Have you always dreamed of having a family but aren’t able to start one on your own? For some people, a surrogate mother may offer the best option for having a child. West Coast Women’s Reproductive Center, a state-of-the-art fertility clinic in Sherman Oaks, California, can guide you through this process and help you start a family. If you’re wondering how to find a surrogate mother, read on.
10 Things to Know Before Getting Started
1. Surrogacy Is Right for Many People
It’s common for people to experience difficulty having children on their own. For patients experiencing a wide variety of health conditions, using a surrogate mother can be the best way to start a family.
Women Who Cannot Carry Pregnancies to Term
It’s common for women to experience difficulties with pregnancy. For instance, some patients lack a uterus because they were born without one or because they have had a hysterectomy. Others may have extensive uterine scarring or uterine fibroids that make it difficult or impossible to have a successful pregnancy. For these women, surrogacy is a wonderful option that offers a safe way to have a child.
Women Who Have Experienced Multiple Unsuccessful Pregnancies
Patients who have experienced repeated pregnancy loss are also good candidates for surrogacy. Similarly, patients who have medical conditions that make pregnancy too high a risk for the mother or baby should consider having a child through surrogacy.
People Who Haven’t Found Success With IVF
Sometimes IVF does not result in a successful pregnancy. Patients who have experienced repeated implantation failures may wish to begin their families through surrogacy.
Homosexual Couples and Individuals
Surrogacy can also be a good choice for gay couples or for men who would like to begin a family on their own.
2. There Are Two Types of Surrogacy
There are two different types of surrogacy: traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy.
In a traditional surrogacy, a surrogate mother’s egg is fertilized with sperm from the intended father or a sperm donor. The surrogate will then carry the child to term. This means she is the biological mother of the child and the gestational carrier. After the child is born, the intended couple or individual will parent the baby. Traditional surrogacy is not commonly used today.
In a gestational surrogacy, the egg comes from the intended mother or an egg donor, not the surrogate mother. The sperm will come either from a sperm donor or the intended father. Together, the egg and sperm are combined to create an embryo, which is then transferred to the surrogate. The surrogate will then carry the pregnancy to term.
Unlike a traditional surrogate, a gestational surrogate is a true carrier. She does not contribute her eggs to the process, and she is not the biological mother of the child. In fact, she is not related to the child at all. Instead, the genetic material comes from the intended parents or from the egg and sperm donors. IVF plays a key role in surrogacy, especially the more modern gestational surrogacy. To begin the process, medical professionals combine the egg and sperm in the IVF lab to create embryos. Next, they implant the embryo into the surrogate so she can carry and give birth to the baby.
3. A Surrogate Mother Should Meet Certain Qualifications
Not every woman can become a surrogate. To ensure the best outcome for your baby and the safety of the surrogate, medical professionals usually recommend that surrogates be under the age of forty. It is also best if the surrogate has already had a successful pregnancy.
4. Finding a Surrogate Is Easier Than You Think
It’s common to wonder what woman would ever want to carry another person’s child. But finding a surrogate is actually much easier than you think. Many women love being pregnant, and they would be happy to help a couple who cannot carry their own child. Further, it’s also common for women to find genuine satisfaction in helping people become parents.
Tell Your Friends and Family That You’re Looking
Once you have made the decision to use a surrogate, tell your friends and family that you’re looking for a woman to help you have a family. Many people are pleasantly surprised when a friend or a family member says, “I love being pregnant, and I’d be happy to carry a child for you!” So don’t be afraid to ask around. The positive response may surprise you!
5. An Agency Can Help You Find a Surrogate
If you cannot find a surrogate on your own, don’t worry! Although some people choose a friend or family member as their surrogate, it’s also very common to use a surrogate agency to find the perfect woman to carry your child.
There are many benefits to working with a surrogate agency during this process. Agencies have long lists of women who love being pregnant and who would be thrilled to carry your child for you. The agencies can connect you to these women. They can also help you screen and interview potential candidates.
Your Agency Will Help You Through the Process
The agency’s work doesn’t end once you have chosen a surrogate. Many agencies will stay by your side during the entire pregnancy and birth. They may handle financial matters and arrange medical appointments. They can also answer your questions and provide you with expert advice and guidance.
