They want a baby but need someone to do the gestating. A surrogate is able to do that. But it’s a strange scenario, lending out your womb, perhaps donating your eggs, too. We caught up with mother of two and two-time surrogate, Samantha, from York, Pennsylvania, to ask the questions you know you want to know about being a surrogate.
1. What were your reasons for becoming a surrogate?
I had wanted to be a surrogate since nursing school (2001), however I wanted to be sure my family was complete before I looked into doing it. The absolute joy my children give is something I have been honored to give to someone else.
2. How many surro-babies have you had?
I’ve completed a surrogacy with 1 child and I’m currently pregnant with my second surrogacy – possibly twins! It’s still early on, but well on the way.
3. How can you go about finding a family to hire you?
Some surrogates go “indy” – independent – where they have found a couple outside of an agency. I was indy my first time and used an agency this time.
4. Do you have to go through a lot of screening?
Yes, LOTS! You must have a recent full check up, screened for STDS and have a psych evaluation completed before beginning the process.
5. What is the financial compensation – is it just money or are there other benefits? Are you paid for each implantation or only for a viable pregnancy?
Most intended parents do send other gifts like gift baskets, some will have their surrogate go for massages, mani/pedis. There is a payment for the embryo transfer which can vary and is agreed upon during the contract phase. The next payment is after a positive blood pregnancy test and monthly payments start after that.
6. Do you donate your eggs or just rent out your uterus? Is the compensation a lot higher if they use your eggs? Can they ask you to carry multiples or is it a singleton every time (and does the rate go up if twins happen?)
I personally cannot use my eggs due to genetic reasons, but I can carry.
There are 2 types of surrogates. Traditional Surrogates (TS) and Gestational Surrogates (GS) or Gestational Carriers (GC). TS is where they use the surrogate’s egg and GS or GC are carriers with no genetic relation to the baby.
During the matching phase they will include in your profile whether you are willing to carry twins or only a singleton. The intended parents can choose you if they are looking for someone to carry twins. That rate is normally only a couple thousand more – it’s not double, like a lot of people assume it is.
According to Circle Surrogacy, the rate a surrogate GS can expect is around $25,000 to $30,000 base fee plus up to $25,000 in additional compensation. It depends on state, whether the surrogate is a first-timer, as experienced surrogates are paid more. Surrogacy America places the fees slightly higher, at $40,000 to $50,000 plus expenses, though Samantha explains that this fee may only be for somewhere like California, where rates are at a premium.
There are other variables besides multiples that affect the cost – C-section, egg donation, lost wages, travel expenses, clothing allowance, life insurance and other elements can be part of the payment and included in the expenses paid by the intended parents. These are defined in the contract between surrogate and intended parents.
In Canada, surrogacy is priced out differently and the breakdown gives a range of $18,000 to $45,000+ through Surrogacy in Canada.
7. Are there a lot of limitations on your lifestyle when you surro? Sex? Activities? Foods? Can they ask you to do yoga or take pre-natals or do you have to take other meds?
Some intended parents want things very strict, it is stipulated in the contract. My first time, the parents asked that I limit fast food – not a big deal for me. If you are in a relationship there are timeframes where you are not allowed to have sex because of the risk of you getting pregnant. Otherwise it’s ok, unless your OBGYN has reasons to medically limit sex. Pre-natals are a must do, and there are a good bit of other meds. They take over your cycle by meds. There are injections and other meds that start before the transfer then continue until around 10 weeks of the pregnancy. These are to help ensure that the body is ready and that the pregnancy takes hold after the transfer.
8. Does the surro-family want to be involved with your pregnancy throughout for the experience? Be there for the delivery? Is the baby with you for any length of time after delivery? Breast feeding?
Some are more involved then others – distance can be a big factor so it means lots of phone interaction. Most parents will come into the area towards the end of the pregnancy. My intended parents were in the room for delivery and the intended parents are planning on it for this time. Typically, once born, the baby is with the parents, but they do allow the surrogate – and sometimes family – in to hold and visit. Breastfeeding is very uncommon because of the bonding and possible problems that can happen. Some surros will pump for the baby.
9. How do your other kids handle the situation of mommy carrying a baby but them not getting a brother or sister out of it?
I explained to my kids in as simple terms as I could what was going on, and that it was not my baby. This time they understand a little more being 9 and 7.
10. Do you want to have any connection with the baby/family after? Or is it like a closed adoption? Is it hard to give up or can you stay unattached because you know you’re doing the pregnancy, not having your own child?
This depends on distance as well. I asked for my family to be closer this time for that reason – and that, because my labor could go quickly, so in case I deliver early, they would hopefully make it in time. I get to see pictures of my first surro-baby, but they are 8 hours away, so it makes it hard to just stop by. There is some detachment knowing its not my child, but I do happily go back to sleeping all night after delivery 🙂