Becoming a surrogate is a gift that has no equal. You’re bringing a biological child into the world for parents who otherwise would have no option. This life-altering decision affects you and the parents you are helping. Your role in creating family requires selflessness, strength and a commitment that is sometimes challenging but always rewarding.
If you are thinking about becoming a surrogate, it’s best to fully understand the process, right down to the last detail. As with any pregnancy, yours is a unique experience. But there are certain details which apply to the process.
The Screening Requirements
Before you’re matched or approved for surrogacy there are several screenings you must undergo. You need to be as healthy as possible, mentally and physically, and you need to understand what you are about to undertake; creating someone else’s family. There are legal screenings surrogates are required to complete.
Each agency has its own set of requirements, but the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has set standards for the general qualifications for surrogates. These standards protect the surrogate, the parents to be, and the health of the child. They are:
- The age of the surrogate falls between 21 and 45. Some agencies extend the age limit depending on the health of the surrogate.
- BMI must be above 18 and below 30
- Must not be on government assistance
- Must not partake of illicit drugs
- Must not smoke
- Must have experienced at least one successful pregnancy, but no more than five vaginal deliveries or three cesarean births.
- Must currently be raising your children in your own home.
- Must have no previous pregnancy complications
- Must not have had postpartum depression
- Must be treatable STD free for at least the past year
- No felony convictions
- No tattoos or piercings for at least one year prior to surrogacy
- Discontinue anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication at least one year prior to surrogacy
- Have a stable lifestyle which includes a healthy support system
- Be able to travel to required appointments as necessary
Once you have met all of the requirements, you can move on to the next part of your screening process.
- You’ll need to complete an application outlining your reasons for deciding on surrogacy as well as other general questions.
- The application asks for your medical history and detailed information about you and your family, your social history and your personality.
- You will meet with a physician, typically a fertility doctor, who examines you, and administers certain tests to affirm you are healthy enough for surrogacy.
- A social worker or coordinator meets with you to discuss your reasons for surrogacy and answer any questions you may have. This allows you a deeper dive into the surrogacy process as well.
- There will be a background check.
- You will meet with a mental health professional to assess your readiness for the often-emotional challenge of surrogacy and ensure you are psychologically prepared and sound enough for the role you’re about to undertake.
Your own health is essential for the success of the surrogacy. A physician monitors you throughout the entire process, from screening to delivery. You will go through seemingly endless tests, take fertility medication and attend appointments throughout the surrogacy journey. The process is as follows:
- A medical screening comes first. In this process the doctor will check for any viral infections that could impact your fertility, STDs and other communicable diseases. The physician checks your partner as well. The doctor typically performs an ultrasound to assess your uterus.
- After you and the parents sign a legal contract for surrogacy, preparations for pregnancy begin. The fertility specialist prescribes several medications that prepare your body for the embryo transfer. They will administer blood tests, ultrasounds, injections of fertility medication as part of the process.
- Next it is time for the embryo transfer. In an IVF procedure the lab fertilizes the mother’s egg, or a donor egg, with the father’s sperm, or donor sperm. After development of the embryo the doctor implants the embryo into your uterus. The process is fairly quick and relatively painless. You’ll stay at the clinic for an hour after the transfer and at home, on modified bed rest for a few days.
- You’ll return to the fertility clinic for blood tests and ultrasounds after the transfer. Around the sixth or seventh week after a blood test confirms pregnancy the doctor usually detects a heartbeat. You’re released to your own obstetrician for routine prenatal care.
- Throughout the process you and the legal parents attend appointments together, if feasible. They’re excited and want to experience as much of the pregnancy as possible.
The legal contract is one of the most important aspects of the surrogacy process. You and the parents sign and agree upon the arrangements outlined in the contract prior to any medical procedures. Even if you have a close relationship with the parents, you must establish your specific legal rights before you go any farther. The basic outline of the contract covers:
- Compensation for the surrogate
- Potential risks
- Outline of responsibilities of the surrogate
- Relinquishment of the child
- Any other particulars you wish
Typically, the parents’ attorney draws up a draft of the contract. Your own attorney reviews the contract and ensures protection of your rights and best interests.
Interested in Surrogacy?
For those interested in surrogacy, as a surrogate or as a way to have a child, contact LA IVF. We’re here to answer your questions and help you with your goal. At LA IVF we take a compassionate and caring approach to surrogacy and all other fertility treatment.