What to Consider When Searching for a Surrogate
Surrogacy is a complex process that involves several critical decisions. Paying attention to key details will help you make the best choice about this special person who will help you complete your journey to becoming a parent.
Why choose surrogacy?
There are several reasons why people choose to have a baby through a surrogate or gestational carrier. Women may opt for surrogacy if they have no ovaries or uterus, or cannot carry a pregnancy to term because of their age or health concerns. Same-sex couples or singles may also choose surrogacy to grow their families.
Between 1999 and 2013, about 2 percent (30,927) of all assisted reproductive technology (ART) cycles used a gestational carrier, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although newer information has yet to be released, it's possible the use of gestational carriers will continue to increase as family structures diversify and the average age of parenthood increases.
What is surrogacy?
There are two types of surrogacy: traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy. In traditional surrogacy, a surrogate is artificially inseminated with the sperm of the intended father or a donor. As a result, the surrogate's egg is fertilized, providing a genetic link to the child.
In gestational surrogacy, the surrogate is not genetically related to the baby. The baby is conceived using in vitro fertilization (IVF) with the egg and sperm of the parents or donors. The embryo is transferred into the surrogate, who then carries out the pregnancy and gives birth to the baby. Gestational surrogacy is more common than traditional surrogacy in the United States.
Where can you find a surrogate?
Choosing a surrogate and developing a pregnancy plan can be challenging financially, logistically and emotionally. That's why many prospective parents work with an agency to get professional guidance throughout the process and utilize the agency's resources to find a surrogate to fit their needs.
To help parents find the right match, agencies handle all aspects of vetting a prospective surrogate, from medical screenings to background checks. The agency also acts as a mediator to coordinate payment and medical care so parents and surrogates can focus on building a positive relationship.
Individuals who don't use an agency may find surrogates through online listings, social media, fertility clinics or surrogacy attorneys. A surrogacy clinic can conduct screenings, but the parents are left to arrange payments, produce contract agreements and collaborate on a pregnancy plan directly with the gestational carrier. Avoid potential scams by seeking legal advice from a lawyer who specializes in reproductive rights. They can help you set parameters that protect both parties in the surrogacy arrangement.
What to look for in a surrogate
Whether you use an agency or not, the surrogate you select will become an integral part of your family plan. To ensure that pregnancy is possible, the prospective parent(s) must consider the surrogate's health status. Factors such as an unhealthy body mass index (BMI) or prior pregnancy complications can increase the risk of further issues.
Lifestyle is another essential component of fertility. Some parents prefer a surrogate who eats a certain way, such as vegan or organic, and may be willing to cover food costs. Since some states prohibit traditional surrogacy, location is another crucial consideration. Depending on how engaged the parents want to be with medical appointments during pregnancy milestones, finding a surrogate nearby might be a priority.
Choosing to use a surrogate can be overwhelming, but expanding your family through the use of a third party can be a great option.