It’s a common question for prospective surrogates and intended parents alike: How does surrogacy work?
Because there are so many aspects that determine what a surrogacy process looks like, every surrogacy journey will be different based on the surrogacy goals and preferences of the people involved. Usually, one of the best ways to learn more about what the process of surrogacy may look like for you is by speaking with a surrogacy professional about any personal surrogacy desires and needs you may have.
However, in general, every surrogacy process follows the same basic steps, no matter what type of surrogacy it is:
1. Determine that Surrogacy is Right for You.
Surrogacy is a great commitment for both surrogates and intended parents — and deciding to start the surrogacy process is not something to be done before you fully understand the surrogacy process, step by step, and what it will demand of you.
Becoming a surrogate means giving a great deal of your personal time, energy and, of course, your body to selflessly help someone else become a parent. Therefore, it’s important to know how surrogacy works in order to be fully prepared for these responsibilities. Fortunately, there are many professionals who can explain the traditional or gestational surrogacy process and what it may look like for you to help you make the best decision.
Surrogacy often requires a year or more of legal and medical processes, including evaluations and screenings, as well as the normal challenges of pregnancy and labor. While the emotional challenges of carrying a baby that isn’t yours are not as common of an issue as you may think, there will still be emotional challenges when it comes to balancing your responsibilities as a surrogate with the responsibilities of your everyday life.
Keep reading below to find out more about the surrogacy process and make this initial decision, or speak with a surrogacy professional to help determine whether surrogacy is the right path for you.
2. Identify Your Surrogacy Goals and See If You Meet Necessary Requirements.
When you are ready to become a surrogate, there are certain parts of your personal surrogacy process that you’ll need to determine before you can move forward. These aspects will dictate the rest of your surrogacy journey, so it’s important to do extensive research before setting your personal surrogacy goals.
First, you’ll need to decide whether you want to complete a traditional or gestational surrogacy process. If you’re like most surrogates, you’ll decide that a gestational surrogacy provides the emotional and legal security that a traditional surrogacy process does not. In a gestational surrogacy, you will not be genetically related to the baby you carry, which will reduce potential practical and emotional complications.
The next choice you’ll need to make is whether to work with an agency during your surrogacy process or complete all the steps on your own. Many surrogates find the step-by-step guidance that a surrogacy agency provides to be invaluable, especially if they have never been through the gestational surrogacy process before. A surrogacy agency can also help you find intended parents if you haven’t yet identified the intended parents you wish to work with — as well as help you determine what kind of intended parents you are interested in carrying for.
If you’re not sure how surrogacy works with your personal surrogacy goals — or you’re not sure what your surrogacy goals are — a surrogacy professional can talk you through any questions you may have. When you’re ready to start, that professional will also make sure you meet any necessary requirements to be a surrogate as you undergo initial medical and psychological screening. This way, you can ensure you are ready for the surrogacy process before moving forward further with your surrogacy procedures.
3. Find Intended Parents.
Once you determine that you meet the requirements to be a surrogate and your surrogacy professional is ready to move forward with you, you’ll need to find intended parents — perhaps one of the most important steps in the surrogacy process. After all, these are the people that you will be working intimately with for a year or more, so it’s important that they are the perfect match in order for your surrogacy journey to proceed smoothly.
If you are planning to carry a baby for a friend or family member, this step will already be completed. However, if you don’t yet have intended parents in mind, a surrogacy professional can help you find the perfect intended parents for you. As you create a personal surrogacy plan, your professional will help you identify what you would like intended parents to be like (single, married, national, international, etc.) From there, they will find potential pre-screened intended parents that meet those characteristics.
You will be provided with an intended parent profile to learn more about a potential match (you may also be required to create a profile of your own). If you both show interest in each other, your surrogacy professional will help coordinate a phone call or meeting between you. If you are ready to commit to a match, you will move forward to the next step in the process of surrogacy.
4. Create a Surrogacy Contract.
You and the intended parents will solidify your match with a legal surrogacy contract, drafted and negotiated by your personal surrogacy lawyers. Only after a legal contract is finalized can the medical surrogacy procedure begin.
A surrogacy contract ensures that both you and your intended parents are aware of the responsibilities, liabilities and risks associated with the surrogacy process. Your surrogacy lawyer will represent you separately to protect your rights and interests as a surrogate, such as any surrogate compensation you may receive, the parental rights of the intended parents and the subsequent steps to take if any complications occur. Your surrogacy lawyer will also serve as your advocate during every step of the legal process of surrogacy.
When you are satisfied with the terms of your surrogacy contract, you and the intended parents will sign it and move forward with the medical steps of the traditional or gestational surrogacy process.
5. Complete the Medical Process of Surrogacy.
Once all of the legal aspects are taken care of, you and your intended parents will finally be able to begin the medical process of surrogacy, as many fertility clinics will require a surrogacy contract to be in place before beginning medical procedures.
But, how does gestational surrogacy work, exactly?
The medical process of surrogacy can seem complicated but, with the assistance of a trained surrogacy and medical professional, you should feel informed and comfortable every step of the way. Your surrogacy medical process will likely be completed through the intended parents’ fertility clinic, as many have already-created embryos stored with a certain professional. You will work with them to complete the embryo transfer process.
You may be required to take certain fertility medications to prepare you for the medical process of embryo transfer, usually to increase the likelihood that an embryo will successfully implant in your uterus. Once the fertility specialist has determined you are ready for the transfer, you will usually travel to the intended parents’ fertility clinic for the actual medical process of embryo transfer. This surrogacy procedure is relatively quick and painless, and your medical professional will explain the steps and what potential side effects to look out for.
A few weeks after the transfer, you’ll return to the clinic to complete a blood pregnancy test. Only after a heartbeat is heard will you begin receiving base compensation payments. If the pregnancy is confirmed, you will be able to receive regular prenatal care from your local OBGYN and deliver the baby at a local hospital.
6. Deliver the Baby and Complete Your Surrogacy Process.
Your pregnancy will proceed as any other traditional pregnancy, but your surrogacy birth experience may be a bit different, depending on your hospital’s procedures. In most surrogacies, the intended parents are able to be a part of the delivery process. Even if they cannot be in the same room with you while you give birth, they will likely be able to watch the delivery and will stay in their own room with the baby after he or she is born.
The intended parents’ surrogacy attorney will have informed the hospital and the intended parents of any steps that need to be taken to confirm their parentage after the baby is born. Besides potentially signing your acknowledgement of their parentage after delivery, your surrogacy process will be complete once you give birth. However, your surrogacy process will be one that continues to impact your life for years to come — especially if you have created a long-lasting relationship with your intended parents.
Your surrogacy professional will work with you to ensure that all of the necessary steps of your surrogacy process are completed at this point. If you have any questions or need support as you move forward, they should be open to providing the assistance you need.
The process of surrogacy can seem overwhelming when you’re first considering becoming a surrogate, but with the help of an experienced surrogacy professional from the beginning, your journey will be a one that positively changes your life forever. If you have more questions about what the process of surrogacy is like and how you can begin it, please contact a surrogacy agency today.