Becoming a gestational surrogate is an incredibly generous undertaking, even when taking into account that there is a financial reward for doing so. After all, surrogates dedicate on average 14 months of their lives to help others accomplish the dream of parenthood. For many women, this is an incredibly rewarding experience.
But before becoming a surrogate, it’s essential to understand the different expectations you decide to apply. After all, you’ll want to know what your responsibilities are and what kind of experience you’ll have before committing. With that in mind, the following is a guide that will cover what you can expect as a gestational surrogate.
What Is Surrogate Pregnancy?
Unfortunately, pregnancy isn’t something that everyone can experience. Some women are unable to sustain a pregnancy, whether it’s due to medical complications, injury or infertility. Surrogate pregnancy is the process of a surrogate (another woman) carrying and giving birth to a baby for another couple or individual. Sometimes, the surrogate may know the intended parents, such as a friend or relative. But in many cases, the surrogate is a complete stranger to them.
When someone chooses to become a gestational surrogate, they agree to carry someone else’s baby in their womb until birth. It works by implanting the intended parent’s embryo, which was created by in vitro fertilization (IVF) at a fertility clinic meaning the surrogate does not use her own egg or other biological material for the embryo. To be clear, in such an arrangement, the surrogate does not have a genetic connection to the baby they carry and will have no parental rights nor legal responsibility for the child after birth.
Why Gestational Surrogacy Matters
First, it helps to know the difference between traditional and gestational surrogacy. Traditional surrogacy is when the surrogate uses her own egg to conceive a baby for another couple or individual. Gestational surrogacy is when the surrogate only carries the baby and has no genetic connection to the child(dren) carried.
Gestational surrogacy matters because it gives couples and individuals unable to conceive or carry a baby the opportunity to become parents to a genetically related child.
Lastly, gestational surrogacy gives potential surrogate mothers the chance to help create a family for someone else while earning a substantial financial reward for their time and effort.
Compensation Vs. Compassion: Which Is The Right Motive?
It is crucial to understand that being a gestational surrogate is often a highly emotional journey. It’s natural to feel some apprehension about carrying someone else’s baby in your womb, but it’s essential to remember why you decided to become a surrogate in the first place.
Many surrogates are motivated by the desire to help someone else create a family. This compassion and selflessness can be incredibly rewarding, both financially and emotionally. And there is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to be financially compensated, you mustn’t be doing it solely for financial reasons. If this is the case, you likely won’t have a rewarding experience — and in fact, money alone is rarely enough inspiration to make the endeavor an entire undertaking.
The bottom line is that gestational surrogacy should be a thoughtful and informed decision, not an impulsive one or one based solely on finances. Don’t make the decision lightly. Consider all the consequences before embarking on this journey.
5 Important Expectations For Surrogate Pregnancies
If you’re thinking about becoming a surrogate, then you must understand what the process will entail and what the expectations will be. As such, you should consider the following factors before committing to a surrogacy journey.
1. Legal Protections
The legal aspects of surrogate pregnancy are complex and require the assistance of an experienced attorney. This can help ensure that the surrogacy arrangement is legally binding and that all parties are protected. In addition, a written contract must be in place to protect both parties. This contract should clearly outline all expectations and responsibilities of the surrogate and intended parents, as well as any financial compensation that will be provided to the surrogate.
In addition to working with a lawyer, it is also important to work with a surrogacy program. A surrogacy program is designed to provide resources, support, and guidance throughout the entire process. A reputable program will ensure that all legal and medical protocols are followed.
Finally, it’s important to note that surrogacy is only partially legal in some states. For example, compensated surrogacy contracts are illegal in Louisiana, Michigan, and Nebraska. Things can get a little more tricky in states like Arizona and Indiana, where surrogacy is practiced, but surrogacy contracts are void and unenforceable, which means you won’t be legally protected as a surrogate. So be sure to check the laws in your state before proceeding with a surrogacy journey. Even if you have a contract, these states won’t recognize it.
