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Surrogacy 101

The Girlfriend's Guide to Surrogacy

Surrogate Terminology…

There are two types of surrogates, gestational and traditional. The defining factor is whether or not the surrogate has a genetic link to the child that she is carrying. In a gestational surrogacy the surrogate becomes pregnant through In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF). The eggs come from either the intended mother, or an egg donor. Either the intended father or a sperm donor provides the sperm. The surrogate receives the fertilized egg through an embryo transfer. The gestational surrogate has no genetic link to the baby.  A traditional surrogacy occurs when the surrogate becomes pregnant through Artificial Insemination (AI), using her own eggs. Therefore, a traditional surrogate has a biological and genetic link to the child. The Intended Father or a sperm donor supplies the sperm. At the Gift of Surrogacy, we do not work with traditional surrogates.

 

To be eligible to be represented by The Gift of Surrogacy, you must:

  •  Reside in Idaho, Southeastern Oregon, or Northern Utah/SLC Area

  •  Be between the ages of 21 and 40ish years old

  •  Like being pregnant and desire to help another family

  •  Be a non-smoker, who maintains a healthy lifestyle

  •  Be willing to abstain from alcohol during pregnancy

  •  Be willing to limit caffeine intake during pregnancy

  •  Have a healthy height/weight ratio (BMI)                             

  •  Have a history of full-term, healthy pregnancy

  •  Have health insurance

  •  Have successfully carried at least one child who is currently in your custody

  •  Be financially stable and in a safe home environment

  •  Not be receiving State Assistance

  •  If married, have a spouse who is supportive of this arrangement

 

Taking the first step…

Step one of becoming a surrogate is to do some serious soul-searching. Our eening process is designed to introduce you to, and educate you in, the world of surrogacy. By the completion of the screening process, you will know whether or not becoming a surrogate is the right choice for you. Becoming a surrogate is a decision that will change your life, and ultimately, feed your soul. And, how many places can you find that in life?  ;)

 

Your “Perfect” Intended Parents…

Matching surrogates with their “perfect” intended parents is an extremely personal and emotional process. Intended parents are typically looking for a surrogate who is healthy, stable, and has views similar to their own. However, intended parents also want someone to whom they feel a strong connection. You will most likely meet prospective intended parents in-person or by a Skype interview. Average intended parents will meet individually with between 2-4 surrogate candidates. An interview is a wonderful opportunity for you; it is your chance to shine. We will be present at the interview, and you will be allotted a specific amount of time to get to know the Intended Parents. We will contact you and the other candidates as soon as possible with the results of those interviews. You could be selected as a result of the first interview you attend, or the fourth or fifth. Keep in mind that if you were not chosen, those intended parents were not the right couple for you. They chose the surrogate who was “perfect” for them; you will be the “perfect” choice for someone else.  When you are chosen, you will receive a copy of the intended parent questionnaire and a brief biography. You will then be given the choice to work with them. From this point, the contract will be finalized in thirty days, or less.  And now, your journey begins...

 

The Contract…

This story is the same for both sides: surrogacy is a very personal journey.  This will never be more prevalent than during the contract phase of your surrogacy.  Many surrogates consider the contract to be the most stressful part of their surrogate experience. The contract outlines the rules of the surrogacy for both the surrogate and the intended parents. It will include a detailed payment schedule, including a breakdown of all relevant fees, and when you will receive them. The contract also outlines what you will be able to expect from your intended parents, and what expectations your intended parents will have of you. At the Gift of Surrogacy, the fees are set by the agency, following industry standard. Compensation is $25,000 for first-time Surrogates and $35,000 for proven Surrogates.

The body of surrogacy case law is emerging and remains unsettled; therefore, it is in everyone’s best interest to work with a lawyer who has extensive experience with surrogacy contracts. We have a recommended attorney who prepares the agency contract. Items set by the agency will be present in your contract so that you will remain protected. Before the contract is submitted, a detailed questionnaire will be filled out by both parties. This document will then be used to draft the contract. The lawyer will outline and review the contract, which will then be sent out to both parties. The lawyer will then negotiate any changes or additions requested by either party. Once the contract is approved, copies will be sent to you and to your intended parents.  The majority of correspondence with the lawyer will be handled for you by the agency.   

 

Payments…

The surrogacy arrangement ensures that being a surrogate will be of no cost to you.  The intended parents are responsible for all expenses, including: medical procedures, doctor fees, medications, attorney fees, etc.  Any additional amounts listed “In the Gray Area,” will be paid within seven days of the given procedure.         

The intended parents will also have a trust account opened for you, into which they will place all of the funds that you will be receiving, prior to the embryo transfer. This allows you and the Intended Parents to concentrate solely on enjoying the pregnancy. It also provides you security, knowing that you will receive your payments as stated. Generally, surrogates receive a payment the first of each month, if this schedule is inconvenient for you, arrangements can be made. The trust account is established once the contract has been signed, a sample disbursement schedule is included on the FEES page.   

