Creating a new life isn’t easy for everybody. The fertility issues that come with conception for so many couples are more than difficult: they’re devastating. If you are having trouble conceiving, consider seeking a surrogate mother. West Coast Women’s Reproductive Center, conveniently located in Sherman Oaks, CA, can guide you through the surrogacy process and help you achieve your dreams.
Why Use a Surrogate Mother?
There are many reasons why a family may choose to use surrogacy on their pregnancy journey. Each pregnancy journey is valid, and surrogacy is simply another way to help couples create the family they want.
One of the most common reasons parents opt to create their family through surrogacy is infertility. There are many reasons for infertility, such as when a woman has lost her uterus after having a hysterectomy. Other issues that cause infertility include a man’s low sperm count, a urethral stricture, endometriosis, or pelvic inflammatory disease.
These are just a few of the possible causes of infertility. In some cases, couples may be trying to conceive already knowing that they will struggle with infertility, while other couples will not realize they have infertility issues until going to a doctor after being unsuccessful conceiving.
Individuals who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community may experience issues when trying to conceive. Often times, two men will opt to get pregnant via surrogacy. Although there are other ways for lesbians to create a family, neither of them may be interested in physically carrying the baby to term. Additionally, for couples where one or both partners are transgender there can be additional issues becoming pregnant. Couples that include an intersex individual may also have a difficult time conceiving.
Being in a couple isn’t always a precursor to having a baby. Plenty of single individuals choose to use surrogacy as a way to independently expand their family. Although single women can opt to use a sperm donor and carry the baby themselves, they may also choose a surrogate if they have fertility issues that keep them from carrying the baby to term. Regardless of their fertility status, single men will need to use surrogacy to bring their baby to life.
Many, if not most, prescription medications cannot be taken during pregnancy. It’s a nice idea to think a woman may be able to simply stop taking her medications for the nine months that she is pregnant, but this isn’t realistic. For many people dealing with the day-to-day realities of chronic medical conditions, simply stopping the medication that helps them get through life isn’t an option.
Age is a huge factor in one’s ability to conceive and carry a child to term. While women can still get pregnant after the age of forty, their likelihood of conception drops dramatically. With our expected lifespan having extended significantly in the last several decades, people are having children later and later in life. While this isn’t an issue for a man, it has an impact on the women’s ability to conceive.
After the age of forty, some women will be able to get pregnant without any fertility treatments, while others will need treatments in order to conceive. However, most women after this age will require help from a surrogate to conceive and safely carry their child to term.
Pregnancy and birth can be a wonderfully beautiful experience for some women, while others may have experienced physical and emotional trauma during past pregnancies and births. Some women may physically carry and birth their first child, want to expand their families, but find themselves unwilling to go through the experience again. It’s also possible that others are physically unable to conceive or birth a child after a physical trauma that occurred during a previous pregnancy or birth.
Inability to Carry to Term
Many women are able to conceive and carry a child but find it hard to carry to term. Conception may happen with relative ease, even frequently, but the pregnancy may end each time as the fetus cannot develop past a certain point. Sometimes, issues that make it difficult for women to carry to term are treatable, but other times they are not and women may opt to use a surrogate to carry their child full-term.
The Process of Surrogacy
Using a surrogate mother is an exciting and beautiful way to grow your family. To help the process feel less overwhelming, it’s important that you know what to expect. While the process can vary somewhat based on your state laws, it follows a general progression.
1. Deciding if Surrogacy Is the Right Choice
Naturally, the first part of this process is determining whether or not surrogacy is the right choice for you and your family. Just like with any major decision, it’s important that couples and individuals considering this option are thoroughly educated on the matter. Make sure you have read and understand the laws surrounding surrogacy.
If you can, speak with surrogacy professionals, like the professionals at West Coast Women’s Reproductive Center, to gain the best understanding of what you should expect. Make sure that you are fully aware of both the financial and emotional investment required to commit to surrogacy. Having a person who is not a part of your immediate family carry your child can lead to complicated emotions, and it’s important that you are prepared for the future.
2. Preparing for Surrogacy
Once you have decided that surrogacy is the right choice for you and your family, you need to determine the goals of your surrogacy and the type of surrogacy professional that you want to work with.
