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Official Support Group: I am a Surrogate Thread Mama_Casey Due April 4; 1 child; 4 angel babies; Livermore, CA, United States 10193 posts
19th Jul '11

Feel free to talk amongst yourselves.




Information about Surrogacy provided by: Jenn
The process of becoming a surrogate depends on whether you decide to go independently or through an agency. With an agency, you fill out an application and are matched with potential intended parents (IPs). The agency handles much of everything and all you need to do is sign a contract before starting the transfer process.



Independently, you find your own IPs and do all of the negotiating. This is preferred by IPs because agencies can charge between $6 and 20 thousand extra and surrogacy in general is a pricey experience. You find a couple that you mesh well with and feel comfortable with and go from there.



With both, you'll have your own, separate legal representation and you'll draft a contract that sets everything out. Everything from compensation, time in contract, number of cycles attempted, who covers medical expenses, etc is listed in this contract.



After contracts are signed, you start cycling.



Compensation varies. First time surrogates receive anywhere between $15,000 and $25,000 depending on gestational vs traditional surrogate and what the IPs can afford. Most IPs are looking for low-cost surrogates and will try to cut costs if at all possible. Extras are added in for multiple births and invasive procedures (selective reductions, amnio, cvs, D&C, etc). Compensation is generally paid out monthly after the second heartbeat ultrasound.



And blog excerpts from Jenn:
"Before becoming a surrogate, you have to fit a somewhat specific criteria. Most agencies won't work with you if you don't meet the specifications, but some IPs will work with you if some of the minor ones aren't met if you go independently. The short list includes:



*Having given birth prior and within the previous 5 years-This one's non-negotiable regardless of whether you're with an agency or independent. The reasons include having proven fertility and lesser risks during pregnancy/delivery, knowing the emotional aspect ahead of time and the risks that come with surrogacy.



*Age-Most prefer you to be at least 21 but no more than 39. With traditional surrogacy (using your eggs, not the IM or donors), the age limits are a bit more strict.



*BMI-A BMI between 18 and 24 is ideal. There isn't much wiggle room here.



*Prior pregnancies should have no complications or preterm delivery (before 36 weeks unless with multiples)-Most REs will request medical records that include your most recent pap smear, STD panel and then all of your prenatal and delivery records.



*Smoke, drug and alcohol free-You cannot be a smoker (must have been smoke-free for at least 6 months) or be exposed to a significant amount of secondhand smoke either at home or work. No drugs at all (even prescription) and no alcohol consumption during pregnancy.



*Custody/Background Check-You MUST have custody of your children and be able to pass a background check. If anything in your living situation is questionable, you will most likely be passed up. You must have a stable home situation.



*Finances-No government assistance of any kind. Some independent IPs are willing to overlook things like WIC, but it's not a guarantee. You're better off not having it.



*Testing-Both you and your partner will have to submit recent (within 12 months) STD panels as well as undergo psych evaluation. The surrogate will likely have an MMPI test as well.




Keep in mind, this list is not all-inclusive. Surrogates that have insurance plans that don't have a surrogacy exclusion will almost always be preferred and surrogates in certain states are chosen over others.



So what's your first step? Research. Find out as much as you can about the process, the things to think about, the average compensation and then start thinking everything through. Once you research everything, start gathering your medical records. Do as much leg work as possible beforehand. Educate yourself so that your potential IPs know you're serious and committed to the process. Then buckle up and enjoy the ride! "



"One of the questions I get asked a lot is why I want to be a surrogate. Most people assume I'm choosing to carry for a family member or close friend and after finding out that I'm willing to carry for complete strangers, they immediately assume my motive is solely financial. While compensation is part of the surrogate "package," it is by no means my motivator and most definitely not my sole reason for embarking on this journey. There's a lot that goes into the decision to become a surrogate. There's much more to it than just "getting pregnant and having a baby."



The first thing to consider is whether or not your body can handle another pregnancy, especially a multiple pregnancy. One of the prerequisites of being a surrogate is having a child. You have to have both carried and delivered a healthy child and had that child remain in your custody. Having gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, placental abruption, any real dangerous or risky developments during previous pregnancies can make it difficult for an RE to work with you. Prior miscarriages may or may not work against you. Usually having a healthy pregnancy/birth after a miscarriage essentially negates the miscarriage.
Additionally, your body has to be able to handle the hormones you'll need to inject yourself with. If you don't react well to hormonal birth control or are unable to deal well with your hormones (i.e. crazy PMS and whatnot), you're probably not the best candidate.



