For thousands of couples every year, having a baby with the help of a surrogate mother is the only way to become parents of their own biological children. And while this experience is certainly life-changing for the intended parents, it can also transform the life of the woman who decides to become a surrogate mother, or gestational carrier. Here is the complete guide on how to become a surrogate mother and how much money do surrogates make.
Why Become a Surrogate Mother
The decision to become a surrogate never comes easily. Women usually go through months of deliberations in an attempt to answer just one question: “Should I really become a surrogate mother?” Even though there is no definitive answer to this question that you need to answer yourself, there are some important pros and cons of becoming a surrogate mother you need to consider.
- Fulfillment. According to many women who have decided to be a surrogate in the past, giving another family the joy of becoming parents cannot be compared to anything else in your life. In most cases, being a surrogate mom is one of the most selfless and rewarding things you will ever do.
- Monetary compensation. Unless you plan on becoming a surrogate mother for your friends or family members without expecting any money for your services, you will be more than generously compensated for your gift of life. You can use the money to build a stronger foundation for your own family!
- Pregnancy experience. Although it is not always the case, many women actually enjoy being pregnant and want to experience it again and again. Their own family planning views may not allow them to do it often, but being a surrogate is one of the easiest ways to get an unforgettable pregnancy experience at least one more time.
- Physical challenges. Even though you may enjoy being pregnant mentally, this process often takes a toll on the physical health of the woman. From complex fertility treatments preceding the pregnancy to various gestational complications — there are many things that can affect your physical well-being while you are carrying a baby for another couple.
- Time commitment. The pregnancy itself takes only 40 weeks, which may not seem a lot. However, in many cases, the pregnancy is preceded by a variety of tests and treatments that can take a while. Plus, while you are already pregnant, you will need to undergo numerous screenings, meet with the prospective family, lawyers, and surrogacy agents, which means that, on average, one year of your life will be dedicated almost exclusively to getting and being pregnant.
- Emotional challenges. If you have been pregnant at least once, you know that this time in your life is not only very fulfilling, but also often emotionally complicated. Expectant mothers experience all kinds of emotions, both positive and negative, and matters can get even more serious when you are carrying a baby for another couple.
If you are currently researching how to become a sergeant mother, you have probably weighed all the pros and cons associated with this decision. While no one will argue with the fact that pregnancy can be physically and emotionally demanding, for many women, the joy of helping another family become parents outweighs it all.
Step by Step Guide to Becoming a Surrogate Mother
Being a surrogate mother is not only an important decision you need to make for yourself, but also a complex process with numerous aspects to consider. Here is a five step guide to a typical surrogate pregnancy experience.
- Choosing the type of surrogacy
Right now, there are two common types of surrogacy available to women who plan to become a surrogate mother: the traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy.
Traditional surrogacy has been around for centuries. With this type of surrogacy, the pregnancy occurs after an artificial insemination using the surrogate mother’s egg and the intended father’s sperm. That way, only the father of the child will have a genetic connection to the baby, which is why more and more couples decide against this type of surrogacy.
Gestational surrogacy depends on some advanced fertilization technology, which is why it hasn’t started getting common until a few decades back. With gestational surrogacy, the in vitro fertilization makes it possible for both of the intended parents to have a genetic connection to the child. While this type of surrogacy is more expensive, it is also clear why many couples opt for it.
For the surrogate mother, the question of which type of surrogacy to go for is a difficult one. On one hand, artificial insemination is a much easier process that requires less preparation and has fewer side effects than in vitro fertilization. On the other hand, giving away a baby that has a strong genetic connection to you may not be easy. However, some surrogacy agencies and clinics only deal with gestational surrogacy these days.
- Completing the requirements
While the couple using your services will feel extremely grateful for your assistance, you will still need to complete certain requirements in order to become a surrogate mother. Right now, there are three types of screenings you will need to complete if you want to be considered for surrogacy:
Medical screenings. These can differ from state to state. Typically, medical screenings will include studying your pregnancy history, since you need to have at least one successful pregnancy in your medical records. You will also need to have a BMI between 19 and 33, as well as complete drug and smoke tests.
Legal screenings. Before you can sign any type of legal agreement with the intended parents and the surrogate agency, you will need to confirm that you are a permanent citizen of the US. Plus, some aspiring surrogate mothers are often surprised by the fact that in order to become a surrogate, you need to not be a recipient of any government financial aid.
