Becoming a mother is an amazing experience. Sadly, some women will never get to experience this gift. For these mothers, there is always surrogacy. Surrogacy is a life-changing experience, but it can be long and complicated. Below, you will find everything you need to know before opting for surrogacy.
The first step in becoming a surrogate is signing up at an agency that offers surrogacy services. You then need to pass their qualifications and screening requirements. Both of these help to protect the safety and health of the surrogate and the baby. It also helps to ensure that every woman getting into surrogacy is psychologically and physically ready for the process. The qualifications and screening processes vary from agency to agency, but some things are constant. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, some of these qualifications include:
- You must be within the ages of 25 and 45. Although this is the set range, agencies might have a smaller age range or even require older or younger women
- No smoking or drug use, even in your past
- A BMI of 30 or less
- You must not be on government assistance
- You must have no felony convictions
- There can be no complications in any previous pregnancies
- You have at least one child and are raising them in your home
- You have no STDs and should have been clean for at least 12 months
- You need a support system and a stable life
- You must not have any tattoos or piercings in the 12 months before the pregnancy
- No use of anti-anxiety and antidepressants for a least 12 months before the pregnancy
- No history of postpartum depression
If you meet these requirements, plus any others that may be set by the agency, you get to continue to the screening process. Even though the agency has a different screening system, the process will usually include:
- An application – This application will help you tell the agency all about you and your life. It will also help you explain why you would like to become a surrogate mother. After the initial application, you might be contacted by a representative of the agency to get more details about you.
- Medical and Social information – The agency might ask about your family, personality and health history.
- A medical examination – The agency will arrange for a meeting with fertility specialists so they can check you out and ensure you are healthy enough to carry a pregnancy to term.
- In-home examination – Here, a social worker might visit your home to talk to you at length about the surrogacy process. They will also examine your home to ensure it is a safe place to carry a pregnancy.
- Background checks
- Mental health assessment – Here, the agency will ask about your mental health, trying to find out if you suffer from depression, stress or any other mental issues. They will also determine if you are psychologically ready for the process.
This screening process might seem long and laborious, but it is essential for all parties involved. Prospective parents will have peace of mind knowing their baby will be well taken care of through the pregnancy.
The health of the surrogate is central to the whole process. Because of this, it will be closely monitored through the pregnancy. The surrogate mother will also be required to undergo several medical tests and take fertility medications.
The medical processes include:
- Medical Screening – This is part of the screening process as discussed above. The doctors will test for fertility, STDs, drugs and any diseases that can affect the pregnancy.
- Fertility Treatments – After signing any legal papers required, a surrogate mother will undergo fertility treatments to prepare them for the pregnancy. Other treatments include injections, prescribed medications, ultrasound, birth control pills, and hormone treatments.
- Embryo Transfer – The fertilized embryo will be transferred to the surrogate mother’s uterus for implantation.
- Prenatal care – Surrogate mothers are required to visit the hospital regularly for blood tests and ultrasounds. The mother will receive prenatal care as they would during any other pregnancy.
Some of the issues to be discussed here include:
- Possible risks
- Giving the child to the parents
- The surrogate mother’s responsibilities
Every surrogate contract is different but, in most cases, the intended parents draft the contract and have the surrogate mother sign it. In some special circumstances, both parties can decide to involve a lawyer in the whole process so everything can go smoothly.
Motherhood is an amazing gift. Surrogacy helps mothers who cannot have their own children experience this amazing gift. Even though the process may be long, it is worth it in the long run. The most important thing is that both parties understand the roles they will play through the whole process.