You have pursued your options, talked to the experts, and decided along with your partner that gestational surrogacy is right for your family. Once you have found a Maryland lawyer who specializes in assisted reproductive technology and surrogacy, you’re ready to proceed to the next step – finding a surrogate to carry your baby for nine months.
This may be the part of the process that causes the most anxiety for intended parents. You are placing your family’s future in the hands of another human being, and even though you may have input throughout the pregnancy, you cannot be in control of everything that occurs. That’s why selecting the right surrogate is so important.
Finding a Surrogate: The Requirements
What makes a woman a good surrogate? Typically, she should be at least 21 years old, in the prime of life and health, financially stable, have no serious medical problems, be a non-smoker, use no illegal substances, have no criminal record, and have a body mass index (BMI) of less than 34. Experts agree that it’s best if she has already delivered at least one baby in good health. A surrogate who has been pregnant before understands the experience and the symptoms of pregnancy and knows her body on a deeper level. She also comprehends the emotional issues at stake, since she will be the one feeling the baby kick and physically giving birth to it.
Make sure that your surrogate undergoes a psychological screening. A professional can get a sense of the surrogate’s mental health and determine whether or not she fully understands what she is doing and is prepared to give the baby to you and your partner as the intended parents.
In addition to a complete physical examination by a physician, including an examination of the uterus, your surrogate will need to go through screening for various infectious diseases such as syphilis, gonorrhea, hepatitis B and C, chlamydia, and HIV. Doctors should also check for chicken pox, rubella, and measles. Your surrogate should use her own doctor, and not your doctor or someone that you recommend.
At this point, you may feel overwhelmed. How do you find a surrogate who fits all of those requirements?
One convenient way to find the right surrogate is to go through a surrogacy agency. They take care of much of the work, including vetting the potential surrogates, setting up meetings or communications between the surrogate and the intended parents, and providing support during your surrogacy journey.
In some cases, couples ask a family member or friend to be their surrogate. If you are planning gestational surrogacy, this arrangement works well. However, if you are using traditional surrogacy in which the surrogate mother provides the egg, using a family member as the surrogate could cause complications in the family dynamic. Think carefully about your choice and make sure that your friend or family surrogate signs the same agreement that you would require of a third-party agency surrogate.
Whomever you choose as your surrogate, be sure to have your attorney with you for the key steps in the process. The ART (assisted reproductive technology) lawyer you hire can draft a surrogacy contract, specifying the rights and obligations of the intended parents as well as the surrogate. Your lawyer can also help you write guidelines in the event of a miscarriage, multiple pregnancy, or other eventualities. Once you have found the right connection with a surrogate, it’s only a matter of time before your child enters the world.
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About Nicole K. White
As a mother via gestational surrogacy, Nicole is passionate about helping her clients experience the joy and fulfillment of starting or growing a family of their own through third party reproduction. Her knowledge and experience as an attorney and as an intended parent mean she knows firsthand what you will go through and what you will need – understanding, ongoing support, guidance and a smooth process.