What Is A Gestational Surrogate?
A Gestational Surrogate is a dream come true to her Intended Parent/s – but technically, she is so much more than that.
Surrogates are healthy, dedicated women that have common characteristics. Does this sound like you? You have a:
- Big heart
- Healthy uterus
- Experience being pregnant
- Desire to help others
Does this sound like you?
To be more specific – a Gestational Surrogates is a woman who carries a baby for a couple or individual (the Intended Parent/s) who cannot have a baby on their own. The Surrogate does not share any genetics with the baby. This is done with IVF using either the: egg of the Intended Mother or an Egg Donor.
At The Fertility Agency, we only work with Intended Parents who use either the Intended Mother or an Egg Donor’s eggs. Not the Gestational Surrogate – so the baby she carries is not genetically, or legally, related to her. This helps her to create clear emotional and legal boundaries
The money and compensation the Gestational Surrogate receives is for the time and efforts for trying to and then carrying the baby, and are compensated by the Intended Parents
Surrogate compensation comes in many forms including:
- The Base Fee (paid for the time the Surrogate is actually pregnant)
- Maternity clothing allowance
These fees are agreed to and protected by a legal contract signed by both the Surrogate and her Intended Parent/s. That way you have the peace of mind you need to enjoy this journey.
When the baby is born, the legal parent/s’ name/s are placed on the birth certificate. They assume all responsibility for the child.. The person (or people) who she is trying to have a baby for is called “The Intended Parent/s”
One hundred percent (100%) of our Surrogate Coordinators are former Surrogates and will understand and advocate for your needs from the first call through your pregnancy and beyond.
Why Choose The Fertility Agency?
Sure, we’ve been around since 2004, have helped bring over 1100+ babies into the world and work in every legal state in the United States, but we are more than just the thousands of matches and babies – we are builders of dreams and fulfillers of hope – and along with you, we create miracles.
Our staff works tirelessly to make sure your journey is smooth, and that you receive all of the support you need along the way. You will have a dedicated Surrogate Coordinator, who herself is an experienced Surrogate and acts as a buddy throughout your journey. You will also have your own Case Manager who will guide you through appointments, and provide you with all of the care and support you need throughout your journey. Wonderful women like you are at the heart of our program.
We are known for our fast matching time for our Surrogates, our professionalism, and compassion. We see you not only as someone who is building a family but someone who is joining The Fertility Agency’s family, too.
Who can become a Surrogate?
So now you know what a Surrogate is, but how do you become one? Here are some requirements you need to fulfill:
- Between 21 and 42 years old
- Non-smoker, non-drug user who maintains a healthy lifestyle
- Willing to abstain from drinking any alcohol during a pregnancy
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle
- MUST have successfully carried at least one child of your own to term
- In a stable living situation
- If married, have a spouse who’s supportive of your decision to become a Gestational Surrogate
- If single, have a support system in place, whether it is a friend or relative
- Have a healthy weight/height ratio (ask if you’re afraid you may be too large, many Gestational Surrogates are far from thin)
- Not on government assistance
- Willing to give up or lower caffeine and soda intake for the duration of the pregnancy as prescribed by your OB
- No serious pregnancy complications (i.e., toxemia, preeclampsia, preterm labor, incompetent cervix, pregnancy-induced hypertension)
- Cannot have any health conditions that can be exacerbated by pregnancy
- Cannot smoke or be directly exposed to second-hand smoke (this included both tobacco and marijuana)
- Must be a citizen, legal resident, or legal immigrant of the United States
- Must be able to travel to the fertility clinic (all expenses paid by the Intended Parents) for the IVF process
- Enjoys being pregnant and has the desire to give the miracle of life
How To Become A Surrogate
Is Gestational Surrogacy For You?
Women become Surrogates for many reasons. We have helped thousands of women fulfill their dream since 2004 and we have seen many similarities. Maybe you share some of them too!
You have a big heart
95% say find joy in giving to others
You empathize with others who struggle
50% regularly volunteer
You have a support system
50% are registered blood + organ donors
You have a calling to help others
100% feel the biggest reward is helping others
75% of our Surrogates have the first-hand experience with a friend or family member’s struggle with infertility.
60%+ of our Surrogates report that the compensation will help to create a safety net for things like paying down debt or saving for their family’s future. But every single one says helping others is the biggest reward of all.
