If you’re considering becoming a surrogate, you would be providing the most wonderful gift to another family. Yet, surrogacy is not always easy and may not be the right journey for everyone. Like parenthood, surrogacy can be overwhelming and emotionally, mentally and physically stressful.
Additionally, there’s much to consider before deciding to become a surrogate, such as how it all works, women’s eggs and fertility, or the types of surrogacy. Here’s what you should know.
1. How Surrogacy Works
Surrogacy works when a person agrees to become pregnant via an embryo transfer. The surrogate will carry the pregnancy for the intended parents and is compensated for the service. Once the surrogacy is complete, the intended parents may claim full parental responsibility for the child.
There are two types of surrogacy:
- Traditional surrogate: A woman gets artificially inseminated with the father’s sperm. The traditional surrogate become’s the baby’s biological mother since the father’s sperm fertilizes her egg.
- Gestational surrogate: IVF (in vitro fertilization) is a technique that fertilizes the mother’s eggs or egg donor with the father’s sperm. Then, the doctor places the embryo inside the gestational surrogate’s uterus. The surrogate carries the baby until delivery but has no genetic ties to the child.
In the U.S., 750 babies are born each year to a gestational surrogate mother. While starting your journey as a surrogate mother is possible, you want to be sure the process goes smoothly.
2. The Legalities of Surrogacy
You might be wondering if becoming a surrogate is legal. However, there’s no straightforward answer. In some states, it’s legal, but laws will vary significantly across the nation. It’s also the same circumstance for other countries.
In countries like Spain, Germany and France, it’s illegal to establish a surrogate agreement. Other countries may allow surrogacy. However, they may not offer proper support or enforce a surrogacy agreement.
If you intend to become a surrogate, you’ll need a formal agreement between you and the intended parents. This document records your understanding of the expectations of conceiving, pregnancy and beyond.
Surrogate agreements are helpful, but they are not enforceable by law.
3. The Risks of Being a Surrogate
Surrogacy can have some risks, including all associated with pregnancy. These can range from mild pregnancy symptoms to serious pregnancy complications and discomfort.
If you work with a surrogacy agency, they can help you understand all the risks associated with surrogacy. Additionally, the legal binding of the contract will outline all of it before the start of the surrogacy procedure.
You may also have some emotional risks involved. Most surrogates don’t bond as closely with a surrogate baby as with their biological children. However, it’s possible to experience feelings of loss and grief immediately after birth.
Meeting with a mental health professional is crucial before beginning the surrogacy process. They will help you understand the emotions that can arise during your surrogacy. Furthermore, this gives you a chance to ask questions and address any difficulties you may encounter.
4. The Financial Costs
The average cost of surrogacy is around $150,000, but the final prices can vary. In parts of the world where surrogacy is illegal, you won’t receive compensation for becoming a surrogate. However, the intended parents can cover your feasible expenses, which you should agree upon in the surrogacy contract. These expenses might include:
- Loss of earnings
- Childcare for your own kids
- Food supplements
- Maternity clothes
- Maternity classes or therapy
- A recovery break after the baby is born
5. How Much Surrogates Make
The surrogate compensation may vary depending on numerous factors, such as your surrogacy agent, insurance coverage, experience, state of residence, etc. On average, the compensation amount comes to $45,000 or higher. You may even receive additional compensation for carrying multiples, invasive procedures, complications, etc.
Additionally, you will determine the compensation and payment schedule before the embryo transfer begins. This information should be in your surrogacy agreement. So, ensure you ask questions about payment details before starting the legal process.
6. The Requirements to Be a Surrogacy
Surrogacy agencies will ask you to meet certain health requirements for your and your baby’s protection. These requirements will vary by agency, so you must ask additional questions about the specifics. Generally, they will ask you to meet the following criteria:
- Must be within a specific age range.
- Have a healthy BMI.
- Must be a non-smoker and non-drug user.
- Must be financially independent.
- Have a clean criminal history record.
Once you meet the agency’s initial requirements, they will ask you to undergo their screening process. While the process varies by agency, it generally asks for self-disclosed medical, drug history and social information. In addition, you will have to do a background check, an in-home assessment, a psychological evaluation and a physical examination.
The screening process ensures you’re physically and emotionally ready to become a surrogate mother. It also makes sure the intended parents are safe to work with and that they’re emotionally and financially prepared for the process.
Deciding Whether Surrogacy Is Right for You
If you decide to you’d like to become a surrogate, it’s important to remember that everyone should come to a full agreement. The surrogacy process takes time. Therefore, it requires lots of patience and there’s always a chance you won’t become pregnant the first time.
Additionally, it’s important to feel supported by the surrogacy agency and people close to you. You’ll want to be sure you have a great connection with the intended parents and allow yourselves to get to know each other.
Becoming a surrogate mother is quite a journey. So, your next step is finding a surrogacy agency that’s right for you.