FAQs for Surrogacy Process
What is Gestational Surrogacy?
Gestational surrogacy is when a woman agrees to carry a pregnancy in which the eggs used to form the embryos are not those of the surrogate. This is accomplished through the process of IVF (in-vitro fertilization) in which eggs are retrieved from the intended mother or egg donor’s ovaries and fertilized with the sperm of the intended father or sperm donor. Embryos are then transferred to the gestational surrogate mother’s uterus where she will carry the fetus to term and deliver a baby for the intended parents.
Why does a woman want to be a surrogate mother?
There are many reasons why a woman chooses to be a surrogate mother. Often a surrogate mother has known someone who experienced infertility or perhaps she knows someone who was a surrogate. Many surrogates love being pregnant and anticipate the personal reward they would receive by helping someone who cannot have a child. Surrogates often express the feeling of not being able to imagine life without motherhood so they can empathize with someone unable to have a child. The financial rewards can often assist a surrogate and her family in realizing dreams and goals such as buying a home or going back to school.
Why choose gestational surrogacy?
Individuals or couples unable to have a child will often consider adoption as well as surrogacy. The decision to adopt or to take the path of surrogacy is a highly personal decision that should be made after careful consideration of all options. Some specific considerations which lead to a decision to pursue gestational surrogacy include:
What is the difference between traditional and gestational surrogacy?
A Gestational Surrogate has no genetic link to the child/ren she is carrying; rather, the egg is provided either by the Intended Mother or an Egg Donor. A Traditional Surrogate is genetically related to the child she is carrying; she is both the Egg Donor and the Surrogate. The Traditional Surrogate is inseminated with the Father’s or Donor’s sperm monthly at ovulation until pregnancy occurs.
Do you work with all intended parents, whether single or married?
Advocates for Surrogacy does not discriminate on the basis of marital status.
We have found or believe that we can find a surrogate mother. Do we still need Advocates for Surrogacy?
Yes, it is often critical to the successful and smooth outcome of the process that you have a team of professionals including attorneys and psychologists who can guide you through the legal and emotional process as follows:
- Surrogacy relationships are governed by the laws of each state of the parties involved. Each state is different. Some states have statutory law allowing surrogacy such as Florida and Illinois. Some states have laws specifically forbidding surrogacy such as New York and Michigan. Some states will allow intended parents to be on the child’s birth certificate, others do not thereby requiring adoption proceedings. You need to have a project manager guiding you and assisting you in these complex legal issues throughout the process.
- Surrogacy arrangements require comprehensive screening and counseling, We coordinate all the screening and testing required – medical, background checks and psychological evaluations.
- AFS works with legal counsel to ensure that legal documents adequately reflect the position of all parties to the surrogacy arrangement. AFS ensures that financial and business details are handled professionally and thoroughly so Intended Parents and Surrogates can concentrate on their relationship and the journey to parenthood.
- AFS is not just a matching agency; we project manage the entire surrogacy process from start to finish.
- AFS coordinates medical treatment before and during pregnancy, and for delivery.
How do you evaluate a potential surrogate?
Initial applicants are interviewed and if they meet our criteria, they are asked to complete an in-depth application and questionnaire including medical, social, psychological, history. The surrogate’s application is then further screened to ensure that basic requirements of our surrogate profiles are met (e.g., surrogate has given birth to children previously; she is between the ages of 21 and early forties, she does not indicate medical or psychological history that would disqualify her from our program). Advocates for Surrogacy also conduct a criminal check on the surrogate and her spouse.
- Advocates for Surrogacy will arrange and facilitate a telephonic introduction or a face to face meeting.
- Upon initial acceptance by an Intended Parent(s), a surrogate provides recent medical reports for review by the Intended Parent(s)’ chosen fertility clinic.
- Upon clearance by the Intended Parent(s)’ chosen fertility clinic, Advocates for Surrogacy will proceed with psychological screening Surrogate will be required to complete a psychological test (MMPI or PAI) which includes a written assessment;
How will I be matched with a surrogate mother?
Our surrogate mothers complete a very detailed profile providing comprehensive personal information. The surrogate mother is asked her views on a multitude of issues surrounding surrogacy. Intended Parents also complete an application that explores, in depth, the many facets of surrogacy, choices, preferences, and medical considerations. Based on the information in your profile, your views and our consultations with you, we review the profiles of surrogate mothers to make sure that both parties agree on various issues. Once we determine that there is a potential match, we send you the surrogate mother’s profile as well as a photograph of her for you to review. Identifying information is not revealed initially. After the selection of a surrogate, identifying information is provided. Depending on your location and the surrogate mother’s location, we set up a telephone consultation so that you may speak with the surrogate mother. We will also arrange a face to face meeting with a surrogate candidate.
How long does it take to be matched?
Generally, it takes a few months. If you are looking for a surrogate mother of a specific ethnicity or in a particular geographic location it can take longer.
