Many intended parents often find themselves asking whether pursuing surrogacy with a family member or a friend is a solid choice. And the answer is, yes – as long as you do your thorough research. A friend offering to be a surrogate for a family she knows and loves is an incredibly selfless gift, and one that will be appreciated forever. But becoming a surrogate mother for a friend is a big undertaking, and one that should not be taken lightly. Surrogacy is a complex process that can stir up a variety of emotions. If you’re not fully prepared and informed, it can put a strain on your relationship and lead to some unforeseen complications.
For that reason, it’s important you learn all you can about the surrogacy process, so you’re making this important decision after considering all options. Read on to find out why both intended parents and surrogate candidates have to be aligned on the joint surrogacy process – especially if they have a close and personal relationship in real life – and what impact the journey can have on your families.
Can I be a surrogate mother for my friend?
Although surrogacy laws vary state by state, becoming a surrogate mother for a friend is usually permitted, specifically if it’s via gestational surrogacy. If you’re the potential surrogate, you will be carrying the baby on behalf of your friend or family member; however, you will not legally be their mother nor have any legal ties to the child, since there is no biological connection. This helps alleviate some of the complicated emotions that come from being a surrogate, especially when it’s with close friends and family.
Choosing to be a surrogate for a friend is giving a gift that will last a lifetime – the ultimate gift of parenthood. And for some couples, it is preferable to go through the surrogacy process with someone they know and trust. So if you’re considering this path, it is a very viable option for your family.
However, embarking on a surrogacy journey with a friend is not without cost. There are both financial and emotional impacts that need to be considered before committing to the process.
It’s important to weigh all of the pros and cons when thinking of choosing a friend as a surrogate, and in this article we will discuss all the aspects to help you make the best decision for your individual situation.
What should I expect as a surrogate for a friend?
The surrogacy process is a long and trying one. Even if you know the intended parents (IPs), a full surrogacy journey can last well over a year. It’s a big commitment, for IPs and surrogates alike, which is why it’s absolutely imperative that you fully understand what you are committing to.
It’s also a great reason for choosing a reputable surrogacy agency to work with and guide all parties through the process. Even though you won’t have to wait to be matched, having pros involved from the start, ensures everything proceeds smoothly and safely. With surrogacy, there are a lot of moving parts. You want someone experienced and knowledgeable to be with you each step of the way to give you the best chance of success.
Here’s a basic overview of the process for undertaking surrogacy with a friend:
- Do research to determine if pursuing surrogacy with a friend is the right choice for you. Consider the physical, emotional, and financial cost of surrogacy when making your decisions.
- Find a surrogacy agency to work with that aligns with everyone’s values.
- Complete any necessary screenings and tests to be sure you meet all surrogacy requirements.
- Determine how compensation will work across all parties.
- Work with attorneys to draw up a legal contract that covers all contingencies that both parties sign.
- Begin the in-vitro fertilization and embryo transfer process.
- Depending on state laws, the intended parents may be able to obtain a pre-birth order during the second trimester to establish them as the legal parents of the child.
- Continue pregnancy to term (attending all required doctor appointments).
- Delivery and birth, plus any additional aftercare, if stipulated by the contract.
Becoming a surrogate, even for someone who you love and trust, is still a big undertaking. And as long as you are aware of all that it entails, it can be a most beautiful experience. Read on to find out more details regarding the surrogacy journey, before making the commitment to start.
What does the surrogacy journey entail?
Being a gestational carrier for a friend is quite different than being pregnant with your own child. Although the pregnancy technicalities are the same, in the case of surrogacy there are significantly more medical procedures, along with legal contracts, background checks, psychological screenings, and more.
While being a surrogate for a friend, you will need to attend frequent doctor appointments, more than you did when you were pregnant with your own child. Which also means taking time off work, arranging for childcare, etc. And if you become pregnant with multiples or your pregnancy is determined to be “high risk,” this could mean ending up on bed rest during your final trimester. That could result in you having to take more time off work and reserving less time to spend caring for your own family.