Second, you need to evaluate your home situation. You need a strong, stable support system in place long before you start cycling. If you don't have a supportive spouse or significant other, surrogacy is not for you. If you're regularly stressed or unable to handle your own responsibilities, keep walking. If you're married, your husband will have to sign the contract as well so he needs to be on board. It's better if he's supportive and willing to help you with everything. Surrogacy is a very emotional process. Long before the actual pregnancy, there's a lot of potential disappointment and heartbreak and without my family, I'm not sure I'd be able to continue. Surrogates also need very flexible schedules with the ability to travel frequently and to attend many appointments.



The last thing you need to do is some soul-searching. Carrying any pregnancy is an emotional process. You have to be willing to do things the way your IPs want you to, not the way you want to and you have to understand that at the end of the pregnancy, after all of the time you've spent carrying and after laboring, you walk away with empty arms. Not only that, but you have to think about the hard stuff. How many embryos are you okay with transferring? What are your opinions on selective reductions? What about invasive testing procedures? Are you willing to lose your reproductive ability? How about sacrificing your own life to give another couple a child? There's a lot that goes into your contract. You have to think about what would happen if you were in a coma and put on life support. How long would you agree to carry before pulling the plug? Most people think about IVF and the risks that come with that, but they don't think about all of the what ifs that go along with pregnancy, invasive procedures and pregnancy/birth-related surgeries.



There's a lot of hard thinking that comes with your decision to be a surrogate. Do you go with an agency or go independent? What's reasonable for compensation? What do I want to find in IPs? What are things that I'm not willing to compromise on (reductions, invasive procedures, etc)? The process of finding IPs can take a good amount of time and that's only the start. Getting to the point of "getting" pregnant could take years. Ultimately, it's a very rewarding experience, but not for everyone."

Jenn [+Fat Kid] 17 kids; Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri 16931 posts
19th Jul '11

Hi, I'm a GS. Free to answer questions :)

Mama_Casey Due April 4; 1 child; 4 angel babies; Livermore, CA, United States 10193 posts
19th Jul '11
Quoting Jenn [+Fat Kid]:" Hi, I'm a GS. Free to answer questions :)"


Awesome. Thanks!

Jenn [+Fat Kid] 17 kids; Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri 16931 posts
19th Jul '11
Quoting Casey :]:" Awesome. Thanks!"


No problem. What sparked this?

Mama_Casey Due April 4; 1 child; 4 angel babies; Livermore, CA, United States 10193 posts
19th Jul '11
Quoting Jenn [+Fat Kid]:" No problem. What sparked this?"


Tying to separate TTC and Adoption in the boards. I want to see/show that there are people on BG who could be helpful/need help in the topics of adoption and that if it was separated that the adoption topics would be active. Gotta start somewhere :]

Jenn [+Fat Kid] 17 kids; Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri 16931 posts
19th Jul '11
Quoting Casey :]:" Tying to separate TTC and Adoption in the boards. I want to see/show that there are people on BG who ... [snip!] ... help in the topics of adoption and that if it was separated that the adoption topics would be active. Gotta start somewhere :]"


Ah, very cool. I joined the Birth Mom Support thread because there were no surrogacy related ones so this is definitely a good idea :)

Braejuma Due January 2; 3 kids; British Columbia 16 posts
22nd Jul '11

I am a GS...currently 16 weeks pregnant. Is this the only Surrogate thread? lol

Mama_Casey Due April 4; 1 child; 4 angel babies; Livermore, CA, United States 10193 posts
22nd Jul '11
Quoting Braejuma:" I am a GS...currently 16 weeks pregnant. Is this the only Surrogate thread? lol"


as far as i know it is.

Jenn [+Fat Kid] 17 kids; Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri 16931 posts
22nd Jul '11

Here's some info for the OP:



The process of becoming a surrogate depends on whether you decide to go independently or through an agency. With an agency, you fill out an application and are matched with potential intended parents (IPs). The agency handles much of everything and all you need to do is sign a contract before starting the transfer process.



Independently, you find your own IPs and do all of the negotiating. This is preferred by IPs because agencies can charge between $6 and 20 thousand extra and surrogacy in general is a pricey experience. You find a couple that you mesh well with and feel comfortable with and go from there.



With both, you'll have your own, separate legal representation and you'll draft a contract that sets everything out. Everything from compensation, time in contract, number of cycles attempted, who covers medical expenses, etc is listed in this contract.



After contracts are signed, you start cycling.



