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Becoming a surrogate mother may not be as easy as it sounds; there's a rather rigorous pre-screening process involved, which can be lengthy. To become a surrogate mother, contact a surrogacy agency in your area and request an application. You will usually have to provide details about your health status as well as your family history, including medical conditions your family members have or have had; this part of the screening process is intended to weed out surrogate mothers who may pass on medical or mental conditions to the unborn child. To become a surrogate, you will also have to submit to a medical examination. This is to ensure that you are indeed in good health, as you claimed on your application.
Besides being in good general health, you must be free of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). If you are married or otherwise sexually involved, your partner must be free of STDs as well. Likewise, most surrogate mothers are required to agree to quit smoking cigarettes, if they smoke, and are expected to abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages and doing illegal drugs. Sometimes age requirements apply as well. To become a traditional surrogate for an agency, a woman must usually be between the ages of 21 and 36; she may be up to 42 years of age for gestational surrogacy.
Some programs only want women who have been pregnant in the past. However, it is possible to become a surrogate without having past pregnancy experience; this just requires trying a different agency. The reason some programs require this is to prove that you are capable of becoming pregnant easily, as the process required for impregnation can be time-consuming and expensive. Agencies don't want to waste time if you may have difficulty becoming pregnant and staying pregnant. For this reason, some surrogacy programs require a candidate to have carried at least one child to full term.
Often, a woman must submit to a background check in order to become a surrogate. She must also pass a psychological evaluation. This is because it is important that the surrogate mother is stable, mentally capable of understanding the surrogacy process, and free of any conditions that may cause her to harm herself or the unborn child. She must also be able to sign the surrogacy contract without any mental impediments.
Some programs also require a surrogate mom to be financially stable before she can become a surrogate. This is because worries about money and living-situation stability can add stress and anxiety to a woman's life, which could affect a pregnancy. Additionally, some surrogacy programs stress the importance of participating in order to help another person have a baby rather than agreeing to the arrangement simply to dig out of debt.
Once accepted into a surrogacy program, you'll likely have to sign a contract to become a surrogate. These contracts typically state that you agree to follow the procedures and rules of the program and will not try to pursue legal rights to the child once he or she is born. You may also have to agree to a set amount of compensation if you've chosen commercial surrogacy. Typically, you will also sign a contract waiving the right to sue in the case of any unfortunate events, such as a problem with the pregnancy that leads to other medical conditions. Likewise, you may have to consent to using fertility drugs when necessary to help the impregnation process along.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the basic requirements to become a surrogate?
To become a surrogate, you must typically meet certain health and age criteria. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, a surrogate should be between 21 and 45 years old, have a healthy BMI, have had at least one full-term, uncomplicated pregnancy, and have no history of substance abuse or smoking. Additionally, psychological screening and legal counseling are required to ensure the surrogate understands the process and is mentally prepared for the journey. (Source: American Society for Reproductive Medicine, https://www.reproductivefacts.org)
How does the medical process of surrogacy work?
The medical process of surrogacy involves several steps, starting with fertility treatments for the surrogate to prepare her body for pregnancy. This is followed by in vitro fertilization (IVF), where the intended parents' or donors' egg and sperm are combined to create an embryo, which is then transferred to the surrogate's uterus. Throughout the pregnancy, the surrogate receives prenatal care to ensure the health of both her and the baby. (Source: American Pregnancy Association, https://americanpregnancy.org)
Are there legal considerations I should be aware of before becoming a surrogate?
Yes, surrogacy involves complex legal considerations. It's crucial to have a legally binding surrogacy agreement that outlines the rights, responsibilities, and expectations of all parties involved. Surrogacy laws vary by state and country, so it's important to consult with a specialized attorney to navigate the legal landscape. The agreement should cover compensation, parental rights, and the surrogate's role during and after pregnancy. (Source: American Bar Association, https://www.americanbar.org)
What kind of compensation can I expect as a surrogate?
Compensation for surrogates varies widely based on location, experience, and the specifics of each surrogacy arrangement. Generally, surrogates in the United States can expect to receive a base compensation ranging from $30,000 to $50,000, with additional payments for medical expenses, maternity clothing, travel costs, and other incidentals related to the pregnancy. It's important to discuss and agree upon compensation before the surrogacy process begins. (Source: Surrogate.com, https://surrogate.com/surrogates/surrogate-pay-and-benefits/how-much-do-surrogates-get-paid/)
How do I find a reputable surrogacy agency or intended parents to work with?
Finding a reputable surrogacy agency or intended parents is a critical step in the surrogacy process. You can start by researching and comparing surrogacy agencies based on their experience, services offered, and reviews from previous surrogates. It's also advisable to attend surrogacy information sessions and support groups to connect with experienced surrogates and intended parents. Ensure the agency or intended parents are transparent about the process, legalities, and financial aspects. (Source: Resolve: The National Infertility Association, https://resolve.org)