If you’re considering pursuing surrogacy with a friend, or if you’re friends with a couple that’s struggling with infertility and you’re considering being a surrogate, then you’ve come to the right place.
Becoming a surrogate mother for a friend is a big decision, and one that should not be taken lightly. Surrogacy is a complex process that can stir up a lot of emotions. If you’re not fully prepared, 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 with eyes wide open.
Intended parents and potential surrogates both need to be fully aware of all surrogacy requirements, and the impact the journey can have on your families. Read on to learn more.
Can I Be A Surrogate Mother For My Friend?
The short answer to this question is YES. While surrogacy laws do vary by state, it’s usually possible to pursue gestational surrogacy with a friend.
If you are the friend in this situation, since you won’t have a biological connection to the child you carry, you will not be the child’s legal mother. Which means following the birth, you will have no legal obligations towards your friend’s baby.
Choosing to be a surrogate for a friend is like giving a gift that will last a lifetime, the 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 potential 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.
In this post we’ll cover all this and more to help you make the best decision for your individual situation.
What Is The Process For Becoming A Surrogate For A Friend?
The surrogacy process is a long 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 we keep stressing how important it is to fully understand what you are committing to.
It’s also why, even though you don’t need to wait to be matched, it’s a really good idea to work with a surrogacy agency to ensure the process goes smoothly.
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 an overview of 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.
- 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.
Understand The Entire Surrogacy Journey:
Being a gestational carrier for a friend is not the same as being pregnant with your own child. There are significantly more medical procedures, along with legal contracts, background checks, psychological screenings, and more.
You will need to attend many 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’, you may end up being on bed rest during your final trimester. This can mean even more time off work and 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.
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.
Meet All Surrogate Mother Requirements:
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 requirements for becoming a surrogate your friend must meet before they can carry your child.
Some people are under the impression that the guidelines for gestational carriers only apply to compensated surrogates. Not true. Even friends or family members acting as a surrogate for someone they know still needs 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 are pretty standard):
- 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. A surrogate carries not only the parenting dreams of her friend, but she must also carry the medical and emotional risks of pregnancy and delivery.
Even when surrogate and intended parents know each other, it’s important that the surrogate has a healthy, happy, and stress free pregnancy. That’s why these surrogacy requirements are in place. To ensure the best possible outcome for everyone; surrogate mother, IPs and child.
If I’m A Surrogate For Someone I Know, Do I Need To Work With An Agency?
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.
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.
Agency staff 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.
Benefits Of Working With An Agency:
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 have well-established working relationships with fertility clinics, hospitals, doctors, insurance companies and attorneys. Trying to wade through the entire process and all the paperwork yourself can be overwhelming. If you use an agency, you won’t have to.
An agency counselor can also help you with the emotional aspects of your surrogacy journey. Plus they are there to step in and help surrogates and intended parents communicate and negotiate if there comes a point when you don’t agree on something.
Legal Considerations Of Being A Surrogate:
Surrogacy requires legal guidance, contracts, and considerations. The laws vary from state to state. Some states are considered “surrogacy friendly,” while others are not.
When the gestational carrier is a friend, 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 both intended parents and your surrogate-friend.
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 and other sensitive topics.
Plus most fertility clinics will not complete a surrogacy medical protocol unless a legal contract is already in place. A binding legal contract is good for everyone. Your surrogacy agency will have the legal connections to get the ball rolling for you.
What Is The Financial Cost Of Using A Friend As A Surrogate?
One of the advantages of choosing a friend to be a surrogate is that it can lower the intended parents’ overall surrogacy costs. IPs won’t have to pay for an agency’s matching services. And, if you think your friend wants to be an altruistic surrogate, you won’t necessarily have to pay surrogate compensation and benefits either.
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 pregnancy, birth and delivery.
While this might initially seem like a good idea, and a way to reduce expenses, it’s important to consider some of the issues that can arise during an altruistic surrogacy.
Pros and Cons Of Altruistic Surrogacy:
Compensated surrogacy is an arrangement where the gestational carrier (who is not a friend or family member) carries the intended parent’s child in return for financial compensation. With compassionate or “altruistic” surrogacy, things work differently.