That being said, when it comes to the legal process, it’s essential that you know the following:
Know Your Legal Rights As A Surrogate
As a surrogate, you’ll want to know your rights throughout the surrogacy process. These rights will also vary from state to state, which is why it’s crucial to have an attorney. For example, you’ll have more rights as a surrogate in states like New York and New Jersey than in states like Arizona or Indiana. The rights you’ll want to know about include your right to:
- Receive fair and legal compensation for your services
- Have autonomy over the medical decisions you make during the pregnancy
- Receive all necessary medical care
- Have your medical and legal expenses covered
- Choose whether or not to terminate the pregnancy if there is a medical risk to you or the baby
- Have your legal rights protected
Know The Intricacies Of Your Surrogacy Contract
Like any legally binding contract, it is essential to read and fully understand the terms of your surrogacy contract. An attorney should be able to review the agreement with you and provide guidance on any unclear points. As a surrogate, you should know exactly what you are agreeing to before signing the contract.
Your contract should include all expectations and responsibilities of both parties, including any financial compensation you will receive. It should also outline the medical, legal, and personal costs associated with the surrogacy journey and who will cover them. Finally, understand that the contract will make clear that the intended parents will be the legal guardians of any children born through your surrogacy journey. By signing it, you give up any parental rights to the child.
2. Health Care For Gestational Surrogates
Health care is a critical component of the surrogacy process. As a gestational surrogate, you need to understand the expectations and responsibilities when it comes to your healthcare. After all, you will be carrying the baby for nine months and need to maintain good health during that time.
Fortunately, reputable surrogacy programs and intended parents will cover all medical costs associated with the pregnancy as part of the agreement. This includes routine prenatal care, the implantation process, routine checkups and medical tests, the delivery, aftercare, and any additional medical tests or treatments that may be necessary during the pregnancy. With that in mind, the following are some of the basic healthcare expectations for gestational surrogates:
Who Should Be On Your Health Care Team
Your program will provide you with a surrogacy coordinator who will help advise you and guide you throughout the entire surrogacy process. Essentially, they will be your point of contact, which means they will also help manage the many people involved in the process. Your healthcare team should include the following:
- Fertility Experts: This could include your fertility doctor, reproductive endocrinologist, or any other specialists you may need to consult during surrogacy. The fertility expert will be the person responsible for the IVF procedure and the implantation of the embryo.
- Genetic Counselors: Genetic counselors will conduct pre-screening tests to ensure that you have no genetic conditions that could be passed on to the baby. In general, they will assess the baby’s risk of being born with a genetic disorder and determine if any additional testing is necessary.
- Mental Health Professionals: It’s important to have a mental health professional on your team who can help you with any emotional or psychological issues that may arise during the process. They can provide you with counseling and support throughout the surrogacy journey.
- Obstetricians/Midwives/Doulas: Obstetricians, midwives, and doulas provide medical care during pregnancy. They will monitor your health and update you on any advancements throughout the pregnancy. They will also offer support and guidance as needed should any complications arise.
Procedures To Expect
If you decide to be a gestational surrogate, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the procedures you must go through. The two primary procedures include:
- Embryo Transfers: If the intended parents are using a donor egg or sperm, they will need to go through an additional process called embryo transfer. This is when the donor egg or sperm is combined with the intended parents’ genetic material in a laboratory setting, creating an embryo that will then be implanted into your uterus.
- Regular Appointments And Check-Ups: Throughout the pregnancy, you will have regular appointments and check-ups with your obstetrician. They will monitor your health and make sure that the baby is healthy and growing as expected. They will also monitor your progress and make sure that any potential issues are addressed quickly.
H2: 3. Emotional And Social Impact Of A Surrogate Pregnancy
It’s essential to understand surrogacy’s emotional and social impact on a relationship before embarking on such an incredible journey. The decision to be a gestational surrogate is a huge undertaking, and it’s only possible with the full support of your partner.
Your partner will be there to help you make tough decisions, and provide emotional support and practical assistance throughout the process. They’ll also have to become responsible for more than their share of day-to-day responsibilities, from housework to childcare. As such, it’s nearly impossible to become a gestational surrogate without the full buy-in of your partner.
As long as everyone is fully educated on the process, all agree to the surrogacy arrangement, and all parties understand their individual roles, it can be a rewarding experience for everyone. Remember that proper communication and realistic expectations are crucial for avoiding potential disagreements or misunderstandings.