Also, you’ll need to remember that the baby you carry isn’t yours. This means that prenatal care and some aspects of the pregnancy and birth process will not be at your full discretion. Meaning, you will have to be open and flexible to certain changes and expectations that the intended parents envisioned for their pregnancy journey.
The intended parents may have strong feelings about certain lifestyle choices or other issues that are different than yours, but that you will need to account for. Navigating these differences can be more challenging when you have an established relationship with the intended parents.
It’s also important that you take the time to do extensive research into the medical procedures that are required of a gestational carrier. All parties should be fully versed in the in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment process and its impacts, along with the full pregnancy, birth, and delivery process for surrogates.
Can I be a surrogate for a friend if I’ve never been pregnant?
Although considering becoming a surrogate for a friend while never having experienced pregnancy yourself is a grand and selfless gesture, in the world of gestational surrogacy, it is simply not a feasible consideration. For many intended parents, surrogacy is the last bastion of hope in an otherwise toilsome fertility journey, and the stakes are extremely high. Therefore, having someone carry whose body has never experienced a pregnancy before, is too much of a risk – for everyone involved.
It’s not fair to the surrogate, whose first pregnancy will be with a child that she cannot form a bond with and will not keep – since it’s genetically not hers – nor is it fair to ask the intended parents, surrogacy agency, nor IVF medical professionals, to have to navigate a gestational surrogacy cycle, completely blind to any potential complications. It’s simply not a good idea to have someone who has no prior medical history with pregnancy carry such a precious gift. With so many unknown variables when it comes to gestational cycles, it’s simply the safest option to go with someone who has had children in the past. This is an absolutely essential stipulation for becoming a surrogate, and in fact, no agency nor fertility clinic will ever consider a candidate that isn’t already an existing mother.
What are the requirements for being a surrogate for a friend?
If you’ve found a friend who is willing to act as your gestational carrier, you are one step closer to making your parenting dreams come true. However, there are still some important surrogate requirements your friend must meet, prior to making the commitment to carry your child.
Some people are under the impression that the guidelines for gestational carriers only apply to compensated surrogates. That is an absolute fallacy. Even friends or family members acting as a surrogate for someone they know, still need to meet certain requirements.
And while every fertility clinic and surrogacy agency will have a slightly different checklist, these are the current requirements for Surrogacy By Faith – which align with the qualifications of most agencies and IVF clinics, across the board.
- Be between the ages of 21-37 years old
- U.S. citizen
- Non-smoker in excellent health
- Within a healthy height to weight ratio, with a BMI of 29 or below (calculate your BMI here).
- Have a healthy reproductive history and given birth to at least one child that you are raising
- Had all previous births occurring at 36 weeks gestation or later (unless a multiple pregnancy) without complications
- Not be receiving state or federal financial aid
- Willing to undergo subcutaneous and intramuscular injections
- Successfully complete psychological and medical screenings
- Pass a drug test and background check
Not just any woman can become a gestational carrier. Besides meeting the requirements above, a surrogate mother also carries not only the parenting dreams of her friend, but she must also carry the medical and emotional risks of pregnancy and delivery.
Even in the event that the surrogate and intended parents know each other, it’s imperative that the surrogate has a healthy, happy, and stress free pregnancy. That’s why these surrogacy requirements are set in place: to ensure the best possible outcome for everyone – the surrogate mother, the IPs and the child.
If I’m a surrogate for someone I know, do I need to work with an agency?
To put it a bit bluntly, technically you can – but we wouldn’t recommend it. As we mentioned above, due to the legal, emotional, physical and financial challenges involved with surrogacy, it’s best to work with an experienced agency to make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible. If you opt out of working with an agency, you will have to depend solely on an attorney’s office, which in the long run – without the connections and knowledge of a reputable surrogacy agency – can end up costing you much more than you bargained for.
Agency staff are surrogacy experts. Many of them have been through a surrogacy themselves, so they have first-hand knowledge to share. This will prove to be invaluable as you make your own personal decision about whether or not to undergo surrogacy with a friend.
Our surrogate coordinators are also a great resource that can walk you through each step of a surrogacy journey. Plus, they’ll be there to hold your hand and answer any questions you might have along the way.
