John here, so as I mentioned in my previous post my wife is going through the process to be a gestational surrogate. Today I aim to help you understand what gestational surrogacy is, what the whole process looks like and the sorts, but mainly on a surface level. There are plenty other websites that can describe in detail the different types of surrogacy, how the process works, etc. I just want to make sure everyone reading this has at least somewhat of an idea to help make sense of it all. Okay! Let’s get to it!
First off I want to describe what being a gestational surrogate means. Gestational surrogacy is different than traditional surrogacy in the ways of surrogate/child relationship. With a traditional surrogacy, the surrogate has genetic relation with the child. Her egg is inseminated with a donor sperm and the child is biologically related to the surrogate. Gestational surrogacy results in the surrogate not having any genetic relationship with the child. A donor egg is inseminated with a donor sperm and then transferred to the surrogate. No genetic material is taken from the surrogate so, therefore, no biological relation. Now, again my wife is going to be a gestational surrogate with no relationship to the child.
Next, I want to as shortly as possible describe the whole process from start to finish, then afterward I will share what we have experienced so far.Also, I would like to point out this is all done in California with some procedures in Oregon, laws, and protocol may vary between states, when describing the process I’m assuming you are doing this in California or Oregon.
Okay, now to the process. First, after you decide you want to be a surrogate you would contact and apply to a surrogate agency, they will ask you an assortment of questions to see if you would be a good candidate for surrogacy. Every surrogacy agency is different but generally from what I’ve seen you at least have to be between the ages of 21 and 42 years old, non-smoker, good health and BMI less than 32.0 and willing to abstain from drugs and alcohol. Also, you have to be willing to take medication by injection. Most agencies like to see that you have had a history of healthy pregnancy. If you are a good candidate, they will move forward with a meeting/interview.
The agency will ask you about your preferences as far as who you want to be a surrogate for(straight, gay, single, couples, domestic, or international.), if you are open to reductions or terminations(most of the time they ask about termination in the application process because some agencies will not accept someone who will not terminate or who is against it.) and other questions to get to know you better. Most likely at this time is when you would ask any questions that you would have concerning anything.
After the interview process and everyone decides to move forward, depending on the agency you will have to go through physical screenings by your doctor, OB/GYN checkup, psych evaluation, and an in-home visit to make sure you are in a good, clean environment that is safe for you and the baby to be in. During the time you are having these screenings the agency usually is hard at work trying to find intended parents to match you with. This is where it can get a little disheartening, depending on your preferences for intended parents and your views on termination or reduction it can take a long time for the agency to find a match, but don’t lose hope! There are a lot of people out there that share the same values you do and sooner or later they will be found!
Yay! You have a match! Now what? You meet with the person(s) the agency matched you with! This is hosted by the agency and can be face to face, or there are situations where the intended parent(s) are from overseas and then it turns into a meeting over Skype or other video chat platform. The agency rep will guide the meeting with questions that let you get to know the IPs (intended parent(s)) and to let the IPs get to know you. After the meeting is over and you, your partner, and the IPs all decide to move forward the match is complete and the legal stuff can begin.
So now what happens is the agency will have you and the IPs meet with separate arbitration lawyers to draft the contract between both the Surrogate and partner and the IPs. This contract is what protects you from getting stuck with the baby, and prevents the surrogate from running off with the child as well as sets the compensation (if any) and determines all benefits the surrogate is entitled to. This contract also has a bunch of other legal parameters that protect all parties involved, even the child in any form(born/unborn). I’d be happy to answer any questions regarding the contract, you can either post a comment or reach out to me on my contact page. Moving on!
The Contract is signed and notarized! Now we are picking up speed! Now it’s time to fulfill some requirements from that contract. Before the IPs can start the searching process(depending on agency) must put an amount of money, determined by the agency and reinforced by the contract, in an escrow account that is controlled by the agency so that no matter what you (if you are receiving compensation) and other things are getting paid. You, on the other hand, can be responsible for signing up for health insurance that covers surrogacy and setting up life insurance but don’t worry the agency usually will have insurance providers they work with and they will point you their way. Once all the insurance is in place then surrogacy related medical procedures can begin!
I feel like I need to give a little reminder, the steps I am describing to you are all steps that my wife and I had to follow. Every agency might and probably does have a different way of conducting business and may follow a different flow, however, there is little to no variation in the science behind surrogacy, the medical process and the drug treatments are an exact science. I am of course only speaking from one experience and I welcome you to share if you are or have been a surrogate and have done things differently. Okay, almost done, I promise!
The next thing that happens is the surrogate will have blood tests done to take a look at hormone levels, overall health, and also so the fertility clinic knows how much of what medicine to give you during your IVF cycle. IVF stands for in-vitro fertilization, I’ll touch more on IVF later. Then the clinic will have you come in for an exam that, from what I have been told isn’t really pleasant but my wife assures me it isn’t as bad as it seems. The exam is to check for any abnormalities like polyps as well as to do a mock transfer. To do this a catheter is inserted through your cervix and saline is pumped in to inflate your uterus, then the doctor conducts his exam via ultrasound. Great! your uterus is in perfect shape! No Polyps! The clinic goes over all your test results and then the real fun starts, medicine by injection!
The clinic will now prescribe all the medicine for an IVF treatment cycle, which is about 6 weeks. During the 6 weeks, you will have to have blood tests done periodically as well as a transvaginal ultrasound to check the progress of the IFV treatment cycle. After the end of the treatment, the cycle is when you are scheduled for the embryo transfer.
Okay! now you are moments away from the transfer! Don’t forget to wear pineapple so the embryo sticks! 3….2…..1….and transfer! I could go into more detail on the whole transfer procedure but I feel like I rambled on enough, again I would be happy to answer any questions you may have about the whole process, or there are plenty other resources available online to the method of embryo transfers. So you did it! This is an exciting time and also an anxious time. Most agencies will put you on some form of bed rest right after the transfer to help ensure that the embryo has the best chance to stick.
What happens if the transfer fails? Most likely you try again if all parties are willing. Some contracts have terms where the contract can be legally broken, and a failed transfer can be one of them if the surrogate doesn’t want to try again, or if the IPs don’t want to try again. If everyone decides to have another go at it then you will have to complete another round if IVF treatment and then try the transfer again and hopefully, this one sticks!
Yay! It sticks! First, try or last try it stuck! You are now confirmed pregnant! Congratulations on becoming a surrogate mother and thank you for the gift you are about to give to another family! Now it is just like any other pregnancy, you go to periodic check-ups, have loads of cravings, increase your partner’s honey-do list, whatever pregnancy entails for you enjoy it! I obviously don’t know from experience but I just have to take my wife’s word on it, pregnancy for her was easy and enjoyable, she loved every moment of it (besides the morning sickness in the first 12 weeks). It can vary by agency but usually, there is an allowance for maternity clothes and other misc things that come up during your pregnancy.
What happens after the child is born? After delivery the IPs will take the child, the child belongs to the intended parents. Their names will be on the birth certificate and you will have no ties to the IPs or the child, and vice versa. You recover from giving birth and follow your OB/GYN direction for postpartum care, and as soon as you know it you will be ready to be a surrogate again…or not. I’m happy to answer any questions about the whole process, just comment below or use the contact us page here. Thank you for sticking around and I hope you continue to follow us on this journey!
Up next, how it all started….