Surrogacy Process Overview

The surrogacy process is different for someone who wants to be a surrogate than it is for someone who wants to find a surrogate to carry their baby Let’s look at surrogacy as a whole, then we’ll examine how it is different for a surrogate and an intended parent.

How long does the surrogacy process take?

A surrogacy journey starts when a woman is interested in carrying someone else’s baby for them. She will be the gestational surrogate mother, meaning that she will not be biologically related to the child, she will only carry it. It can take her, on average, two to six months before she finds a person or people who need a gestational surrogate to carry their biological child for them.  Usually, but not always, they need a surrogate because there is a medical reason why they cannot carry the child themselves. This person, or persons, will be the intended parents and will provide the genetics of the child that will be carried. The surrogate mother and intended parents will likely use a surrogacy agency to both expedite the matching process, but also to protect their best interests and ensure the surrogacy proceeds smoothly. The intended parents and surrogate will meet, either virtually or in person, and if they all agree to work together, they will be matched and move forward with the surrogacy journey. How long the surrogacy journey takes definitely varies from state to state and each individual surrogacy.

Surrogacy legal process

Before any fertility treatment can begin, the surrogacy legal process and financial details must be finalized. The intended parents will be expected to pay for health insurance coverage for the surrogate and baby, for the medical treatment expenses, for any expenses the surrogate incurs during the course of the surrogacy, and, typically, direct surrogate compensation will be provided for her time and effort. These figures will be tallied and the intended parents will pay at least a portion of the total, which is put into a trust and managed by the surrogacy agency, and from which the surrogate usually receives a monthly payment.

The legal framework will be built from the surrogacy contract that both the surrogate mom and intended parents sign. A surrogacy lawyer will represent the intended parents and surrogacy attorney will represent the surrogate, so as to ensure that all parties’ legal interests are protected. The surrogacy agreement will detail the financial arrangement, the expected actions each party is to take during and after the surrogacy pregnancy, and that the surrogate agrees that intended parents will have full legal rights over the baby she will carry for them.

Gestational surrogacy process

The next step in the gestational surrogacy process is to have the fertility treatment, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) performed, enabling the surrogate mom to become pregnant with the intended parents’ child. IVF is being performed more and more each year, with more than 208,000 IVF cycles recently.  Although each IVF treatment is slightly different, both the intended mother and surrogate mom will take fertility medications for around one month in order to prepare their bodies for IVF. When their bodies are ready, the intended mother will have a medical procedure called an egg retrieval performed, where some of her eggs are removed. Her eggs are then fertilized with the intended father’s sperm in the IVF laboratory. The fertilized eggs, or embryos, grow for usually around three to five days, and then one or more are directly placed into the surrogate mom’s uterus in a procedure called an embryo transfer.

About 10 days after the embryo transfer, a pregnancy test will be performed and everyone will find out if the IVF was successful. If the gestational carrier is pregnant, the fertility doctor, or Reproductive Endocrinologist, will monitor her pregnancy for the first trimester, typically. The surrogate will have regular ultrasound and blood draws to check on her health and that of the intended parents’ baby. The pregnancy will continue to be monitored by an Obstetrician starting around the time that the baby’s heartbeat is heard for the first time. The surrogate will continue to undergo regular blood draws and ultrasounds, among other standard pregnancy monitoring tests right until she is ready to deliver the baby. At the time of the delivery, the intended parents will have had a pre-birth order completed by their surrogacy attorney, which should enable them to register themselves as the legal parents on the baby’s birth certificate. In certain circumstances, intended parents will have to complete legal adoption paperwork, as well, in order to finalize their legal parental rights. Some surrogates and intended parents choose to have a continued relationship past the delivery, and some do not.

What is surrogacy like for an intended parent? Intended parents seek the help of a gestational surrogate because they cannot carry a pregnancy to term themselves, due to a medical condition or other situation. They meet with a fertility doctor, who recommends In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatment with a gestational carrier to carry the pregnancy. The IVF doctor will likely refer the intended parents to a surrogacy agency who will work to match them with a surrogate, as time is of the essence. Working with a surrogacy agency to find a surrogate mom is usually the easiest and fastest way to undergo a successful surrogacy journey.

Surrogate process cost

The intended parents will likely evaluate several top surrogacy agencies and their surrogate process cost and choose the one that best meets their needs. They will evaluate the proposed surrogates based upon their own internal criteria, usually involving their opinion of the surrogate’s moral character, the surrogate’s likelihood of carrying their pregnancy in a responsible way, what type of relationship they’d like to have with the surrogate, and the costs for using that particular surrogate as opposed to a different gestational surrogate.

The intended parents have many responsibilities to meet during a gestational surrogacy. They will receive frequent communication from the surrogacy agency on how the surrogacy pregnancy is proceeding. They may attend doctor’s visit with the surrogate. They will attend to the payments that need to be made. They will attend to the completion of various legal paperwork. They will make arrangements in their home and lives for the baby’s arrival after the delivery.

The gestational carrier’s experience during the surrogacy journey is very different from the intended parents’ experience. During the matching process, the surrogate mother will be evaluating the intended parents with regard to whether the intended parents share the same surrogate/intended parent relationship goals that she does, and whether the intended parents seem like they will be good and responsible parents for the baby she’ll carry for them.

After the IVF cycle, the surrogate will be pregnant, which is a constant condition and one of which she will be continually conscious and attentive. She will be planning her day around being pregnant, which includes monitoring her health and diet closely, attending frequent doctor’s visits, and curtailing actions that could endanger the life of the intended parents’ baby. The surrogate will likely keep working her job, if she has one, provided that it is safe for the baby for her to do so. When she delivers the intended parents’ baby, she will be able to say that she’s given a lifelong blessing to a grateful family. Because surrogate mothers frequently enjoy their surrogacy process so much, they often choose to become a surrogate mother a second time, or more!