HOW DO I BECOME A SURROGATE?
When you become a surrogate, you are making a life-changing decision — not only for the intended parents you are helping but also for yourself. Surrogacy is one of the most amazing gifts you can give to another couple or individual, but it is also a long and sometimes challenging process that requires commitment, strength, and selflessness. This leads many women to wonder: Is this the right path for me? Am I ready to begin the process? How do I become a surrogate mother?
If you are considering surrogacy, this guide will walk you through the screening, medical, and legal requirements to help you decide whether you are ready to begin the surrogacy process.
Screening Requirements for Surrogates
Women looking for information on how to be a surrogate should first understand the initial requirements for prospective surrogate mothers. After contacting Adoption and Surrogacy Choices of Colorado, the first step to becoming a surrogate is to meet our qualifications and pass our screening requirements. This screening process helps protect the health and safety of the surrogate as well as the baby and ensures you are physically and psychologically ready for the surrogacy process.
Surrogate qualifications for becoming a surrogate may include:
- Are between the ages of 21 and 39
- Have had at least one healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy
- Must be actively parenting at least one child
- Are healthy and free of sexually-transmitted diseases
- Do not smoke or take illegal drugs
- Are not alcohol dependent
- Are not currently on public assistance
- Can pass a background check
- MUST LIVE IN THE UNITED STATES
- Be able to travel as needed for appointments
- Have a stable lifestyle and support system
If you meet our qualifications for surrogate mothers, you can proceed with the screening process. The surrogate screening process will often include the following elements:
- An application: The initial application will ask you some general questions about you and your reasons for pursuing surrogacy. After submitting the initial application, you will be contacted by one of our surrogacy specialist, who will gather more detailed information from you.
- Social and medical history information: This will be included with your initial application. In most cases, we will ask you to submit detailed information about you, your family, your health history and even your personality.
- A physical examination: You will be required to meet with a fertility specialist for a physical exam and other lab work to ensure you are healthy enough for surrogacy.
- An in-home assessment: We may meet with you in your home to talk more about your goals and motivations for pursuing surrogacy. This meeting helps our social worker get to know you better and provides you with an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the process.
- Background checks: You will need to consent to standard criminal records and background checks.
- A mental health evaluation: You will meet with a mental health care professional to ensure that you fully understand the emotional impact of surrogacy and to determine that you are psychologically ready for the challenges of surrogate motherhood.
While the screening process may seem laborious, it is important for everyone involved. You can take comfort in knowing that intended parents will also be screened to ensure they too are ready for surrogacy.
Medical Requirements for Surrogates
Because your health is so central to a successful surrogacy, it will be closely monitored throughout the entire surrogacy process, from the time you are screened until the delivery of the baby. As a surrogate, you will be required to undergo several medical tests and procedures and take fertility medications throughout the process.
The medical requirements for surrogates can be thought of in several stages:
- Medical screening: This is part of the screening process. It will involve a physical as well as a variety of laboratory testing. You will be screened for sexually transmitted diseases and other communicable diseases, as well as certain viruses and infections that can affect your fertility. You may need to undergo an ultrasound to determine the health of your uterus, and there is a possibility that you will be screened for drug use. Your spouse or partner will likely also need to be screened for STDs and drug use.
- Fertility treatments: After signing legal contracts with the intended parents, you will need to prepare for surrogate pregnancy with multiple fertility treatments, blood tests, injections and ultrasounds throughout the embryo transfer process (as well as through the beginning of your pregnancy). You will be prescribed several medications, such as birth control pills and other hormones, which will help regulate your cycle and prepare you for in vitro fertilization (IVF).
- Embryo transfer: The intended mother’s (or donor’s) egg will be fertilized in the laboratory using the intended father’s (or donor’s) sperm. After a brief incubation period, it will be time to transfer the fertilized embryo into your uterus for implantation. This procedure is relatively quick and painless and usually does not require medication or anesthesia. You may be required to stay at the fertility clinic for a few hours and rest for a few days after the transfer.
- Prenatal care: You will be required to make routine visits to the fertility clinic to receive regular blood tests and ultrasounds. Once a heartbeat is heard and a healthy pregnancy is confirmed, you may be transferred to your own OB. You will continue to receive prenatal care as you would with any pregnancy, though checkups may be more frequent to ensure the health of the baby.
Throughout these medical processes and your entire pregnancy, you will maintain regular communication with the intended parents. If you are both comfortable, they may want to be present for doctor appointments so they can experience all of the excitement of the pregnancy along with you.
Legal Requirements for Surrogates
One of the most important requirements in any surrogacy arrangement is the legal contract. Every surrogacy agreement is different depending on your circumstances and your relationship with the intended parents. Your specific legal rights and obligations will be outlined in your contract.
Prior to beginning any medical procedures, you and the intended parents must agree to and sign the contract, which will clearly outline all of the legal aspects of the surrogacy, including:
- Possible risks
- Your responsibilities as the surrogate
- Relinquishment of the child
- And more
In most cases, the intended parents’ attorney will draft the contract. You will then review the contract with you own attorney to ensure that all of your requests have been included. Once all necessary revisions have been made and both parties agree to the terms of the contract, you and the intended parents will sign the paperwork and the contract becomes legally binding. At that point, you can begin receiving payments and prepare for the embryo transfer.
Surrogacy laws vary by state and the legal process can be complex, so it is important to work with experienced legal counsel to ensure your rights are protected. It is highly recommended that you obtain your own attorney to represent your interests throughout the process.
Are you ready to become a surrogate?
Want to learn more about the surrogacy process?
Contact a surrogacy professional with Adoption and Surrogacy Choices of Colorado now for free information with no obligation.