The decision to use a surrogate to have a child can be overwhelming and filled with mental, emotional, and financial worries. As a Surrogacy and Assisted Reproduction attorney and advocate who personally used a surrogate to have her son, I know this firsthand.
Below are some tips to know before beginning if you are considering surrogacy.
Research, research, research!
Whether you’re considering surrogacy after years of infertility, you have a medical diagnosis preventing you from carrying a child, or you are part of a same-sex couple, surrogacy can feel like another world of medical and legal terms. A basic understanding of what you’re getting into will be helpful.
Check out the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, RESOLVE: The National Fertility Association, as well as the personal blogs and social media posts by others who have gone through surrogacy. For example, parents using a surrogate are called “Intended Parents” and surrogates are often called “Gestational Carriers.”
Consult with a lawyer who focuses on Surrogacy and Assisted Reproduction
A lawyer who practices in surrogacy and assisted reproduction can help you understand what you’ll need to consider for your specific situation.
There are different legal considerations and implications based upon such factors as the state where the baby will be born, your marital status, and whether you’re using donor eggs or sperm, and it’s important to be aware of what you’ll need for your specific situation before you get too far along in the process.
Consider the emotional impact associated with using a surrogate
How will you feel about having someone else carry and deliver your child? This journey is not for the faint of heart and requires emotional strength and resiliency. There are wonderful mental health counselors specializing in infertility who can help you navigate your surrogacy journey.
Remember that there are ways to bond with your surrogate and your baby throughout the pregnancy and to feel connected in the process, such as attending doctor’s appointments and scans, having your surrogate use headphones on her belly with your voice recorded so baby can hear you even when you’re not there, or getting a stuffed animal with a recording of your baby’s heartbeat.
It is important not to focus on the parts of pregnancy you might be missing out on, but to instead remember what you’re gaining – a lifetime of memories with your child once they’re born!
Find your surrogate!
Finding a surrogate can be the most difficult step. Determine whether you’re going to have someone you know be your surrogate, or whether you’ll utilize an agency or matching program to find one.
There are numerous surrogacy agencies across the country that vet and match surrogates and intended parents and manage the entire surrogacy journey. Other intended parents are able to find a friend or family member to act as their surrogate, and still others turn to social media sites to post that they’re looking for a surrogate.
Also, your physician or clinic likely has certain requirements about who can be a surrogate, so remember to check with them.
Save your pennies
Simply put, surrogacy is expensive. Consider the steps you’ll need to take to cover things like: creation of embryos, IVF clinic fees, legal fees, surrogate compensation, health insurance, travel (if necessary), and hospital bills.
Fortunately, many companies are beginning to provide some coverage or benefits for infertility or surrogacy!
Consider what type of relationship you would like to have with your surrogate
Do you want to talk to your surrogate daily, or only after doctor’s appointments? Do you want to be present in the delivery room? How frequently do you want contact with the surrogate after the birth?
Asking yourself these and more questions before you begin the journey can help ensure you match with the right surrogate for you.
Get Rid of Any Timing Expectations!
The surrogacy experience can and likely will take longer than you think it will. Many journeys take up to two (2) years from the time you match with a surrogate until your baby is born (mine was 20 months!).
In the modern era, loving families are created in many new ways using surrogacy and assisted reproduction technologies. When considering surrogacy, it’s important to have an advocate on your side who has both personal experience with this journey and understands the legal nuances and challenges you’ll face.