How to Select a surrogate mother
Adding a new baby to your family is one of the most life-altering events you will experience. If you’ve made the momentous decision to have a child by surrogacy, it’s important to prepare yourself and your partner for all the questions, choices, and joys ahead. Here are some key considerations to think about as you begin to search for just the right surrogate mother for your child.
Questions to Ask Yourself and Your Partner
- Will you work through a surrogate agency, or choose a surrogate
There are medical and legal implications to consider in the process you are about to undertake. Given the deep emotional impact of it all, having the assistance of an independent third party like a qualified agency takes away some of the burden and provides your family with expert resources at every stage, including screening potential surrogacy candidates.
- Are we truly ready for parenthood and for sharing this intimate process with an outside person? The more you know in advance about what to expect and what choices you have, the better prepared you will feel for every step in this exciting process. Learn as much as possible about your options, and the pros and cons associated with surrogacy.
- Do we effectively communicate with one another about surrogacy and
Now is the time to assure that both partners are on the same page, and move forward with similar values and goals, and a shared vision of your ideal surrogate partner.
Qualities to Consider in Choosing a Surrogate
Start by listing qualities you both hope to find in your surrogate mom. It helps to break them into ideal and must-have categories. Depending on whether you choose a close friend or relative, or select a stranger from among candidates screened by a surrogacy agency, you will need to decide how involved you plan to become with your surrogate before, during, and after pregnancy. Of course, your relationship will evolve just as any other would, and you may be surprised at the close bond that develops following the birth of your child. At the very least, you will remain in frequent contact during the pregnancy, sharing the experience with her and ensuring a consistently loving, healthy, supportive environment for your baby.
Here are some essential qualities to look for as you narrow down your choice of surrogate. She should be:
- Entirely trustworthy, responsible, and committed to seeing the pregnancy through to completion.
- Aware of the potential risks in any pregnancy and the particular risks of surrogacy.
- A resident in a state that allows surrogate procedures. If she lives in a state with laws banning surrogacy, she would be performing an illegal act, even if your state is favorable to the procedure.1
- In excellent health, and someone who has given birth to a healthy child previously, so she knows what to expect all the way through. She is also more likely to readily deliver the newborn baby she carried into the hands of the intended parents without a painful period of separation and loss. She should be a non-smoker who has never used drugs, and should agree to remain smoke-free and alcohol-free throughout, including during a pre-implantation period.
- Someone who has a healthy home environment with a network of family and friends to rely on for support as she goes through the experience of being a surrogate.
- Financially stable and motivated more by a desire to help fulfill personal and family goals than by financial gain.
- A woman between the ages of 21 to 42 years—the best range to deal with the emotional and physical challenges that lie ahead.1
- Mentally and emotionally healthy, as indicated by a psychological screening and thorough interview. She should not have any history of mental illness or post-partum depression.1 A positive person with an upbeat, forward-looking view of life is most likely to weather the emotional and physical ups and downs of pregnancy with a healthy, balanced attitude.
Issues to Review with Surrogacy Candidates
A contract between the intended parents and the surrogate is absolutely mandatory. Contracts exist to clearly set out the expectations of all parties in any relationship, business or personal. Surrogate IVF is a relatively new process in legal terms, and, as a result, the laws are vague or non-existent and vary from state to state. Here are just a few of the overlapping legal, ethical, and medical questions that may arise during the pre-pregnancy and pregnancy period:\
- Will you have amniocentesis performed when your surrogate becomes pregnant? How will you be prepared to respond to the outcomes?
- If multiple pregnancies—specifically, triplets or more—result, will you choose to selectively reduce, and will she be willing to undergo this procedure?
- If there is a diagnosis of Down syndrome or another more severe condition, will you terminate the pregnancy, or proceed, and will your surrogate agree?
Discuss and come to a consensus with your surrogate, and then make sure that your contract includes stipulations as to how each of these eventualities will be handled.
What kind of relationship will your surrogate maintain with your baby after birth? You may feel comfortable finding a place for her as part of your child’s extended family. It is ethical and kind to give the surrogate a chance to at least say goodbye to the baby, and to see it welcomed into your loving home. Often, surrogates maintain a distant relationship during the first year, and then gradually become more detached over time. In many cases, though, intended parents and surrogates form a close bond that becomes a lifelong friendship.
If you have difficulty conceiving and bearing a child, and are considering using a surrogate mother, you now have a better idea of the many complex choices you will face along the way. Working through an experienced, caring surrogate agency will provide the kind of professional guidance and security you and your baby need to assure a healthy start in life and a promising future. It is important to choose an agency with an established record of success and a coordinated, professional program of services, like Family Creations.
Be sure to choose an agency that offers these important services:
- Screening of candidates for the role of surrogate, including a thorough review of medical and psychological history, social background, character, and lifestyle.
- In-depth interviews and background check of candidate and spouse or partner, if any.
- Ability to choose from those candidates who most closely match your values, concerns, and comfort level regarding family involvement.
- Home visit and inspection of candidate’s living situation.
- Screening of candidate’s current health insurance.
- Educational overview and guidance for the surrogate and her family, to ensure they are fully prepared for the process.
- Willingness to show the agency’s record of successful births.
Once you have found a match and chosen the surrogate you will work with, the agency should manage the process, and humanely and carefully guide the surrogate through each step, including handling:
- The scheduling of all medical appointments with approved professionals.
- Assistance with legal aspects of the agreement.
- Psychological counseling and support sessions.
- Issuing and tracking payments according to an agreed schedule.
You should have the assistance of a personal case manager who oversees and coordinates all the many services required to assure the best possible experience for both the intended parents and the surrogate mother, and during the follow-up stages following childbirth, as both families adjust to existence of the precious, new life they have created together.