The practice of surrogacy is becoming increasingly common in the United States. In fact, 18,400 children were born from surrogate pregnancies between 1999 and 2013. Although surrogacy is an attractive option for people who can’t have children on their own, the process still remains a mystery to many. Today, Walking Through Life as Women discusses what you need to know about surrogacy and how you can get involved as an intended parent, egg donor, or surrogate.
What Exactly is Surrogacy?
Surrogacy is an agreement in which a woman carries and delivers a baby for another person who will become the child’s parent. There are several ways that surrogacy can work. In traditional surrogacy, the egg of the surrogate mother is fertilized by a donor or the intended father. In gestational surrogacy, there are two options. The first is when the egg and sperm of the intended parents are implanted in a surrogate. The second is to have a donor egg fertilized in a lab and transferred to the uterus of the surrogate mother.
Gestational surrogacies are less complicated — and the most common — because the surrogate is not related to the child. However, finding a separate egg donor can tack on additional expenses. The cost of using an egg donor includes legal fees, complications insurance, and in-vitro fertilization. There are also costs for screening and paying the egg donor. It’s important to keep these costs in mind when making your surrogate decisions.
Independent Surrogacy Versus Agencies
There are two main ways to get involved in surrogacy — independently or through an agency. Both options have their pros and cons. With an independent surrogacy, the intended parent seeks out someone to carry a baby for them. This person is often a friend or family member. While independent surrogacies are less expensive and more flexible, surrogacy agencies offer several safeguards for everyone involved and provide a clear timeframe for the process. Agencies also provide support and guidance, so parents have less to worry about. In the end, it’s up to the intended parents to choose the arrangement they prefer.
Is Surrogacy Legal?
Surrogacy laws vary from state to state. Some states, like California and Connecticut, have explicit laws allowing many types of surrogacy arrangements while others outright ban the practice. Make sure you’re clear on your state laws before getting involved — learn more about the surrogacy laws in different states from Babygest.
Finding a Surrogate Mother
People who want to have a child through surrogacy will have to find a surrogate mother. If you choose to go through an agency, a specialist will help you find the right match. These women receive medical and psychological screenings and are usually required to meet certain criteria. It’s recommended that surrogates are in good health, below a certain age, and have gone through a successful full-term pregnancy in the past. Intended parents will also be screened by the agency.
If you choose to go the independent route, you can find surrogates by talking to friends and family, asking around at your clinic, and posting on social media. Keep in mind that you will have to screen the surrogate, hire a lawyer to take care of the legal work, and seek out a fertility clinic for the medical procedure.
Getting Involved as a Surrogate or Egg Donor
Many women want to help out hopeful parents by becoming a surrogate or egg donor. While some become surrogates after intended parents approach them with the idea, others decide to join a surrogate agency to be matched with intended parents. Before you jump in, ask yourself a few questions to ensure the experience is right for you. Good health, a strong support network, and financial stability are important. If you want to be a surrogate, talk to a surrogacy professional about your goals and options. To become an egg donor, you can seek out an agency or clinic, or donate your eggs directly to someone you know.
Planning for Your Baby
Once you’ve made the decision to use a surrogate, you’ll need to start preparing your home for your baby’s arrival. Babyproofing includes securing heavy objects in the home, covering outlets, buying gates for your stairs, using guards on sharp corners, and much more. When purchasing a crib, make sure it’s a well-constructed model and that it’s low enough so you can easily reach your baby. During this time, it’s crucial that you don’t neglect self-care. This can involve eating nutritiously, setting up a calming meditation or yoga space in your home, or just purchasing a few comfortable articles of clothing like a loose-fitting T-shirt or pair of leggings.
Surrogacy is providing hope to many people who are unable to have children on their own, such as same-sex couples, people over childbearing age, or those with specific medical conditions. Although surrogacy is still relatively rare, it’s becoming more and more common as a form of assisted reproductive technology. Talk to your doctor if you’re interested in getting involved!
By Elena Stewart
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