The Surrogate Mother Process: Step by Step Guide to being a Gestational Surrogate
Becoming a surrogate is a big deal. It’s an enriching, emotional, and rewarding experience.
Not surprisingly, many are overwhelmed by the complexities of the process when they begin to learn what it takes to be a surrogate mother.
That said, with the right knowledge and team helping you throughout the journey, you’ll clearly understand what to expect throughout the surrogate mother process and experience one of the most beautiful opportunities of your life.
This overview of the surrogate mother process serves as a resource and provides a detailed picture of what to expect throughout the surrogate mother process.
Before Embarking on the Surrogacy Process
The first official step of the surrogate process is the surrogate application. That said, any prospective surrogate must be educated and decide if being a gestational carrier is genuinely desired and compatible with their life. To do this, it is essential to weigh the pros, cons, risks, and benefits of being a surrogate.
As with all pregnancies, there are risks of pregnancy, so you need to ensure it’s worth those risks. Ultimately, those who go on to be surrogates determine that giving another family a chance to be parents and the compensation they receive is worth the risk. And, as long as you’re fit for pregnancy, surrogacy is an amazing and life-changing experience, and despite the logistical complexities the process can entail, is worth it.
In addition to determining if surrogacy is a worthwhile process, you’ll want to know if you meet the basic requirements of surrogacy before spending time on the application.
Surrogate Requirements Include:
- Be a US citizen with valid government identification
- Live in a surrogate-friendly state (You can NOT live in Nebraska, Louisiana, or Michigan)
- Be between the age of 23-41
- Have a proven birth record (have given birth with no major complications in pregnancy or childbirth)
- Be in good general health
- Have no criminal record
- Have no history of illicit drug or alcohol abuse
- No current smoking or heavy drinking
- Not currently on Section 8 housing
Once you’ve determined surrogacy is something you want to pursue and you meet the basic requirements, it’s time to learn more about the surrogate process and get started on the next steps.
Step 1 of the Surrogate Mother Process: The Application
Your first official step in becoming a gestational surrogate is completing the primary surrogate application. Upon your submission, we will review your eligibility and invite you to submit more information about yourself, including more details about your health and pregnancy history.
Step 2: Surrogacy Education & Consent Requests
After reviewing your detailed application and determining you meet all the basic requirements of becoming a surrogate mother, we will discuss the details of our process and provide you with information and resources to prepare you for what lies ahead—emotionally, medically, and legally.
We will also send you documents for review and signature, including our Agency Consent, Compensation Package, and Medical Records Release. You will also be required to obtain and submit a medical clearance for pregnancy from your OBGYN. We must receive these documents back in order to continue with the process.
After reviewing all of your medical records and confirming that you are fit for pregnancy, we will begin the next phase of the surrogacy journey.
Step 3: Intended Parent Profile Review & Matching
The matching process begins with our matching team determining potential matching options based on various factors. Some of the factors we look at include the state in which you and your intended parents reside, whether you have insurance, along with various matching preferences defined by both you and the intended parents.
Once a potential match is found, redacted profiles (profiles with no identifying information) of the intended parents and surrogates will be exchanged. Should both parties express an interest in working together, we organize a video call for parties to meet.
After the match meeting and both parties give the final approval stating they would like to work together, the final evaluation and eligibility screening takes place.
Step 4: Final Eligibility Screening
After the match, you will go through a final three-pronged eligibility screening which includes medical screening by the fertility clinic, a background check, and a home study by a social worker. This often requires you to travel out of state for a day or two in order to be evaluated by the fertility clinic.
Step 5: Gestational Carrier Agreement
Once the match is successful, we will help you find an independent attorney experienced in reproductive law to represent you as you and the intended parents enter into a contract called the Gestational Carrier Agreement, sometimes also referred to as Gestational Surrogacy Agreement.
The contract details each party’s rights, obligations, intentions, and expectations in connection with their arrangement.
The contract addresses topics including the location of delivery, future contact between the parties, parental rights, custody rights, control over medical decisions during the pregnancy, intended parents’ presence during delivery, payment of medical bills, liability for medical complications, health and life insurance, and more. Financial considerations, including the carrier’s compensation and reimbursements, including lost wages, child care, legal fees, maternity clothes, and more, are also addressed in the gestational carrier agreement.
Your attorney will be paid for by the intended parents.
Step 6: Embryo Transfer
You will begin taking medication and then proceed with the embryo transfer. The embryo transfer is a doctor’s office “procedure” that involves inserting a thin catheter through your cervix and depositing the intended parent’s embryo into your uterus. Generally speaking, embryo transfer is not painful, and the entire process only lasts a minute or two.
Right after the embryo transfer procedure takes place, you are considered at least two weeks pregnant.
Step 7: Pregnancy Confirmation
Approximately ten days after the embryo transfer, you will undergo a blood test to confirm a pregnancy. Once confirmed, and approximately four weeks after the transfer, you will have your first ultrasound and confirm the baby’s heartbeat. You will begin receiving compensation for the pregnancy distribution based on the terms of your contract.
You will begin receiving compensation for the pregnancy distribution based on the terms of your contract, which typically starts at time of ultrasound heartbeat confirmation.
Step 8: Pregnancy
Enjoy your pregnancy! Surrogate Steps will continue to guide you throughout your pregnancy to ensure that you are receiving the support you need. Depending on the terms of your Gestational Carrier Agreement and your comfort level, the intended parents may accompany you to doctor visits and ultrasound appointments.
Step 9: The Delivery
This is the joyous moment everyone has been waiting for. You are giving an amazing gift to the intended parents—one that will change their lives forever. They will spend time in the hospital with you, getting to know their new child.
Depending on the details of the Gestational Carrier Agreement and on your comfort level, the following may also occur at this time:
- You will meet and spend time with the baby.
You can introduce the baby to your own family.
Based on requests and the comfort level of all parties, you may pump breast milk so the Intended Parents can feed their baby breast milk.
Once the baby is ready to be discharged, the intended parents will take the baby to his or her new home, and you will receive your final compensation.
The Bottom Line About the Surrogate Mother Process
The journey for every surrogate mother may differ for every carrier due to the unique circumstances and events that arise along the way, but no matter what, each personr goes through the same basic process as a surrogate mother.
By now, you should have a sound understanding of the surrogate process., but to recap, each gestational carrier should go through the same general steps:
- Preliminary Step: Research to decide if you meet the requirements to be a surrogate mother and to see if its something you truly want to do
- Step 1: Surrogate Application
- Step 2: Surrogacy Education & Consent Requests
- Step 3: Intended Parent Profile Review & Matching
- Step 4: Final Eligibility Screening
- Step 5: Gestational Carrier Agreement
- Step 6: Embryo Transfer
- Step 7: Pregnancy Confirmation
- Step 8: Pregnancy
- Step 9: The Delivery
If you now feel ready to apply to become a surrogate, we encourage you to do so here, and if you have some additional questions before beginning your journey, feel free to contact us for more information.