Everything You Need to Know About Surrogacy: For the Intended Parent

In the last 20 years, surrogacy has become a widely known, accepted and practiced form of pregnancy and journey into motherhood. A truly incredible experience, surrogacy requires real generosity from one side and a lot of hope and optimism from the other, creating a strong bond in the shared experience. But if you haven’t read into the process, it can seem quite ominous and overwhelming. Perhaps you’re a mother who wants to offer her childbearing services to the world. Or a woman who desperately wants to be a mother but has hit roadblock after roadblock and needs another door to open. Either way, we’ve done the research and have the scoop on everything you need to know about surrogacy — for the intended parents and the surrogate. This is Part 1 of our Surrogacy Guide: For the Intended Parent.

When struggling with infertility, it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but surrogacy is a great way to do just that. While you may not be carrying the baby throughout this experience, you’ll still have a very involved part, and will spend nine months getting ready to enter motherhood. Here’s what you need to know.

Types of Surrogacy

Did you know that surrogacy isn’t a one-size-fits-all process? Just like your family won’t be one-size-fits-all, the surrogacy process can be tailored to fit you and your growing family.

Traditional Surrogacy. In this form of surrogacy, the surrogate will be artificially inseminated with the intended father’s sperm. The surrogate’s eggs will be used, and in this instance, she will be the “genetic mother” of the child. This is becoming a less and less popular form of surrogacy, due to both the emotional and legal complications that come with the territory.

Gestational Surrogacy. This form of surrogacy is the far more popular approach, and likely the one you’ll be considering. With gestational surrogacy, your doctor will use IVF technology to fertilize eggs from the intended mother (you) using sperm from the intended father — making both you and your partner the genetic parents of your child. The fertilized eggs are then transferred to the surrogate’s uterus, and she will carry your baby to term.

Altruistic Surrogacy. In this form of surrogacy, the surrogate is not compensated for her part in the process. However, this form of surrogacy has limited legalization due to understandable complications that can arise.

Independent Surrogacy. This involves a surrogate that offers her services without using an agency. However, this form of surrogacy does not come recommended due to the legal risks and lack of protection involved for you as the intended parent.

Things to Consider

When deciding to move forward with surrogacy, there are a few things to consider before really diving in and getting started on the legal paperwork.

Financials. The cost of surrogacy is significant, so it’s certainly something to discuss with your partner before taking the leap. The average surrogacy can cost between $90k-130k based on the signed agreement with you and your surrogate. Make sure you go into this part of the process well informed and committed.

Relationship with your surrogate. Decide with your partner ahead of time on what kind of relationship you want with your surrogate. There are many options available to you, and you should base that decision on what you feel most comfortable with. The relationship can change before the surrogacy, during and then after baby is born. Have an idea of what you’ll be looking for, as it will help you in the matching process.

Announcing the pregnancy. Some women find themselves very uncomfortable with divulging the ins and outs of their surrogacy with the outside world. Decide ahead of time what you’ll be comfortable with sharing, how you want to announce the pregnancy and how you want to introduce your new little one to the world. Thinking about these things ahead of time helps with all your planning.

Research. Make sure you’re fully informed before diving in. Speak to your healthcare provider, set up an introductory meeting with a surrogacy agency and read, read, read. You can even try networking with mothers who have been through the process as well. Nothing will make you feel more comfortable than having all your questions answered beforehand.

The Process

The next step in your surrogacy journey will be getting the ball rolling.  Congratulations! This can be just as exciting a time as announcing an actual pregnancy, so soak it up. Here’s what you can expect over the next few weeks and months.

The matching process.  Your surrogacy agency will have already vetted the women who have applied to be surrogates and will have selected those that meet their criteria. Now it’s your turn. You (and your partner) will go over the bios and information of each of the available surrogates and decide which one is the best fit for your new family. Some mamas swear they feel something when they’ve found the one, but don’t worry if not — the “feeling” isn’t required.

The escrow payment. Once you have finalized a match (yay!), your agency will open an escrow account for you and begin funding it with your first payment. You’re on your way!

Legal contract. This will be handled and addressed with you by the surrogacy agency, but is put into place to protect both you, the intended parents, as well as your surrogate. The contract will ensure that you both follow through on your end of the agreement, so make sure you’re 100% ready to commit at this point.

Embryo transfer. It’s baby time! At this point, the surrogate will be completing all medications and processes needed to prepare for the embryo transfer. Your selected agency will guide you both through the entire process — offering advice, counsel and guidance at every appointment, procedure and meeting.  

Gestational process. During this time, your surrogate will be carrying and growing the baby, and this is a great time for you to enjoy the process, too!  Many women choose to stay in close contact with the surrogate and play a part in the week to week growth of their little one. This is a great time to also prepare yourself as well. Getting ready for baby can be such a wonderful experience.

Establish parentage. Once baby is born (congratulations!), you’ll want to make sure you go through the process of establishing legal parentage in your state. Once that’s out of the way, it’s time to snuggle that newborn.

Tips on Preparing for Baby

While your surrogate is carrying out the pregnancy, you should be getting yourself and your home ready for your new arrival. Here are some things you can do while you wait for baby.

Do your research. Grab all of those parenting and what to expect books, they’re a lifesaver! Read everything you can and make sure you’re mentally prepared for the coming nine months and beyond.

Find classes. You can talk to your surrogacy agency about the best classes in your area to take before baby arrives. These can be general parenting classes, first aid classes and even labor/delivery classes. It never hurts to be informed, and you’ll build a great network with those around you. Win-win!

Be prepared for changes and complications. Things can happen during surrogacy, like miscarriages, failed transplants, etc.  The best thing you can do here is stay flexible and optimistic throughout the process. It’s not always easy, but it will end with that little one in your arms.

Prepare for bringing baby home. Do your research about packing the hospital bag. Even though you won’t be giving birth, you’ll still have much to get ready for. Make sure you have outfits for your little one, mitts, car seat to go home in, wipes and memory books if you want to keep one. At home, you can make sure the nursery is ready for baby’s arrival — stocked with diapers, wipes, bottles and other necessities.

Enjoy the journey. Waiting for the arrival of a long-awaited little one can be truly nerve-wracking at times. However, make sure you enjoy every step as much as possible! The journey into motherhood (no matter how it comes to be) is beautiful and incredible, and should be enjoyed as much as possible. Let those around you support and encourage you, and take note of every milestone of baby’s growth–you’ll be truly glad you did.

Now that you have a better idea of what to expect on the surrogacy process for the intended parent, we hope you’re ready to take the leap. We couldn’t be more excited for you and look forward to being with you every step of the way!

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