For anyone who has considered potentially using the services of a surrogate, there’s one common question – how do I get started? Before hiring a surrogate, any intended parent will have to practice due diligence in not only vetting any candidates, but also being familiar with everything that pertains to surrogacy, from start to finish. Surrogacy is a remarkable path to parenthood, offering hope to individuals and couples who are unable to conceive on their own.
And if you as an intended parent are contemplating the idea of hiring a surrogate, it’s essential to delve into the intricate details of the process. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the journey of surrogacy in-depth, covering everything from finding a surrogate, to the qualifications, costs, and how Surrogacy by Faith can assist you on this extraordinary chapter of your lives.
How do I find a surrogate?
Finding a suitable surrogate is the foundation of a successful journey to becoming new parents. And there are a few options when trying to decide on how to start your search. Some intended parents are fortunate enough to hire a surrogate they already know, such as a close friend or family member. For many others, however, the task of finding a surrogate takes considerable time and effort. The first decision to make is whether you’d prefer to find a surrogate on your own, or if you’d rather enlist the help of a reputable agency.
Some prospective parents may be swayed by the first option since it appears to be more cost effective in the long run; however, when you factor in the independent legal fees, the piecemealing of various costs that will be coming in from various sources, as well as the painstaking research needed to screen the surrogate to make sure they’re a good match, often going with a surrogate agency to handle all those complicated facts is a welcome relief. But before making a final decision, here are various approaches to consider:
Surrogacy agencies are experts in matching intended parents with suitable surrogates. They handle every aspect of the process, from initial screening to legal formalities, ensuring a streamlined and convenient experience. The reason why going the agency route is the most popular option, is simply for logistical reasons; the less intended parents have to worry about making sure they don’t miss anything during the process, the better. With a surrogate agency, there is a team of experts behind you to help lead the way – from the actual hiring of the surrogate, to the birth of your miracle baby, the support system that’s built into a professional and reputable agency is unmatched.
Additionally, any legal fees that you might encounter are already built into your surrogate package, so you can avoid being charged by the hour and accruing astronomical legal expenses. For most intended parents, the agency route is the best all-inclusive option for when you’re ready to hire a surrogate.
Some intended parents prefer a more personal approach and choose to find a surrogate independently, often through friends, family, or online communities. While this option offers more involvement in the selection process, it also requires careful consideration of legal and medical aspects. Choosing this option requires absolute dedication and involvement in every step of the surrogacy journey, and the ability to handle multiple entities (such as attorneys, IVF clinics, OBGYN healthcare professionals, and the surrogate) all at once.
The best candidates for an independent surrogacy would be intended parents who have gone through the process before and are seasoned at multitasking the numerous aspects of a surrogacy cycle, as well as repeat surrogate mothers who are extremely familiar with the experience. For anyone who is new to the surrogacy process, going with an agency is the best choice for everyone involved.
Gestational Carrier or Traditional Surrogate
Before looking into how to hire a surrogate, it’s crucial to understand the difference between a gestational carrier and a traditional surrogate. A gestational carrier carries an embryo created with the egg and sperm of the intended parents or donors, while a traditional surrogate uses her own egg, as well as the sperm from an intended parent or a sperm donor. This means that while a traditional surrogate has biological ties to the future baby, the gestational carrier absolutely does not.
A gestational carrier is simply a generous host that makes the selfless dedication to undergo a pregnancy on behalf of hopeful parents. Most surrogacy arrangements today involve gestational carriers, as it is the more uncomplicated option, and since IVF technology nowadays allows it to be extremely successful.
What makes the best surrogate?
Before committing to hiring a surrogate, you might be wondering: what are some of the characteristics that can help you choose the best option for a gestational carrier? For starters, any candidate must have the right motivation to want to become a surrogate mother. Of course, for many, fair compensation is an important part of the process, but a surrogate prospect’s first and foremost reason for wanting to start on this journey, is the desire to help hopeful parents finally reach their dreams. Potential surrogates also have to be completely aware of the responsibility their role comes with.
Before starting the journey, they must have a full understanding of everything the proposed pregnancy will entail, and how it will impact both them and their family member’s lives. Selecting the ideal surrogate is a pivotal decision, so here are some more factors to consider:
- Emotional stability – the surrogacy process can be quite stressful and challenging, so the best surrogates will not only be prepared emotionally and mentally, but will also have a strong support system in their family and friends, to navigate the highs and lows of the process.
- Physical health – The physical fitness of the surrogate is of utmost importance for both her own health and the proper development of a healthy baby. Regular check-ups, a well-balanced diet, and maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle are all essential in this regard.
- Previous Experience – While not a requirement, prior participation as a surrogate can be valuable. It demonstrates a commitment to the process and an understanding of what to expect, potentially reducing the learning curve and increasing success. In fact, repeat surrogates are highly sought after because of their expertise, and due to them already undergoing and completing a successful cycle + birth.
