What could be more selfless and more fulfilling than helping others realize their biggest dreams? That’s what you do when you become a surrogate. As a surrogate mother, you can give many people the opportunity to have biological children while earning some money to support your own family. But many women who want to embark on this life-changing journey don’t know what it entails and how to get started.
In this article, we’ll look at what it means to be a surrogate, the steps involved, the requirements, and other things you need to know as a prospective surrogate mother.
Who Is A Surrogate?
A surrogate, also called a gestational carrier, is a woman who agrees to become pregnant and deliver a baby for a couple or individual who cannot do so on their own. In gestational surrogacy (the most common form of surrogacy), the surrogate is not biologically related to the child since the eggs used to create the baby come from the intended mother or a donor or a frozen donor egg bank. This makes the process less emotionally difficult for the surrogate mother.
Who Do Surrogate Mothers Help?
By becoming a surrogate, you are helping people who otherwise may never be able to have their own children. People who may require the services of a surrogate to build a family include:
- Straight couples dealing with infertility
- A single father who wants to share a genetic connection with his child through single parent surrogacy .
- An intended mother who cannot carry a pregnancy due to old age, surgery, or medical reasons.
- Same-sex partners who want to become parents
- Intended parents with a health condition that makes pregnancy unsafe
Surrogate Mother Requirements
Women who want to become surrogates need to meet a set of criteria before they are accepted into a surrogacy program. This is to ensure that they can safely and successfully carry a pregnancy for another person or couple. Here are the general requirements you will have to fulfill to qualify as a surrogate:
- Be between the ages of 21-41
- Have a BMI (body mass index) within the range of 19 to 32
- Has had at least one full-time pregnancy and delivery without any complications
- Don’t smoke cigarettes, take alcohol excessively, or abuse drugs
- Don’t participate in any government financial aid programs
- Have the support of her spouse (if she has one) and her family
- Be ready to take fertility injections
- Live in a surrogacy-friendly state
Now that you know the requirements to be a surrogate, you might be wondering what the surrogacy process looks like.
The Surrogate Process
The surrogate mother process may vary from one agency to the other, but here are the steps you can expect to undergo as an aspiring surrogate mother:
The first step in becoming a surrogate is to submit an application on the website of your would-be agency. The surrogacy coordinator at the agency will review your application and contact you if you meet their requirements. You will then be asked to complete certain forms that will allow the agency to run a background check on you and ask for your medical records.
Medical Records Review:
Next, the agency will request your medical records from your physician, who worked with you during your last pregnancy. They will go over your medical and obstetric records to determine if you are medically fit to undergo the surrogacy process.
During the consultation, one of the agency’s surrogacy specialists will take the time to explain the process in detail and answer any questions you may have. This will also give the agency a chance to know who you are as a person and why you want to become a surrogate.
You will then be asked to come for medical screenings at a clinic. The doctor will take your blood sample and check it for sexually transmitted diseases. You will also undergo prenatal tests, a urine drug test, as well as physical and ultrasound examinations to know the status of your womb. Your spouse will also be tested for infectious diseases and illegal drugs.
You and your partner (or the primary support person) will also meet with a mental health expert to find out if you are a suitable candidate for surrogacy.
A qualified social worker will visit you to evaluate your home. Although this step is not required by law, it is usually conducted to ensure that the baby will be nurtured in a safe, healthy, and supportive environment.
Once you are medically approved, the agency will begin the process of matching you with a suitable intended parent. You will need to create a surrogate profile, which will include pictures and information about you, your family, and your surrogacy goals. At this stage, you will also have the chance to review the profiles of your potential parents.
When a match is found, the agency will ask you and the intended parents to sign a legal contract. This contract will outline the roles and responsibilities of each party involved while addressing issues that may come up during the surrogacy program or egg donor program. It is essential that you and the hopeful parents have individual legal representation for this step to ensure that the rights of both parties are protected.
Monitoring appointments and Embryo Transfer:
Once the legal agreement and paperwork are completed, you will place on medications to prepare your womb to receive the embryos (the baby). At the appropriate time, one or more healthy embryos will be transferred into your uterus. This procedure is carried out by a qualified fertility doctor under mild sedation.
Pregnancy and delivery:
Approximately 14 days after the transfer, you will have a blood test to confirm whether or not you have become pregnant. If the result is positive, you will be scheduled for an ultrasound to detect the baby’s heartbeat. You will then go on to carry the pregnancy and deliver the baby when due. Upon delivery, you will hand over the newborn to the intended parents and take time to relax and recover, knowing you have made an invaluable impact on the lives of another family.
Becoming a surrogate is one of the most remarkable, life-changing decisions a woman can make. But it is also a huge commitment that requires emotional and physical dedication. So, if you are looking to become a gestational surrogate, you need to consider your decision carefully and be sure that you are physically, mentally, and emotionally ready for the journey ahead. It is also good to work with a trusted and reputable surrogacy agency to ensure a successful pregnancy and a wonderful experience overall.