Intended Parents Timeline: How Long is the Surrogacy Process for Parents?

intended parent timeline

For those who desire to become parents through surrogacy, you likely have many questions about surrogacy and the surrogacy process: What is an intended parent timeline? How long will my surrogacy journey take? How long will I wait to be matched with a surrogate? How long until she becomes pregnant? 

A pregnancy – surrogacy or otherwise – is around 9 months. But those 9 months aside, how long does surrogacy really take? For intended parents who have been waiting to grow their families and are doing so through surrogacy, you’ll likely look to find out how long a surrogacy journey takes, and when you can expect to be holding your baby in your arms.

We’ve outlined the intended parent timeline and individual steps for your surrogacy journey below, with estimated timelines for each step to help you better understand the time commitment a surrogacy journey will be. The intended parent timeline varies based on a number of factors, so there are ranges for each step in the process.

Surrogacy Timeline for Intended Parents

Those applying to become parents through surrogacy can expect an estimated overall timeline of about 18-24 months, from filling out the application to your surrogate giving birth and bringing home your baby. When you officially sign on with our office, the clock starts on your surrogacy journey!  If you (and your clinic) have open criteria for your surrogate, we hope to match you within 10-14 months, but if you or your clinic has strict criteria, it may take longer.  Once your surrogate passes all screenings, your gestational carrier contracts are drafted and negotiated, which could take anywhere from 2-3 weeks. Once finalized, your clinic can begin scheduling the embryo transfer cycle.  Once your surrogate starts her medications, transfer should happen within 4-5 weeks.  If your first embryo transfer is successful, then you will be holding your baby in about nine months!

The intended parent timeline and process can be broken down into steps each intended parent must take during their journey. This helpful timeline will explain each step and the time associated with each.

Free Consultation & Sign On: 1 Week

At Reproductive Possibilities, we offer free consultations for anyone interested in becoming a parent through surrogacy. As soon as you set up a time to meet with our team, we can begin the process.

If you’re ready to begin your surrogacy journey, contact us to schedule a complimentary consultation with our founder, Melissa Brisman, or another member of our management team, as well as one of our Intended Parent Coordinators. We will explain the surrogacy process in detail, what sets Reproductive Possibilities apart from other surrogacy agencies, and we’ll explore the options that would work best for you and your family.

Upon signing our service agreement, our Intended Parent Coordinator will finalize your personal criteria and preferences, and then the search for your surrogate will begin.

Matching: 10-14 Months

Everything is based upon the date that you sign on.  While we do offer a Full Service or Premium Service Package, neither option lets you jump the line.  We give priority to every client based upon their signon date.  How fast you can be matched depends on these three factors; how quickly you complete your paperwork to start your surrogate journey, how strict your personal criteria is, as well as how strict your fertility clinic’s is.

The process can range from 10-14 months, but that depends on what you are looking for in a surrogate.  Do you prefer that she is experienced, within driving distance, does she need to have medical insurance or are you open to purchasing insurance for her, do you have a specific age range or race that you will consider, etc.  Our guidance can help you narrow down the time frame, but know that we are considering not only your personal criteria, but your fertility clinics requirements are very important as well.

If you need to unmatch with a surrogate, you will need to be matched with another surrogate which will increase the amount of time spent in the matching phase.

If your surrogate has not yet passed the medical screening at your clinic, you should be able to match again fairly quickly. You are placed back on our list according to your original signon date, which gives you priority placement at the top of our list. However, if you have changed your criteria and now require that your surrogate meet stricter guidelines such as having insurance already or living within a certain driving distance, it may take more time.

If you need an egg donor, sperm donor, or need to create embryos, this process may take longer.

If you need to create embryos, we encourage you to start working on creating your embryos at the same time that you begin the search for a surrogate.  That way, both processes are moving simultaneously and hopefully your embryos will be ready and waiting for your surrogate, which is the best case scenario.

If you need an egg donor, begin your search for a surrogate and egg donor at about the same time.  The goal is always to have your donor cycle complete, or frozen eggs purchased, so that your embryos can be made, tested if you choose, and waiting for your surrogate’s cycle to begin.

If you need a sperm donor, The process of purchasing frozen sperm is fairly quick, but you may need time to browse and find a donor that meets your needs/preferences.  We would suggest you begin that process as well once you begin your search for a surrogate.

Contracts and Escrow Funding: 2-3 Weeks

If your surrogate is approved during screening, you will be cleared to begin reviewing the Gestational Carrier contract with your attorney. This legal process can take about 2-3 weeks. When the contract is finalized and all parties have signed, the clinic will be notified and they will work with you to schedule an embryo transfer cycle. Your medications will typically start about 2 weeks from this point and the embryo transfer can be about 4-5 weeks later.

