It’s natural to have questions about surrogacy if you have been trying to conceive for an extended period of time, or have already begun your fertility journey. Whether you are considering working with a surrogate to grow your family or are curious about becoming a surrogate yourself, we’ve got you covered!
Surrogacy has taken center stage in recent news, often connected with the lives of celebrities. These high-profile cases shine a spotlight on surrogacy, particularly how it can be used as an alternative path to having a family.
When well-known figures openly discuss having a baby with the help of a surrogate, it can not only spread awareness but also educate and aid in removing stigmas around the topic. As their stories make headlines, they contribute to a broader conversation about alternative paths to parenthood, challenging traditional norms and fostering a greater understanding of the diverse journeys people undertake to build their families.
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With all this media attention comes a lot of questions from people who are unfamiliar with how surrogacy works. The idea of paying someone to carry your baby can sometimes seem like it’s more from a science fiction novel than real life. But I promise you that there are real women behind these stories, and I personally love the opportunity to shine a light on these modern-day warriors.
An Introduction to My Experience with Surrogacy
My name is Gennifer Rose, and I am a mother of two kids. I have worked professionally in the surrogacy industry for years, and I am the creator behind my Surrogacy Mama blog.
When I first ventured into surrogacy, I didn’t have any prior professional experience in the infertility industry. Nevertheless, I had personal connections with women who had struggled with infertility and the challenges of conception. Understanding the profound life-changing experience of motherhood from my own experience, the idea of helping others build their own families drew me into this world.
Fast forward a couple of years and the idea of becoming a surrogate myself started to grow on me. I had seen first-hand so many sweet connections between surrogates and the parents they helped. Many of them became lifelong friends, even considering them members of their family. Being a woman who is lucky enough to have high fertility and experienced healthy pregnancies, surrogacy felt like a natural next step for me.
My surrogacy agency matched me with a single woman who could not get pregnant on her own. While I was open to helping anyone have a baby, I really liked the idea of one woman helping another woman become a mother. It’s a deep connection that really bonded us. Shaunna* and I communicate almost daily and stay active in each other’s lives.
*The mother’s name has been changed for privacy reasons.
Top 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Surrogacy
1. Do surrogates give up their own babies?
I have frequently heard surrogacy compared to the TV show The Handmaid’s Tale, where the premise goes along the lines of women being forced to give up their children. Modern-day surrogacy does not even remotely resemble this scenario. Surrogates are medically known as Gestational Carriers, and they get pregnant through IVF treatments. The embryos are created at the fertility clinic with an egg and sperm from either the parents or donors, which means that the surrogate is never biologically related to the baby. As we say in the business, a surrogate is just the oven, and it’s not her bun.
2. What are the requirements to be a surrogate?
Becoming a surrogate involves meeting several crucial requirements to ensure a successful and safe journey for all parties involved. Prospective surrogates typically need to be of a certain age, often between 21 and 40, to ensure both physical and emotional maturity. They should have previously given birth to at least one child to demonstrate their ability to navigate pregnancy and childbirth.
Medical screenings are essential to assess the surrogate’s overall health, reproductive history, and potential risks. Mental and emotional stability are also crucial, as surrogates must undergo psychological evaluations to ensure they can handle the emotional challenges of the surrogacy process.
Surrogacy has BMI requirements, and most clinics don’t allow surrogates to have a BMI over 34. Statistically, if a surrogate is overweight, she may have increased risks of medical complications during pregnancy.
Additionally, a stable living situation, financial security, and a strong support system are typically expected. All surrogates must also be smoke-free and drug-free, which also includes some types of prescription drugs. Finally, surrogates and their significant others cannot have a felony on their criminal record.
These requirements collectively ensure the well-being of both the surrogate and the intended parents throughout the surrogacy journey.
3. How much money do surrogates make?
The compensation for surrogates can vary based on multiple factors, including the location, surrogacy arrangement details, and the surrogacy agency or program involved. On average, surrogates can earn anywhere from $45,000 to $55,000 or more in the United States. This compensation covers not only the physical aspects of pregnancy but also the time, effort, and emotional commitment involved in the surrogacy process.
Additional factors that can impact the payment include whether the surrogate has prior surrogacy experience, the number of pregnancies she’s had and whether she’s carrying multiples.
It’s important to note that while compensation is a part of the surrogacy process, the desire to help others create a family needs to be the primary motivation to become a surrogate.
4. Do surrogates have to follow a special diet or lifestyle?
While surrogates are expected to live a healthy lifestyle, they don’t need to adhere to any strict dietary and lifestyle guidelines. While the specific requirements can vary based on individual circumstances and the recommendations of healthcare professionals, surrogates are generally advised to maintain a balanced and nutritious diet. This includes consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains and staying hydrated.
Surrogates might also be advised to limit caffeine and avoid certain foods that pose a higher risk of food-borne illnesses. Regular exercise is usually encouraged, although strenuous activities might need to be modified or limited as the pregnancy progresses. Additionally, avoiding harmful substances such as tobacco, alcohol, and recreational drugs is a standard expectation.
In some rare cases, I have seen some intended parents ask that the surrogate purchase organic fruits and produce, which means that the parents are paying the grocery bill for that added expense. Anything that the parents request outside of the norm of moderate healthy living will usually require additional compensation for the surrogate.
