Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is it like to give the baby up after delivery?
A: A gestational carrier would not be “giving the baby up”. She’d be giving the baby back to the parents that had chosen her to carry for them! There is no genetic connection between a gestational carrier and the surrogate baby(ies) she carries. Sometimes people aren’t aware of this fact, but it definitely helps the carrier and her family to mentally prepare before and during the pregnancy. The carrier is preparing to hand the parents their baby back, and she fully understands that the baby was never hers, to begin with.
Q: How long does it take to find a match
A: This can vary for each candidate. Once your profile is complete with medical records and background checks are done, it could take a couple of weeks to several months before you are officially matched. This fully depends on not just one but several factors. The right match is a process that is definitely best not rushed. We want to make sure you have the perfect fit, not just any fit, concerning your views on termination of a pregnancy, compensation, number of embryos to transfer, and so on.
Q: What are the medications like to become a surrogate?
A: The medications to become pregnant as a gestational carrier can vary depending on the clinic’s protocol. Some clinics require patients to give themselves injectable medications while others may not require any injectables at all. It is always best to prepare yourself for the possibility of having to administer shots at home, but this is something you may or may not have to do.
Q: Do you really get paid to be a surrogate?
A: You do not get a paycheck since surrogacy is not a job, but you are compensated for the time and effort during the process. The compensation amount can vary from contract to contract. This is a private agreement between the Intended Parents and their carrier. The agreed-upon compensation is not guaranteed since the achievement of pregnancy is never guaranteed, but once you are pregnant, monthly installments are paid over the course of the pregnancy. There could be many factors such as unsuccessful embryo transfers or miscarriage that could cause compensation to never start or even halt.
Q: What is the typical compensation for a surrogate?
A: The typical compensation range is from $35,000 to $50,000+ and is completely based on the surrogate’s experience as a carrier, her insurance status, what state she resides in, and if she is working with International or Domestic Intended Parents.
Q: Is there anything you’re not allowed to eat or do during a surrogate pregnancy?
A: You are allowed to eat and participate in normal low-risk activities as you usually would during any normal, healthy pregnancy per your OBs guidelines. Unless there is a specific agreement between the carrier and her Intended Parents to avoid certain items, she may carry on per her doctor’s recommendations. Obviously, the usual substances like nicotine, alcohol, and drugs are NEVER allowed. There could be specific food requests based on religion or lifestyle preferences that Intended Parents may request of their surrogate prior to matching. These specifics are usually brought up on applications and during the match meeting so there are no surprises later. If either party were to not feel sure about the requests, it would need to be discussed before a definite match was determined.
Q: How much input will the surrogate have over the pregnancy?
A: For the most part, the surrogate has a very large say in the pregnancy. The Surrogate and Intended Parents should be in agreement with each other over factors like home birth vs hospital, vaccinations during the pregnancy vs no vaccinations, and having optional testing done throughout the pregnancy. Both parties should always go into surrogacy with a great deal of trust and respect for one another. Everyone should always strive to make major decisions together.
Q: Will I get to pick my own OB or will I need to go to the Intended Parent’s doctor throughout the pregnancy?
A: You will get to pick your own OB for prenatal care and delivery as long as they are a qualified medical provider. You do have to go to the IP’s IVF doctor until you are released to your OB for care, which is usually around 10 weeks of pregnancy.
Q: Do you get to meet the parents?
A: Yes! Surrogacy is the mutual agreement between the carrier and the Intended Parents. You will likely read about each other in your profiles well before ever meeting in person or over video conference. In the beginning, you may feel like acquaintances that met through an agency, but by the end of the pregnancy, you will likely know each other very well based on how much involvement was had during the process. There are some Intended Parents that find it very hard to develop a personal relationship with their carrier due to previous heartaches and losses. Each match is unique in this respect. The level of involvement that each party is expecting of the other is another topic that is usually agreed upon before you are ever considered a true match.
Q: How much travel is involved?
A: Depending on where the IVF clinic is, you may have to take 2 or 3 trips to them throughout a cycle. This depends on what each clinic requires of their patients. Usually, the first trip is for medical screening and the second one for embryo transfer. There could be an additional trip for a mock transfer but this is not routine across all clinics. Any appointments for monitoring during a cycle can usually be performed at a local monitoring clinic close to you. Long-distance travel is kept to a minimum whenever possible.
Q: What if I’m a single mother? Can I still be a surrogate?
A: Absolutely! It is not a requirement to be married in order to become a gestational carrier. There are numerous single mothers that pursue surrogacy without a spouse or significant other. If you have a good support system in place, you can be a surrogate!
Q: How involved will my significant other need to be?
A: During the medical and psychological screening, some clinics do require the surrogate’s partner to undergo a blood test and participate in the psychological evaluation. This is not always the case based on the clinic’s requirements, but it is only to ensure that the surrogate’s partner is disease-free as to not transmit anything to the baby during pregnancy, and to ensure the partner is supportive of the surrogacy. During the legal contracts, if you are a married couple, both parties must sign the contract. Your significant other is usually the biggest part of your support system during pregnancy. Their involvement in the process is small overall, but very key to a healthy and happy journey.
Q: How do I help my children understand what I am choosing to do?
A: The best advice we can give is to keep it sweet and simple. Children tend to understand better when you put it into terms they understand. There are several children’s books to explain that this is a way to help a Mommy or Daddy that cannot have a baby on their own. Children of surrogates have the perfect life example of what it’s like to do something selfless for someone else. It’s a great teaching opportunity if you choose to do so. How much you want to explain to your children is your personal choice, but sometimes your children can be your biggest cheerleaders!
Q: What are the benefits of using an agency?
A: You have a team designed to help YOU! As an agency, we are here to support, advocate, and educate you on the process of being a surrogate. We are here to ensure all your questions are asked, you are cared for, to advocate/mediate if needed, just to be an extra person to help you navigate this exciting experience. ALL of our team members have been surrogates themselves so we understand your feelings and are committed to supporting you.
Q: How many embryos are usually transferred?
A: This is a case by case discussion and agreement between both the Intended Parents and their Surrogate during the matching phase. It is always a good idea to never agree to transfer more embryos than babies you are willing to carry. For example, if you are only comfortable with carrying one baby, it is wise to only transfer one embryo. Occasionally an embryo can split resulting in twins, but that cannot be predicted. Being sure of how many babies you are willing to carry can greatly minimize the need for fetal reduction or termination that sometimes can occur with multiples pregnancies.
Q: If the surrogate changes her mind, at what point is it ok to walk away?
A: This question is a challenging question to answer. A surrogate is usually allowed to walk away from a match at any point in the process as long there is no viable pregnancy. The decision to break a match should never be made lightly, same as the decision to make a match. Worst case scenario, if the surrogate is already pregnant and feels the match is irreparable, she cannot break the match but can resort to using the agency coordinator (or another mediator such as her attorney or similar entity) to communicate for the remainder of the pregnancy.