With more people than ever choosing surrogacy to grow their families, the number of women considering becoming surrogate mothers is also increasing. Surrogates are compassionate individuals who want to be part of a very special journey with intended parents. If you’re exploring the world of surrogacy as a potential gestational carrier, finding surrogacy agencies in California, New York, or elsewhere to help navigate the process is one of the first steps to take.
Part of choosing an agency involves doing some research online and contacting agencies to learn more about them. Knowing the right questions to ask can help you discern which agency is a good fit for you. Coupled with a blog post we recently published that explained how to compare agencies, the information below will give you peace of mind as you embark on this journey.
What is a surrogate?
This question usually involves asking about the difference between traditional surrogates and gestational surrogates. Some of the women who are considering surrogacy, for example, may not know that gestational carriers don’t share any genetic connection to the babies they carry. Instead, they are implanted with a fertilized embryo that they carry. Instead, a fertilized embryo is transferred into the surrogate for her to carry.
What is the screening process like to become a surrogate?
Learning what’s involved in the process of becoming a surrogate is naturally the first question most women ask. A thorough screening process is important, both for the potential surrogate and intended parents who may ultimately be matched with her. The process can be lengthy, and it’s good to know that from the outset. It can also be helpful to ask for a timeline that you can track.
During the screening process, a licensed social worker reviews bankruptcy and criminal background checks as well as medical records and the applicant’s overall readiness to be a surrogate. Besides ensuring that someone meets the requirements of being a surrogate, the screening process is also the time when you can learn about the agency—and we can learn about you!
Will I be able to meet other surrogates?
Discussing the decision to become a surrogate mother with someone who’s been through the journey is an invaluable experience. Few women who submit applications to Circle Surrogacy know someone personally who has been a surrogate. Circle’s support team includes experienced surrogates who not only can help you through the application process but who can also share their personal stories. We pair surrogates with a Surrogate Advisor who will get to know you and your reasons for becoming a surrogate and help match you with intended parents. There is also a private Facebook group available to Circle Surrogates to connect and share their experiences.
What disqualifies me from being a surrogate?
Understanding the requirements for being a surrogate—and why they are in place—is important. Personal, medical, and financial information are all needed to ensure someone is a qualified surrogate. It’s also important to know what type of support you’ll need during surrogacy.
Some of the qualifications to become a surrogate include:
- Having given birth to your own child
- Being between ages 21 to 41
- Having a body mass index (BMI) that’s no higher than 32
- Living in a state with surrogacy-friendly laws
- Not being enrolled in government aid programs such as cash assistance, welfare, public housing, or section 8
- Avoiding the use of illegal drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes
- Having support from family and friends
These guidelines have been developed by fertility clinics and The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).
Will a match occur quickly?
Different surrogacy agencies have different track records when it comes to the time needed to match surrogates with intended parents. Circle Surrogacy’s longevity—we’ve been in business for more than 25 years—is a factor that potential surrogates find very reassuring. Surrogates can also help minimize the time needed to match them by being flexible in their matching preferences. Someone with limited flexibility when it comes to working with either straight or LGBTQ+ couples or individuals, for example, may require a longer time to match.
Why should I work with a surrogacy agency instead of being an independent surrogate?
Some surrogates choose to work directly with intended parents instead of working with a surrogacy agency. Private surrogacy is an option, but we believe the advantages of working with an agency make it the best choice in most cases. An agency provides support and guidance throughout the entire process—which can be complicated at times. Independent surrogates need to find legal representation, social workers, and other professional support on their own. Agencies such as Circle Surrogacy have established relationships with these professionals, enabling surrogates to focus on their pregnancies and nurturing their relationships with intended parents.
How does surrogate compensation work?
Understanding how surrogates get paid is just as important as knowing the total compensation package. The process at Circle Surrogacy includes a program that guarantees pay and a level of security and support unique to our agency. We created the program—called the Circle Surrogate Promise—after listening to the thoughts of previous surrogates who suggested ways to improve support for gestational carriers.
Some features of the Circle Surrogate Promise include:
Guaranteed compensation: An escrow account funded by Circle Surrogacy ensures surrogates are fully compensated. Additionally, if a surrogate is medically cleared and matched with intended parents but doesn’t become pregnant and leaves the program, we pay up to $5,000 for her time and effort.
No medical liability: Circle assumes the liability of medical bills through our Fixed Cost programs for intended parents, enabling us to ensure timely payment of all medical bills for surrogates.
The Circle Surrogate Promise also provides surrogates with more choices for preferred birth options, including doula care, a birth center with a midwife, or birth in a hospital setting. Our promise also ensures surrogates speak first with experienced carriers who remain part of their journeys.
Is there travel involved?
Surrogates should be prepared to travel when it’s time for their medical screenings and embryo transfers. These steps are completed at in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics chosen by the intended parents. The length of the overnight trips varies.
You can find additional answers to other questions asked by surrogates on our FAQ page. You can also check out the Circle Surrogacy podcast – The Family Circle! If you believe you’re ready to become a surrogate and you’re feeling ready to apply, you can fill out an application today!