Most importantly, the best surrogate is someone that the intended parents ultimately click with, who shares similar values, and is dedicated and passionate about their role as a surrogate mother.
What are the qualifications to be a surrogate?
Before starting the surrogate journey, all potential candidates must meet specific criteria in order to even be considered for the role. Surrogacy requires these standards in order to safeguard the health and well-being of the surrogate and the child she carries. These can vary depending on the surrogacy agency, location, and legal requirements, but some of the most common qualifications to be a surrogate include the following: falling between the ideal age-range, being physically healthy and ready to carry a pregnancy (since pregnancy is a physically strenuous undertaking), having a healthy reproductive history, and having carried at least one successful pregnancy to term (36 weeks gestation, or later), which is the most important, and non-negotiable factor.
If you fulfill these fundamental surrogate requirements, your prospects of being accepted as a surrogate mother are likely favorable. However, even if you do not meet specific qualifications, you should still reach out to an agency. Many agencies assess and approve surrogates on an individual basis and may consider exceptions in certain cases.
Are there physical requirements to be a surrogate?
In order to safeguard the well-being of both the potential surrogate and the baby she will be carrying, yes, there are typically physical requirements for individuals who want to become surrogate mothers. While specific criteria depends on the surrogacy agency and location, here are some common physical requirements:
- Be at least 21 years old and younger than 40 (some agencies have a cutoff age of 37 or 38)
- Be a non-smoker in excellent health (who also does not do drugs or abuse alcohol)
- Have a healthy height and weight ratio, as determined by your doctor (in general, agencies require a BMI for surrogates that is between 19 and 32, but must most prefer under 30)
- Have a healthy reproductive history, having given birth to at least one child that you are raising.
- Have had no more than 2 c-sections
- 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.
- Have no new tattoos or piercings within 12 months of starting the process
- Live in a state where compensated surrogacy is legal.
- Be either a legal permanent resident or a US citizen.
It’s important to note that these qualifications are a guide, and can vary slightly from case to case. Potential surrogates should always consult with a surrogacy agency or legal expert to understand the specific requirements in their situation. Additionally, some surrogacy programs may have more stringent criteria than others.
Is mental health a factor in becoming a surrogate?
Mental health is a crucial consideration. Surrogates usually undergo psychological evaluations to assess their mental and emotional readiness for the journey. It’s essential to ensure they can handle the emotional aspects of surrogacy, including potential attachment to the baby – even though most modern surrogate cases are with gestational carriers, who do not have any biological connection with the child. Regardless, anyone wanting to be a surrogate has to undergo psychological screenings to ensure they are emotionally and mentally prepared for the surrogacy journey. Here are some requirements for mental health before committing to becoming a surrogate:
- Be in good psychological and emotional health
- Be off any antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications for at least one year
- Have a stable family environment and adequate support network
Becoming a surrogate mother is an incredibly fulfilling and remarkable journey, but it requires one to be ready to meet any psychological hurdles that may arise. Having access to a solid support system at home is absolutely essential. In addition to managing a daily routine as a surrogate, there also will be the navigation of expected hormonal shifts and emotional fluctuations that accompany pregnancy. Which is why as a surrogate mother being emotionally and psychologically prepared is so important; it will help them be best equipped for any challenges that may come their way.
What are other qualifications to be a surrogate?
In addition to the physical and mental health factors, as well as the medical and psychological surrogate screenings, there are several other prerequisites specific to becoming a gestational carrier. For instance, all prospective candidates must possess legal immigrant, legal resident, or United States citizenship status, and they must be prepared to provide valid identification and documentation to verify this. Furthermore, surrogate applicants are expected to be financially self-sufficient and stable, without receiving any form of state or federal financial aid or government assistance.
Another mandatory requirement is that every surrogate must have previously experienced at least one successful live birth with an uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery. They also must currently be raising the child resulting from that birth, within their own home. This stipulation ensures that potential surrogates not only possess the physical capacity to carry a child to term, but are also adequately prepared for the various physical and emotional demands associated with surrogacy.
Lastly, having a strong support system in place, including the support of the surrogate’s partner or family, is not only encouraged, but is essential to keeping the surrogacy process as streamlined and harmonious as possible.
What is the surrogacy process?
Every surrogacy journey always begins with a woman deciding to offer her services as a gestational carrier, to help intended parents who are eager for their miracle baby. But what does the surrogacy process entail? After deciding to hire a surrogate, there are still many steps before the hopeful parents are gifted their bundle of joy.
Here are some of the basic steps in the surrogate process:
- Initial Screening & Evaluation: after meeting basic requirements, the surrogate candidate undergoes screenings to confirm her eligibility. This includes a pre-screening form, review of medical records, a background check, a financial review, and a drug test.
- Matching: The process continues with matching intended parents and a surrogate who share compatible goals and values.
