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A guide to becoming a surrogate mother

If you're considering becoming a surrogate, here's everything you need to know before you fill out a surrogate application. From "How does surrogacy work?" to "How much do surrogates make?" to "How do I apply to be a surrogate?", we have answers to all of your surrogate mother questions.

How does surrogacy work?

Surrogacy is an emotional, physical and mental commitment for a woman who wants to become a surrogate mother.

The surrogacy process begins the minute a surrogate fills out a surrogacy application. After applying and being accepted into a surrogacy agency, a surrogate mother applicant will participate in psychological testing. Once fully screened, the surrogate mother will be matched with intended parents.

Once matched, the surrogate will have a medical screening at the IVF clinic, and if she passes her medical screening, the IVF process can begin. The surrogate will begin IVF medications to prepare her body for a pregnancy. An embryo is created from the intended parents' biology (and perhaps the biology of an egg donor) and placed into the surrogate mother's uterus.

The surrogate mother will then be monitored with Beta tests and ultrasounds. She will have an ultrasound for a confirmation of pregnancy, and around 12 weeks of pregnancy, the surrogate will see her own OBGYN for the remainder of the pregnancy.

When delivery day arrives, the intended parents will likely attend, and the surrogate mother will give their baby(ies) back to them. It's an emotional and joyous occasion for everyone involved.

 Intended Parents spending time with their surrogate carrier, Ashtin
"I never once struggled with the idea of not bringing this baby home. This baby was meant for Brian and Scott. My reward was in the delivery room and honestly, not much in my life will ever top that moment. It’s magical… beautiful…vulnerable…and pure."
– Ashtin, Circle Surrogate

Applying to be a surrogate mother: what's the surrogate application like?

When you are ready to become a surrogate, the first step is to fill out a surrogate application. Surrogacy agencies have their applications right on their websites, and you can easily apply to become a surrogate right from your phone. You may want to review surrogate mother requirements before applying to see if you'd qualify to be a surrogate mother.

What questions will I be asked on the application?

The types of questions you'll be asked on your surrogacy application can vary by surrogacy agency. In general, you will be asked general information questions such as your name, your contact information and where you live. This is to ensure you live in a state where surrogacy is legal.

The application may also ask about your family life, your medical, pregnancy and delivery history. You may also be asked questions about your financial status, and information to process a background check.

Why does the surrogacy application ask so many personal questions?

It's important that the women who apply to become surrogate mothers are serious about the surrogacy process and what being a surrogate entails. That includes sharing many details about her personal life and history in order to ensure she's qualified to become a surrogate. A surrogacy journey involves many people – surrogacy agency personnel, IVF clinic staff, the intended parents and hospital staff – a surrogate mother should be prepared to be comfortable sharing information with others during a surrogacy journey.

Why does my BMI matter? Why do I have to meet weight requirements?

BMI has been analyzed by many doctors, nutritionists, and scientists to gauge the accuracy of the measurement for judging health. While it isn't the only way to determine the health of a surrogate mother, it's still an important measurement when discussing pregnancy, surrogacy, and the health related risks associated with being pregnant. Read more and calculate your BMI.

The surrogate application is long, can I start it and finish it later?

Some surrogate applications allow you to begin your application and then pick back up where you left off if you're not able to finish it. You should try and set aside about 15 minutes to complete a full surrogate application.

What if I have questions about becoming a surrogate, or the surrogate application?

If you have any questions, you can email the Surrogate PreScreening team. Every woman on this team is an experienced surrogate – some have been surrogates two and three times! They can answer any of your questions, share their experiences or help you through the application.

Is a surrogate pregnancy like a traditional pregnancy?

Because a requirement for becoming a surrogate is that a woman must have had at least 1 successful pregnancy and delivery, the physical pregnancy should feel no different than her own pregnancy. However, how the pregnancy is achieved, and who is part of the pregnancy, is very different!

The way a surrogate becomes pregnant is different from a traditional pregnancy. A surrogate pregnancy is achieved with IVF medications, and the embryo is transferred to the surrogate's uterus at a fertility clinic. A surrogate will give herself many injections to prepare her body to get pregnancy, and then stay pregnant.

A surrogacy pregnancy is different from a traditional pregnancy because there are many more people involved in the journey. With surrogacy, a surrogate mother is monitored much more closely – and more often – than with her own pregnancies. She will visit local monitoring clinics and have many more ultrasounds. The surrogate will also be sharing updates and photos with the intended parents throughout the journey.

Perhaps the biggest difference between a surrogate pregnancy and a surrogate's own pregnancy is the emotions involved. With a traditional pregnancy, a woman is emotionally attached to the baby she's carrying, because it's her baby. With surrogate pregnancies, surrogate mothers go into the process understanding that the baby they are carrying is not their baby, but the baby of their intended parents.

 How much do surrogates make?

How much do surrogates make?

Surrogate mother pay can vary depending on where the surrogate mother lives, and the agency with which she's working (or if she's doing an independent surrogacy journey). On average, surrogate mothers can get paid a base fee of between $30,000-$40,000. In addition to their base fee, surrogates are paid additional benefits for milestones achieved during the pregnancy, and for travel and necessities, resulting in total compensation up to $50,000-$60,000.

In some states, such as California, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey, a surrogate may be paid a higher base fee because the location of the state is desirable – close top fertility clinics, as well as close to airports and making travel for international intended parents easier. It's important to note that intended parents are responsible for paying the surrogate's compensation, not the surrogate agency.

What are surrogate requirements?

Surrogate requirements are criteria put forth by surrogacy agencies, IVF clinics and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) that women must meet in order to qualify to become a surrogate mother.

These qualifications may vary from agency to agency. At Circle Surrogacy, some surrogate mother requirements are:

• Uncomplicated pregnancies and deliveries, as documented by medical records
• Is between 21-41 years of age
• Typically has a Body Mass Index (BMI) of no higher than 33. Calculate My BMI
• Lives a healthy lifestyle
• Lives in a surrogacy-friendly state
• Is financially secure
• Does not use illegal drugs, smoke cigarettes, or abuse alcohol

Meeting these surrogate requirements are just the first step in the surrogate application process. Women will also participate in psychological screenings, and once accepted into the program, will also have a medical screening at an IVF clinic to ensure she's medically ready for a surrogate pregnancy.

Once I apply, how long does the process take?

Once you fill out a surrogate application and are accepted into a surrogacy program, the entire surrogacy process can take anywhere from 14-18 months (or more).

There are key milestones throughout a surrogate's journey, such as matching with intended parents, the embryo transfer, the confirmation of pregnancy, the 20-week ultrasound and delivery day.

Additional resources for becoming a surrogate mother

How do I know if I'm ready to become a surrogate?

Becoming a surrogate is a big decision! Here are 6 questions to ask yourself before applying to become a surrogate mother.

See if you're ready

Should I work with a local surrogacy agency?

There are many surrogacy agencies out there – big, small and everything in between! The key is to do your research and find the agency that feels like the best fit. Read more about if a surrogacy agency's location matters.

Finding an agency

Do I have a say in who I help as a surrogate mother?

Yes! Surrogate mothers have a say in the types of intended parents that they wish to help. Intended parents of all types – and from around the world – need help. See how you're matched!

How Surrogates are matched