Using a Surrogate Mother: What You Need to Know
Finding a Surrogate
There are several ways to find a surrogate mother:
Friends or family. Some people ask a friend or relative to be a surrogate for them. Doing so is somewhat controversial. But given 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 first-degree relatives.
A surrogacy agency. Most people turn to a surrogate agency to arrange a gestational surrogate. There are an estimated 100 agencies now operating in the U.S.The agencies act as go-betweens. An agency helps would-be parents find a suitable surrogate, makes arrangements, and collects any fees passed between parents and the surrogate, such as reimbursement for her medical expenses.
Choosing a Surrogate
Currently, there are no regulations as to who can be a surrogate. But experts agree on a few criteria for selecting a surrogate mother. 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 first-hand 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
- Willingly signs a contract agreeing to her role and responsibilities in the pregnancy, such as steps she'll take to ensure prenatal care and to relinquish the baby after birth
Using a Surrogate
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine advises that a surrogate have a complete medical evaluation and pregnancy history to assess the likelihood of a healthy, full-term pregnancy. The organization recommends screening for infectious diseases such as syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV, cytomegalovirus, and hepatitis B and C.
Surrogates also need screening for immunity to measles, rubella (German measles), and chickenpox. A medical procedure to visually "map" the normal structures of the uterus is also advised. This is to evaluate the potential to carry a pregnancy. A surrogate mother should have her own doctor during pregnancy rather than use the same doctor as the intended mother.
The cost of surrogacy for hopeful parents can range from $80,000 to $120,000. A wide range of factors determine costs. Those factors include whether the surrogate has her own medical insurance or whether the parents have to buy a surrogacy-pregnancy policy for her.