Choosing to become a surrogate is a great commitment to make — and it’s expected that you’ll have many surrogacy questions before, during and after the surrogacy process is complete. After all, it’s important to be educated before taking this life-changing journey, so don’t be afraid to ask all of the questions about surrogacy you may have at any point you have them.
But, who can answer these surrogacy questions? A surrogacy professional is often the best source for all the information you need before becoming a surrogate, and an experienced surrogacy specialist can answer all of the questions that you may have to make the best decision for you.
However, to help you start learning more about surrogacy, we’ve also answered some of the most common questions about surrogacy that other prospective surrogates have asked before.
1. What is surrogacy?
Surrogacy can be defined into several different types and processes based on different aspects of the journey — including whether you are genetically related to the baby or not, receive a base compensation or not, and more. In general, though, surrogacy is a life-changing journey in which a woman like you chooses to carry a baby for intended parents who cannot have a child on their own.
2. What is the difference between traditional and gestational surrogacy?
When you are interested in becoming a surrogate, one of the first things you’ll need to determine is whether you want to complete a traditional or gestational surrogacy. A traditional surrogate uses her own eggs in the surrogacy process, which means she is genetically related to the baby that she carries. A gestational surrogate, on the other hand, does not use her eggs, and an already-created embryo is transferred to her uterus. Today, gestational surrogacies are the preferred surrogacy process because of the potential complications associated with traditional surrogacies.
3. Why do women choose to become surrogates?
If you’re considering being a surrogate, you may wonder why other women decide to become surrogates, too. Usually, women choose to become surrogates because they have an altruistic desire to help someone else create their family. Surrogates typically enjoy being pregnant but have completed their own family already — and surrogacy allows them to put their healthy uterus to use in a generous, beautiful way.
4. What are the benefits of becoming a surrogate?
In addition to helping another person create the family they’ve always wanted, surrogacy offers other benefits for surrogates, as well. They typically receive financial compensation, and they often create lifelong relationships with the intended parents they help. Perhaps one of the biggest benefits, however, is the knowledge and satisfaction in knowing they have made a real difference in the world.
5. What are the risks of being a surrogate?
Like any pregnancy, there are certain risks associated with a surrogate pregnancy, as well as risks before and after the pregnancy. Surrogates may experience the typical side effects of pregnancy (like discomfort and nausea) and will also be made aware of the risks of the medical process of surrogacy, including the embryo transfer process. While it is rare, there is also the potential for emotional risks while being a surrogate.
However, know that working with an experienced surrogacy professional will greatly reduce the possibility of these medical and emotional risks occurring. Your legal surrogacy contract will outline all of the potential risks and liabilities of the surrogacy process, and your surrogacy attorney will help ensure that you are properly protected and receive the proper compensation for your personal surrogacy journey. A surrogacy specialist from an agency can also guide you through every step of your surrogacy, making sure you receive the practical and emotional support you need along the way.
6. What are the requirements to be a surrogate?
All surrogates must meet certain requirements in order to safely carry a child for another person. This means being of good physical and mental health, so you can adequately handle the potential challenges of the surrogacy process.
Every surrogacy professional has different qualifications to be a surrogate, but some of the more general ones include:
- A healthy BMI
- A certain age range (usually over age 21)
- At least one previous successful pregnancy
- Raising of a child in your home
- No use of drugs or alcohol
- Your spouse’s support
- A clean criminal record
- Financial independence
- No previous pregnancy complications
To learn more about an agency’s or a clinic’s specific requirements to be a surrogate, talk to one of their professionals.
7. How does surrogacy work?
Every surrogacy journey is unique, but each one follows the same general steps:
- Pass initial screening and background checks
- Find intended parents and get to know them
- Finalize a legal surrogacy contract
- Complete the medical process of surrogacy
- Give birth to the intended parents’ baby
- Make sure all necessary parentage orders are complete
What your individual surrogacy journey will look like will be determined by several different factors, including what kind of surrogacy you choose to pursue and what your personal surrogacy goals and preferences are. Speak with a surrogacy professional to learn more about what your individual surrogacy process may entail.
8. What can I expect during the medical process of surrogacy?
The medical procedures for your surrogacy will begin after your surrogacy contracts are signed. To start, you may be required to take certain fertility medications to prepare your body for the embryo transfer. During this time, if an embryo still needs to be created, the fertility clinic will work with the intended parents and any donors to create as healthy an embryo as possible.
Once the embryos are ready to be transferred, you will go to the fertility clinic for the transfer process. This process is usually a quick and painless procedure, but you will be briefed on all of the possible risks and complications. You may be asked to rest for a few days following transfer to increase the likelihood of an embryo implanting. Then, you will return to the clinic to confirm the pregnancy.
About six weeks after conception, your OBGYN will confirm a heartbeat, after which you will start receiving your base compensation. You will continue to receive prenatal care and attend checkups just as you would with any traditional pregnancy.
9. How many embryos will be transferred?
As a surrogate, you will get a say in how many embryos are transferred during the medical process of surrogacy. This number will be decided upon during the drafting of your surrogacy contract, which will also outline what additional compensations you may be given for any additional embryo transfers beyond the first. Your surrogacy specialist will discuss with you the pros and cons of carrying multiples so you can make the best decision for your own preferences.
