Becoming a surrogate is a unique opportunity for women to do something truly incredible for an individual or couple who dreams of having a family but is unable to on their own. For many, the idea of helping someone else achieve their most precious dream while being compensated for time and effort is powerful. However, like most life-changing experiences, becoming a surrogate is not a simple decision to make. Being a surrogate requires extensive dedication and fortitude, and making such a major decision deserves a great deal of consideration before moving forward. As amazing as the experience of surrogacy is, it is not the right path for everyone.
If you’re considering becoming a surrogate and aren’t sure what the guidelines are, it’s important to learn as much as possible. We suggest researching the surrogacy process, requirements, risks, and benefits. The more you know, the better you will be able to determine if becoming a surrogate is right for you.
The Surrogacy Process
Before starting, it’s helpful for potential surrogates to know what the process entails. One of the first things to consider is whether to work with a surrogacy agency or to pursue surrogacy on your own terms. While you certainly have the option to forge ahead with surrogacy independently, working with a surrogacy agency provides a myriad of benefits, including:
- Experienced and thoughtful matching with intended parents
- Support and guidance throughout the entire surrogacy process
- Referrals to attorneys to help with the legal processes
- Established relationships with many fertility clinics to assist in screening and monitoring needs.
- Coordination with escrow services to ensure timely payments and meeting contract terms.
When working with an agency, the first step in the surrogacy process is to fill out a surrogate application and go through the initial screening process. The surrogate application is a detailed questionnaire that features a wide range of questions about your personal and medical histories. One of the major focuses of the questionnaire centers on the potential surrogate’s previous reproductive history. Another major focus is making sure the surrogate understands her role in the surrogacy process.
It is also important for her to have a stable support system in place. While your agency is here for you, you likely will need to rely on the family and friends you have in close proximity to you. After a careful review of the application, the agency will reach out directly to the prospective surrogate to schedule an in-depth interview. During this time, prospective surrogates will need to provide information and documentation, including medical records and criminal background documents.
Once a surrogate is accepted into the program, she is matched with intended parents. Surrogacy is an emotional journey for both intended parents and surrogates, so compatibility is important. For intended parents, they are giving you the trust and responsibility of caring for their future child. For surrogates, the act of carrying a child for someone else is a physical, emotional, and mental commitment. Yours and your intended parents’ stories will be forever intertwined, so a strong foundation is the key to a healthy relationship. This all starts through the matching process.
After a surrogate has been successfully matched with intended parents, she is impregnated via in vitro fertilization (IVF) using eggs and sperm provided by the intended parents, or through a donor. If the embryo transfer and implantation are successful, the surrogate will become pregnant and carry the pregnancy as normal. A surrogate will have their own or local OB-Gyn care for them as they did with their own pregnancies. Once the baby is born, the intended parents are introduced to their beautiful child. The surrogate enjoys seeing the family that she helped to create. Hopefully, she will have the opportunity to get some rest and relax as she recovers from pregnancy while reflecting on the joy she has given the family she has helped to create.
From application through delivery, the entire surrogacy process can take between 12 to 16 months. Every surrogacy journey is unique and many factors can impact how long the process will take from start to finish. Understanding the process will give you insight into whether surrogacy is right for you. Learn more about the surrogacy process and timeline.
Before starting the application process, it’s important that you understand what surrogate requirements are and whether or not you fit within these parameters. These requirements exist for the purpose of ensuring the health and/or wellbeing of the surrogate and the baby she carries.
Surrogate requirements vary from agency to agency but are generally very similar. At Reproductive Possibilities, for example, we have the following surrogate requirements:
- Surrogates must have given birth to at least one child that they are raising
- Surrogates must have a healthy reproductive history, with no more than three c-sections during their past deliveries
- Surrogates must be willing to undergo medical examinations, psychological assessment, and criminal background checks for themselves and every member of their household that is over the age of 18
- Surrogates must be between 21 to 44 years of age
- Surrogates must maintain a BMI between 18 to 33
- Surrogates must be non-smokers and avoid secondhand smoke
- Surrogates currently or previously on medication for anxiety or depression will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
- Surrogate/partner must be able to support themselves financially
While they may seem strict, these requirements are ultimately there to protect you and make sure that the surrogacy journey is healthy and safe. To get a more in-depth understanding of surrogate requirements, visit our Surrogate Requirements & Qualifications page.
Common Personality Traits that Surrogates Might Have
Although it’s not specifically defined as an official requirement, certain personality characteristics can make the surrogacy journey a lot easier to manage. There is no single personality type that guarantees whether you’d make a great surrogate, but some of the most common characteristics that surrogates possess include:
- A strong desire to help others
- Strong decision-making skills
- Good communication skills
- Nurturing disposition
- Emotional and mental resilience
- Enjoys being pregnant
If you possess these traits, it’s a good sign that becoming a surrogate will be an exceptionally rewarding experience for you.
Weighing the Benefits and Challenges of Surrogacy
As with any major life decision, it’s important to examine the pros and cons that come with being a surrogate before beginning the process.
The benefits of surrogacy extend far beyond monetary gain. Surrogacy is a life-changing experience that allows women to give the ultimate gift to help someone achieve their dreams of having a family. Women who become surrogates often experience intense satisfaction and joy knowing that they played such an important role in helping someone build or complete their family. Plus, the bonds surrogates and intended parents form can last a lifetime, creating a rich tapestry of friendship that is without comparison.
Another benefit of becoming a surrogate is generous financial compensation. Many surrogates use the money they earn to improve their family’s lives in some way, such as setting up a college fund for their children, depositing funds into savings, putting money towards buying a house, or taking an extra-special vacation.
That being said, as amazing as the surrogacy experience is, it’s not without its challenges. For example, something a lot of prospective surrogates may not realize ahead of time is how time-intensive the surrogacy process can be, especially at the onset. There are a lot of medical, financial, legal, and logistical factors involved in executing a successful surrogacy arrangement. Women who are thinking about becoming surrogates should be prepared to be flexible with their personal lives, which may have some disruptions throughout the process.
Surrogacy is also labor-intensive, literally and figuratively! Even if you enjoy being pregnant, pregnancy is a physically demanding, and emotional process. In addition, the responsibility of carrying a baby for someone else is also part of the challenge you are undertaking.
When considering whether or not surrogacy is right for you, it’s important to think about the pros and cons of surrogacy. You should also consider whether the physical, emotional, and mental preparation that surrogacy requires is feasible for you. If you have a partner, it’s important that you thoroughly discuss these matters and what they will mean for your family. Surrogacy doesn’t just have a long-lasting impact on the intended parents – it will also touch the lives of you and your family.
Taking the First Step
Becoming a surrogate is a beautiful path to choose and the decision to pursue this adventure cannot be taken lightly. At Reproductive Possibilities, we believe it’s important for potential surrogates to understand all facets of the surrogacy experience so that they can feel confident that they are making the decision that is best for them and their family. If you have any questions about surrogacy, please feel free to contact us. Or, if you feel ready to begin the surrogacy journey, we warmly invite you to take the first step and complete a surrogate application.