For many couples, starting a family is the most important thing in their lives. Imagine how frustrating and heartbreaking it is for the small percentage of people that discover they have infertility issues. And what about LGBT couples and individuals that want to become single parents? They go through the same struggles to start a family.
Today there is assisted reproductive technology that’s making parenthood a reality for more people. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the most common treatment, but unfortunately it isn’t always successful. For some people, the only viable solution is using a surrogate mother.
A surrogate is a woman who carries the child of another person. Today, gestational surrogacy is the most common arrangement. This is when the surrogate is not biologically related to the child. Traditional surrogacy involves the surrogate’s own egg being fertilized through artificial insemination.
The Challenges and Rewards of Surrogacy
Surrogacy is a uniquely beautiful experience, but the process can be physically and emotionally tough at times. The staff at Surrogate Alternatives, a surrogacy agency in San Diego, fully understands the joys and challenges because each woman there has been a surrogate at some point. Their experts note that generous compensation packages of up to $50,000 aren’t even the biggest benefit surrogate mothers receive.
The most obvious reward, that makes all of the challenges worth it, is knowing that you’ve helped someone add to their family. You’ve helped bring another life into the world, and that’s an amazing thing. It’s not uncommon for surrogate mothers to stay in touch with the parents they help and become a part of their extended family.
You’ll join a select group of women that have a unique shared experience. At an agency like Surrogate Alternatives you’ll have the opportunity to join discussion groups and retreats with other surrogates. It’s a special bond that will forever tie you together, almost as closely as the parents you are helping.
Free healthcare and life insurance are two other benefits of becoming a surrogate mother. Your health will be carefully monitored with regular doctor visits that would normally cost thousands of dollars.
Of course, being pregnant comes with a number of physical and emotional demands. From morning sickness in the first trimester to hemorrhoids in the third trimester, your body will go through extreme changes. You also have to make a number of lifestyle changes and limit certain activities for the safety of the baby.
Agencies that offer wellness packages with extras like prenatal massage therapy can help provide relief for some of the less glamorous side effects of pregnancy.
Essential Steps in the Surrogacy Process
If you’re interested in becoming a surrogate there are agencies that can help you through the process and pair you with potential parents. It’s a lengthy process, but it will provide a lifetime of joy for the parents and the child you carry.
Typically, hopeful surrogates will need to fill out an introductory application with basic information. Once the agency reviews your information and pre-qualifies you for the program you’ll have to fill out an extensive application. This application will be reviewed by the agency’s IVF specialist, so be prepared to answer a lot of medical questions.
You can learn about the surrogacy process online or request a consultation with an agency. During the consultation, you can learn about the expectations, requirements and expected timelines. You’ll also have the opportunity to ask questions, which is encouraged.
Approval and Partnering
After the consultation, you should be approved for the program and added as an available surrogate. Potential parents will be able to review your basic information and the agency will work to pair you with intended parents. This part of the process can be short or very lengthy. The priority is to make the best match possible for everyone involved.
Once you have been paired with intended parents the screening process will begin. It’s an extremely thorough process that involves medical and psychological screening. During this time you will also be set up with a health insurance policy if you don’t currently have one.
IVF Cycles and Embryo Transfer
After the screening has been completed the real fun starts! You’ll meet with the IVF specialist and map out a calendar of upcoming IVF cycles. A nurse or the specialist will provide detailed instructions on how to take the medication. When the IVF cycle and the embryo transfer are complete the hope is a successful pregnancy. If the transfer wasn’t successful you and the intended parents will need to decide if you want to try again.
If the embryo transfer is successful you’ll continue to take the IVF medications until directed otherwise. Once the IVF medication is completed you’ll begin seeing an OB for regular check ups. You’ll probably also see the intended parents on a regular basis for updates on how the pregnancy is going. Some parents might also want to join you on OB appointments if you’re comfortable with it.
The final stage in the process is the delivery, which is overseen by your OB. By this point, all of the legal paperwork has been handled so there are no legal issues after the baby is born. Some surrogate agencies also offer additional pay for surrogates that agree to provide breast milk for the baby.