5. Are the intended parents in the room for the baby’s delivery?
Whether the intended parents are present in the delivery room during the surrogate’s labor and delivery is a personal decision that varies from case to case. The arrangement is typically outlined in the surrogacy agreement and depends on the preferences and comfort levels of all parties involved.
Some intended parents choose to be present to witness the birth of their child, as it’s a momentous and emotionally significant event for them. This presence can also facilitate the immediate bonding between the child and their intended parents.
However, other intended parents might choose not to be present due to logistical, emotional, or cultural reasons. The final decision is often made through open communication and mutual understanding between the surrogate and the intended parents, guided by the terms established in the surrogacy agreement.
I will also add that a surrogate is always free to tell her agency that she wants her privacy and doesn’t want anyone in the room while she’s delivering the baby. At that point, it’s up to the agency to match her with parents who can agree to this arrangement and respect the wishes of the surrogate.
6. Does the surrogate have to pay for the costs related to the surrogacy pregnancy?
No, surrogates typically do not have to pay for any of the costs directly related to the surrogacy pregnancy. The intended parents cover all the medical expenses. This includes fertility treatments, prenatal care, childbirth-related costs, and maternity leave for the surrogate. Additionally, intended parents generally cover other expenses directly related to the surrogacy, such as legal fees, travel expenses, and compensation for the surrogate’s time and effort.
7. Can a surrogate work while she’s pregnant?
Whether a surrogate can work while she’s pregnant depends on various factors, including the type of work, the physical demands of the job, the surrogate’s health, and her doctor’s recommendations. During the application process, the agency will evaluate whether or not a surrogate’s job is pregnancy-friendly. If her job seems like it could be incompatible with a pregnancy, then she wouldn’t be able to move forward until she can make adjustments, such as transferring to another department within her company.
In many cases, surrogates are able to continue working during the early stages of pregnancy if their job doesn’t involve heavy lifting, strenuous physical activity, or exposure to harmful substances. However, as the pregnancy progresses, there might be a need to adjust work responsibilities or hours to ensure both the surrogate’s well-being and the health of the pregnancy.
If a surrogate unexpectedly has to reduce her work hours due to complications with the pregnancy, the intended parents must pay her lost wages. A surrogate should never lose money just because she is pregnant, which is why lost wages are set in place to protect her financially.
8. What are the rules about intimate relations with partners for surrogates?
Many surrogates are in relationships with their partners during the course of a surrogacy journey. It is unrealistic to expect a couple to abstain from sex for over one year while she is a surrogate. In order to protect all parties involved, clinics will screen the surrogate for STDs, and in some cases, her partner will get screened as well. The surrogate will start birth control after her medical screening evaluation to ensure she doesn’t accidentally get pregnant with her own baby.
There’s generally only one short period of time when a surrogate is expected to refrain from intercourse, and this is the month before embryo transfer. In order for her to get pregnant with the surro baby through IVF, she must stop taking the birth control pills. This obviously puts her at risk of getting pregnant with her own baby. Once she is confirmed pregnant after the embryo transfer, she can resume sex with her partner for the remainder of the pregnancy.
9. Does the surrogate ever want to keep the baby after it’s born?
This is one of the most common questions about surrogacy, and for good reason! Developing an emotional attachment to the baby is a fear that many people have when it comes to surrogacy. I will say that if a woman feels like she wouldn’t be able to separate her emotions of caretaker and mother, then surrogacy is not a good path for her. Speaking for myself, when I decided to become a surrogate, I knew that I definitely did not want another baby to join our family anytime soon. But I loved the idea of another woman becoming a mother and having her baby.
Reputable surrogacy agencies and attorneys work to prevent such situations by carefully screening surrogates for their emotional stability and commitment to the intended parents’ wishes. Comprehensive psychological evaluations and counseling sessions are often conducted to ensure that surrogates fully understand their role and are prepared for the emotional challenges that may arise.
Becoming a surrogate is not for everyone, and a woman needs to take the time to think deeply about the decision before applying to an agency. It ultimately boils downs to a gut decision about whether or not it’s the best decision for you and your family.
10. How many times can you be pregnant with surro babies?
As a general rule, most surrogates are maxed out at six pregnancies total, which includes their own pregnancies with their children. The most surrogacy pregnancies I’ve personally seen completed is four. With each pregnancy comes an increased risk of complications and health concerns, which is why the limit has been set. I can tell you that so many women love to be pregnant and have such great experiences as surrogates; they just want to keep going as long as they can.
In conclusion, surrogacy represents a remarkable and compassionate avenue for individuals and couples to fulfill their dreams of parenthood. The magic lies in its ability to transcend biological barriers, offering hope to those facing infertility, same-sex couples, and individuals unable to conceive naturally.
Surrogacy not only creates families but also fosters unique connections and bonds between surrogates and intended parents, often resulting in lifelong friendships. This extraordinary process exemplifies the power of empathy, generosity, and the human capacity to support one another in profound ways, ultimately contributing to a more inclusive and compassionate world where the beauty of parenthood knows no boundaries.
Do you have other questions about surrogacy? Comment below!