First, let’s begin by explaining what exactly it means to become a surrogate. A surrogate mother carries the baby for someone else who is unable to have a child. The surrogate mother then gives the child to the family she is carrying the baby for after it is born. Women may choose to become a surrogate for various reasons, but it is not something anyone should do without proper thought and planning. Continue reading to find out the methods to become a surrogate, how to become a surrogate, and the possible risks and rewards of becoming one.
There are two methods to become a surrogate. The first method is known as traditional surrogacy. This is the method that most people think about when they think about surrogacy. The host mother uses her own egg and sperm from either the intended father or a sperm donor is used to artificially inseminate the host mother through intrauterine insemination (IUI). The method means that the baby will have half of the DNA from the host mother. The other method, known as gestational carrier, uses both the egg from the intended mother or a donor and sperm from the intended father or donor. This method means that none of the baby’s DNA will be from the surrogate mother. This method uses vitro fertilization (IVF) to create the pregnancy in the host mother.
Now that you know the two methods of surrogacy, let’s discuss the main takeaways from each. First, let’s take a look at the success rates of each. For women under 35 years old, IUI has a success rate of around 10-15%. On the other hand, IVF has a success rate of about 45-50% and can even get as high as 60-70% if the egg and sperm are genetically tested before transfer. This makes IVF sound like the obvious choice, but it is not quite that simple. Although the time frames can range greatly, IUI is a much quicker process than IVF for each round. IUI can take many more rounds though so that is something to consider. The cost is also another big factor and although price can also dramatically range depending on many things, one round of IUI is typically only about 10% the cost of one round of IVF. One other potential risk of either type of surrogacy is having multiple successfully fertilized eggs at once (twins, triplets, etc.). Doctors have gotten better at reducing the likelihood of this in either method but IVF holds a much lower risk due to the fertilized egg being placed directly inside the host mother.
Now that you have a brief understanding of how surrogacy works, let’s discuss how to actually become a surrogate mother. Becoming a surrogate mother has a few criteria that must be met. The first criteria is age. Most doctors like to see a woman be between the ages of 21 to 45, with some having the maximum age a bit lower. The surrogate mother also must have carried at least one child to term without any complications. Many doctors also will require that the surrogate mother has not had more than 5 vaginal delivers as well. Other criteria include things like having no history of alcohol or drug abuse, a supportive family, and other mental wellness tests. Next, physical screenings are done to ensure the surrogate mother is fit to carry the pregnancy and reduce any likelihood of complications from occurring. These screening also include tests for sexually transmitted diseases as well as genetic diseases that could be possibly passed on to the child.
Some women will carry a baby as a surrogate mother for a family member or close friend who is unable to. However, this is not the only way to become a surrogate mother. There are many agencies across the country that help pair hopeful mothers with surrogates. Although the process differs slightly depending on which type of surrogacy is chosen, the process is typically pretty similar. Usually, the steps are finding a surrogate mother (through an agency or someone close), create a contract detailing legal rights to the child and financial compensation, induce pregnancy in the surrogate mother, follow the pregnancy to term, and finally the child is born and the legal rights are transferred to the intended parents.
Although being able to carry a baby for someone who cannot is a noble act, not many women would do it without some sort of compensation. The typical surrogate mother will earn around $50,000 for carrying the baby to term but this number can vary depending on location and other factors such as having twins. The total cost for the hopeful mother and father are of course much higher than this, though. The total cost for everything, including compensation for the surrogate mother, medical costs, legal costs, and all other costs, are usually between $100,000 and $140,000.
Although we’ve briefly taken a look at the financial reward of carrying a child as a surrogate mother, let’s go over a few other rewards as well. Being a surrogate mother allows someone to join a strong support group of other women who have done the same. This support group is obviously very important while carrying the child but is often leads to lifelong friendships as well. Some women also enjoyed the beauty of having a carrying a child, but do not want to or simply cannot raise another child. Being a surrogate allows a women to not only carry a child to term again, but also pass that gift on to someone else who otherwise could not. These are only a few of the benefits of becoming a surrogate are there are many more if you dive deeper.
Lastly, let’s take a look at a few possible risks. The most obvious risks are those associated with any pregnancy. Thankfully though, surrogate mothers must have already carried a child to term so they are aware of this potential risks. The other main risk is more on the emotional side. Carrying a child in your womb can be a very emotionally bonding experience between the mother and child. The surrogate mother must be prepared for this and be prepared to give the child over to the intended mother and father when the time comes. The other potential risks are those revolving around legal issues. There are no federal laws around surrogacy so these issue depend solely on where you are in the country. This is why it is very important to sit down with a lawyer and create legal documents and contracts before the entire process starts to avoid any sticky situations.