Bringing new life into the world is an incredible experience. Whether this happens naturally or through surrogacy, planning for parenthood can still be overwhelming, despite all the excitement.
Everyone’s journey is unique when it comes to starting or growing a family. The surrogacy process is just one way to fulfill your parenthood dreams, especially for those who may struggle with infertility or cannot conceive.
If you’re considering surrogacy, then here at Joy of Life®, we’ve created a guidebook for intended parents.
Surrogacy might be a completely new term to you, so what exactly does it mean?
What Is Surrogacy?
Surrogacy happens when a woman (the surrogacy mother) carries and gives birth to a baby for the intended parents (you) who cannot conceive naturally. The intended parents will become the legal parents via surrogacy. This process can happen in two different ways.
What Are the Different Types of Surrogacy?
Sometimes referred to as partial surrogacy, traditional surrogacy is when the surrogate mother is also the biological mother. This means that she is the egg donor. Through artificial insemination, the father’s sperm is transferred into the surrogate mother’s womb. Because of this, the surrogate mother is genetically connected to the baby.
Traditional surrogacy is often chosen by same-sex couples, where providing the female egg themselves is not possible. This kind of surrogacy can be done from home using home insemination kits.
Sometimes referred to as full surrogacy, this type of surrogacy occurs when an embryo is implanted into the surrogate mother’s uterus. The embryo comes from the intended parents, who may have created or frozen an embryo for the procedure. Because of this, the baby and surrogate mother have no genetic relationship, and therefore, she is not the biological mother, unlike traditional surrogacy.
This is an option for same-sex couples or for intended parents who have IVF embryos. Gestational surrogacy requires a lengthier process, is more expensive, and takes place in a clinic. As it becomes more accepted nationwide, this type of surrogacy is a popular option for intended parents who don’t want the surrogate mother to be biologically connected to the baby.
If you want to find out more about the medical process of surrogacy, then we have written some useful information here.
Is Surrogacy Right for You?
There are lots of things to consider before deciding if surrogacy is right for you. Surrogacy is a big commitment for both intended parents and surrogate mothers, so it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons and understand the challenges you may face.
Fertility centers throughout the US have seen an increase in the success of surrogacy, with a success rate of around 75%, reaching up to 95% regarding birth once a gestational surrogate is pregnant.
Every person has their own personal reason to consider surrogacy as a way to create or grow their family, but learning about the risks (along with the benefits) is crucial so that you are aware of the emotional journey ahead. This guide covers some of this, but speaking to a surrogacy specialist can offer extra guidance.
Choosing Your Surrogate Mother
During your surrogacy journey, you might be asked to write a surrogacy plan to establish goals and priorities which will help you with your decisions. Choosing your surrogate mother is part of this exciting step. Working with a surrogacy agency will help you find the perfect match, and creating this plan can be really useful in achieving that.
The next phase will be creating a profile for the surrogate mother, so the agency can match couples with surrogate mothers who have similar plans. Once both parties show interest in the other, the first meeting or phone call will be made to see if it’s a good fit. Once the connection is established and both parties are happy, the legal contract is drafted.
We have some tips on how to find a surrogate mother that’s right for you. Some couples might already have a surrogate mother, in which case you can move on to the next step.
Law and Requirements
This next stage is where the contract is drafted, making the surrogacy relationship official. This involves legal requirements, so the intended parents and the carrier will have an attorney each for representation and protection, to make the process as smooth as possible.
Your lawyer will explain all the legal elements of surrogacy before both parties agree, and everything is approved. These will be one-to-one sessions which cover your legal rights and any potential risks, including the compensation that has been agreed for the surrogate mother.
The agreement will also discuss pre-birth and post-birth procedures, and summarize the responsibilities and commitments required of the parents and carriers. From here, the implantation of the embryo begins. From the first-trimester, your lawyer will set everything in place for you to become the legal parents, which allows you to make medical decisions too.
Dealing With Miscarriages
As with any pregnancy, miscarriages can be an unfortunate tragedy. Dealing with loss can sometimes be a part of surrogacy too, and is a difficult time for both intended parents and the surrogate mother who will also be going through physical and emotional pain.
Although it will hurt, it’s important to know that no-one is to blame in this scenario. Many miscarriages happen within the first 3 months of pregnancy. After this period, the risk of miscarriage drops to between 3-4% chance. It’s also worth knowing that surrogate mother are required to have experienced a history of healthy pregnancies before being considered as a surrogate.
If a miscarriage happens, take the time to accept the news. Don’t feel obliged to speak to your surrogate mother immediately. Everyone copes with grief differently, and you may need the time to process what has happened. If you want to support your carrier, or seek support from them too, then this, of course, is ok as well. It’s likely you will both need time to emotionally heal, together or apart.
Preparing for Parenthood
For many intended parents, bringing home the baby is the part they’ve dreamed about, finally beginning life together as a family. Regardless of surrogacy, preparing for your new life is essential.
During the pregnancy, take the time to prepare for parenthood. This could be through reading books, or online articles or any resources that prepare for the arrival of your baby. Learning about night feeds, changing diapers, cleaning and caring for a baby will help when you bring your baby home.
Making sure you have all the essentials is important too. From cribs, prams, clothing to bottles, there’s a lot to think about and prepare for. We’ve made a list of all the things you will need to care for your newborn.
While becoming a parent brings a lot of joy and reward, it’s ok to acknowledge that at times it will be overwhelming. Managing your expectations and connecting with your partner is a personal preparation as you raise your baby. Building a support network around you, friends, family, new mothers and even other surrogate parents, can be really beneficial as you welcome your new life.
There’s much to consider when beginning your journey as a parent through surrogacy, but the experience will bring a lifetime of happiness. Working with a surrogacy company like Joy of Life® will help make the process easier and memorable, guiding you every step of the way. If you want to learn more, contact us here.