Perhaps you’re interested in surrogacy as a family-building option, or perhaps you are considering becoming a surrogate yourself. Either way, it’s a good idea to be fully informed about all parts of the surrogacy process. As you investigate gestational or traditional surrogacy, keep in mind that there are specific people who make an ideal gestational surrogate, and others who may not be the right fit.
Every surrogacy agency has some specific guidelines and requirements for prospective surrogates. These requirements are generally similar from agency to agency; however, each may have slightly different age requirements, home situation requirements, and health guidelines.
Typically, the recommended age for a surrogate is between 21 and 39 years old, although some agencies extend that age bracket to 41.
The BMI Bracket
Many agencies look for candidates with a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 18-34, while some accept women with a BMI no higher than 33. The Body Mass Index is the ratio between a person’s height and their weight, and it indicates whether a woman may be overweight or obese. Obesity poses higher risk factors during a pregnancy, especially since the surrogate is likely to gain even more weight while pregnant.
State of Residence
In some states, gestational surrogacy is not compensated or is heavily regulated. For those reasons, certain agencies do not accept surrogacy candidates from states such as Washington, Nebraska, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, or Washington, D.C.
Most surrogacy agencies encourage applicants who have had one or two previous pregnancies that were easy and uncomplicated. Women who had difficult or troubled pregnancies are likely not ideal as surrogates depending on the reason for the difficult or troubled pregnancy.
Since the surrogate has already been pregnant, she won’t be taken by surprise with the symptoms that come along with pregnancy and she will know what to expect. Since she already has children of her own, she can empathize with the intended parents’ desire to have kids, and she can view her pregnancy as a special opportunity to do something amazing for a family.
The ideal surrogate should live in a non-smoking home, with a stable lifestyle and plenty of emotional support from friends and family members. Agencies may conduct a home visit with a potential gestational surrogate and meet any other people or animals living in the house. The spouse or partner of the surrogate needs to be completely informed about the surrogacy process and supportive of the surrogate’s decisions.
Since pregnancy does cause some stress and emotional upheaval, intended parents and surrogacy agencies want to be sure that the surrogate is mentally ready for what she is about to do. The ideal gestational surrogate should have no history of mental illness or criminal behavior. In addition, she and her partner must submit to psychological testing to ensure they are aware of the issues and risks associated with surrogacy.
Money should not be the primary motivation for a surrogate. Women who are financially strapped, on welfare, or otherwise accepting government financial support are not good candidates for the surrogacy process. Instead, surrogates should be financially comfortable, with sufficient income and limited debt.
The First Steps
With the help of a qualified lawyer, the guidance of a reputable surrogacy agency, and the support of family and friends, you can successfully complete the surrogacy journey. If you’re interested in becoming a surrogate, check out some local agencies who can help you begin the process. If you want to create your own family with the help of a surrogate, find an attorney who specializes in assisted reproduction law, and then contact an agency so that they can match your family with a surrogate.