What if surrogacy is not legal in my state?
Some states do not allow surrogacy; others are silent and some have legislated surrogacy. If you live in a state where surrogacy is not permitted, that does not mean that you cannot engage in a surrogate relationship outside your state. It does not matter where you the intended parent resides. As long surrogacy is legal in your surrogate mother’s state, the state where your baby will be born, there are no issues. We review the legal situation in your state of residence and provide advice and guidance that ensures safe and legal completion of your surrogacy and parentage rights.
Will our names be put on the birth certificate?
The legal process varies in each state. In the case of Illinois, where our President and Founder is a licensed attorney, the process of being named on the birth certificate is completely administrative through attorney certification. Some states allow a pre-birth order to be issued by the courts which instructs the hospital to put the intended parent’s names on the birth certificate. The attorney, acting on behalf of the intended parents, usually starts the work for the pre-birth order in the fourth or fifth month of pregnancy so that the order is granted before the birth of your baby. In other surrogacy friendly states, with the help of your attorney, the birth certificate is re-issued in your names shortly after the birth of your baby. In other situations, adoption procedures are required. Our President, an attorney, will review this matter with you during her initial consultations with you and with your legal counsel.
How is the surrogate mother paid during the pregnancy?
Once the gestational surrogacy agreement has been executed by the Intended Parents and Surrogate and her husband, the Intended Parents will deposit funds into an outside escrow account. The surrogate mother will be paid from these funds according to the terms of signed gestational surrogacy agreement.
Advocates for Surrogacy will manage payment to the surrogate with the escrow company according to the terms of the agreement.
If we need an egg donor, can you provide that service?
Yes, we do provide recruitment, screening and matching services for Intended Parents working with our surrogacy program if Intended Parents have very specific recruitment needs. Otherwise, we assist our clients in identifying egg donor agencies, egg banks and clinic egg donor programs and coordinate with our clients, the donor agency and fertility clinic.
If we choose a donor with another program, can we still work with your surrogacy program?
Do you work with international clients?
Yes we do!
Can I work with my own fertility clinic for the IVF process with our surrogate?
Yes, as long as your fertility clinic is willing to work with a surrogate, there is no issue.
Who takes custody of the child if both of us die during the pregnancy?
Determining guardianship in the event of your death is part of the advisory process and we ensure provisions are included agreement between you and your surrogate mother and your attorney will advise you about necessary documents to ensure custody goes to a person/s of your choosing.
How do we know we can trust a surrogate mother to carry our child in a safe and caring manner?
Our surrogate mothers go through an extensive evaluation process. The process of becoming a surrogate is intense and requires many screenings including: completion of an extensive questionnaire, fertility clinic evaluation of past medical records and medical exams, completion of labs for STD’s, criminal background checks, clinical assessment by a licensed psychologist and interviews.
How much contact can we have with our chosen surrogate mother?
When you complete your profile you tell us how much contact you want to have before, during and after the pregnancy. We will match you with a surrogate mother who wants the same contact as you do.
The type of relationship you form with a surrogate and level of interaction and frequency of communication between the Surrogate and Intended Parents is a personal preference between the parties. You will need to decide how much interaction you are comfortable with, and also consider how much interaction the other parties to the Surrogacy expect. Some Intended Parents like high levels of interaction; i.e., regular updates via e-mail and/or phone, and the expectation to attend as many of the doctor appointments as possible. Similarly, some Surrogates also desire a close relationship with their Intended Parents. A percentage of Intended Parents and Surrogates commit to a fairly low level of contact such as occasional updates and phone calls – but do not necessarily want a close relationship. Some Intended Parents may not be able to (or may choose not to) attend doctor appointments and may not see the Surrogate very often (or at all) throughout the pregnancy.
What is your application process?
Our application process starts with a telephone or Skype consultation with our Executive Director, an attorney. Depending on your location you can follow up with visits to our office or additional telephone consultations.
Once you are accepted into our program the Agreement for Surrogacy Services is finalized, we will begin the matching process.
- Intended fathers whose sperm will be utilized to create their child or whose wife will carry their pregnancy must take an HIV, CMV, and Hepatitis B and C blood tests, undergo STD screens and a semen analysis, and will provide a health history to the agency and the treating physician.
- Intended mothers who will carry their pregnancy and only seek an egg donor will complete the same blood tests, as well as additional tests required by the treating physician. Intended mothers seeking a surrogate must take HIV, CMV, and Hepatitis B and C blood tests, and may expect to provide a health history to the treating physician for a gestational surrogacy. In some instances, treating physicians will require additional testing of intended parents, such as a chest x-ray or EKG.
Is there a fee for the initial consultation?
No, Advocates for Surrogacy does not charge a fee for our initial consultation. We encourage Intended Parents to come in to our office for an initial consultation to fully assess our company and what program is best suited for your personal situation.