10. Will I be related to the baby?
As mentioned before, most modern surrogacies are gestational surrogacies — which means you will have no genetic relationship to the baby that you are carrying. However, those who become traditional surrogates will have a genetic relationship, and additional legal steps will need to be taken to establish the intended parents’ rights and terminate any inherent parental rights you may have.
11. How long does surrogacy take?
Remember, because each surrogacy process is unique, it can be difficult to answer this particular question about surrogacy. However, when taking into account the pre-screening process, the medical process of surrogacy and pregnancy, most surrogates spend about 1–2 years on a single surrogacy journey.
12. What happens if I don’t get pregnant the first time?
An embryo doesn’t always result in a pregnancy during the first transfer. This is normal. Therefore, your surrogacy contract will lay out the steps to take if a successful pregnancy doesn’t occur after the first round. You will also follow the fertility clinic’s guidance in what medical steps will need to be taken.
If you don’t get pregnant the first time, it is usually through no fault of yours. You will continue to receive the agreed-upon compensation for any subsequent medical transfers, but you will not begin receiving your base compensation until a healthy heartbeat is heard and a pregnancy is confirmed.
13. Can I get paid to be a surrogate?
In most states in the U.S., you have the right to be paid a base compensation for your services. This is in addition to the intended parents covering all of your surrogacy- and pregnancy-related expenses. How much base compensation you will receive will depend upon several factors, like your intended parents’ budget and your personal experience with surrogacy. A surrogacy agency is usually able to provide a compensation estimate based on your personal situation and their program policies.
14. Does surrogacy cost me anything?
As mentioned above, your intended parents will cover all of the expenses you incur during the surrogacy process. It will always be free to be a surrogate.
15. Who are intended parents?
Intended parents are just like any other hopeful parents — wanting more than anything to have a child of their own. They may have gone through infertility struggles before deciding on surrogacy, or they may have turned to surrogacy as one of their only options for family-building (for example, as a single person or a gay male couple). Like surrogates, intended parents come from all walks of life and all kinds of backgrounds.
When you become a surrogate, you will be able to choose the kind of intended parents you want to carry for to make sure that their surrogacy preferences and goals line up with yours.
16. How do I find the perfect intended parents?
You have two options when it comes to finding intended parents: on your own through an independent surrogacy, or with the assistance of a matching professional like a surrogacy agency. For most surrogates, the benefits of a matching professional convince them to choose this path.
A surrogacy agency will help you determine exactly what you are looking for in intended parents and then use its extensive matching and advertising services to find the best match for you. All prospective intended parents will be pre-screened before being presented to you, and you will have the chance to get to know them before signing a surrogacy contract with them.
17. What if I already have intended parents in mind?
If you already know the intended parents that you want to carry a baby for, this is known as an identified surrogacy — and you can certainly move forward with this process. You and the intended parents will still need to undergo certain screenings to make sure you meet the requirements for surrogacy before you can move forward, but many surrogacy professionals will be happy to assist you, even if you’ve already found a match.
If you’re considering carrying a baby for a friend or family member, it’s important to understand the potential complications that can arise in this kind of situation. Only with the proper preparation should you move forward with this surrogacy process.
18. How much contact can I have with the intended parents?
In most surrogacy situations, the intended parents will want to have as much contact with you as possible. They’ll want to get to know you prior to the embryo transfer, be updated on important details throughout your pregnancy and be there during your delivery process. However, the level of personal contact you have with intended parents will be unique to your own surrogacy process. Often, surrogates and intended parents create their own relationship and contact schedule based on their mutual desires and preferences.
19. Will I have to travel as a surrogate?
Most of the surrogacy process will take place within your home state. You will be able to work with a local OBGYN during your pregnancy and deliver at a hospital that you’re comfortable with. In most surrogacy situations, a surrogate only needs to travel to complete the embryo transfer process — and this depends on where the intended parents’ fertility clinic is located.
If you do have to travel for your surrogacy, all of your costs will be covered by the intended parents.
20. What happens after the baby is born?
Your surrogacy specialist will work with you and the intended parents to create a hospital delivery plan that meets all of your surrogacy goals and helps you prepare for the process ahead of time. In most surrogacies, the intended parents can be in the same room with you as you give birth, and you will share in this special, life-changing moment together.
After the baby is born, the intended parents will typically get to stay in a separate hospital room with him or her as you recover. They will gain full parental rights at this point, if they haven’t already. You may experience a range of emotions due to your hormones, but a good surrogacy specialist will prepare you for what to expect and be there to support you during this time.
You and the intended parents may end up leaving the hospital separately, but you will forever be bonded by this journey you took together.
21. How do I start the process to be a surrogate?
By reading this article, you have actually taken the first step to becoming a surrogate — researching. To learn even more about the surrogacy process, you should reach out to a surrogacy professional to ask all of the surrogacy questions you may have and determine whether surrogacy is really the right path for you.
Remember, it’s a good sign if you have a lot of questions about surrogacy, and it’s important that you get the answers you need to make an educated decision. Fortunately, there are many experienced surrogacy professionals waiting to help you start this life-changing journey, whenever you’re ready.