Becoming a surrogate gives you the opportunity to help a couple have a child when they cannot conceive biologically. An egg and sperm are fertilized to create an embryo, which is transferred to your uterus through in vitro fertilization. There are two types of surrogacy. In traditional surrogacy, you provide the egg, and in gestational surrogacy, you the fertilized egg from a different donor. You carry the baby to term, and then he goes to live with the couple you are helping. The process of becoming a surrogate is an intensive one to ensure you can handle what is involved emotionally and physically.
Pros and Cons
For some women the motivation to become a surrogate is emotional while for others the benefits are more economic based. There are many reasons women choose to embark on this journey, but you should also understand the challenges to the process. Make sure you are able to find the right match, are legally protected and fully understand what the couple expects from you.
Know the Laws
Many states do not have surrogate laws on the books, but instead rely on case law -- that is, past court rulings. Some states have laws expressly forbidding surrogacy according to The Surrogacy Experience. These states include Arizona, the District of Columbia, Michigan and New York. Some states don't outlaw surrogacy, but declare the contract to be void and unenforceable, such as Indiana, Kansas and Nebraska. States such as New Jersey, Utah and North Dakota forbid traditional surrogacy. States such as Nevada and New Hampshire permit surrogacy only for married, heterosexual couples, and states such as Oklahoma and Washington consider compensation for surrogates to be tantamount to child trafficking.
Find an Agency
Many couples advertise for their own surrogate, and you can work independently with them. However, the best way to insure you are fully protected in the process is to work with an agency. An agency will arrange for all your medical appointments and file all the necessary legal paperwork, which can be overwhelming for both couples and surrogates, according to WebMD. An agency also uses its experience and connections to make the right match between couples and surrogates based on the personalities and goals of each. Research your agency options to find one whose mission suits your goals. For example, if you are motivated by your faith to become a surrogate, you may want to work with an agency that works with couples of your same faith.
Know Agency Requirements
Each agency has its own eligibility criteria for becoming a surrogate, but much of the criteria is similar. For example, most agencies ask that you be in a certain age range, usually between 21 and 40. They might also require that you already have a child of your own. Many agencies will reject you as a candidate if you have experienced complications in previous pregnancies, if you have financial problems or if you abuse substances, including tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs. You will likely need to pass a criminal background check. Other requirements may include having a healthy weight, having your own transportation and not receiving federal assistance.
What potential parents want out of a relationship with the woman carrying their baby will differ from couple to couple. Fully understanding and agreeing to the parameters of this relationship is vital to the success of the agreement. Some parents to be want to be at every doctor appointment, meet with the surrogate weekly and essentially be involved in her everyday life. Other parents-to-be are comfortable with regular updates. Some couples will expect the surrogate to stick to a ridged exercise or eating plan while others trust the surrogate to simply take care of herself by taking prenatal vitamins and being careful with what she eats. In addition, some couples want to have more control over the surrogate's living arrangements.
Undergo Medical Exams
Once you pass the initial screening criteria to become a surrogate, you will also need to undergo a series of medical exams. You will receive a pelvic exam to ensure your reproductive health. You will also receive tests for sexually transmitted diseases, hepatitis and evidence of substance abuse. You may be asked to undergo a psychological evaluation. After you clear all this testing, you will be matched with a couple and can begin the medical preparation for the embryo transfer.