Why is it better to work with an agency?
When considering surrogacy, especially when it comes to becoming a surrogate for a friend, utilizing the services of an agency is paramount in preventing any miscommunication, avoiding complications, and having the process go as smoothly as possible. In short, if all parties want to be as prepared as possible, partnering with a respectable surrogate agency is the way to go.
A surrogacy agency will screen both potential surrogates and intended parents to ensure you’re both emotionally and physically prepared for the journey. They’ll also serve as a coordinator between you and all the other third parties involved in the process.
Agencies also have well-established working relationships with fertility clinics, hospitals, doctors, insurance companies and attorneys. Trying to navigate through the entire process and all the paperwork yourself can be overwhelming. Using an agency eliminates all of that unnecessary stress.
An agency counselor can also help you with the emotional aspects of your surrogacy journey. They’re also ready to step in and assist both surrogates and intended parents communicate more effectively and even negotiate, if there comes a point when you’re having trouble agreeing on something.
What are the legal aspects of becoming a surrogate?
Surrogacy requires legal guidance, contracts, and considerations for all possible outcomes and challenges. Surrogacy laws also vary greatly from state to state: some states are considered “surrogacy friendly,” while others are not.
When asking a friend to be a surrogate, it might feel like it’s “too formal” or unnecessary to have a legal contract, but this is an absolute MUST. You cannot be a gestational carrier for a friend without having a legally binding contract in place. This essential document protects all parties involved, and helps assure a more seamless experience.
You may already be in agreement on a great deal of your surrogacy goals and preferences, but only a surrogacy attorney will be able to highlight every single detail and risk of your journey moving forward. Creating this legal contract is crucial for addressing potential risks and liabilities, as well as any other sensitive topics that may arise.
The reality is, most fertility clinics will not complete a surrogacy medical protocol unless a legal contract is already in place. A binding legal contract is a benefit for everyone. Your surrogacy agency will have ample legal connections to set things in motion, and keep all legal matters organized and ironclad.
Is the financial cost less if using a friend as a surrogate?
Many intended parents might ask themselves the question: how much is surrogacy if you use a friend? Well, one of the advantages of choosing a friend to be a surrogate, is that it can lower the intended parents’ overall surrogacy costs. As IPs, you won’t have to pay for an agency’s matching services, and you’ll already be familiar with the character and personality of your surrogate candidate. And, if you and your friend decide she wants to be an altruistic surrogate, you won’t necessarily have to cover surrogate compensation nor benefits.
Intended parents would, however, still be responsible for the cost of IVF, the surrogacy agency’s fee for handling the process, the attorney fees for drawing up the contract, and any doctor/medical expenses that occur during the pregnancy, birth, delivery, and possible aftercare.
While this might initially seem like a good idea and a smart way to reduce expenses, it’s important to consider some of the issues that can arise during an altruistic surrogacy.
Altruistic Surrogacy vs. Fair Compensation
An altruistic pregnancy can be defined as one where the surrogate mother forgoes compensation for her gestational cycle, and instead chooses to carry without financial cost to the intended parents – save for coverage of her medical expenses. This may seem like the moral route to take in order to support a friend, but it can get complicated. Receiving fair compensation, on the other hand, ensures that a surrogate mother is not only covered for her medical expenses and supplies during pregnancy, but is also monetarily rewarded for her time, effort, and sacrifice.
While these arrangements are completely legal and can work in some cases, choosing an altruistic surrogacy can also leave intended parents feeling indebted to their friend. They might feel like they will never be able to repay them for their selfless sacrifice. This, in turn, can put a strain on a friendship by causing feelings of guilt and discomfort. There’s also the reality that not all surrogates are comfortable with the altruistic surrogacy path, even if they’re personal friends with the IPs. While it may be the more affordable option for intended parents, as a potential surrogate, you’ll need to determine if you’re okay with accepting such a great responsibility, without receiving any compensation for your time and effort.