Compensation varies. First time surrogates receive anywhere between $15,000 and $25,000 depending on gestational vs traditional surrogate and what the IPs can afford. Most IPs are looking for low-cost surrogates and will try to cut costs if at all possible. Extras are added in for multiple births and invasive procedures (selective reductions, amnio, cvs, D&C, etc). Compensation is generally paid out monthly after the second heartbeat ultrasound.

Jenn [+Fat Kid] 17 kids; Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri 16931 posts
22nd Jul '11

From my blog:
"One of the questions I get asked a lot is why I want to be a surrogate. Most people assume I'm choosing to carry for a family member or close friend and after finding out that I'm willing to carry for complete strangers, they immediately assume my motive is solely financial. While compensation is part of the surrogate "package," it is by no means my motivator and most definitely not my sole reason for embarking on this journey. There's a lot that goes into the decision to become a surrogate. There's much more to it than just "getting pregnant and having a baby."

The first thing to consider is whether or not your body can handle another pregnancy, especially a multiple pregnancy. One of the prerequisites of being a surrogate is having a child. You have to have both carried and delivered a healthy child and had that child remain in your custody. Having gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, placental abruption, any real dangerous or risky developments during previous pregnancies can make it difficult for an RE to work with you. Prior miscarriages may or may not work against you. Usually having a healthy pregnancy/birth after a miscarriage essentially negates the miscarriage.
Additionally, your body has to be able to handle the hormones you'll need to inject yourself with. If you don't react well to hormonal birth control or are unable to deal well with your hormones (i.e. crazy PMS and whatnot), you're probably not the best candidate.

Second, you need to evaluate your home situation. You need a strong, stable support system in place long before you start cycling. If you don't have a supportive spouse or significant other, surrogacy is not for you. If you're regularly stressed or unable to handle your own responsibilities, keep walking. If you're married, your husband will have to sign the contract as well so he needs to be on board. It's better if he's supportive and willing to help you with everything. Surrogacy is a very emotional process. Long before the actual pregnancy, there's a lot of potential disappointment and heartbreak and without my family, I'm not sure I'd be able to continue. Surrogates also need very flexible schedules with the ability to travel frequently and to attend many appointments.

The last thing you need to do is some soul-searching. Carrying any pregnancy is an emotional process. You have to be willing to do things the way your IPs want you to, not the way you want to and you have to understand that at the end of the pregnancy, after all of the time you've spent carrying and after laboring, you walk away with empty arms. Not only that, but you have to think about the hard stuff. How many embryos are you okay with transferring? What are your opinions on selective reductions? What about invasive testing procedures? Are you willing to lose your reproductive ability? How about sacrificing your own life to give another couple a child? There's a lot that goes into your contract. You have to think about what would happen if you were in a coma and put on life support. How long would you agree to carry before pulling the plug? Most people think about IVF and the risks that come with that, but they don't think about all of the what ifs that go along with pregnancy, invasive procedures and pregnancy/birth-related surgeries.



There's a lot of hard thinking that comes with your decision to be a surrogate. Do you go with an agency or go independent? What's reasonable for compensation? What do I want to find in IPs? What are things that I'm not willing to compromise on (reductions, invasive procedures, etc)? The process of finding IPs can take a good amount of time and that's only the start. Getting to the point of "getting" pregnant could take years. Ultimately, it's a very rewarding experience, but not for everyone."

Jenn [+Fat Kid] 17 kids; Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri 16931 posts
22nd Jul '11

Also from my blog (requirements):
"Before becoming a surrogate, you have to fit a somewhat specific criteria. Most agencies won't work with you if you don't meet the specifications, but some IPs will work with you if some of the minor ones aren't met if you go independently. The short list includes:

*Having given birth prior and within the previous 5 years-This one's non-negotiable regardless of whether you're with an agency or independent. The reasons include having proven fertility and lesser risks during pregnancy/delivery, knowing the emotional aspect ahead of time and the risks that come with surrogacy.

*Age-Most prefer you to be at least 21 but no more than 39. With traditional surrogacy (using your eggs, not the IM or donors), the age limits are a bit more strict.

*BMI-A BMI between 18 and 24 is ideal. There isn't much wiggle room here.

*Prior pregnancies should have no complications or preterm delivery (before 36 weeks unless with multiples)-Most REs will request medical records that include your most recent pap smear, STD panel and then all of your prenatal and delivery records.

