What You Need to Know About Surrogacy
Becoming a surrogate is a big step. If you are considering taking that step, you probably have a lot of questions. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions.
If you have specific questions that are not reflected, feel free to contact us or call us at 323-965-7500.
- Why should I choose Growing Generations (GG)?
We know that surrogates have many agencies to choose from. And without you, none of what we do is possible. Helping you to assist someone in fulfilling their dreams of becoming a parent through surrogacy is the easy part. At Growing Generations, our Surrogates are our clients too, and we aim to deliver an experience that you’ll treasure for the rest of your life. To learn more about the client experience you can expect from GG, follow this link here: The Values and Philosophy of GG.
- How much will I be paid as a surrogate?
The total Growing Generations surrogate pregnancy compensation package offers up to $63,000, with additional benefits up to $40,000. This attractive compensation of a surrogate mother makes us one of the highest paying surrogacy agencies around. If you’re an experienced surrogate, talk to us, we may be able to offer you more. You can read more about the benefit packages here: Compensation for Surrogates and Understanding Surrogate Compensation & Pay.
- When should I tell people in my life about my plans to become a surrogate?
We feel it is important to have this conversation with your immediate family and friends once you decide to proceed with surrogacy. It is especially important to discuss it with those you hope to have as your support system during your journey. Here is some great advice on When & How to Announce Your Surrogacy News. Another great resource: Surrogacy Books for Children.
- Will I use my eggs as a surrogate?
No. Growing Generations only works with gestational surrogates—this means the embryo will be created with a donor’s egg or the intended mother’s egg.
- Why would someone choose to have a surrogate?
Intended parents (IPs) choose surrogacy because of their strong desire to have a family, and they are unable to do so on their own. Read more about why IP(s) choose surrogacy here: Why Women Choose Surrogacy.
- Can I be a surrogate after I’ve had a tubal ligation?
Yes. As a surrogate with Growing Generations, you will be a gestational carrier. This means that a fertilized embryo is implanted into the uterus, and there is no need to use your own eggs. Check out this blog for a more detailed explanation: Surrogacy After a Tubal Ligation.
- How long does the surrogacy process take from start to finish?
We aim to move things along as quickly and safely as possible. Most Surrogates finish their surrogacy in 18 months (from initial application to delivery), but we encourage you to prepare yourself for up to two years. Check out this Rough Timeline for Surrogates.
- After I apply to become a surrogate, what happens next?
Once we receive your application to become a surrogate mother, you will be invited to schedule a consult with one of our admissions specialists, who will go over the entire process with you and answer all your surrogacy questions. For a more in-depth look, see here: Surrogate Screening Process Part 1.
- Will I have to travel?
Most likely. We do require that all Surrogates complete medical and psychological screening in California with our professionals. All costs associated with the trip are covered by Growing Generations. In addition to your surrogacy screening, you will likely need to travel for each embryo transfer. You can find the details on the second half of our surrogate screening process here: Surrogate Mother Screening Process Part 2.
- Where will I give birth?
Typically, Surrogates will give birth at a hospital local to them.
- Can I choose my OBGYN?
Yes. Surrogates have preference in choosing the in-network OB-GYN they see for their surrogacy journey. However, Intended Parents have the right to seek a second opinion, but often rely on their Surrogate to recommend a doctor they feel most comfortable with.
- Why does my income matter?
Growing Generations has a commitment to both Intended Parents and Surrogates. By verifying income, GG assures the Intended Parent(s) that their Surrogate is financially stable and pursing the journey for more than financial reasons. For you, the compensation you receive via surrogacy could affect your ability to receive any government assistance.
- Do I have to claim my compensation on my taxes?
Neither Growing Generations nor the Intended Parent(s) will issue a W-2 or 1099. Surrogates are not seen as employees or independent contractors of either. We always recommend that you have your surrogacy agreement with your Intended Parent(s) reviewed by a local tax profession.
- Do I have to stop breastfeeding before starting the surrogacy process?
Yes. It is important to Growing Generations that your bond with your child ends naturally. We allow all Surrogate candidates to wean their baby without the pressure of the agency or Intended Parent(s) waiting for you. The medications you would be required to take as a Surrogate can be delivered to your baby via breast milk. You can read more about how breastfeeding plays into your surrogacy journey here: Four Things That Can Delay Your Surrogacy.
- Do I need my own health insurance to go through surrogacy?
