surrogate mother on the beach in CA

Are you thinking of becoming a surrogate in California? It takes a certain kind of woman to take that journey – strong, compassionate, and selfless. If that seems like you, then surrogacy could be a life-changing experience that enriches you and gives the gift of a family to some lucky intended parents.

Although both gestational and traditional surrogacy are legal in California, in this article we’ll focus exclusively on gestational surrogacy. We’ll go over requirements, steps, legal paperwork, law firms, and compensation so that you can make the best decision for you. 

What Are The Basic Surrogate Requirements In California? 

There are some basic requirements to becoming a surrogate in California, including:

  • At least one prior birth with no complications. 
  • No more than five vaginal births or three C-sections. 
  • A healthy weight with a body mass index (BMI) between 19 and 33.
  • Being free from alcohol, drugs, smoking, and second-hand smoke. 
  • A stable and safe environment. 
  • An age between 21 and 41.
  • Citizenship or legal residency.
  • Financial stability and no federal or state financial aid (welfare, public housing, section 8, or cash assistance). 


It’s important to note that these are just the general requirements in California – some surrogacy agencies may have slightly different criteria. For instance, some have a narrower range in BMI or age while others allow fewer previous C-sections. 



What Are The Steps To Becoming A Surrogate In California? 

pregnant woman touching her belly

Let’s go over the steps that you’ll have to follow to become a surrogate mother in California: 

  1. Find a surrogacy agency you want to work with. 
  2. Complete a surrogate initial inquiry form
  3. Answer screening questions and undergo a background check. 
  4. Allow the agency to review your finances and medical records. 
  5. Take a drug test and undergo a home visit. 
  6. Pass a psychological and physical evaluation.
  7. Have the agency match you with intended parents. 
  8. Sign a surrogacy contract drafted by the two separate legal teams.

You’re now officially a surrogate! 

Once the contract is finalized and signed, then the actual surrogacy process can begin. It may seem like a long journey to get there, but every step listed above is to protect the surrogate and keep her healthy.  

RELATED CONTENT: Becoming A Surrogate: How To Prepare

Am I Involved With The Pre-Birth Parentage Order? 

As a surrogacy-friendly state, California allows pre-birth orders. In other words, it’s possible to establish who the legal parents are before the child is even born

The pre-birth order paperwork can be filed as early as week 14 of the pregnancy. As it makes its way through the courts, the surrogate mother and the intended parents will both eventually have to sign the order. 

Under California Family Code Section 7633, the pre-birth order becomes effective at the moment of birth, requiring the hospital to immediately release the baby to the intended parents. It also instructs the California Office of Vital Records to name the intended parents on the birth certificate. This means that the surrogate mother will not be named on the birth certificate.  

It’s important to point out that the pre-birth order strongly benefits the surrogate mother. Giving birth is an emotionally and physically draining process – no one wants to sign a bunch of legal paperwork as they’re recuperating. Handling the parentage order before the baby is born makes it easier and allows the surrogate mother to focus on her own needs and health.

Finally, the surrogate mother might also be involved in determining the venue where the pre-birth order is filed. The possible venues include: 

  • County where the child is born.
  • Intended parents’ county of residence. 
  • Surrogate mother’s county of residence. 
  • County where the surrogacy contract was executed. 
  • County where the medical procedures were performed. 


Although the results don’t vary by venue, there may be procedural differences. Plus, if you want to handle the pre-birth order in your county to reduce the amount of travel, that’s something that you have the right to request via your legal team. It’s also important to note that motions to waive the venue are not accepted under California law.    

Where Can I Find Surrogacy Lawyers In California?

woman doing research on surrogacy

If you’re considering becoming a surrogate, it’s important to know that California law requires that you have a separate legal team than the intended parents. This ensures that there’s no conflict of interest and your interests are always protected. Although the surrogacy agency will usually handle interacting with the legal team, you can still have a say in who will represent you. 

Plus, if you want to be extra thorough, you can have your own legal team double-check the surrogacy contract to cover all your bases. 


These are just a few of the more widely-known reproductive and surrogacy law firms in California. It’s definitely not an exhaustive list as there are plenty of other options available to hopeful surrogates. 



How Much Do Surrogates Make in California? 

As one of the most surrogacy-friendly states in the whole country, the demand for surrogates is high in California. If you want to become a surrogate, that’s great news since higher demand translates to higher pay! 

That being said, surrogate mothers can make anywhere between $50,000 and $80,000, depending on how experienced they are or if it’s a multiple pregnancy (like twins or triplets). 

However, this is just for the base bay. Surrogates can also receive extra compensation for:

  • Fertility cycles
  • Embryo transfers
  • C-sections
  • Breast milk  


Finally, various expenses can be covered, including: 

  • Lost wages
  • All medical costs, including procedures, medications, or supplies
  • Travel to and from appointments
  • Miscellaneous other expenses, like childcare


All of this must be covered in the surrogacy contract that the surrogate mother signs before starting the actual surrogacy. The pay structure, “bonuses”, and expenses must be clearly spelled out to ensure that the surrogate mother’s best interests are always protected.   

RELATED CONTENT: How Much Do Surrogates Get Paid?

Become A Surrogate Mother With Surrogacy By Faith

Based in Southern California, Surrogacy By Faith is an agency that works with surrogates from all over the state. We have a simple, guiding philosophy: Every child is a gift. And we cherish those gifts by creating an environment that is stable, nurturing, and positive, from start to finish. 

We take the time to really get to know our surrogates and match them with the right intended parents. As a result, many of our surrogates have told us that it was a revelatory experience that changed their lives for the better. This is probably why so many of our surrogates come back and work with us over and over again. 

If you’re interested in becoming a surrogate with us, fill out the form on our website! We can get started on this surrogacy journey right away!

Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all! Proverbs 31:29. 

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