Intended parents often have several questions about the process of having a child through surrogacy. By the same token, prospective egg donors and surrogate mothers have their own lists of concerns. With such an intensely personal and important life decision, these questions range in scope from mild curiosity to deep and abiding concern.
Surrogate mothers are required to have had experience with childbirth, but this is seldom a simple process, and the concept of bearing another individual's child brings legal, financial, and personal concerns to the front of everyones’ minds.
At ConceiveAbilities, we're here to offer answers to some of these fundamental questions for intended parents, egg donors, and surrogate mothers alike.
So... how does surrogacy work?
Within the practice of gestational surrogacy, a surrogate mother is implanted via IVF with an embryo created from another woman's egg and a man's sperm. The egg and sperm in question may be those of the intended parents, and this is usually the way that intended parents prefer to proceed when possible. Depending upon the issues faced by a particular intended parent or couple, however, either the egg, the sperm, or both may have been donated. For the purpose of a gestational surrogacy agreement, the gestational surrogate's own eggs cannot be used; she will bear the child, but she most definitely will not also be the child's genetic mother.
This sets gestational surrogacy apart from traditional surrogacy agreements, in which the surrogate carries a child who is her own genetic offspring on behalf of another woman. Traditional surrogacy agreements are largely unprotected by specific state laws within the United States, and in some states are legally void, with adoption being the preferred route.
There are many misconceptions about both types of surrogacy, which unfortunately leads to a lack of clear legislation. In some states, the law simply leaves gestational surrogacy alone – neither nullifying agreements by default, as other states do, nor providing the enforcement of any standards or oversight. ConceiveAbilities offers our Matching Matters service, in part, to allow for intended parents to network, share their experiences, and assist each other through some of the worries which any concerned parent would understandably maintain going in.
It should be noted that gestational surrogates typically don't think of themselves as workers or service providers. These are women who give generously of their time and energy, while taking on substantial risks to their own personal health, over the duration of a pregnancy. The child of an IVF pregnancy is usually delivered by c-section.
In the United States, gestational surrogates are compensated, and their medical needs are attended-to. However, the amount of the fee respects the time spent and risks undertaken by the surrogate. ConceiveAbilities pays surrogate mothers between $43,000 and $53,000 depending upon a variety of circumstances, particularly the individual's prior experience as a surrogate and the demand for a surrogate of their ethnic background. Egg donors are also compensated beginning at $8,000 and up.
Surrogates must have experience with bearing and raising her own children, and must be in a financially stable situation. Most surrogate mothers are married with a full-time job.
In addition to being within an optimal age range, viable candidates must be non-smokers, and have a history which is free of drug use. Tests are conducted for the presence of disease, which can be passed from mother to child during the course of a pregnancy, and the health of both egg donors and surrogate mothers is monitored closely over the course of their respective procedures.
ConceiveAbilities offers lots of information and resources for surrogate mothers, and for those considering surrogate motherhood. This includes a network for surrogate mothers, events, and a place for surrogates to share stories of their experiences. This page will help get you started, as it presents an informative overview of what ConceiveAbilities has to offer – including a video about the surrogacy process.
If you're certain that you are ready to share in the joy of bringing new life into the world for an intended parent or couple, you can begin the application process here. There is no obligation to complete the application; you can stop, and return at a later time, if you decide that you need more information – or just time to think.
The demands placed upon an egg donor are less significant than those imposed upon a surrogate mother, but the process is still longer and more involved than many women realize when they first look into the possibility of donating eggs. Click here for a compilation of useful information concerning the egg donor process, and here for additional information on becoming an egg donor. If you feel that this is something you would be willing and able to commit to doing, after familiarizing yourself with the details, you can begin the egg donor application process here.
All Things Conceivable is a blog dedicated to sharing the knowledge and expert opinions of the dedicated team at ConceiveAbilities, a Chicago-based egg donation and surrogacy agency.