With an altruistic surrogacy, a surrogate who knows their intended parents chooses to forgo the usual surrogacy compensation. This may seem like the right thing to do in order to support a friend, but it can get complicated.
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 you for what you’ve done. This, in turn, can put a strain on your friendship by causing feelings of guilt and discomfort.
And truth be told, not all surrogates are comfortable with the altruistic surrogacy path, even friends. While it may be the cheapest option for intended parents, as a potential surrogate you’ll need to determine if you are really okay not accepting any money for your time and effort.
Pregnancy isn’t 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 be good for your relationship.
It’s important to feel appreciated. Coming to some sort of financial agreement can go a long way towards making that happen.
Determining Fair Compensation:
To avoid a slew of difficult emotions, it’s highly recommended that you agree on some sort of compensation when you agree to become a surrogate for a friend.
It’s completely understandable if your relationship makes you feel uncomfortable about accepting money. But if you can agree on compensation that you’re both happy with, it will be beneficial in the long run.
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 relieve some of the discomfort of communicating with friends directly about money or other uncomfortable topics.
What Are The Emotional Costs Of Doing Surrogacy With A Friend?
Being a gestational carrier for a stranger definitely comes with some emotional obstacles you’d need to consider and deal with. 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.
Because you know the intended parents, you might feel like this will be easier. But the truth is, surrogacy can test your relationship 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. 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.
You might be quick to say, “Yes!” but it’s rarely that simple. 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 be okay with this before committing to the process.
Think about how well you and your friend communicate now, and how you resolve conflict when it happens. There are a lot of hard topics that can arise throughout a pregnancy. If all parties aren’t on the same page, and you are unable to compromise, it can negatively impact your friendship.
The relationship that develops during the intensity of a surrogacy journey will be like nothing you have experienced before. You will share incredibly intimate moments with each other, and you will 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:
With surrogacy it may be your body, but it’s their baby. Which means when critical decisions need to be made, and you don’t agree, it can be extremely challenging.
Probably one of the most controversial and 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.
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.
This is one of the more extreme examples, but think of all the other areas where parents have differing opinions. Things like exercise, prenatal care, food choices, etc. are all topics where 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 these issues, before any official agreements are 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, birth experience, etc. 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 can get awkward fast.
You and your intended parent will need to discuss how you feel about them attending doctor and ultrasound appointments with you. 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 (your friends) will want to be there for your ultrasounds, to hear or see the heartbeat for the first time – all those amazing milestones that come with pregnancy. They’ll also most likely want to be in the delivery room for the birth of their baby. Can you blame them? This is a moment they’ve been dreaming about for years!
But doctor appointments are very personal in nature. A lot of private medical details can be shared during these visits. 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 easier, or harder, when the gestational carrier and intended parents already have a relationship. It depends on your unique situation.
How Do I Decide If Being A Surrogate For A Friend Is 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 decide after doing research that the cost is too high, don’t feel bad. It’s better not to make the offer than to agree and end up hurting your relationship. Or worse, to back out in the middle of the process and cause your friend heartache.
Approach this decision very carefully. Proceed only after you’ve done your research, considered the possibilities and prayed to know what’s on your heart.
Talk To Other Surrogates:
One of the best ways to know what it’s like being a gestational carrier is to talk to people who have already done it. This way, you can learn about the reality of the day-to-day experience, as well as any potential challenges you might have to face.
You can start by looking at online forums like those on Facebook. Or if you’ve reached out to a surrogacy agency for guidance, they can connect you with former surrogates who’ve completed a journey.
Check In With Your Support System:
Whether you are a potential surrogate or intended parents you will need the support of the people in your inner circle. Talk to your significant other, your children, your friends, and any close family.
Surrogacy is an emotionally and physically trying process. You want to be surrounded by love and positivity. If your primary support system isn’t on board, then this probably isn’t the best option for you.
Contact Surrogacy By Faith:
If you are considering pursuing surrogacy with a friend, it’s a good idea to contact a surrogacy agency to learn more about the process.
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.
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-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.