It’s a special and exciting time when intended parents receive their child from their gestational carrier. Before that can happen, there are several steps in the surrogacy process. While every surrogacy journey is different, these are the basic phases in the surrogacy process.
Surrogate matching process
For some intended parents, when they decide to pursue surrogacy, they already have a close friend or family member in mind to be their surrogate. Others use agencies to help match them with a surrogate and guide them through the entire process. Gestational surrogates sign up with an agency that thoroughly vets them to ensure all surrogates fit necessary qualifications and are physically and emotionally prepared for their role.
Intended parents and potential gestational carriers both share what they are looking for in each other in terms of personality, viewpoints, and expectations. Based off of this information, the agency will match a surrogate with intended parents. Next, the intended parents and surrogates will get to contact each other to discuss important points such as views on selective reduction. If both the intended parents and gestational carrier feel confident and excited about moving forward, the agency finalizes the match.
Arrange legal documents
It’s important to have legally binding contracts that state expectations and compensation. Contracts should include contingency plans. Each side will want an ART (assisted reproductive technology) attorney. An agency can help connect you with one. After attorneys, intended parents, and the surrogate have reviewed and signed the contracts, the process can continue.
Legal arrangements for parental rights begin later in the process. If you’ll be obtaining a pre-birth order to establish your parental rights, this comes after the first trimester. Some states prefer you to use a post-birth order following the birth of the child to document legal parentage.
Conception & getting pregnant
Once the matching process is complete and legal documents arranged, it’s time for the highly-anticipated steps of conception for the intended parents and getting pregnant for the surrogate. For a gestational pregnancy, the sperm and eggs can be from the intended parents or either may come from a third party.
Most intended parents create their embryos before pursuing surrogacy. But for those who didn’t and prefer a fresh embryo transfer, now is the time to synchronize the menstrual cycles of the intended mother (or egg donor) and the surrogate. This way, when the eggs are retrieved and fertilized, the lining of the surrogate’s uterus is ready to receive and nourish them. The surrogate undergoes fertility treatment. She self-administers hormonal injections for two to six weeks prior to the embryo transfer to build her uterus lining. Finally, the in vitro fertilization (IVF) happens and everybody anxiously awaits to see if it worked.
If everything goes well, the surrogate will become pregnant with the intended parents’ child. Throughout the pregnancy she will have visits with medical professionals. Based off of pregnancy milestones, she will receive payments. The intended parents and surrogate will be in communication about how everything is progressing.
The amount of communication varies based off of the unique relationship between both parties. Often the relationship becomes a close friendship where both the intended parents are joyful and excited to share updates. Depending on where everybody is located, the surrogate and intended parents might talk in person, over the phone, text message, or a combination. The surrogacy agency used is available for any questions, necessary mediation, or emotional support.
Birth & beyond
The birth of the child is physically similar to the surrogate’s previous births (as much as births can be compared). Intended parents are notified of when the birth will occur and are able to travel to the hospital to welcome their new child. The hospital will be informed ahead of time that this is a surrogacy birth. If you’re in a state where a pre-birth order wasn’t possible, you can now go through the steps for a post-birth order. How much contact surrogates and the intended parents maintain after the birth varies depending on their relationship and previously stated expectations.
The intended parents are now thrilled to have their child. Surrogates can recover from pregnancy fairly quickly since they aren’t simultaneously caring for a newborn, but they do need to be prepared for hormonal adjustments. Some surrogates feel their journey is complete after one surrogacy birth and others later go on the start the process again with more intended parents. Surrogacy isn’t a great fit for all women or intended beparents, but when the right combination of people come together, the process and ending result are very meaningful and worthwhile.