Surrogacy is a blessing to many mothers who cannot conceive or carry a child to full term themselves. It is also a blessing to same-sex couples and many others seeking to start or grow their families. Social surrogacies are available for those who cannot take maternity leave, risk bedrest, or choose not to alter their bodies. Here are some things you should know if you are considering using a surrogate.
Finding and Choosing a Surrogate
To begin surrogacy, you’ll want to schedule a consultation with a fertility specialist or a surrogacy clinic. Traditional surrogacies involve a surrogate using her egg to form the baby. Gestational surrogacies provide a womb to carry a baby created by the intended parents. Once you decide whether you are looking for gestational or traditional surrogacy, you can choose how to search for a surrogate.
You can pursue an agency, reach out to your network of friends and family or visit a fertility specialist if you decide to go with an agency. You should research surrogacy agencies until you find one right for you. Most agencies have extensive screening processes to match you with a surrogate mother that meets their requirements. You’ll then meet with your surrogate, and if you agree, you can move forward.
You’ll Get Surrogacy Leave
Whether you are a surrogate or use one to have a baby, you’ll likely qualify for paid maternity leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Having a baby is emotionally and physically challenging regardless if the baby is in your care post-delivery. Likewise, caring for a newborn baby is a struggle, so the intended parents should also receive maternity leave.
Under FMLA, if you’ve worked for a company for 12 months or more for at least 24 hours a week leading up to leave. Your employer could have its own maternity leave policy with unpaid or paid leave in their guidelines—not all states offer paid maternity leave. It is also possible that intended parents can reimburse you for 40% of missed income if your employer covers 60%, so your total compensation is recovered from missed work.
You Can Be Biological Parents
If your dreams are shattered because you think that your chance to have a baby that is genetically related to you and your partner, you may be mistaken. Heterosexual couples have an opportunity through gestational surrogacy to combine their egg and sperm through in vitro fertilization that can be transferred and carried by a surrogate.
The surrogate will have no genetic relation to the baby they carry–they are simply providing the womb. There are several psychological and medical screenings and legal contracts for all parties to sign before the process begins. Several professionals are involved in this process and the gestational carrier cannot keep the baby.
Laws Surrounding Surrogacy
Many laws exist to protect surrogate mothers and intended parents from the process. Surrogacy is an intense journey from both sides. The surrogate has heightened emotions and can get attached to the baby they carry and the parents could become overbearing or try to control the surrogate that’s carrying the baby. These are small examples of things that come up during surrogacy.
The laws surrounding surrogate motherhood vary by state since it isn’t legal everywhere in the U.S. The three states that don’t allow gestational surrogacy in the U.S. are Michigan, Nebraska and Louisiana. However, intended parents abide by the state laws where the surrogate resides. So, if you are a resident of Nebraska, for example, where surrogacy isn’t legal, you can have a surrogate that lives in a state where it’s allowed.
Understanding the Costs
The intended parents often cover all the costs associated with prenatal care and baby delivery. You’ll also want to consider travel costs once the baby is born if the surrogate doesn’t live nearby. Whether the surrogate uses her own private insurance or the intended parents provide it for her, it usually kicks in after the 12th week of pregnancy. The cost of insurance for surrogate mothers varies but typically can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000.
The average cost of surrogacy in the U.S. ranges from $125,000-$175,000, but it varies widely depending on circumstances such as if you use IFV, insurance and travel, and other expenses. Grants and loans are available for potential intended parents, and some surrogacy agencies provide financial assistance planning services. Finding the right path can be challenging, but agencies are here to help you every step of the way in your journey.
Preparing for Your Surrogacy Journey
Surrogate journeys can be an exhilarating experience for everyone involved. Surrogacy allows a woman to help couples create the families they’ve always dreamed of. Intended parents can fulfill their dreams of growing their family once they find and choose a suitable surrogate to help them make those dreams a reality.