Using a Surrogate Mother: What You Need to Know
Finding a Surrogate
There are several ways you can find a surrogate mother:
Friends or family. Sometimes you can ask a friend or relative to be a surrogate for you. It's somewhat controversial. But because of the high cost of surrogacy and the complex legal issues it raises about parental rights, a tried-and-tested family relationship can be simpler to manage.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine accepts certain family ties as acceptable for surrogates. It generally discourages surrogacy, though, if the child would carry the same genes as a child born of incest between close relatives.
A surrogacy agency. Most people use one to arrange a gestational surrogate. There are about 100 agencies now operating in the U.S. They act as go-betweens.
An agency helps you find a surrogate and make arrangements. It also collects any fees that get passed between you and the surrogate, such as paying for her medical expenses.
How to Choose a Surrogate
Right now there aren't any regulations about who can be a surrogate mother. But experts agree on a few points about how to select one.
You should choose a surrogate who:
- Is at least 21 years old
- Has already given birth to at least one healthy baby so she understands firsthand the medical risks of pregnancy and childbirth and the emotional issues of bonding with a newborn
- Has passed a psychological screening by a mental health professional to uncover any issues with giving up the baby after birth
- Signs a contract about her role and responsibilities in the pregnancy, such as prenatal care and agreeing to give you the baby after birth
Using a Surrogate
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine says a surrogate should get a medical exam to check that she's likely to have a healthy, full-term pregnancy. The organization suggests she gets tests that check for infectious diseases such as syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV, cytomegalovirus, and hepatitis B and C.
Surrogates should get tests to make sure they have immunity to measles, rubella (German measles), and chickenpox. Also, you may want to ask that she get a medical procedure to visually "map" the uterus, which can help the doctor check her potential to carry a pregnancy. A surrogate mother should have her own doctor during pregnancy rather than use yours.
The cost of surrogacy can range from $80,000 to $120,000. A lot of different things go into the price, such as whether the surrogate has her own medical insurance or whether you need to buy a surrogacy-pregnancy policy for her.