No, if you do not have an insurance plan, one can be purchased for you. For Surrogates with their own insurance, read more about that here: Using Your Personal Insurance for Surrogacy. You can read more about the other insurance options here: Surrogate Insurance and Benefits of the ACA for Surrogates.
- Will I get to meet the IPs?
Yes. Initially we do most of our Match Meetings via video. However, you will eventually meet your Intended Parents at either the embryo transfer or an ultrasound visit. Check out what to expect here: The Match Meeting.
- How do you choose an IP for me?
Our Matching Team has more than 20 years’ experience in surrogacy. We listen! We take your thoughts and expectations for your surrogacy journey and try to find Intended Parents that we feel are a good fit.
- How soon will I be matched with IPs?
In order to allow you to start connecting with your Intended Parents as soon as possible, you will begin looking at Intended Parent Profiles during the surrogacy admissions process. Click here to take A Closer Look at Matching.
- What factors are important when considering a surrogacy match?
We match our Surrogates and Intended Parents based the expectations they each have. We have open discussions and ask many questions of Surrogates and Intended Parents to understand what’s most important to both you and suggest matches accordingly.
- Do you screen the intended parents?
Each intended parent has a consultation to ensure we can fulfill their expectations. Growing Generations does not work with every intended parent that contacts us, but we do our best to help anyone who has a strong desire to become a parent. Once admitted to the program, each intended parent undergoes a criminal background check as well as a medical screening.
- Why do I have to agree to carry multiples during surrogacy?
We do not require that our Surrogates agree to carry multiples; however, it does make it easier to match you. While most Intended Parents do not specifically try for twins, they want the option to transfer more embryos in case the Embryologist suggests it on transfer day. IVF is an expensive process, and transferring multiple embryos improves the odds of having at least one take and go on to result in a live birth.
- What is the IVF Process like?
Women entering surrogacy are typically placed on a regimen of hormone therapies to aid in preparing the uterus for the embryo transfer and aid in maintaining the pregnancy. Here is more information on the medication: Medical Protocol for Surrogates.
Once your body and the embryos are ready, it is time for your embryo transfer. It is similar to a pap smear, but a catheter is inserted vaginally through the cervix and into the uterus where the embryos are to be placed. Most Surrogates will take a period of bed rest lasting between 24 and 72 hours. You’ll stay at a hotel for the night, then can return to your normal life. In about two weeks, if everything goes well, you’ll have a positive pregnancy test. During the course of the next 10 or 12 weeks, you will be weaned from the hormones, and at the end of the first trimester, you will be released back to your own obstetrician for normal treatment. Check out this video which goes over the entire medical process, as well as the embryo transfer: The Medical Process Video.
- If I do not get pregnant after my first embryo transfer what are the next steps?
In most cases, there is nothing that the Surrogate did, didn’t do, or could have done differently to lead to a different result. Sometimes things just don’t work. In most cases, the exact cause for a failed transfer will remain unclear. However, the success rates of second transfers are generally much higher than those of first-time transfers. Your doctor will work with you and your Intended Parent(s) to make the changes that are most likely to result in a positive pregnancy on your next cycle. Sometimes, in extreme cases, it may be suggested to try changing one or several variables after several failed transfers. These variables can include introducing the use of a donor egg, choosing to use a different egg donor, introduction (or change of) a sperm donor, or a new Surrogate. Take some time to review here, How to React to a Failed Transfer.
- Will my IPs be with me at the transfer?
Most Intended Parents will try to be there for the transfer. If there is any reason for them not being there, you will know either at the matching process or before the actual transfer date. Don’t worry, you are in good hands and can bring a support person with you!
- Can I use a birthing center (or have a home birth)/Can I use a midwife?
Surrogates in our program are required to give birth in a hospital (preferably with a level 2 NICU on site). We understand that some women prefer to birth their children at home or in birthing centers, however, for the safety of all involved, we plan for hospital deliveries.
Midwives may be used during pregnancy as long as they are working in tandem with an Obstetrician, and the OB is present to assist with the delivery.
- Can I still go to the gym? Run?
Surrogates are encouraged to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle during the surrogacy pregnancy. That said, strenuous exercise and heavy lifting is advised against. Restrictions on physical activity will vary depending on your doctor’s advice, the requests of the Intended Parents you are matched with, and the stage of the pregnancy you are in. Please be prepared to modify workouts to accommodate the pregnancy and follow any instructions set forth by your clinic. To read more check out here: Exercising as a Surrogate Mother.
- How do the payments work?