Pregnancy isn’t always easy. As the surrogate mother for a friend, you might start to feel resentful, or like you’re being taken advantage of (even if you didn’t anticipate these feelings at the beginning). And while you may initially feel guilty about accepting money from a friend, allowing them to reward you in at least a small way, can actually be beneficial for your relationship in the long run. It’s important to feel appreciated. Coming to some sort of financial agreement, whatever the final monetary value may be, can go a long way towards making your surrogate and intended parent relationship even more amiable and pleasant.
In order to avoid any conflicting emotions, it’s highly recommended that some sort of compromising financial compensation agreement is reached, prior to becoming a surrogate for a friend.
This is where working with a surrogacy agency can be a real advantage. An experienced surrogacy specialist can mediate this type of difficult conversation, and help you figure out an arrangement that meets everyone’s needs. While a friend may not want to accept a full surrogacy compensation package, you can think about individual costs that might need to be covered. Things like maternity clothes, compensation for time off work due to doctor’s visits, or pitching in for extra childcare for a surrogate’s family.
You can also think outside the box and go about compensating your friend/surrogate in a unique way. For example, intended parents could offer to pay for their gestational carrier’s family vacation or deposit money into a college fund for their carrier’s own child. There are ways to figure out financial arrangements that work for any type of relationship. This is also where attorneys for both parties come into play.
Your attorney will negotiate compensation on your behalf (whether you’re an intended parent or surrogate mother). This can definitely relieve some of the discomfort of communicating with friends directly about money, or other topics that are sensitive in nature.
Things to consider before becoming a surrogate for a friend
Being a gestational carrier for a surrogate you have no personal connection with definitely comes with some emotional obstacles you’d need to thoroughly consider. But being a gestational carrier for a friend can be even more complicated.
As a surrogate, you need to think about the emotions you’ll experience carrying and giving birth to a child that isn’t yours. Then think about whether you’re truly ready to commit to the legal and medical surrogacy process. Since you’re familiar with the intended parents, you might feel like the whole process will be easier. But the truth is, surrogacy can test your personal relationships in ways you haven’t anticipated.
With a friend, a difference of opinion about a particular lifestyle choice can quickly escalate and become more personal due to your existing relationship, as well as the dynamic of surrogate/intended parent you will both find yourself in, with a future baby and its health at stake. You and this person have history, and the emotional process of surrogacy can open old wounds.
Consider the following challenges and emotional costs that may arise from pursuing surrogacy with a friend.
Your Relationship Will Change
A big question you need to ask yourself when weighing the cost of pursuing surrogacy with a friend, is whether or not your relationship can withstand the stress of the full journey. The truth is, for some, surrogacy will bring them closer together. For others, it can drive them apart. Being a surrogate mother is difficult enough in itself, but when you add long-established relationships into the mix, things can get tricky. Your relationship with the intended parents will change, no matter what. Whereas before you were just friends, now you will have a deeper connection because of your surrogacy journey. Everyone involved needs to anticipate such changes, process them, and come to terms with this before committing to the process.
Make sure to take into account how well all parties communicate now, and how you resolve conflict when it arises. There are a lot of hard topics that need to be addressed throughout a pregnancy, and if all parties aren’t on the same page, and are unable to compromise, it can negatively impact your friendship, as well as the entire surrogacy experience. The reality is, the intensity of a surrogacy journey brings about a new relationship that will be like nothing you have experienced before. Everyone involved in this miraculous process will share incredibly intimate moments with each other, and you will all be forever bonded by the gift your surrogate has given you. Be ready for this relationship shift, and think about how you will address this as your child grows up.
How active will your gestational carrier be in your son or daughter’s life? How will carrying your friend’s child impact your own children? Your spouse and family?
It’s important to consider the potential long-term effects before embarking on a surrogacy journey with a friend.
You May Not Agree On Everything
A key thing to remember if considering surrogacy with a friend, is that it may be your body, but it’s their baby. Which means when critical decisions need to be made, and you may not agree, it can challenge preconceived notions for all those involved.
One of the most difficult decisions that a gestational surrogate and intended parent may need to consider, is selective embryo reduction. This may be an issue if multiple embryos successfully implant into the uterus, resulting in a high-order pregnancy, and if the views and values of all parties are not aligned.
