Have you been asked to be or ever thought about becoming a surrogate mother?
Ever since the first successful gestational pregnancy took place in 1985, thousands of parents have turned to surrogacy to have children of their own. It can be a rewarding experience to change the lives of an aspiring mom and dad who are having trouble conceiving.
But the process is involved and does require some screening to make sure you’re a good fit to be a surrogate mother. Here’s everything you need to know about becoming a surrogate.
The Two Types of Surrogacy
There are two types of surrogacy available to prospective parents. First, there’s traditional surrogacy which is when a surrogate mother uses one of her own eggs and is impregnated by the intended father’s sperm or sperm from a donor.
In this case, the baby would be genetically related to the surrogate mother. Of the two forms of surrogacy, it’s the least popular, as most parents prefer their child to be genetically theirs alone.
This is where gestational surrogacy comes in. It’s when the surrogate mother is willing to be the vessel for the intended parents’ baby but not use her own eggs. Instead, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is used to transplant a fertilized egg into the surrogate mother’s uterus.
Whether you’re interested in traditional or gestational surrogacy, the surrogate requirements are basically the same.
Know Your Eligibility
The first step is for you and the prospective parents is to contact a family planning agency that assists with surrogate pregnancies. Each of you will fill out initial applications.
Not everyone is eligible to become a surrogate mother. Every family planning agency has its own specific requirements, but most of the following criteria will determine whether you’re a good candidate:
- You’re within an age range associated with high fertility; usually between the ages of 21 and 39
- You’ve been pregnant before and delivered a child at least once already
- You’re physically and emotionally healthy
- You don’t smoke or use recreational drugs
- You don’t have any STDs
- You have no criminal background
- You’re not receiving welfare benefits
- You’re currently raising your child or children in your home
You should also be willing and able to travel to doctors’ appointments. Some agencies may require that you discontinue using any antidepressant medication and refrain from getting a tattoo.
The Screening Process
If you meet the agency’s minimum requirements, you’ll be screened to further confirm your eligibility. This will include a background check, a physical exam to determine that you’re healthy for pregnancy, and a mental health evaluation.
The surrogacy agency will ask for your entire medical history. You may receive some common women’s health screening tests. They’ll also want to know more about your general background and may ask questions about your upbringing and parents.
Becoming a surrogate mother is a huge undertaking, especially as you’ll be carrying someone else’s child for nine months. In addition to being healthy, the agency must determine that you’re emotionally sound and prepared for the responsibility. They want to ensure that you won’t become attached to the baby after giving birth and want to keep it as your own.
The parents that you’re acting as a surrogate for will also receive the same evaluations.
Reviewing the Surrogacy Contract
Before you agree to the surrogacy, you’ll be asked to carefully review and sign a legal contract outlining its details. Surrogacy laws vary by state, and legal representation is a must.
Your attorney should be your own, not the same one representing the parents. A surrogacy contract will cover situations such as what happens in the event of a miscarriage or if someone decides they want to terminate the pregnancy.
Your attorney will review every detail of the contract with you and the intended parents.
Preparing for Pregnancy
Once you’ve passed all of the qualifications and the terms of the surrogacy have been agreed upon, it’s time to prepare your body for pregnancy. Your doctor may instruct you to take prenatal vitamins and discontinue birth control. You may also be required to take hormones to increase the chances of a successful pregnancy.
A date will be scheduled for either artificial insemination or IVF procedure, depending upon the agreement. If you receive IVF, you’ll be given a mild sedative so you don’t feel too much discomfort. Artificial insemination is painless and requires delivering the sperm via a thin catheter inserted into the uterus.
You’ll be tested a short time later to confirm that you are pregnant.
A Healthy Pregnancy
If the process was successful, it’s up to you to follow your doctor’s orders and continue living a healthy lifestyle for the baby’s well-being. You should have a good relationship with the baby’s parents that includes open communication. They should be willing to give you the support you need during this time.
How Much Will I Be Paid for Surrogacy?
Becoming a surrogate mother isn’t exactly volunteer work and you can expect to receive compensation in the tens of thousands. One woman made $60,000 by being a surrogate mother.
Your actual payment may vary according to the terms on your contract. It may be higher if you carry twins or if your state has a shortage of willing surrogacy mothers.
You may receive other compensation to pay for maternity clothing and transportation to doctors’ appointments.
However, the real reward of being a surrogate mom is being able to change another person’s life and bring new life into the world.
Is Becoming a Surrogate Right For You?
As you can see, there’s a lot to becoming a surrogate and it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. You need to weigh the pros and cons and follow your heart to determine if being a surrogate mother feels right to you.
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