At GG, you will have the support of our Finance Team during your entire surrogacy journey. During the admissions process, you will receive a personalized Benefit Package and handbook to outline all of the payments and benefits you can expect to receive during your journey. Payments are typically made at milestones during the process, such as completing the screening process or beginning medications for the first time. Other payments are received on a regular monthly schedule during surrogacy pregnancy, which our Finance Team will provide you with once heartbeat(s) have been confirmed so you know exactly when and how much to expect. These payments will be in the form of checks mailed to you by the agency. Read more here: Understanding Surrogate Compensation & Pay and Understanding Surrogacy Reimbursements.
- Will IPs tell me what I can/can’t eat during the surrogacy pregnancy?
Yes and no. It is important that Surrogates avoid potentially hazardous food/drinks during pregnancy, such as raw meat/seafood and alcoholic beverages. Furthermore, Surrogates are encouraged to maintain a generally healthy diet during pregnancy and try to avoid things like caffeine. Intended Parents can make requests or suggestions if they have additional dietary concerns for their Surrogate; however, this is usually done during the matching process, so you would have the chance to decide how comfortable you are with what is being asked of you.
- Can the IPs say I can’t have an epidural?
No. Ultimately, if a Surrogate wants an epidural, that would be her choice. It’s important that you be as comfortable as possible during the delivery. If you have a strong preference for/against an epidural, we recommend sharing this preference with your Specialist so that it can be considered in the matching process. Most Intended Parents are fine with Surrogates choosing to have a medicated delivery, and in the event that they do not want this, we can work to find them a Surrogate open to an unmedicated delivery. What is an epidural? Find out more information here: Labor & Delivery Terminology.
- Am I required to have a C-section?
No. Whether or not a Surrogate will have a C-section is typically based on two factors—whether she has had a C-section in a previous delivery and whether there is a medical need/preference for a C-section as determined by her doctor. Surrogates who have had a C-section in the past should prepare for the surrogate pregnancy to deliver via C-section as well. (We can consider VBAC deliveries on a case-by-case basis, but there is no guarantee that a VBAC will take place.) If Intended Parents prefer a C-section delivery, we would aim to match them with a Surrogate who has had one before. Find out more information on what a VBAC is: What is a VBAC and How to Know if You’re a Candidate.
- Who will be in the delivery room?
This is something we encourage Surrogates and their Intended Parents to discuss during the matching process. For most Intended Parents, being in the delivery room for the arrival of their baby is a moment they truly don’t want to miss. We also want to make sure our Surrogates are comfortable and have the support they need during the delivery. For a typical vaginal birth, it is common to have both the Surrogate’s partner/support person and the Intended Parents in the room. However, if a C-section is required, most hospitals will only allow one person in the room during delivery. It’s a good idea to plan in the beginning for who would accompany you in the event of a C-section.
- How is the delivery handled?
We find that most hospitals are great with surrogacy births. In preparation for the birth, we will encourage you and your Intended Parents to attend a hospital tour to familiarize yourselves with the facility. We’ll also give your Intended Parents access to our birth plan creation tool through their online account. This will allow them, with input from you, to create a birth plan to make sure the hospital staff knows there is an upcoming surrogate birth. Virtually all Intended Parents want to be present at the birth and do their absolute best to be there; however, we all know that babies have a mind of their own and sometimes arrive earlier than expected, so be prepared for anything. To find out more about scheduling a tour and preparing for the birth, please review the following links: Hospital Tour, What to Pack, Labor & Delivery Gown, What to Expect During Your Stay, Recovery Time.
- What if the IPs change their mind?
It has never happened with any of our families but this is a common question! The funny thing is that many Intended Parents ask about Surrogates wanting to keep the baby, and many Surrogates want to make sure the Intended Parents are going to take their baby home! So, one fear sort of cancels the other out. But let’s just say it did happen, then we would work with an attorney to find the baby a loving adoptive family.
- Will I have to pump/breastfeed?
No. during the matching process, we ask if you are interested in pumping and will match you with an Intended Parent that feels the same. Not all IPs want or need their Surrogate to pump. If you are interested in supplying breast milk for your intended parent, you may review how to safely pump and ship at the following links: Shipping Breast milk, Medications While Pumping.
- Will Growing Generations still be there to support me after the delivery?
Yes. We are a family, and we will always be here to support you and answer any questions you have. In fact, we have many Surrogates who return to our program for a second and sometimes third journey!
- Will I have contact with my Intended Parents after the baby goes home?
This will depend on what you and the Intended Parents agreed on at your Match Meeting and in the contract.