*Smoke, drug and alcohol free-You cannot be a smoker (must have been smoke-free for at least 6 months) or be exposed to a significant amount of secondhand smoke either at home or work. No drugs at all (even prescription) and no alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

*Custody/Background Check-You MUST have custody of your children and be able to pass a background check. If anything in your living situation is questionable, you will most likely be passed up. You must have a stable home situation.

*Finances-No government assistance of any kind. Some independent IPs are willing to overlook things like WIC, but it's not a guarantee. You're better off not having it.

*Testing-Both you and your partner will have to submit recent (within 12 months) STD panels as well as undergo psych evaluation. The surrogate will likely have an MMPI test as well.


Keep in mind, this list is not all-inclusive. Surrogates that have insurance plans that don't have a surrogacy exclusion will almost always be preferred and surrogates in certain states are chosen over others.



So what's your first step? Research. Find out as much as you can about the process, the things to think about, the average compensation and then start thinking everything through. Once you research everything, start gathering your medical records. Do as much leg work as possible beforehand. Educate yourself so that your potential IPs know you're serious and committed to the process. Then buckle up and enjoy the ride! :)"

Jenn [+Fat Kid] 17 kids; Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri 16931 posts
22nd Jul '11

Info links to come when Fat Kid naps. I'll also give you links for IPs for the other thread too :)

Mama_Casey Due April 4; 1 child; 4 angel babies; Livermore, CA, United States 10193 posts
22nd Jul '11
Quoting Jenn [+Fat Kid]:" Here's some info for the OP: The process of becoming a surrogate depends on whether you decide to go ... [snip!] ... reductions, amnio, cvs, D&C, etc). Compensation is generally paid out monthly after the second heartbeat ultrasound."


Thanks!

Braejuma Due January 2; 3 kids; British Columbia 16 posts
23rd Jul '11

I wont comment on the process of surrogacy, because that has been gone through in great detail...although in Canada it is a little different. However, I will answer as to why I became a surrogate.
I have always wanted to be a surrogate...even before I had my own children, I knew I wanted to be a surrogate. I never thought I would get the opportunity because I didnt want to go through an agency where i would likely carry for a couple far away...even in another country. I wanted a relationship with my IPs. When my friend underwent a hysterectomy for pre cancerous cells of the cervix, I offered to carry a baby for her. Unfortunatly, we never got that far as the cancer became metastatic skin cancer, and she ended up losing her battle at the age of 33. Fast forward a few years, and I was at work (in a baby store) when a lady came in who was expecting twins being carried by a GS. I told her that I was in awe of her surro and that I had always wanted to do that. She was stunned as she hadnt come across many people who had wanted to be a surrogate! She informed me that she was a cancer survivor and she had a friend who she knew through a young cancer survivor program, who was looking at surrogacy as their next step to having a child. I gave her my spam email, not expecting anything to come of it (and not knowing this lady, didnt want to give her my personal email). Fast forward again a few months, I happen to check that email again (I had checked it before, but it was burried in all the other spam) and I see an email from unfamiliar person that could have been spam, but something in me said I needed to open it.So, I did. And Im thankful I did. It was from this ladies friend. She didnt know how to write to me as how do you start a conversation with someone who might carry a baby for you?! It turned out, she had sent that email 4 months prior!!! I felt terrible!!! I emailed her back apologizing for the long delay and explained why and said if she had not found a surrogate already, I would love to talk to her. Well...she hadnt found one and in fact, only just had her appointment with the fertility clinic the very next weekend! Meant to be? I think so!!
My husband and I met with her and her husband for dinner a few days later and we hit it off immediately....and a few days later, they asked me to carry their baby! That was in November 2010....we know nothing would happen until after Christmas and sure enough, right after christmas, we got going on this incredible journey. We had all the screening, counselling and contracts done. My IPs went to Seattle to get an egg donor (since egg donation is illegal in Canada) and one incredible day in April, we went and transfered one beautiful embryo into my waiting uterus! 10 days later, a beta test confirmed pregnancy (even though I already knew after taking a HPT lol). My IPs are thrilled and so am I to be able to give them their baby.



Anyhow...thats my story! lol Sorry its so long!

Mama_Casey Due April 4; 1 child; 4 angel babies; Livermore, CA, United States 10193 posts
24th Jul '11
Quoting Braejuma:" I wont comment on the process of surrogacy, because that has been gone through in great detail...although ... [snip!] ... lol). My IPs are thrilled and so am I to be able to give them their baby. Anyhow...thats my story! lol Sorry its so long! "


Thats such an amazing story!