How To Become a Surrogate: 10 Steps Potential Surrogates Can Expect
Making the decision to become a surrogate is exciting and momentous. Becoming a surrogate is an incredibly generous act and will change someone’s life in a beautiful way. Whether you are thinking about being a surrogate in Los Angeles, considering surrogacy in Boston, or looking into the surrogacy process in a town in between, we encourage you to do your research and find the agency that best fits you and what you hope to get out of your journey. You have options, and you’re not limited to a surrogacy agency that’s physically in your state.
For women interested in learning more about surrogacy and becoming a surrogate, we’ve compiled 10 steps of the surrogacy process.
1. Understand Surrogate Mother Qualifications & Requirements
Women who wish to be surrogates must meet a set of criteria and requirements to ensure they are a good fit for surrogacy. When a woman decides to be a surrogate, she’s giving a tremendous gift to deserving parents; requirements are put in place to ensure that the woman is mentally, emotionally and physically prepared to undergo a surrogacy.
A great first step in seeing if surrogacy is right for you, is to review the list of surrogate mother requirements. This list of requirements may feel long, but they are in place to be sure the surrogacy is safe and the right choice for the surrogate.
At Circle, a successful surrogate:
Has delivered a child of her own, and is currently parenting at least one child.
Has had uncomplicated pregnancies and deliveries, as documented by medical records.
Is between 21-44 years of age.
Typically has a Body Mass Index (BMI) of no higher than 33. Calculate My BMI.
Is a citizen, legal resident or legal immigrant of the United States. If a surrogate is a legal resident or legal immigrant of the United States, the surrogate must be able to provide documentation that is valid for at least 2 years.
2. Know What Is the Difference Between Gestational and Traditional Surrogacy
When researching surrogacy, it’s important to know that there are two types of surrogacy: traditional and gestational.
Gestational surrogacy is an arrangement in which a woman carries a child to term for intended parents who cannot have children on their own. This woman is referred to as a gestational surrogate or gestational carrier and can also more commonly be called a surrogate. Intended parents create fertilized embryos through in vitro fertilization, sometimes with the assistance of an egg donor or sperm donor. These embryos are cultivated in a laboratory and transferred into the surrogate’s uterus. Women who are gestational surrogates have no genetic relationship to the child(ren) they carry. Gestational surrogates do not use their eggs.
In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate has a biological relationship to the child(ren) she carries; she uses her own eggs to create the embryos.
The more common type of surrogacy today is gestational surrogacy. Circle Surrogacy ONLY works with Gestational Surrogacy; Circle surrogates will NEVER share DNA with the babies they carry.
3. Fill Out Our Application & Connect With the Circle Team!
When you’re ready, you can fill out our surrogate application. It takes only a few minutes, and you can do it right from your phone!
The surrogate application is our opportunity to start to get to know you. We’ll ask questions about you, your health and birth history, your support network, plus other questions that tell us what you’re looking for in a surrogacy journey.
After you’ve filled out the application, you’ll connect with our Surrogate Intake Team to begin the pre-screening process. We want to answer any questions you may have and discuss your expectations for your surrogacy journey. We have experienced surrogates on staff, and you can ask to speak with one at any point during the application process, so they can answer any questions or share their story with you.
At this point, we’ll initiate your Medical Records Review. We review medical histories on a case-by-case basis; everyone is unique! At the same time, we’ll also carry out psychological evaluations and background checks. This is to ensure the safety of both you and the baby you’ll carry.
4. Match With Intended Parents
At Circle, surrogates have the chance to express preferences about the intended parents with whom they are matched. You can share with us the type of intended parents you’re looking for, the level of contact and sharing, and overall expectations of what you hope to get out of the journey. Different things to think about for your intended parent match are:
Am I open to matching with parents from the United States and from another country?
Do I want to help a heterosexual couple or a same sex couple?
Will I match with a couple or am I open to helping someone who’s single become a parent?
When it comes to matching, there are three main requirements to connect a surrogate and intended parent(s): legal fit, personality fit, and views on termination and selective reduction.
After you review potential intended parent profiles (and they review yours!), if you both agree the other looks good on paper, you’ll have a video call. If that call goes well and you both want to move forward together, we consider you “matched” at this point!