Psychological screenings. Being a surrogate mother can take a toll on the mental health and emotional state of any woman. To minimize the risk, you will need to complete emotional screenings that will determine your mental well-being. Among other things, the screeners will also confirm if you have a strong support system at home that consists of people who support you in your surrogacy aspirations.
- Signing the agreement
The next stage of the surrogacy process is connecting with the intended parents, which you can do independently or through an agency. Once you and the people you want to carry the baby for meet and decide you want to proceed with the surrogacy, you will need to sign a legal agreement known as a surrogacy contract.
To make sure the surrogacy contract is fair for every side involved, both the surrogate mother and the intended parents need to hire their own legal representative. The surrogacy contract will cover such points as parental rights for the intended parents, actions in case of unforeseen pregnancy complications, and other details. At this stage of the process, you will also discuss how much is a surrogate mother paid.
- Transferring the embryo
If, like most surrogates today, you opted for gestational surrogacy, now you will need to undergo an embryo transfer procedure. However, before the embryo can be finally transferred, you will need to go through the required fertility treatments. Fertility treatments for surrogate mothers can include anything from taking hormones to undergoing complex medical procedures.
As soon as the doctors determine that you are ready for the final step of the process, the embryo will be transferred into your body. An important thing to understand while researching how to be a surrogate mother is that it can take more than one attempt to achieve a healthy pregnancy. Once the doctors confirm that you are pregnant, you will be able to have your pregnancy monitored by your regular OB-GYN while giving regular updates to the intended parents.
- Pregnancy and birth
If the pregnancy develops smoothly and you don’t need any immediate medical attention, you can keep up with the parents with phone calls and messages while also arranging meetings from time to time to discuss any pressing questions. In most cases, you will be compensated for travel, maternity clothes, and anything else specified by the legal agreement. At this stage, you can also discuss your birth plan with the parents. Tell them where you want to have birth and what should their actions be in every possible outcome of the pregnancy.
The final and most crucial stage of the surrogacy process is the delivery of the baby. The intended parents will likely want to be present for the miracle of birth or at least be in close proximity to you while you are delivering the baby. After birth, you will get the required medical attention, while the new parents will complete the legal procedure and go home with their baby.
Some surrogates and parents become friends for life and each take part in raising the baby. However, it is completely up to you if you want to be in the life of the baby you have given birth to. For many women, it is emotionally easier to cease all communication after the parents and the baby go home. Whatever arrangement works for you, the baby, and the parents, is the right thing to do.
Frequently Asked Questions
Most states in the US allow intended parents to have children through surrogate mothers, with the exception of Louisiana, Michigan, and New York, where compensated surrogate pregnancy is prohibited.
In theory, if you are a woman within the reproductive age range, there is nothing stopping you from deciding to be a surrogate mother. However, you may encounter additional requirements when you apply to the surrogacy agency
Even though you are probably doing it out of the desire to help another couple, you cannot help but wonder: how much does it pay to be a surrogate mother? The surrogate mother pay depends on the state and other conditions. On average, the surrogate salary ranges from $50,000 to $80,000, but can go higher or lower than that based on demand and other factors.
If you enjoyed being a surrogate mother so much that you want to go through it at least one more time, you should know that most surrogate agencies only allow the prospective surrogate mother to be pregnant up to 5 times. For example, if you have 2 children of your own, you can become a surrogate up to 3 times. If you only have 1 child, you can have up to 4 surrogate pregnancies.
The minimum and maximum age of a surrogate mother depends on the agency and the intended parents’ preferences. On average, the age of surrogates in the US ranges from 21 to 37 years old.
In most cases, you will need to have at least one successfully finished pregnancy in your medical history to be considered for a surrogate mother. This successful pregnancy experience serves as proof that your body is able to carry a healthy pregnancy to term.
While most intended surrogate mothers enter the process with a full understanding of the fact that they will need to give the child away after giving birth, there are still cases of mothers feeling too attached to the child after birth. In that case, the mother might need to work with a therapist.
In the US, there are three types of legal agreements that ensure the rights of intended parents to have the baby: the surrogacy agreement, the pre-birth order, and the post-birth order. Each state’s attitude towards surrogacy is different and is not always positive towards intended parents. However, some states, including Arizona and Indiana, forbid any types of surrogacy legal agreements and deem the surrogate mother to be the legal mother of the child.
The surrogate carries the baby to term and gives birth to it either with a natural birth or through a C-section, depending on the course of the pregnancy and possible complications. Once the baby is born, it is then taken by new parents and the legal agreement is considered to be fulfilled.