacy situation, your goals for your surrogacy experience and more. Then, we’ll look for an intended family that matches what you’re envisioning (and they’ve been looking for a surrogate like you).
All intended parents who partner with us have been carefully screened before they’re presented to you, so you know they’re safe to work with and ready for surrogacy.
When you and an intended family have expressed mutual interest in one another’s profiles, we’ll arrange a conference call, a meeting in person, video chat, or whatever you’re all comfortable with — where we’ll introduce you. At this time, you’ll both have the opportunity to get to know one another, ask questions and decide if you think it’s a good fit before moving forward with the match.
10. How much does it cost to be a surrogate?
It won’t cost you anything to be a surrogate. The costs of your surrogacy process are the responsibility of the intended parents. Although you may need to cover some up-front costs like co-pays at the doctor’s office, you’ll be reimbursed for any of these expenses. We’ll also make sure that you and the intended parents have the insurance coverage needed during the pregnancy. Additionally, you can receive a base compensation in your journey as a surrogate.
11. How much do surrogates make?
For many surrogates, this can be one of the most important questions to ask before becoming a surrogate mother. Most states in the U.S. permit a base compensation for your services as a surrogate in addition to the intended parents covering your surrogacy- and pregnancy-related costs. Surrogates also receive a monthly allowance to help cover things like maternity clothes and any travel expenses related to the surrogacy journey.
Base compensation with American Surrogacy starts at $30,000 or more for first-time surrogates and increases depending on factors like your location and your experience with surrogacy. Received a better offer? We’ll match any other surrogacy agency’s compensation package.
Contact American Surrogacy to learn more about our compensation package and receive a personalized estimate. We work with a third-party escrow account service to ensure safe and secure delivery of monthly payments to surrogates.
12. What are the requirements to be a surrogate through American Surrogacy?
There are a number of physical, emotional and psychological requirements that you would need to meet in order to become a surrogate. You’ll need to complete an extensive screening process before you’re eligible to begin the surrogacy process.
Intended parents must also go through an extensive screening process in order to work with American Surrogacy.
13. Why are there so many surrogacy requirements?
Every requirement is there for a purpose: your safety and wellbeing, as well as the safety of intended parents and the children at the heart of surrogacy. Some of these requirements are important for legal purposes, some are established by fertility clinics, some are to protect your emotional health, but all are there for a reason. We can walk you through each requirement, so you understand why you’re being asked something.
Every surrogacy professional will have similar requirements for surrogates and intended parents, although the specifics can vary slightly from one professional to the next.
14. Do I need to travel for the surrogacy process?
In most surrogacy situations, surrogates will need to travel twice: once for your medical screening, and again for the embryo transfer process. The distance you’ll travel will depend on where the intended parents’ fertility clinic is located. Any travel necessary in your situation will be financially covered for you by the intended parents.
15. What happens if I don’t get pregnant?
It’s relatively rare for gestational surrogates to need more than one embryo transfer for a pregnancy to occur. However, your surrogacy contract (and your fertility clinic) will outline what happens if you don’t get pregnant after a certain number of embryo transfers.
During each round of IVF, your medical costs will be covered and you’ll also receive the monthly allowances specified within your contract. However, base compensation doesn’t begin until pregnancy is confirmed and a healthy heartbeat is heard. Again, it’s rare for surrogates to not become pregnant during the number of embryo transfers established in your contract.
16. How long does it take to be a surrogate?
You should anticipate committing to an approximately one- to two-year process.
One variable in your surrogacy process is the amount of time it takes to be matched with the intended family that’s right for you. For some, finding the “perfect” parents happens right away. For others, it can take a few months to find intended parents who are the ideal match. Then, there’s always some variance in how many cycles it takes for a successful embryo transfer and pregnancy, and other potentially unforeseen factors.
17. What’s the medical process like?
Every gestational surrogate’s experience will be different, and your medical process will likely vary somewhat based on your body’s individual needs.
However, surrogates can anticipate a series of medical tests and screening processes to first verify that they’re physically able to safely complete the medical processes of surrogacy and pregnancy. Then, surrogates will need to take a regimen of medications and fertility injections to control their cycle and prepare their body for embryo transfer. The embryo transfer procedure will take place at the intended parents’ fertility clinic, and the process may be repeated until pregnancy is achieved.
You’ll continue taking injections for the first trimester of the pregnancy, but the second and third trimester are very much like any other pregnancy, in many ways.
18. Is the baby related to the surrogate? Will I have parental rights?
In gestational surrogacy, the type of surrogacy that American Surrogacy completes, no — you would not be related to the baby that you’d carry, nor would you have parental rights. In most cases, the intended parents can complete a pre-birth order while you’re pregnant that will legally confirm their parental rights. In some situations, you and the intended parents may need to complete some post-birth legal measures to confirm their parental rights. Those specifics depend on the state you live in.
Your surrogacy attorney will walk you through all of this, but the bottom line is no — you would neither be genetically related to the baby, nor would you be legally responsible for him or her.
19. What happens after the baby is born?
The birth of the baby is the part of the surrogacy process that surrogates usually enjoy the most, because it’s the most rewarding. The intended parents will be there for the labor, where the surrogate is able to unite the baby with his or her parents for the first time.
At that point, intended parents will usually assume full parental rights if they haven’t legally done so already.
You can feel a lot of emotions at this point. Most surrogates feel pride, contentment and even a little relief. However, if you experience any feelings of postpartum depression or other concerning post-birth emotions, our counselors will be here if you need us.
Your medical expenses related to the pregnancy and delivery will be covered, so you can focus on your recovery.
Your connection to the intended family you helped bring together doesn’t have to end here, either. Many surrogates and intended parents choose to continue to have a relationship in some capacity. What you all want that to look like is up to you, but we’ll be here to help you all navigate that relationship if you ever need guidance.
20. What are the first steps to become a surrogate?
Contact a surrogate specialist at American Surrogacy! You can get more information, ask more questions and begin the application process if you think you’re ready to begin your journey as a gestational surrogate.