Surrogacy is a journey that requires a lot of cooperation, teamwork, and patience. But in the end, everyone gets the magical gift of a newborn child! In this article, we’ll discuss the different types of surrogate pregnancy, how to determine if it’s right for you, how to use a surrogacy agency, finding the best surrogate, the costs for the surrogacy process, and more!
What is a surrogate pregnancy?
Also known as a surrogacy, a surrogate pregnancy is an arranged process, ideally supported by a legally-binding document known as a surrogacy contract, in which a woman agrees to get pregnant and then deliver a baby on behalf of another couple or person. In other words, it is a method of assisted reproduction.
In the surrogacy process, the woman carrying and giving birth to the child is known as the surrogate or carrier while the other person or couple are known as the intended parent(s). Once the baby is born, the intended parents become the legal parents and take full custody of the child.
To make it easy to understand, the process for both surrogate mothers and intended parents can be broken down as follows:
- Find the right surrogacy agency.
- Complete the initial consultation.
- Meet all the surrogacy requirements.
- The agency finds the right surrogate mother via their screening process.
- Intended parents meet pre-screened surrogates and make their choice.
- Sign a surrogacy contract that’s been drafted by attorneys representing all parties.
- The surrogate is impregnated via an embryo transfer.
- Confirm the pregnancy.
- Establish legal parentage via pre-birth orders (depending on the state).
- The surrogate gives birth.
- The intended parents welcome their new baby!
In most cases, a surrogate pregnancy includes payment made by the intended parents to the surrogate for her services. It’s important to remember that surrogacy laws vary from state to state, with some states being significantly more “surrogacy-friendly” than others. States that are conducive to surrogate pregnancies will have clear surrogacy laws on the books, established protocols for pre-birth orders, enforceable surrogacy contracts, surrogacy-friendly insurance policies, and high-quality fertility clinics or surrogacy agencies.
Traditional versus gestational surrogacy – what’s the difference?
There are two basic kinds of surrogate pregnancy: traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy. While both are viable ways to build a family, they are fundamentally different from one another.
In a traditional surrogate pregnancy, the surrogate’s eggs are used. This means that the surrogate is the biological mother of the child, even if she is not the legal mother of the child. With a gestational surrogate pregnancy, the surrogate’s eggs are not used, meaning she has no biological link to the baby.
As a result of this fundamental difference, in a traditional surrogate pregnancy the carrier will be impregnated via intrauterine insemination (IUI) while in a gestational surrogate pregnancy the carrier will be impregnated via in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Does the surrogate share DNA with the baby?
Only if it’s a traditional surrogate pregnancy. That’s because in a traditional surrogacy, the egg comes from the surrogate mother.
With a gestational surrogate pregnancy, the surrogate mother, also known as the gestational carrier, does not use her egg and does not share any DNA with the baby. Additionally, there is no way for the gestational carrier to transmit any of her DNA to the baby during the actual pregnancy.
That means that intended parents who want to have a biological child, and have viable eggs that can be fertilized and then implanted, can rest assured that the gestational surrogate will not share DNA with the baby.
Is a surrogate pregnancy right for you?
Building a family is a highly personal process that can vary widely from person to person and depend on the resources and hopes of the intended parents. Much like starting a family the good old-fashioned way, a surrogate pregnancy has many pros and cons and is not the right choice for everyone.
That being said, the top reasons for choosing gestational surrogate pregnancy include:
- IVF or ART have been unsuccessful. If fertility treatments have failed, then gestational surrogacy becomes a viable option.
- Medical problems or illnesses. The intended mother may suffer from certain medical issues that make it impossible or unsafe for her to get pregnant.
- Previous operations or hysterectomy. If the intended mother has had certain operations, including a hysterectomy, then it becomes impossible for her to get pregnant as she no longer has a uterus.
- High-risk pregnancy. Conditions like high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, epilepsy, thyroid disease, heart or blood disorders, poorly controlled asthma, and various infections can make pregnancy dangerous.
- Unexplained fertility. There are medical cases in which the underlying cause of infertility is unexplained.
- Maternal age. After age 30, a woman’s fertility decreases every year until she reaches menopause at around 45 to 55. In other words, women have a biological clock and a limited amount of time to get pregnant.
- Having a biological child. Some intended parents want to build a family from their own genetic makeup. With gestational surrogate pregnancy, they can pay a surrogate to make it happen!
Some intended parents will consider the decision between surrogate pregnancy and adoption, but ultimately this is an intensely personal decision. While each has its own pros and cons, a gestational surrogate pregnancy will of course result in a baby that is genetically related to the intended parents.
How to use a surrogacy agency
Whether you’re an intended parent or looking to become a surrogate mother, choosing the right surrogacy agency is a huge decision.
First, it’s important to understand that any successful surrogate pregnancy requires a generous amount of trust. That means you will need to find an agency you can trust and that has a good reputation with both surrogate mothers and intended parents.
Additionally, you should choose an agency that aligns with your values. Childbirth is an intensely personal process that takes a lot out of both the surrogate mother and the intended parents. Let’s not forget that we are bringing a new life into the world and that is an awesome responsibility!