100% of our Surrogates have someone cheering them on to help others. Whether it is a partner, family member, or best friend – their inner circle is there for them.
How to Begin Your Journey
We love getting to know women who are considering becoming a Surrogate. Rest assured know that all of your information is maintained with utmost privacy.
To get started:
What To Expect On Your Surrogacy Journey
Your Surrogacy Journey Timeline
Your heart is big, but we want to make sure you are ready for this big step. So, start by filling out a short application.
After we receive you application, one of our Surrogate Coordinators (all of them are former Surrogates) will call you and answer all of your questions and take you through the journey steps and what you will need to do. If we all move forward, you will fill out a more detailed profile.
There is a little homework if you want to get a head start. You will need to reach out to your OB(s) and get:
- Your previous pregnancy and delivery records
- A pap smear if you haven’t had one in over a year
- A medical clearance note by your OB saying you are allowed to move forward with a surrogacy pregnancy.
If we think you are a good fit with our agency and you feel the same, we will also run a background check on you (and possibly your partner) during this time.
This is a very exciting time in your journey. Who will you be helping? Are they a same-sex couple, live in another country, is it a sibling journey? It may surprise you but this is a two-way matching process. Not only do you match with an Intended Parent/s but they also match with you.
Intended Parents typically look for someone healthy and stable that they feel they can comfortably work with during this special journey.
So how long will it take? From the time you complete your application process, it could take a week, a month, or a little longer to find the right match for you. We pride ourselves on making good fits for everyone.
Once we think we have a good fit, we will show you the Intended Parent/s’ profile and they will also see yours.
If you like what you’ve learned and the Intended Parent/s feel the same way, we’ll schedule a Zoom chat with the agency, the Intended Parent/s, you, and your partner (if you have one).
Our job will be to break the ice between everyone and help make your first meeting go smoothly. And if all goes well…Congratulations, you’re matched!
You are then assigned your own Case Manager who will assist you with all the logistics of your journey, and who will be an active team member throughout helping guide you every step of the way.
Once matched, you will meet with a licensed psychologist (that specializes in surrogacy) and they will help ensure that you understand the commitment being a Surrogate takes and that you are emotionally prepared to proceed.
Most Surrogates find the meeting to be both helpful and informative. During the session, you will also discuss your feelings about surrogacy, your motivations, and your support system.
Sometimes your husband or partner will be asked to join. The Intended Parent/s’ may also talk with the therapist.
The therapist may have you fill out an MMPI or PAI (a personality inventory), which can take up to an hour.
Easy-peasy. Oh yes, the Intended Parent/s will pay for the psychological screening.
Even though your medical records will have already been reviewed by your Intended Parent/s’ fertility doctor (aka Reproductive Endocrinologist, aka RE), the doctor will want to do an up-to-date, in-person medical evaluation. This may require traveling for you if you do not live near the clinic – which is most often the case.
Your Case Manager will arrange for your travel and it will be paid for through the Intended Parent/s’ escrow account. Your partner will only need to have blood work done to screen for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV, but you’ll have additional blood tests and cultures, and a gynecological exam. The Reproductive Endocrinologist will determine if other tests are necessary. If your partner cannot attend the medical screening, he can have his blood work done at a lab near to his home or work.
Once done, you will receive medical clearance from the RE.
After receiving medical clearance, the next step is to review and sign the contract.
The contract between you and your Intended Parent/s is a necessary part because:
- It is the framework of what payments will be paid and under what circumstances
- It outlines how people will behave in certain situations that may arise
- Out states what each party’s obligations are to the other
It may sound overwhelming, but you will have your own lawyer (that specializes in surrogacy contracts) to work with you and go over everything in the contract and make sure you understand it and are on board with what is in it.
Your Case Manager will provide you with a lawyer who is knowledgeable about reproductive laws in the state in which you will give birth. Attorney fees are paid by the Intended Parents.
Once contracts are signed, you will have legal clearance and your monthly allowance will begin.
Prepping For The Transfer
Even though getting pregnant was a piece of cake for you in the past, this pregnancy will start out very differently.
There will be a medical calendar issued once contracts are signed, and then your body will be hormonally prepared to make it ready for the embryo to be transferred to your uterus. This involves medication and a few monitoring appointments at a local clinic for bloodwork to make sure your body is absorbing the hormones properly, and ultrasounds to check that your uterine lining is getting thick (that’s what we want!).
