Becoming a surrogate is a life-changing decision for the surrogate, and the intended parent(s). For the surrogate dedicates about a year of her life to preparing, carrying, and delivering a baby. For the intended parents, surrogacy can fulfill the dream of parenthood which, otherwise, may not have been possible.
To become a surrogate, the first step is meeting the basic requirements of being a surrogate. Even though each surrogacy agency will have their own criteria, there are basic requirements which will be universal.
General Requirements for Becoming a Surrogate
The general requirements of becoming a surrogate may include:
- Meeting age requirement, which is usually between 19-39
- Having a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or less
- Not being a smoker or drug user
- Not be dependent on any government assistance programs
- Have previously has at least one successful pregnancy
- Be currently raising a child in her home
- Have had no major complications from or during previous pregnancies
- Cannot have any felony convictions
- Must be free of treatable STDs (sexually transmitted disease) for at least 12 months
- Must not have a history of postpartum depression
- Must not have gotten body piercings or tattoos in the last 12 months
- Have the ability to travel for appointments
There may be other requirements set by each surrogacy agency. But the above list provides a fair representation of what the requirements may look like.
The Surrogacy Process
Surrogates to interview and meet with several agencies before making a selection. It is important for the surrogate to be comfortable with the agency, because it will be a long relationship.
Generally, the process starts with an interview by the agency. The agency will ask questions about your lifestyle as well as your reason for wanting to be a surrogate. The interview will be rather personal, asking about social as well as medical history. These questions help the agency determine whether the surrogate meets their requirements.
Aside from the interview, and a variety of questionnaires, there will also be medical examinations, including fertility specialists. This will help determine the chances of the pregnancy taking hold and resulting in a healthy birth.
The medical screening will include:
- Physical examination(s)
- Lab tests including bloodwork for sexually transmitted diseases
- Mental health evaluation
The agency will also assess the living environment in which the surrogate will be in during the pregnancy.
Criminal background checks are also conducted. Depending on the requirements of the agency or that of the intended parents, the requirements may be stringent.
After Being Accepted as a Surrogate
After being selected, the surrogate must go through fertility treatments to prepare her for IVF. The prenatal care process helps prepare the body of the surrogate to improve the chances of a healthy and trouble-free pregnancy.
There are two types of surrogacy: Gestational & Traditional.
Traditional surrogacy uses the eggs of the surrogate. Her eggs are fertilized by the sperm of either the intended father, or a donor. In gestational surrogacy a prepared embryo is implanted into the surrogate. The embryo is created by the egg and sperm of the intended parents, or donor eggs and/or sperm.
Legal Requirements & Considerations
Since becoming a surrogate is a commitment that impacts the lives of many people, there is a legal component to a surrogacy agreement. Usually, the intended parents will retain an attorney who will draft a contract based his client’s requirements. The surrogate will have to review and agree to the terms of the contract and can have her own personal legal counsel review and amend the agreement.
A surrogacy contract usually includes details about:
- Compensation to be received by the surrogate
- Possible risks associated with the process of surrogacy for the surrogate
- Detailed responsibilities of the surrogate prior and throughout the pregnancy, and delivery
- Acknowledgement and agreement by the surrogate that the infant will be relinquished to the intended parents at the end of the pregnancy
There may be other details and requirements included depending on the desires of the intended parents. Depending on the state in which the surrogacy agreement has effect, the legal requirements will vary.
Are You Ready to Be a Surrogate?
If you have decided to become a surrogate and feel that you will meet the minimum general requirements, the next step would be to find a surrogacy agency. Interview several agencies until you find one with which you are comfortable.
The agency will also help you decide whether you would like to offer your services for traditional or gestational surrogacy. Along with the type of surrogacy, the agency will also help you develop a detailed surrogacy plan and match you with potential intended parents.