However, surrogacy agencies are not all the same. Since people have different expectations from the surrogacy process and different values, it’s critical to research and identify the best agency for your particular needs. For instance, Surrogacy by Faith is a Christian agency, meaning that we do not support pregnancy termination unless there is a danger to the surrogate mother.
Finally, some intended parents might consider choosing an independent surrogacy, also known as a private surrogacy. This is simply a type of surrogate pregnancy in which the intended parents go through the surrogacy process without the resources, expertise, and experience of a surrogacy agency. While this may sound appealing as the intended parents can avoid paying any agency fees, it is significantly harder and riskier to find a surrogate who is not only capable of doing the job, but is also the right fit with the intended parents.
How to find the best surrogate
So you’re an intended parent and you’ve decided to have your baby via surrogate pregnancy. That’s great! It’s an exciting journey and it’s a viable way to build that perfect family you’ve always wanted.
However, finding the right surrogate is an absolutely critical part of the process. That’s why going through a reputable surrogacy agency is so crucial – they will know the ins and outs of the process better than anyone and will have the considerable resources needed to properly vet the surrogate mother candidates.
Surrogacy by Faith follows a stringent set of requirements for becoming a surrogate. To qualify, you have to:
- Be 21-37 years old
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Be a non-smoker in excellent health
- Have a healthy height and weight ratio with a BMI of 29 or below
- Have a healthy reproductive history, having given birth to at least one child that you are raising
- Have had all births occurring at 36 weeks gestation or later (unless a multiple pregnancy) without complications
- Not be receiving state or federal financial aid
- Be willing to undergo subcutaneous and intramuscular injections
There are also various circumstances that will automatically disqualify any potential surrogate, including not having any previous children, substance abuse, being under or over the optimal childbearing age, and having certain conditions like diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, preeclampsia, sickle cell disease, HIV, and hepatitis.
The strict requirements and stringent qualification process means that we find the best matches for both surrogates and the intended parents. We work extra hard to make these relationships strong and are always inspired by our core belief: every child is a gift. With our experience, expertise, and resources, we can find the right surrogate for every intended parent. It may be tricky sometimes, but we’ve been doing it successfully for years now!
Can a surrogate keep the baby?
No, absolutely not! A surrogate can not keep the baby. To avoid this happening, it’s best to work with an agency that can find the right surrogate mother for the intended parents. Additionally, a surrogacy contract can ensure that this won’t happen and preemptively avoid future conflict.
Plus, in surrogacy-friendly states, it’s important that the intended parents file a parentage order, otherwise known as a pre-birth order, before the baby is even born. This is essentially a legally binding document that says that the intended parents are the legal parents to the baby.
Although a surrogate mother has no right to keep the baby, she does have other rights like:
- Having health insurance.
- Being informed of any medical procedures and/or medication side effects.
- Deciding which procedures she wants to have done, depending on the situation.
- Choosing her doctor.
- Getting counseling during or after the pregnancy.
- Receiving her surrogate compensation and/or reimbursements as outlined in the surrogacy contract.
As you can see from that list, “keeping the baby” is definitely not on there!
How much does a surrogate pregnancy cost for intended parents?
This depends heavily on a number of factors, including where the intended parents and surrogate live. However, on average across the country, the cost of a surrogate pregnancy for intended parents is anywhere from $80,000 to $130,000.
Surrogacy by Faith, on average, costs about $130,000 for intended parents. While this may seem pricey, we’re an agency that provides the best benefits package for surrogates to make sure they have a healthy pregnancy. We also follow only the strictest requirements for becoming a surrogate, matching intended parents with the best candidates.
How much do surrogates get paid?
Let’s not forget that the surrogate is providing a service to the intended parents and is incurring a considerable amount of risk in order to do so. As a result, every surrogate is entitled to compensation that is fair and commensurate to the amount of work that they did. But how much do surrogates get paid? It depends on each specific situation and the surrogacy agency being used.
That being said, surrogates on average get paid anywhere from $30,000 to $60,000. However, this is only for the base salary – it does not include additional forms of compensation or “bonuses.” The final amount will depend on a variety of factors, including:
- Rates and benefits package of the surrogacy agency.
- Surrogate’s experience.
- Surrogate’s state of residence.
- Surrogate’s health insurance.
Not all surrogacy agencies pay well. Some may pay you a decent salary but then skimp on the benefits package, while others may have tons of bonuses, but the base salary is lacking. As a surrogate, you should find one that offers both a competitive base salary and a generous benefits package.
Why choose Surrogacy by Faith for my surrogate pregnancy?
At Surrogacy by Faith, we are doing God’s work in bringing new lives into the world and helping people build new families. We can’t think of a more important job to do and we are always guided by our Christian faith.
We work extra hard to find the best surrogate mothers for our intended parents and to create a loving, supportive, and positive atmosphere during the surrogacy journey. We are driven by love and devotion to God’s plan rather than just the dollars and cents.
If you’re hoping to become a parent, please complete our initial Inquiry Form. We will answer any questions you might have and if you wish to proceed, we’ll start looking for the angel that will carry your child. If you’re looking to become a surrogate, make sure you fill out our surrogate inquiry form!