Traditional vs Gestational
First, you need to determine which type of surrogacy you are going to use. There is traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy. With traditional surrogacy, the surrogate is also the biological mother of the baby. Her egg is fertilized using sperm from either the intended father or a donor using intrauterine insemination. With gestational surrogacy, the child is not related to the surrogate. Rather, the intended mother and father use their biological donations to create an embryo using in vitro fertilization. After it is fertilized, the embryo is implanted in the surrogate to grow.
Agency vs Attorney
There are two types of surrogacy professionals who can help you through your journey: a surrogacy agency and a surrogacy attorney. A surrogacy agency can be used to help you with many surrogacy services, such as surrogate matching, screening, case management, support, counseling, and legal matters. A surrogacy attorney may be included at your surrogacy agency, but if not you may need to find one separately. While you do not need to have a surrogacy agency to move through the process, you do need a surrogacy attorney to complete all the legal work entailed.
When making your plan for completing your surrogacy journey, you need to make an outline of your preferences and goals. Your plan should include whether you plan to use gestational or traditional surrogacy and whether or not you will need donor sperm or eggs. Include whether you know someone who would be willing to act as a surrogate or whether you need matching services.
Note whether you want to use a surrogacy agency to help you through the process, and if so, which one you plan on using. Include your overall goals for surrogacy beyond the actual creation of a child.
3. Finding a Match
One of the most exciting parts of the surrogacy process is finding the right surrogate mother. If you have already found the right opportunity, you might only need to work with a surrogacy lawyer to solidify your plans. However, most parents have to use the matching services of a surrogacy agency in order to find the right individual to act as a surrogate.
When you use matching services, the surrogacy agency will create a profile to show possible surrogate mothers who are also looking for a surrogacy opportunity. Once the agency finds a prospective mother and family that may be a good match based on similar profiles, they will provide the prospective matches with information on the other so they can agree if the match is a good fit.
If both parties are interested in exploring the possibility of moving forward with the surrogacy, they may get to know each other better by spending time together or connecting on the phone or through email before continuing with a legal contract.
4. Taking Care of Legal Matters
Once both the prospective parents and the surrogate have decided to move forward, it’s time to solidify a legal contract. Before drawing up a draft of a contract, your lawyer will discuss with you all of your legal rights as well as the possible risks of the process and the compensation that you and your surrogate to agreed to.
Once a contract has been drafted, each party will have their own lawyer review the contract with them to determine if they agree to the terms. Once the contracts have been signed, it’s time for fertilization and pregnancy.
You will need your lawyer again after the fertilization. After the first trimester of pregnancy, your lawyer will work with you on a pre-birth order. A pre-birth order establishes you and your partner as the legal parents of your child. This allows you to make medical decisions for the baby as well as include your names on the birth certificate.
5. Fertilizing and Transferring the Embryo
Once the contracts have been signed, it’s time to get started. Depending on whether you are pursuing traditional or gestational surrogacy, the medical process differs.
If having a gestational pregnancy, the intended mother or the egg donor will be given hormones and medication to help her develop eggs, and she will undergo an egg retrieval procedure. At the same time, the surrogate will undergo fertility treatments that will continue throughout the pregnancy. The eggs will be fertilized in the laboratory, and the fertilized embryo will then be transferred to the surrogate.
Once a healthy pregnancy has been confirmed, the surrogate will begin receiving payments for the base compensation and monthly allowance that was agreed upon in the contract.
6. Welcoming the Baby
The final chapter of a successful surrogacy is welcoming a new baby into the family. It’s a life-changing experience for the surrogate and new parents alike. Most of the time, the parents join the surrogate at the hospital to be involved in the experience.
Once the baby is born, everyone can return home to their new lives. The surrogate and the parents will be connected forever through this life that was created. Some parents choose to maintain a relationship with the surrogate throughout the child’s life. If you choose to do this, your surrogacy agency may be able to facilitate this continued relationship and provide other necessary supports after the surrogacy is over.
Build Your Family
Welcoming a new baby into the family is a life-changing experience, and using a surrogate mother doesn’t change that. If you’re considering using surrogacy to expand your family, know that this journey is not any less valid than a typical motherhood journey. Using surrogacy only adds to the love and care that your child will be surrounded by in their first moments on this earth.
For more information about surrogacy and how it can help you create the family you want, call us today at West Coast Women’s Reproductive Center, located in Sherman Oaks, CA.