- Medical and Legal Screening: All parties undergo rigorous medical and legal evaluations to ensure they are physically, mentally, and legally fit for the journey. This includes the surrogate medical screening at an IVF clinic, as well as contract finalization with an attorney. It’s also often the first time the surrogate mother and the intended parents can meet!
- Medical Procedures: In vitro fertilization (IVF) using eggs and sperm from either the intended parents or donors, following a Frozen Embryo Transfer that will implant the embryo into the surrogate’s uterus.
- Pregnancy: The surrogate carries and nurtures the baby to term, attending regular prenatal check-ups.
- Birth and Legal Proceedings: Depending on the state, either before or after the baby’s birth, legal processes are initiated to establish parental rights and responsibilities.
Of course, before starting, every intended parent will receive a detailed breakdown of every step of the way, but the list above is a good starting point to understanding what’s involved when considering hiring a surrogate.
How much does it cost to hire a surrogate?
The average cost to hire a surrogate can vary significantly depending on a number of different factors, such as the state in which the surrogate resides, the medical procedures needed before implantation, as well as the agency that will handle the case.
The following are typical expenses to anticipate:
- Surrogate Compensation – This compensation covers the surrogate’s time, effort, and physical toll during the pregnancy and ranges from $30,000 to $50,000 or more. Referred to as the “base salary”
- Surrogate benefits package plus additional payments – The surrogate receives reimbursement for expenditures as medical care, travel, maternity attire, health-related supplies, and potential loss of income. In certain states, additional reimbursements may be mandated for the surrogate. There is also extra compensation available for any unforeseen complications, or if the surrogate becomes pregnant with twins or multiples.
- Embryo transfer – This is the implantation process where the fertilized egg (embryo) is transferred to the surrogate.
- Medical Expenses – These include fertility treatments, prenatal care, and delivery costs, as well as any postpartum care.
- Screening costs – This covers any medical, physical, and psychological screenings, as well as criminal background checks.
- Legal Fees – Legal assistance is essential to navigate the complex legal aspects of surrogacy.
- Agency Fees – If you choose to work with an agency, there will be agency fees incurred, which can range from $15,000 to $25,000.
In total, surrogacy costs can range from $80,000 to $130,000 or more. If the intended parents need financial guidance,or any assistance with paying for the surrogacy journey, there are multiple avenues of support available, including fertility loans, surrogacy agency financing, and even some surrogacy grants.
Can anyone hire a surrogate?
If residing in the United States as an intended parent, the process of surrogacy is available in most cases. Even hopeful parents from other parts of the world have traveled to the states in order to use surrogacy to fulfill their dream. However, there may be some challenges one can encounter when trying to pursue surrogacy and wanting to hire a surrogate.
The first are any legal restrictions; surrogacy laws vary state by state, so it’s crucial to understand the legalities in your area. Surrogacy is also a significant financial commitment, so any hopeful intended parents should have a solid and comprehensive financial plan in place, and be prepared for a myriad of costs and expenses. And lastly, there may be some age restrictions and other eligibility criteria that is set by both surrogate agencies and IVF clinics, so it’s essential to research and choose one that aligns with your goals.
What to know before hiring a surrogate
Before embarking on your surrogacy journey, it’s important to do your thorough research, and consider various aspects that may impact your decision to move forward. First, you must become familiar with the surrogacy laws in your area and ensure you have a legal expert guiding you – either independently or through an agency.
Next, be sure to develop a detailed financial plan to cover all aspects of the surrogacy process. It’s better to have more prepared than planned, than be caught off guard by surprise costs in the end. Take the time to research any surrogacy agencies you plan to use, and see which one fits best with your goals and values. It’s also vital to establish emotional assistance for both intended parents and the surrogate, either through counseling or support groups. And lastly, establish open and transparent communication with all involved parties, including the surrogate and her support system. The road to building a family through surrogacy is beautiful, but also full of emotional ups and downs, so having a solid team behind you that assists each other and communicates effectively, is paramount.
How can Surrogacy by Faith help with hiring a surrogate?
At Surrogacy by Faith, we are committed to guiding you through every step of your surrogacy journey. Our experienced team (many of which have been surrogates themselves!) is dedicated to helping you hire the right surrogate, navigating the legal complexities, and ensuring a smooth and positive experience. We believe that surrogacy can be a beautiful and fulfilling path to parenthood, and we are here to support you in achieving your dreams.
The decision to hire a surrogate is a deeply personal and life-changing one. By delving into the process, qualifications, costs, and considering essential factors, you can embark on this remarkable journey with confidence, knowing that it may lead to the realization of your dreams of parenthood. We pride ourselves on being a surrogacy agency built on a foundation of Christian values and the belief that the road to surrogacy is a truly transformative and rewarding experience.
If you’re ready to explore the process of how to hire a surrogate, or to know more about our surrogacy agency, reach out to us. Once you’ve considered surrogacy as a means to grow your family, and you’re ready for a conversation, fill out an intended parent or parents initial inquiry to begin. We’re ready to navigate this blessed journey with you – get in touch with us today!