The medical professionals at Women’s Reproductive Center have experience working with a wide variety of professional surrogate agencies. We can connect you to these agencies and help you select the best option.
6. Your Surrogate Will Undergo an Extensive Screening Process
You need not worry about the health or background of your surrogate. Before she carries your child, your surrogate mother will go through an extensive screening process to ensure that she is a suitable candidate for surrogacy. Medical professionals will guide you and the surrogate through this process and address your questions.
A Full Medical Examination
A medical professional will get the surrogate’s full medical history with a physical examination and psychological evaluation. The medical professional also will evaluate the surrogate’s uterus, conduct a genetic screening, and perform bloodwork. Finally, the potential surrogate and her partners will be tested for STDs.
7. Each Surrogacy Relationship Is Unique
Not sure how to interact with your surrogate? There is no right or wrong way to interact with your surrogate mother, and couples vary in how frequently they communicate with their surrogate. Some intended parents prefer to communicate frequently and to develop a friendship with the surrogate, while others prefer to be more professional and distant. Either way is fine. Everyone’s needs and feelings are different, so choose the relationship that is best for you.
Share Your Wishes at the Beginning
It’s best to get things started off on the right foot by telling the surrogate your preferences as soon as possible. For instance, if you would prefer to receive weekly updates by email, communicate this request to your surrogate when she begins the pregnancy.
The Relationship Can Continue After Birth
Once your child is born, you may wish to continue your relationship with your surrogate. Some parents enjoy sending updates about their child’s development. They may also involve the surrogate in the child’s life, treating her as an aunt or other extended family member. For other parents, the relationship is complete once the child is born. Again, everyone’s feelings are different, and either way is fine. Just communicate your desire with the surrogate before birth to ensure that everyone has the same expectations.
8. You Can Be Involved During Pregnancy and Birth
It’s common for the intended parents to wonder if they’ll be able to experience those magical pregnancy moments, like seeing the ultrasound, hearing the baby’s heartbeat, and witnessing the birth of their child. Many intended parents play an active role during pregnancy and labor.
During the Pregnancy
Throughout the pregnancy, the intended parents will often receive frequent updates from medical providers about the health of the surrogate and the child. They may also attend medical appointments with the surrogate, allowing them to see the ultrasound and hear the baby’s heartbeat. Many intended parents also receive frequent updates from the surrogate during the entire pregnancy. Depending on their location, they may also meet in person during this time.
Create a Birth Plan With Your Surrogate
Many intended parents create a birth plan with their surrogate before the baby is due. Talking with your surrogate before birth can help ensure that you both have a positive experience during this process. Your birth plan can include songs to play during the birth, the people who will be present during the process of labor and delivery, desired methods of delivery, and any other wishes you may have. You should share this plan with your medical providers prior to birth.
An Active Role During Birth
When it’s time for their child to be born, the intended parents may continue to play an active role. They will often be present during the labor and delivery process and witness the miracle of their child’s birth. After the delivery is complete, the intended parents often begin caring for the child immediately.
9. Adoption and Surrogacy Laws Vary by State and by Country
Adoption and surrogacy laws are not uniform, and there are large differences between different countries. Further, the laws can vary dramatically from state to state within the United States. These laws may affect the surrogate’s compensation, the legal guardianship of your child, and your financial obligations to the surrogate during this process. It is essential that you understand these laws before you select a surrogate.
10. A Reproductive Lawyer Will Protect Your Rights
It’s important to protect your rights and the surrogate’s rights throughout this process. An attorney who has experience in reproductive law can answer your legal questions, explain the legal framework that governs your situation, and draft contracts that the intended parents and the surrogate will sign. These agreements may govern your financial obligations to the surrogate and the surrogate’s obligations throughout the pregnancy.
Don’t Worry if You Don’t Know Where to Find a Lawyer
Not sure where to find an attorney who specializes in reproductive law? Surrogacy agencies and fertility clinics have extensive experience in this area. We know a variety of legal professionals who can help you and can connect you with an attorney who can draft these contracts, answer your questions, and guide you through the legal aspects of this process.
Ready to Get Started?
Are you ready to start your family? A surrogate mother may be your best option for having a child. Contact West Coast Women’s Reproductive Center in Sherman Oaks, California to learn how we help you create the family you deserve.