How to Become a Surrogate Mother

pregnant woman hugging her tummy

It’s hard to imagine a greater gift than helping people who want a child to become parents. Being a gestational carrier, often referred to as a surrogate mother, offers the satisfaction of knowing that you were an essential part of creating a family.

As a gestational carrier, you accept transfer of an embryo composed of the intended parents’ genetic material. Both the sperm and egg are usually provided by the intended parents; you have no genetic connection to the child. The surrogacy process is usually joyful for both the gestational carrier and the intended parents. It is also a major undertaking, from a legal, physical, and emotional perspective.

Surrogacy involves a deliberate choice to become pregnant and give birth to the intended parents’ baby. You are being entrusted with something so precious—someone’s child—and you need to be prepared for what will be asked of you as a gestational carrier. If you are ready to meet the demands of surrogacy, it will probably be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.

Surrogate Mother Requirements

The goal of the surrogacy process is, of course, a healthy baby. But it is very important that the process be a positive experience for the gestational carrier and the intended parents, too. The criteria most agencies have for a surrogate mother are designed not only to ensure a healthy baby, but also for the benefit of the gestational carrier and intended parents. Here are some requirements you should be prepared to meet if you want to become a surrogate mother.

Healthy and Responsible Lifestyle

This requirement is no surprise: a surrogate mother with a healthy lifestyle is more likely to give birth to a healthy baby. This means not only a healthy diet, reasonable exercise, and getting needed medical care, but abstaining from tobacco, alcohol, and drugs not prescribed by your doctor. Committing to a healthy lifestyle for the duration of the surrogacy process is essential.

Most agencies that work with surrogates require them to be willing to undergo psychological and drug screenings. If you are committed to carrying a healthy baby as a gestational carrier, this requirement should be something you are comfortable with—and it will provide reassurance to the intended parents as well.

Past Successful Pregnancy

It is usually required that you have already had a successful pregnancy prior to becoming a surrogate, and that you are raising your child. The history of a healthy pregnancy shows that you can get pregnant and carry a child to term without complications. Raising the child or children you carried demonstrates stability and steadiness. If you are already experiencing parenthood, it will also be easier for you to see the child you carry as a surrogate in the arms of the intended parents.

Suitable Age Range

Most agencies prefer that a gestational carrier be within a certain age range, often from about 21 to 38 years old. A surrogate should be mature enough to appreciate the challenges of the surrogacy process, and young enough to have an excellent likelihood of having a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy and labor.

Healthy Weight

You don’t have to have a perfect figure to be a surrogate, but you should be in a healthy weight range, with a body mass index (BMI) of no more than 32, or perhaps lower. If your BMI is too high, you are at higher risk of diabetes in the pregnancy, which puts not only your health at risk, but that of the baby.

History of Good Mental Health

A surrogate should not have a history of mental illness. Throughout the course of the surrogacy process, becoming pregnant and carrying the baby, you will experience hormonal changes that can cause emotional ups and downs. As a gestational carrier, you need to be in a mental space to weather these changes while caring for yourself and the baby you are carrying. A history of mental illness could make the surrogacy process and pregnancy too burdensome for you.

Of course, many people experience some mental health struggles from time to time. If you are worried that your history might disqualify you from being a surrogate, speak with a surrogacy attorney or a surrogacy agency.

Financial Stability

Surrogacy is a gift, but it is also a service; as such, surrogates usually receive significant financial compensation for reimbursement of their living expenses, unpaid medical bills, as well as their time and efforts. The compensation may be attractive, but it should not be your only or primary reason for becoming a surrogate. If you are financially stable and not dependent on government assistance, it is easier for you to decide to become a surrogate because you truly want to—not because you need the money.

Reproductive Health and Birth Control

As a gestational carrier, you are much more than just your uterus! But of course, having a healthy uterus is essential to the surrogacy process. If you have been using an intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control, a doctor may be unable to assess the health of your uterus and uterine lining, so the IUD will need to be removed before you can become a surrogate. Of course, you will need to discontinue the use of any hormonal birth control that could interfere with successful implantation of an embryo and a healthy pregnancy.

Beginning the Process to Become a Surrogate Mother

Women who become gestational carriers (carrying a baby of which they are not a genetic parent) do so because they want to help someone else experience the joy of parenthood. If you are thinking about becoming a surrogate mother, it is good for you to have a lot of questions. It shows that you are taking the process seriously and considering all of the pros and cons.

Whether you are hoping to become a surrogate for a family member or intended parents you haven’t met yet, you deserve to have your questions answered thoroughly and respectfully. We invite you to contact Brinkley Law Firm to schedule a consultation.

Our Attorneys

Stephanie M. Brinkley's Profile Image
Since founding Brinkley Law Firm in 2011, attorney Stephanie Brinkley has helped families grow and expand by navigating them through the legal challenges surrounding Assisted Reproduction Technology (ART) and Adoption. As an attorney who focuses on f… Read More
Christopher D. Kays's Profile Image
Originally from Los Angeles, Christopher Kays moved to Charleston in 2007 when he reported to The Citadel for his knob year to study psychology. As a cadet, Christopher volunteered at the VA hospital and helped establish Leadership Day, The Citadel… Read More

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