Are you interested in becoming a surrogate mother? If yes, you must learn everything about this life-changing journey. When you are a surrogate, you carry a pregnancy for a willing couple, give birth to the baby, and transfer the parental rights to the intended couple. Some moms pursue surrogacy for financial freedom, while others are out to help couples start a family of their own.
Regardless of your reasons, you must understand what surrogacy entails before diving into it. And because it can be a long and challenging process that demands you’re committed, selfless, and strong, you’ll ponder over the matter for some time. You’ll wonder, “Is this something I am willing to stick through until the very end?” “Is it worth it?” “Am I ready for this?” “How do I become a surrogate mom?” “What should I expect?”
If you’re contemplating surrogacy, here is everything you need to know, including the basics on getting started screening and legal and medical requirements to help you choose whether you are willing and ready for surrogacy.
Getting Started: Basic Requirements You Must Fulfill
The very first step involves finding a suitable surrogacy agency. Every agency has its screening requirements that surrogates must meet. According to Surrogate, Screening ensures that a surrogate is physically, mentally, and emotionally ready for pregnancy. The common qualifications that you must meet include:
- Be between 21 and 45 years, although some agencies are okay with moms under or past this age
- Have a healthy BMI of 30 or less
- Have one successful pregnancy, no more than three cesarean or five vaginal births
- Have no history of complicated pregnancies
- Have no history of drug use and smoking
- Require no assistance from the government
- Have no tattoos, piercings, or STIs in the past year
- Being off antidepressants in the past year
- Have no criminal record
- Can go for appointments
In addition to checking these boxes, the agency will conduct a physical exam to make sure you are healthy and can sustain a fetus. A fertility specialist may conduct an exam to check your hormone levels, blood work, and signs of an infection. You will also undergo an ultrasound to monitor the condition of your uterus.
Expect a mental evaluation, too, because surrogacy is psychologically demanding. A mental health care professional will evaluate you to confirm that you understand the challenges involved and if you are ready to handle them.
The surrogacy agency may also conduct an in-home assessment to know you better. A social worker will ask what drove you into pursuing surrogacy, and you, in turn, can ask any questions about this process.
Legality: Everything About Your State Laws
Surrogacy laws vary between states. Some states have legalized all types of surrogacies and do not have stipulated laws, while some have prohibited some types of surrogacies. For instance, paid surrogacy is illegal in Nebraska and Michigan, while California and Washington consider all surrogacy legal.
Healthline adds that state laws can dictate parental rights and compensation. If you have difficulty understanding your state laws, hire a surrogacy attorney. The attorney will also help you draft a legal contract that meets and protects your legal interests during surrogacy.
They will review surrogacy aspects you may overlook, such as monthly allowance, your legal rights, or compensation.
For instance, the intended parents should pay your monthly allowance, base pay, legal fees, screening and examination fees, and unforeseen events like miscarriage, health insurance, and mental health support.
Prepare: Identify What You Want From Surrogacy
The next step after confirming you are eligible for surrogacy and your state laws allow it, consider whether you want traditional or gestational surrogacy.
Traditional surrogacy is where your egg is fertilized with the intended donor’s sperm, which means you are technically the baby’s biological mother, although you give up all parental rights at birth. The fertility specialist uses intrauterine insemination to fertilize your egg.
On the other hand, gestational surrogacy uses the intended parents’ egg and sperm. In this case, you are not genetically related to the baby. The egg and sperm are fertilized transferred in the lab and then into your womb for implantation.
Next, find the right-intended surrogate family. Surrogacy agencies can help you find a match. However, ensure you pick intended parents whose profile matches your preferences, values, and expectations. Carrying a baby for nine months for people you do not like can feel like a long time.
Once you’ve found the right match, discuss how your arrangement will work, how many embryos you will carry, your compensation, what they expect from you, parental rights after delivery, and any other detail each party sees fit. These terms should be drafted in a legal contract that you and the intended parents should sign.
Getting Pregnant: IVF Or IUI
The next step involves getting pregnant. You will start fertility treatments that include blood tests, injections, medications, and ultrasounds to prepare your body for in vitro fertilization.
With IUI, the doctor will transfer the donor’s sperm into your uterus for fertilization and implantation after observation for a while. With IVF, you may have to take medication so your cycle aligns with the intended mother. However, if you are using frozen embryos, you will only take medication to prepare your body for implantation.
According to Surrogate, you may have to make routine visits to the fertility doctor until the pregnancy is confirmed a success. When this happens, you can have your obstetrician take care of your prenatal care. Your intended parents should make their monthly compensation for your upkeep and prenatal care.
Delivery: The Final Step
When you deliver the baby, you will hand the child over to the intended parents and parental rights as stipulated in the legal contract. Whether you maintain communication with the child, later on, should be discussed in the contract. However, after giving the baby to its rightful parents, you need to take time to heal. Your body needs a break and rest from growing a healthy human.
In addition, you need to nurture your emotional self during this time. Surrogacy means helping intended parents carry their baby. However, this selfless act can have you develop an attachment to the child. As it turns out, battling these emotions without raising an actual kid can weigh on you and lead to baby blues and depression.
Surrogacy does have its gratifying benefits. However, ensure you browse through all pros and cons before getting involved. Also, hire a surrogacy attorney to help you look out for your interests and cover any possible loopholes.
Sources: Surrogate, Healthline, Surrogate.
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