Image Source: babygest.com
So, you’re thinking about becoming a surrogate or starting a family through surrogacy?
Joy of Life Surrogacy believes in the right of every potential surrogate and intended parents to as much information as possible. Armed with the knowledge of the process, you’ll be able to make an informed decision and chart the best path forward.
This is why we’ve put together this 9-steps-to-surrogacy blog to bring to your attention the basic things you need to know if you decide to follow through on this amazing journey.
1. Decide if surrogacy is the right choice
If you are a couple intending to start a family through the surrogacy process or you are a woman
considering becoming a surrogate, the first thing to do is to familiarize yourself with the entire process (like you’re doing now) and then go talk to surrogacy specialists and lawyers to understand the dynamics of this arrangement.
It is of utmost importance to consult with a lawyer because surrogacy is not accepted across all 50 states. Each state has varying regulations, and in some states, such as Washington and New York, surrogacy arrangements are felonies that carry hefty fines of $10,000 or more.
If you live in California, however, or intend to have and raise a baby in this state, you’ll be protected by law. California is by far the best state in which to enter a surrogacy arrangement and start the process of surrogate motherhood.
If you are considering becoming a surrogate mother, other matters you should think about include whether or not you’ll be able to commit to at least a year of treatments to prepare your body and make lifestyle changes to accommodate the intended parents.
2. Choose between gestational surrogacy and traditional surrogacy
There are two types of surrogacy to consider: gestational surrogacy and traditional surrogacy. There are pros and cons to each one.
Gestational surrogacy is the process whereby the intended mother’s eggs (or those of a related egg donor) are fertilized and inserted into the womb of the surrogate through in-vitro fertilization (IVF). The advantages of gestational surrogacy are that the child is biologically related to the intended mother, gender selection may be opted for and genetic testing can occur before implantation. This type of surrogacy is often more complex and hence more expensive.
Traditional surrogacy involves the use of the intended father’s semen (or that of a donor) to fertilize the surrogate’s eggs. In traditional surrogacy, the child may have a link to the intended parents, but definitely has a genetic link to the surrogate. The legal complications that may arise because of this genetic link are the biggest hurdle where traditional surrogacy is concerned.
3. Fill out a surrogate-mother application and connect with the surrogacy agency
The next step if you’ve decided to become a surrogate is to connect with a surrogacy agency, such as Joy of Life. Our application to start the surrogate-mother process is simple and involves answering basic questions about your health, birth history, your current living situation, and your support network.
Once you’ve filled in our application, you’ll be booked for an appointment with one of our friendly Pre-screening Coordinators who will happily answer any questions and discuss the process in more detail with you. Each of our coordinators has been a surrogate before and therefore understands the process intimately.
We’ll also carry out your Medical Records Review at this time in order to ascertain if you will be a perfect fit. Psychological evaluation and background checks will also be done at this stage. We do all of this for your own safety, the baby’s safety, and for the intended parents’ peace of mind.
4. Review intended parents’ profiles and find a match
Finding a match is not a haphazard affair. It’s a detailed process that involves both parties interested in a surrogacy agreement. Each party will draft a surrogacy plan that outlines their expectations and hopes for the surrogacy process.
For the surrogate, a dossier containing pictures of yourself and detailing a bit about who you are as a person will be required. This dossier will be perused by potential intended parents.
Intended parents will also be asked to create a similar dossier, including pictures of themselves, and also highlighting key aspects of their lives, such as religion, sexual orientation, age, and personality traits so the surrogate can determine whether or not you will be a great fit with her.
This entire process is facilitated by the surrogacy specialist, who will initiate contact between surrogate and intended parents once a match has been found. This may take time, but, in many cases, matches are made and the next step is taken without too much trouble.
5. Surrogate medical screenings
Medical screening is the stage in which you and the intended parents will visit an IVF clinic. What happens at each clinic varies because every clinic is unique. However, your surrogacy specialist can give you more details regarding which clinic you will be working with once things have progressed to this stage.
Additionally, as the surrogate, you do not need to worry about the travel costs to and from the clinic, as these will be covered. Insurance coverage will also be discussed during this phase. Joy of Life will take charge of coordinating and arranging surrogacy-related insurance coverage for the surrogate.
6. Satisfy legal requirements
Before any medical processes can take place, legal contracts need to be drafted and signed. These contracts should reflect the demands made and agreed upon by both parties. For the surrogate, this includes the compensation plan and steps to take in the event of pregnancy-related complications.
Clauses dictating the rights of the intended parents will also be clearly stated in the contracts. In this way, intended parents will be assured of their legal rights over the unborn child.
The surrogate and the intended parents will both be represented by separate lawyers who will read through the contracts to ensure that the wishes of their clients have been respected and included in the terms and conditions. Once the contracts have been approved by both attorneys, the surrogate and intended parents can then sign the documents.
With the documents signed, the next step in the surrogacy process can be initialized, namely medical screening and fertilization or transfer.
7. Begin the fertilization and embryo transfer process
With the contracts in place and the legal work finalized, the surrogate will prepare herself for the implantation of the embryo with fertility treatments. At this stage, it has been decided whether intended parents and the surrogate have opted for gestational or traditional surrogacy.
If the intended parents have opted for gestational surrogacy, the intended mother or egg donor will begin treatments so that eggs can be harvested. Once eggs have been successfully harvested via the retrieval procedure, they are fertilized in the lab and incubated to allow the embryo to develop. This embryo will then be transferred to the surrogate mother’s womb.
If the intended parents have chosen traditional surrogacy, sperm will be collected from the intended father or sperm donor and the eggs of the surrogate mother will be fertilized in a laboratory. The embryos are then incubated and the best and most likely to succeed are inseminated into the surrogate mother’s uterus.
By the sixth week, you should hear a heartbeat. When this heartbeat is confirmed through ultrasound, you as the surrogate mother will begin receiving monthly payments.
From this stage onwards you get to enjoy the wonder of life developing in your womb. The surrogate mother is expected to have regular checkups at the fertility clinic to ensure that all is well with her health and the baby’s health. These visits can be a special time for intended parents and surrogates to bond with the baby and share in this amazing journey.
9. Welcome the baby
If you have a birth plan in place, this will dictate what happens during delivery.
You may wish the intended parents to be present in the delivery room with you, or you may want someone else in there with you. Whatever you as the surrogate mother have decided will be followed by the hospital staff and all involved.
Once the baby is delivered, the child will leave with the intended parents as laid out in the contract and the surrogate mother will also be free to go home. Your role will be done. You will leave with the satisfaction of knowing that you have changed the lives of a couple forever. There is no joy that beats this one.
Working with Joy of Life
Joy of Life is a leading surrogacy company located in Southern California. We are a diverse team made of up of former surrogate mothers, parents whose lives were changed by surrogacy, clinical coordinators and health care providers. Thanks to our unique experiences we can truly walk with those considering being surrogates and those looking for a surrogacy option.
Would you like to discuss the surrogacy process with someone? Do you have any questions or concerns about becoming a surrogate or starting a family via surrogacy? Get in touch with us today.