After you’ve matched with a gestational carrier, you will open and fund an escrow account with Surrogate Fund Management. Your escrow account is used to hold the funds necessary for your surrogacy journey. Surrogate Fund Management will manage all bills and payments associated with the surrogacy, including payments and reimbursements between the intended parents and surrogate mother. This allows you to focus on your surrogate relationship without financial matters impacting your connection. Expenses, fees and bills are paid based upon the terms agreed to in your Gestational Carrier (Surrogate) Contract or your approval (if not already determined).

Screening: 2-4 Months

A surrogate mother’s pre-screening includes a criminal background check, a social worker at-home visit and the forwarding of her medical history and records to your fertility clinic for their initial approval. Once all of these have been completed, the clinic will reach out to schedule a full day of screening at their facility. If your surrogate and spouse/partner need to have travel arrangements for this trip, our office can assist, or you can choose to make these travel plans on your own.

Screening day is also hopefully when you are able to meet your surrogate in person! Intended Parents often get the opportunity to meet their surrogate for the first time at the clinic screening visit as this appointment is typically scheduled with all parties involved being tested on the same day.  If you are unable to attend that visit, the next opportunity would be at the embryo transfer visit.  This can sometimes be more difficult for our international clients, but we always hope that all intended parents can be present for the 20 week ultrasound, which is a great opportunity to meet the OB-Gyn who is caring for your surrogate and baby, and get the opportunity to see your baby up close and personal before arrival.  Some intended parents, (who are close in proximity to their GC) may have the opportunity to attend other appointments as well throughout the pregnancy but for those less fortunate, there is always Skype and FaceTime!  Surrogates are often very open to having parents participate in the pregnancy, however they can!

A typical all-day screening includes blood and urine analysis, a saline sonogram, a physical evaluation, drug and STD testing, and a tutorial on injectable medications. In addition, psychological screening will be completed by an ASRM-certified psychologist, or by a social worker on staff at your fertility clinic.

Surrogate Begins Medications & Prepares for Transfer: 4-5 Weeks

Your surrogate should be able to start medications for an embryo transfer cycle with 4-5 months of matching. This time frame depends on your fertility’s clinics schedule for her medical and psychological screening, her passing those screenings and then completing the Gestational Carrier Contract.  She will then begin her medications to prepare for the embryo transfer which takes place approximately 4-5 weeks later.

Cycle Schedule & Medications: About 4 Weeks

Once contracts are signed, the clinic is given clearance so they can begin setting up a cycle schedule for your surrogate. In most cases, you should have a transfer within 4-5 weeks from the time your surrogate start her medications.

Embryo Transfer & Early Pregnancy: 6 Weeks

Once your surrogate is ready for the embryo transfer, she will travel again to your clinic for this appointment. Some intended parents come to the clinic for the embryo transfer; this is a great time to spend some time getting to know your surrogate and bond.

Pregnancy & Parentage Order: 9 Months

Your surrogate will continue to be monitored during the early stages of your pregnancy until she is released to the OBGYN of her choice (located near where she live).

When the surrogate is between 16- and 20-weeks-pregnant, the legal team will reach out to you to initiate the birth order/parentage process. Birth orders are the documents presented to the courts that declare you (the intended parents) as the legal parents of the child. The process does vary by state and/or county and may be completed as a Pre-Birth Order, Post-Birth Order, or Stepparent Adoption.

Delivery Day & Closing Escrow: Ongoing

While your surrogate journey may be over when your surrogate gives birth, and you will likely have your hands full adjusting to your new family size, our office is always here for you should you need us, and we love to be kept in the loop of how your baby is growing and developing.  Nothing makes us happier than to see photos and get updates when you can share, and likely we will reach out as well.  We know life is busy, but keeping in touch and knowing how our “babies” are, makes up happy too!

We have information that we will share with you regarding flying with your baby, or long car rides.  We have also been asked many times for baby nurse options and we will provide any information we have and will help you search if needed.

A typical time frame to have all paperwork completed to complete your journey is about 2 days unless your baby needs a little more care in the hospital.  Usually the paperwork confirming that you are the parents is completed prior to birth (unless the state of delivery requires it be post birth).  In all cases, we will help you with whatever legal documents you may need to make medical decisions for your baby and have our baby released to you as soon as they can be discharged from the hospital.  If you are flying or driving long distance, we recommend you discuss with the pediatrician at the hospital, or your own pediatrician to determine when to make the trip home.  Birth certificates can be mailed to you at home.  For our international clients, we will work with you to get your birth certificate expedited, and help you prepare for the Passport process, so that you can return home, hopefully within 3-4 weeks of delivery.

If this intended parent timeline has answered some of your most pressing questions, you can learn more about becoming a parent through surrogacy here! If you still have questions, feel free to contact us on our website, or reach out to us on Facebook or Instagram.

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