Deciding upon surrogacy is a big step for intended parents. It’s an emotional decision and process. Many are overwhelmed when they first learn about the complexities of the journey, but this overview should help provide a clear picture of what to expect when getting started with surrogacy.
First, determine whether surrogacy is the desired path. For prospective parents, infertility, being a single parent, or an LGBT couple may steer them this route. To decide, you must weigh the risks and benefits, understand it’s a long and potentially uncertain process, and be educated on the financial investments. For prospective surrogates, the process involves medical and psychological evaluations, the challenges of pregnancy and labor, and whether you can commit at least a year of your time.
Because surrogacy laws vary from state to state, anyone considering surrogacy must review their state laws regarding the process. The decision shouldn’t be solely based on emotion. Therefore, it can help to speak with professionals in the field to determine if surrogacy is the best option for their situation.
Here is a closer look at the process.
Traditional surrogacy involves fertilizing an egg of the surrogate with the biological (intended) father’s sperm by a medical procedure called intrauterine insemination. With traditional surrogacy the child will be genetically related to the intended father and the surrogate. The intended mother must usually do an adoption process to become the legal mother of the baby.
Gestational surrogacy is a little different. An egg is harvested from the biological (intended) mother or a donor; it is fertilized using sperm from the intended father or donor via in vitro fertilization, or IVF, in a laboratory, and then transferred to the gestational surrogate during a minor medical procedure. This results in a baby that has no genetic relation to the surrogate.
Although a surrogate can be a family member, it is more often someone that was not known to the intended parents prior to the surrogacy.
Leading up to fertilization, the gestational surrogacy process involves:
- Submitting an application with a surrogacy agency
- Scheduling a physical exam (for both intended parents)
- Working with a surrogacy attorney, or an agency familiar with the surrogacy legal process
- Identifying a potential surrogate (can take 3-5 weeks)
- The surrogate must undergo an interview, medical records review, background check, and social work evaluation prior to matching.
- Matches are found based on both parties’ surrogacy plans. Profiles are created so the agency can show both potentially ideal matches. Meetings with pre-screened potential surrogates can then be arranged. Once a match is made, the surrogate undergoes a mental health evaluation, as well as medical evaluation by the intended parent’s IVF physician.
- Surrogates and intended parents may choose each other based on race, religion, age, sexual orientation, personality, and amount of contact preferred during the process.
- A final decision is made
Both parties must be represented by an attorney, which they may retain on their own, or 3 Sisters Surrogacy can refer them to one. The lawyers will review the legal aspects of the process. The prospective surrogate’s attorney will review the contract drafted by the intended parents’ attorney (once signed, she will begin receiving payments to cover agreed-upon costs). The attorney discusses legal rights, compensation to the surrogate, and possible risks with prospective parents. A pre-birth order, establishing them as the legal parents of the child, is drafted during the first trimester.
Once a legal contract is drafted and signed by both sides, a confirmation letter is sent to the agency and IVF doctor, and the fertilization process can begin.
Cycling and Embryo Transfer
Preparation for cycling begins after the gestational agreement is signed. This may be as long as 2-3 months after the match. The egg donor, or intended mother, will begin a regimen of medication to stimulate her ovaries. An egg retrieval procedure is performed at a fertility clinic or other medical facility. Viable eggs are then transported to a laboratory, where they are combined with sperm to form an embryo. Often, the embryos are genetically tested and then frozen for future use by the surrogate. When it is time for the surrogate to begin her medications, the clinic will give her a detailed calendar explaining exactly which medications to take every day. Once the surrogate begins her medications, the embryo transfer will be approximately 3-5 weeks later. One or two embryos will be selected by the IVF laboratory staff and the physician will place the embryos into the surrogate with a long catheter.
The embryo will begin to implant approximately 2-3 days after the embryo transfer. A blood test, 10-14 days after the embryo transfer occurs will determine whether the surrogate has become pregnant. An ultrasound will occur about 2 weeks later. If a heartbeat is observed on the ultrasound payment of base compensation and monthly allowances begins.
The procedures for intended parents depends on several factors, including the use of an egg donor or use of a partner’s eggs. An embryo is implanted once it is incubated in a laboratory like it is with potential surrogates. Embryo transfer is a quick procedure performed without anesthesia. A visit to the clinic a few weeks later confirms whether pregnancy has begun or not.
The surrogacy process concludes with the birth of the baby and the discharge of the surrogate from the hospital. Intended parents are present at the time the baby is born. Thereafter, the family and the surrogate return home. In many cases, both maintain a lasting relationship as the child grows up, and the agency can continue providing support either side needs.
Working with 3 Sisters Surrogacy
Finding a gestational surrogate can be challenging, but our process ensures it goes smoothly and a relationship of trust is forged. Our gestational surrogacy process involves a highly intricate selection stage. We screen each potential surrogate’s medical and psychological health, and we check their medical records and criminal background and whether they have a record of child abuse. Also, we interview each potential candidate before acceptance. The database is open for registered intended parents to view, so clients can pick who they want to interview as potential surrogate mothers.
Clients must also adhere to the agency’s fee schedule. In the case of 3 Sisters Surrogacy, the payment structure consists of:
- A nonrefundable deposit upon application, to hold surrogates for screening.
- Escrow fund deposit for surrogate compensation and reimbursement.
- Payment/compensation seven days prior to cycling, including travel expenses.
From initial consultation to finding a surrogate, pregnancy, and beyond, 3 Sisters Surrogacy provides extensive support for egg donors, individuals, and intended parents. We maintain a specific set of requirements for surrogate mothers and employ a team of licensed professionals who are experienced in the fertility field. Solutions are available to LGBT parents and for international families seeking surrogates. For more information about our services, getting started with surrogacy, and to schedule a consultation, call us at 877-976-9483.