The clinic will give you instructions for how to take the medication and the agency will also be there to support you should you need it. The Intended Parent/s’ clinic will be in touch with the monitoring clinic to make sure everything is going smoothly and to their specifications.
If all goes according to plan, next, you will travel to the family’s clinic for the embryo transfer.
While you definitely know how to get pregnant the traditional way, an embryo transfer (aka ET), is more like a Pap smear.
Surrogates describe the embryo transfer as pain-free. In most cases, a single embryo is transferred through a catheter to your uterus and you will go back home or to a hotel to rest for approximately a day.
Each doctor has a slightly different protocol and the contract will specify that you treat the doctor’s instructions seriously - and of course, you will!
Your contract will cover all such eventualities as the need for childcare, lost wages, etc., so you will never have to worry about money to meet your surrogacy obligations.
After the transfer, you will probably have to wait a week to 10 days for your first beta test (that is a blood test that determines whether you are pregnant).
Like many Surrogates, you may be excited to find out if you are pregnant before you do the blood work. Certain Surrogates go out and buy home pregnancy tests (HPTs). If you do, please remember they are called “evil pee sticks” for a reason – that is because they are not always accurate. You can be pregnant even if they say you are not. So, remember to continue all prescribed medications no matter what the HPT tells you.
On the day your doctor determines, you will go to a local lab, have your blood drawn, and hopefully be getting that great news later the same day – YOU'RE PREGNANT!
After your positive beta, the clinic will have you do a few more blood tests. Then, a couple of weeks later you will have an ultrasound at the monitoring clinic to make sure the fetus is developing properly.
Until about 10 weeks into the pregnancy you will continue to do medications and be overseen by the RE. When your own body starts taking over and produces the hormones without medication, you will be released to your very own OB, and from this point forward it will be like your typical pregnancies…except there are Intended Parent/s and an agency to support you.
At this point in the journey is when communication usually picks with you and your Intended Parent/s.
Often Surrogates like to communicate with updates, belly bump pictures, etc. Some IPs and GSs like to text, others Zoom or use the phone. There’s no right or wrong way - in time you will find the right amount and type of communication that works for all of you.
And let’s not forget your family – this truly is a family affair with your kids and husband or partner or extended family forming bonds and joining in the joyous thing you are doing.
Our role during your surrogacy is to give you all the support you need. We want to be there for you, but we don’t want to smother you either. You will have a Case Manager who will help with all the logistics from travel to payments and a Surrogate Coordinator. The Surrogate Coordinator is someone you can speak with as a peer — she’s an experienced Surrogate and can often offer you insider insight and advice.
Our agency also offers an online chat group to share your experiences, ask questions, offer support and become friends with other Surrogates. This chat room is solely for Gestational Surrogates who are working with our agency.
The Birth & Beyond
This is the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Even if your Intended Parent/s live halfway around the world, they will do everything in their power to be there for the birth.
But maybe you are wondering how the birth is going to go with all of the people involved. About halfway through the pregnancy, the agency will have helped create a “birth plan” with you and your IPs. It will outline who will be in the delivery room and where people will stand, who will cut the umbilical cord, etc.
Once born, your family will most likely want to meet the baby and of course, you will want to say goodbye and wish him/her well.
While everyone may have a plan for communication after the baby is born, it often depends on how the communication during the journey went. In almost all cases people stay in touch via Facebook, WhatsApp or FaceTime and sometimes get together as the baby grows — even with great distances.
You will have changed lives for both the parents and the baby and that is a gift that is immeasurable! You are a super star!
Learn About Surrogacy's Most Important Questions - FAQs
Why Do I Need An Agency?
Working with an agency is an advantage to all of the parties involved, (especially the Surrogate), since we provide the support, guidance, experience and care from start to finish. We will help and advocate for your needs, bridge communication for topics that may be harder to discuss, offer assistance with the legal aspects and of course handle all of your payments so you can focus on the joy of being pregnant.
How Long Do I Have To Wait After Giving Birth?
What Fee Should I Ask For On My Application?
What Do I Need To Do To Match As Quickly As Possible?
Will My Pregnancy Be Different Since I Am Not Biologically Related To The Baby?
Who Are The People Who Work At The Fertility Agency?