If you don’t feel it’s a match, we’ll share additional parent profiles with you until you find “the one”. (Trust us, you’ll know in your gut when you’ve found your intended parents!)
5. Finalize Legal Agreements & Contracts
As a surrogate, you will be provided with your own legal representation throughout the process (paid for by your intended parents), who is independent of the attorney working with your intended parents. You’ll work closely with your attorney to finalize the contract until both parties—you and your intended parents—are in agreement.
It’s important to be in full agreement on all aspects of the contract at this stage to ensure a smooth and successful journey.
Once negotiations are complete, you’ll sign and return your Agreement(s) and the process will move forward.
6. Complete Medical Screenings
Medical screenings happen after matching and during contract negotiations. This is the first of two times you’re required to travel as a surrogate. You’ll travel to the IPs’ IVF clinic for your medical screening. Each clinic is different, so exactly what is done during your screening varies. You can expect a medical exam, blood work, likely an ultrasound and perhaps other tests to ensure your body is ready for a surrogacy. Typically, you’ll fly in one day, have your appointment the following morning, and then fly home that night. Don’t worry, travel costs are all covered!
This is also the time when insurance coverage is determined. Surrogate maternity-related coverage comes from either your current health insurance plan or a plan purchased for you by your intended parents that is specific to surrogacy. Circle will coordinate all insurance coverage on your behalf. You will never pay for any medical bills for your surrogacy, they will all be covered for you.
7. Prepare for - and Travel to - the Embryo Transfer
Once you’ve been medically screened and the contract is signed by both you and your IPs, you’ll receive an IVF treatment schedule to help prepare your body for embryo transfer. The timeline includes the start date of your medications to the actual retrieval and transfer date. Surrogate medications may differ depending on the surrogate and the clinic doctor with whom she’s working.
While taking your IVF medications to prepare your body for a pregnancy, you’ll attend appointments at a clinic near where you live; these appointments are called “local monitoring” and they are just that: they monitor how you are responding to the medications during the time leading up to your embryo transfer. Your chosen clinic will monitor you and share your results with the Intended Parents’ IVF clinic (who will share results with Circle). Because these appointments are close to your home, it limits the need for travel—making life a little easier for you! And even though the clinic is nearby, your gas and mileage will be covered.
The wait time between the embryo transfer and confirmed heartbeat – usually around 6 weeks of pregnancy – can feel like a lifetime! Many surrogates find Circle’s private surrogate social group a great resource to connect with other surrogates, ask questions and share stories. When you're joyfully pregnant, you will have continued support during your pregnancy from your Journey Coordination team and Circle Social Worker. They ensure that you and your IPs are prepared for birth. During the pregnancy, Circle encourages intended parents and surrogates to have weekly calls via video, to stay in touch and update each other on the journey, and to deepen their relationship.
9. Celebrate Delivery Day
You’ve given birth before, so you know what to expect! The only difference is that your intended parents will be there, anxiously awaiting the moment they get to meet their baby. It’s a really exciting day for everyone! Prior to birth, you and your IPs will have worked with your Journey Coordination team and the hospital to put a birth plan in order. Because of this, the hospital is aware that your delivery is a surrogate birth and that there will be intended parents in attendance. The primary job of the hospital staff is to make you comfortable and ensure your delivery goes as smoothly as possible.
This day will likely be filled with many emotions, and every one of them is completely normal!
10. Take Care of YOU
Many surrogates have told us that the most wonderful thing about delivering a baby for intended parents is that they can be discharged from the hospital and go home and REST … because they don’t have a newborn baby to care for! And that is exactly what you should do: rest and relax. Let your body heal. Spend time with your children and family.
Relationships Between Surrogates and Parents After Birth
Depending on the depth of the relationship with your intended parents, you will determine the level of contact and communication you keep up. Some surrogates and intended parents share photos and updates. Others plan visits and trips together.
How your relationship continues is completely up to you. Just know that you did an amazing, selfless thing that made the biggest difference possible in people’s lives.
Learn More About Becoming a Surrogate & Get Started
If this process sounds like something you’d be interested in doing, we encourage you to learn more about being a surrogate at Circle Surrogacy! We have a whole section of our site dedicated to surrogate resources where you can read testimonials from previous surrogates, check the requirements, calculate your potential surrogate pay, and apply when you’re ready!
We can’t wait to meet you!