Intended parents may want to carry out selective reduction to increase the odds of survival for the remaining fetuses. But depending on how the gestational carrier feels about this option, it can be a complicated issue to address. If IPs and their surrogate disagree, and they are friends, it becomes an even more emotionally charged issue.
Other areas where parents have differing opinions could be lifestyle choices during the gestational period, such as exercise, prenatal care, food choices, etc. These all could become points of contention if you and your friend might not see eye-to-eye.
It’s important before starting a surrogacy journey that both parties sit down and talk about any potential issues that may arise, prior to official agreements being made. Your surrogacy agency can facilitate this type of conversation. It will be a good indicator of how in alignment you are with your friend when it comes to pregnancy decisions. And this information will help you decide if pursuing surrogacy with a friend is the right choice for you.
Pregnancy and the resulting medical exams and birth experience, are very vulnerable moments for any woman carrying a child.
Now imagine that child isn’t yours, and there is another couple that wants to be a part of the entire process. Take it a step further and imagine that the couple are actually friends of yours that will continue seeing you after the delivery, and things have the potential of becoming awkward, if you’re not prepared. You and the intended parents will need to discuss how you feel about them attending doctor and ultrasound appointments with you, since in almost all surrogate situations, the IPs want to know what’s happening with the baby and be an integral part of the pregnancy process.
The intended parents (who are also your friends) will want to witness your ultrasounds, hear or see the heartbeat for the first time – all those amazing milestones that come with awaiting a baby’s arrival. They’ll also most likely want to be in the delivery room for the birth of their baby. Which is naturally to be expected – this is a moment they’ve been dreaming about for years!
But doctor appointments are very personal in nature, since a lot of private medical details can be shared during these visits, including information you might not feel comfortable with your friend knowing. The baby may be destined to be theirs, but your body is carrying it, and eventually, birthing it.
You need to determine if you’re comfortable sharing these experiences with others. Coming to agreements on these topics can be either easier or harder, when the gestational carrier and intended parents already have a relationship. It all depends on your unique situation.
Is becoming a surrogate for a friend right for me?
Being a gestational carrier is a beautiful gift to give a friend who can’t carry a pregnancy themselves. That said, it’s also a very involved and invasive process.
If you are considering being a surrogate for a friend, but after doing research decide that the personal sacrifice is just too high, don’t feel guilty. In the long run, it’s better not to make the commitment you have reservations about, rather than to agree and end up hurting your relationship. Or worse, to back out in the middle of the process and cause your friend unimaginable heartache.
Before making a life changing decision, approach this decision very carefully. Proceed only after you’ve done your research, considered the possibilities, and prayed to see how your heart will guide you.
Get expert advice from Surrogacy by Faith
Surrogacy is complicated, and you can easily run into legal, medical and emotional complications without an expert to guide you. A surrogacy professional is always necessary to protect your rights, interests and safety every step of the way.
We are a Christian agency dedicated to helping grow families by the grace of God… one surrogacy at a time. At Surrogacy By Faith, we understand the intricacy and miracle of bringing new life into this world. Our hearts are in this for a loving reason, not a business one. We are simply doing God’s work
Our surrogacy professionals enjoy taking the time to really get to know our surrogates and intended parents. In fact, we are a relationship-based agency. Which makes us uniquely qualified to help if you are considering embarking on a surrogacy journey with a friend. The best part? All of our surrogate coordinators have been gestational carriers in the past, and they will be happy to personally walk you through the process, and even share their own surrogacy experience.
We uphold our strong family values in everything we do. In fact, we are one of the only surrogacy agencies in the country that does not support fetal reduction and/or pregnancy termination. If there ever comes a point in the pregnancy where your treating physician suggests termination for medical reasons, our very specific, one-of-a-kind legal contract gives our surrogates the final choice, without being in breach of contract. Don’t risk your family-building dreams or your dream to be of service to a couple you know and love. Contact a surrogacy professional at Surrogacy By Faith to begin your surrogacy with a friend today.