Are you considering starting the surrogacy process in 2019? This is certainly an exciting time with lots of things to do before your little one arrives. Use this page to help you prepare for the road ahead or as a guide to walk you through the process.
If you’re here, chances are you’ve already explored the options available to you at length and know that surrogacy is the right path for you. However, people decide on surrogacy for many reasons. If a medical condition or infertility is yours, be sure to confirm your diagnosis with more than one fertility specialist before you embark on this path.
Run the Numbers
Many factors will determine your final costs, such as whether you’ll be covering medical insurance for your surrogate, medical fees, travel expenses, legal expenses, and so on. Here in the United States, costs usually cross the six-figure mark and then some. It’s important to have realistic expectations about what the costs will be before beginning, so that you not only have the funds to cover everything, but can afford time off when the baby arrives if it’s your preference to be home for a bit and will be able to continue living comfortably after the baby arrives.
Verify Laws and Regulations
Every country, and every state within America, has different regulations regarding surrogacy. Some do not allow it at all, while others don’t allow commercial surrogacy (an arrangement which includes compensating your surrogate), while still others are incredibly supportive of the surrogacy process. California happens to fit into the latter group and has laws in place that protect parents and surrogates, which is one of the big reasons the state is a surrogacy destination for parents throughout the country and even from other parts of the world.
Confirm Parenting Rights
Like the laws regarding the surrogacy process itself, each region will have different laws regarding how parents go about establishing their rights and becoming known as the legal parent. In most cases, a parent who is biologically related to the child (typically a father) automatically has rights if he is named on the birth certificate, where as the intended mother must adopt the baby, but some regions name the surrogate as the mother and require the intended parents to adopt their baby instead. California is the rare exception to this. Any and all intended parents can become the legal parents of the baby before he or she is born, provided the right paperwork is filed with the courts in advance of the birth.
Research the Surrogacy Process
Many people erroneously believe the gestational surrogate is biologically related to the baby. While that was once the case, modern surrogacy is known as gestational surrogacy, meaning the surrogate is a carrier only and her eggs are not used. The parent or parents are known as “intended parents” and, naturally, this can include single parents, heterosexual couples, and gay couples too. Sometimes an intended mother’s eggs can be used, meaning she shares a biological relationship with the baby. When an intended mother is not part of the equation or her eggs cannot be used, an egg donor can help. From there, much of what occurs is like any other In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) process, medically speaking. That said, your surrogacy process will be unique to you, so it’s important to get information specific to your situation.
Establish a Support System
Oftentimes, friends and family rally around the intended parents and support them through the process. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and you will want to have someone you can turn to and confide in throughout the journey. Touch base with at least one trusted friend or family member before you begin or look for support groups for those exploring their surrogacy options.
Meet Other Intended Parents
Other intended parents can provide a wealth of information about what going through the surrogacy process is like and be amazing sources of support. Take the time to join at least one group or link up with people on forums who have been down the same path as you.
Choose a Surrogacy Agency
While it’s true that you don’t need a surrogacy agency, working with a reputable one will prove invaluable. After all, they’ll have gone through the experience hundreds of times, while this is likely your first. Your agency will make sure you’re matched with a great surrogate and that all the things on this checklist get taken care of, so you can relax and focus on preparing for the little one’s arrival.
Select a Medical Team
If you’ve been struggling with infertility, your existing medical team will, in all likelihood, be the ones treating your surrogate and doing IVF. However, this isn’t always the case, so make sure you’ve got a doctor on board who has experience with surrogacy and is prepared to help you and yours through the journey. If your present medical team doesn’t work with surrogates or you don’t have a medical team, check with your agency for recommendations.
Find Your Surrogate and Donor(s)
There could well be three separate people involved in creating a healthy pregnancy; a surrogate, an egg donor, and a sperm donor. You and/ or your partner could fill one of these roles too. If you’re trying to go it alone, creating the right team can be a real challenge. However, if you’re working with an agency like EDSI, we’ll screen all candidates for medical and mental health concerns, and then let you know who we think will be a good fit based on your preferences and compatibility. Of course, you get the final say in who you choose to work with; the goal is always to create pairings that make everyone feel comfortable and content.
Establish Legal and Financial Agreements
Getting agreements down on paper is an essential step of the surrogacy process, and you’ll need to have a lawyer cover the bases in order to ensure your agreements are not only legally-binding, but cover common and uncommon circumstances that might arise during the journey. Again, here in California, you’ll also want to file paperwork during the pregnancy that establishes your parenting rights. These steps ensure everything goes smoothly and that each party involved knows what to expect and is in agreement regarding key details.
Begin the Surrogacy Process with EDSI
This probably seems like a lot to take in and, in truth, it is… especially if you haven’t been through the surrogacy process before. At EDSI, we’re here to support you throughout the journey and are glad to answer any questions you have. Feel free to contact us at (213) 423-7997 if you want to learn more or are ready to begin checking off your surrogacy to-do list.