 

The Transfer…

When you meet the other surrogates, their first question will be “when do you transfer?” The transfer is such an exciting event because it signifies the beginning of the surrogate process. The medical procedure for the embryo transfer is similar to the combination of a Pap test and vaginal ultrasound. In most cases, the procedure is pain free. For a "fresh" cycle a sample protocol would be that the clinic will adjust your menstrual cycle through a series of birth control pills and daily injections of Lupron, a drug that suppresses ovulation. If you are thinking, “but I hate needles,” do not worry, once you get past the initial shock (and we will help you through it), it will seem just a normal part of your daily routine. Everyone who has been through the process felt intimidated at first, but after just two days, you will be amazed at how simple and relatively painless the injections are. You will attend a “shot class” at the reproductive clinic (not nearly as fun as it sounds!) where a nurse will talk you through the first injections, and we will always be available to assist you, as well. For "fresh" as well as "frozen" cycles, you will begin Delestrogen (Estradiol Valerate) injections 2-3 weeks prior to your transfer. Daily Progesterone (or Crinone) will be introduces afew dats prior to the transfer.  These meds are designed to maintain the integrity of the uterine lining, and assist in making the transfer successful.  

You will be subject to weekly blood tests to monitor your meds, and an ultrasound every few weeks to evaluate your uterine lining.  The eggs will be retrieved from the intended mother or egg donor and fertilized, and three days (cleaved embryo) or five days (blastocyst) later, the Doctor will transfer the embryos into your uterus.  You will be on strict bed rest following the Transfer for approximately 72 hours.  You will then continue your Delestrogen and Progesterone injections, and likely begin Progesterone vaginal suppositories at that time.  Your continued plan of care will depend on your individual response to the meds, and we will be available to assist and support you in any way possible.  

On the eighth and tenth days after the embryo transfer, you will have blood draws at the clinic to onfirm your hCG levels. On the afternoon of the tenth day, the clinic will call you with the results of those tests.  We hope that you will hear the words:

 

Congratulations!  You’re Pregnant…

You and your intended parents will determine the amount of contact you will have during the pregnancy. If both parties are open to a lot of contact, you can arrange for frequent visits and/or phone calls. If you both prefer a more reserved approach, your intended parents may just attend a few doctor appointments, and correspond by e-mail. At the Gift of Surrogacy, we encourage healthy and respectful relationships between the surrogate and Intended Parents.  We are also committed to making the surrogacy experience as stress-free as possible, and the best way to ensure that--is good communication.  If there are ever questions, problems, or changes to be made, we will be there to help to resolve those issues.

 

Counseling Sessions...

Initially I believed that one of the most important services that we would be able to provide to our surrogates was a series of counseling sessions.  I knew that your good mental health would be essential to any positive surrogacy experience.  Surrogacy is a deeply personal and emotional investment. To borrow the Army's old ad-campaign slogan, "It is the hardest job you'll ever love." To that end, we created a counseling package which consisted of a series of up to four appointments with a licensed psychologist. And then 10 years went by. Maybe two surrogates took advantage of those sessions. Want to know why? We have our own support group make up of nearly 50 of the kindest, most lovong, best educated SURROGATES in the Northwest! Your "Counseling Sessions" will be in-house. You will have access to support 24/7. There is no better way to experience a surrogate pregnancy. You are going to need your fellow surrogates--and we will be there for you! Always. With friendships that last far beyond surrogacy!  

 

The Gift of Surrogacy ....

You would probably like to know how much contact you will have with the agency. The answer is, as much or as little as you would like. Some of our surrogates contact us on a daily basis, others monthly. A lot of that depends on where you are in the process. We also have an amazing on-line support group, which is private, exclusive to the Gift of Surrogacy surrogates, and updates on a daily basis. Some intended parents contact their surrogates on a daily or weekly basis--others, less frequently. The relationship will evolve as naturally as possible into one that works for both of you. 

From the time you are accepted into the program, until the birth of the baby; you will become very familiar all of the other surrogates associated with our agency. We also have surrogate mentors with literally decades of experience. We will introduce you to the world of surrogacy, celebrate your progress, and answer any questions you might have along the way. We will be with you every step of the way offering insight, encouragement, guidance, support, and (even some unsolicited) advice. ;)

 

In Closing…

We've thought and thought about how to conclude this section; we wanted to be absolutely sure that we would say the right thing. When I found surrogacy, I was certain that there had to be a better agency out there. That day it existed only in my mind, today it exists as The Gift of Surrogacy. This agency is the culmination of our wishes and desires for those just beginning the process of becoming a surrogate.  We have done our best to maintain the nearly impossible balance of the smart business sense that you would expect from a goal-oriented agency, and the heart-felt generosity of spirit that such a personal journey requires. Being a surrogate is not just something that you do, it becomes a part of who you are. It takes a very special woman to be willing to carry a child for someone else. It is a life-affirming decision, and something we have felt called to do and blessed by. The Gift of Surrogacy is deeply committed to our surrogates.  Many of our surrogates have also become dear friends of ours.  We conduct fun and informative support group meetings.  We even have past surrogates who continue to attend our meetings, they think of it as their "surrority."  You will find that this type of support is essential to making your experience a meaningful and enjoyable one. In addition to bringing a miracle child into the world, you will also gain wonderful, life-long friends. 

To begin the process...

Fill out the on-line request form on the CONTACT US page.  After you submit your request, we will contact you to schedule a meeting. This meeting is simply a way for us to introduce the agency and get to know each other. Once we agree to work together, we will schedule a series of appointments in order to begin completing the individual documents included in your profile. Your profile, once completed, will be shown to prospective intended parents as an introduction to you as a surrogate candidate.

 

Your Portfolio will include: 

  •  Photos of You and Your Family

  •  Sample Contract

  •  Brief Biography—Letter to the Intended Parents

  •  Initial Questionnaire

  •  Fee Schedule

  •  Medical Coverage Information (Deductibles, Co-pays, Out of Pocket Maximums)

  •  Position on the Difficult Issues Sheet (Selective Reduction, Termination, etc.)