With that said, the following are a few tips to ensuring a positive emotional experience as a surrogate for both you and your partner:
Getting Support From Family And Friends
You’ll need a strong support system for you and your partner during this time. Reach out to family, friends, and professionals who can provide emotional and practical support throughout the process. Having someone to speak to can make a huge difference in managing your stress. Also, keep your partner in the loop on any updates and changes.
Developing Greater Compassion In Surrogate Pregnancy
The experience of becoming a gestational surrogate can also be an opportunity to gain greater insight into how you view pregnancy and childbirth. Surrogacy requires significant emotional strength, patience, and commitment. This can be an excellent opportunity to become more compassionate towards yourself and other expecting mothers.
Handling The Risks And “What-Ifs”
Nobody wants to consider the potential negative outcomes of a surrogate pregnancy, but it is vital to be aware of the risks and take proper precautions. Your surrogacy coordinator and program manager will go through all of the potential “what-ifs” with you so that you’re fully educated on the risks involved. This is also why it’s essential to have an attorney as they will be able to go through the legal ramifications of a surrogacy arrangement should these “what-ifs” occur. Remember that you and your partner should be fully aware of the potential risks before committing to a surrogacy arrangement.
Finding A Gestational Surrogacy Support Group
Joining a gestational surrogacy support group can be very beneficial in preparing you and your partner mentally and emotionally, as well as finding a community of people who can relate to your experience. Support groups typically include surrogates and their partners, allowing for meaningful conversations about the process. In addition, reputable surrogacy programs (including ours) often provide their own support groups that you can join.
4. Time Commitment
Being a surrogate is a full-time responsibility that requires you to be fully committed. During this time, you will need to attend numerous medical appointments, including blood tests and ultrasounds, as well as attending counseling sessions. In addition, you’ll need to make lifestyle changes to ensure that both you and the baby will be as healthy as possible once you give.
Finally, even though healthy pregnancies last nine months, most surrogacy engagements take at least 18 months from start to finish. This accounts for all of the pre-screenings and aftercare involved with surrogacy.
5. Other Expenses
Although the intended parents will be responsible for covering your medical costs, there are other expenses that you may incur as a surrogate. You should be aware of these expenses and whether or not you’ll be responsible for them. Whether they will be covered by the program or the intended parents will depend on what’s outlined in the surrogacy contract. Sometimes these expenses are covered, and sometimes they are not. Keeping this in mind, the following are a few of the additional surrogacy-related expenses:
Generally, if any air travel is required for the medical workup and embryo transfer procedure, you can expect that the intended parents will reimburse you for your costs. However, depending on your agreement, the costs of traveling to your doctor for basic checkups, your support group meetings, or any other appointment or errand related to your surrogacy may or may not be covered.
Clothes And Supplies
During your pregnancy, you may need to purchase maternity clothes and other items such as prenatal vitamins, specialty lotions, or additional medical equipment. Unfortunately, the intended parents or the surrogacy program you’re working with may not always cover these items.
The Benefits Of Working With Surrogacy Experts
When working with a gestational surrogacy program like Kindbody, you can expect the highest level of support and care throughout your journey. We are here to ensure that you have the best possible experience and provide confidential counseling services, as well as access to a network of trusted experts. In addition, our staff and our network of experts are committed to helping you and your partner understand the process and providing resources throughout your entire journey.
We also provide ongoing support and guidance to help you make decisions in the best interest of both you and the baby.
Give The Gift Of Life. Be Prepared For Your Pregnancy.
At KindEOS, we believe every surrogate should be given the gift of an amazing and memorable pregnancy experience. We believe in developing strong relationships with our gestational surrogates and creating an environment of trust, honesty, and understanding. That’s why we go the extra mile to ensure you have all the tools you need to take on this incredible journey.
We understand this is a life-changing decision, and we strive to make the process as easy and seamless as possible. We are here to provide you with the right kind of support, resources, and guidance to ensure that your surrogate pregnancy journey is as beautiful and rewarding as possible.
Take the guesswork out of surrogate pregnancy. Learn more about becoming a gestational surrogate with Kindbody today!