An Inside Peek at Becoming a Surrogate

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    We're excited to partner with Surrogacy GRACE LLC for this blog post! They are doing amazing work to help people fulfill their dreams of becoming parents.

    The path to parenthood is different for everyone. Some may experience an unplanned, straight-shot path to pregnancy and childbirth while others have years of planning and trying with all kinds of twists and turns in the road.

    We’re fortunate enough to live in a time that provides many different ways for folks to become parents. And one of the least talked-about options is to partner with a surrogate mother.

    I had the immense pleasure of speaking with Gaelle Vincent-Regan of Surrogacy GRACE, a surrogacy agency based in California. Gaelle took the time to answer all kinds of questions, and I still feel like we barely scratched the surface of how impactful this process is for families around the globe. 

    While it’s a complex issue and process, I’m excited to share some of the ins and outs of being a surrogate that I discussed with Gaelle from Surrogacy GRACE.

    First, What Is a Surrogate?

    A surrogate mother, also called a gestational surrogate or gestational carrier, is someone who carries a baby for couples or individuals who can’t conceive or carry a baby to term on their own. The individual or couple are referred to as the “intended parents.”

    Becoming a surrogate brings all kinds of benefits. Image of pregnant woman sitting on her bed.Surrogacy GRACE works exclusively with gestational surrogates. That is, the surrogate mothers do not use their own eggs, so there is no genetic connection with the baby they carry. Eggs from the intended mother or a donor are used to create the embryo, establishing a clear genetic line.

    Why Would Someone Choose To Become a Surrogate?

    There is no shortage of people who desperately want to be parents but are unable to conceive or carry to term. For those folks, working with a surrogate can be a simple decision. But what about the person who is agreeing to carry another person’s child? What are the benefits?

    It turns out that there are significant reasons why someone would choose to pursue being a gestational surrogate.

    • Financial compensation of up to $80,000 with different kinds of bonuses such as a maternity clothing allowance, medication start bonus, embryo transfer bonus, childcare etc.
    • No cost to the surrogate – all medical, lost wages, and necessary travel costs are covered
    • Knowledge that you’ve helped someone start or grow a family of their own
    • Once in a lifetime experience helping a family while helping yours financially
    • Connection with intended parents, if desired

    Many women choose to be surrogates because they know someone struggling with infertility or know someone who was a surrogate, inspiring them to take this fulfilling journey themselves. Others pursue this path for the financial compensation that they can use to support their own families, dreams, and goals. Regardless of the motivation, becoming a surrogate is highly rewarding.

    Image of two dads on a walk with their baby.And to clear up one question that may come to mind, no, the financial compensation does not equate to “buying” a baby. Rather, it serves as a living expenses reimbursement, compensating the woman for her time, the risk she assumes with pregnancy, and the physical toll that pregnancy naturally takes on a body. Intended parents must establish and fund an escrow account that Surrogacy GRACE administers for making payments to the surrogate.

    This fund also covers costs for missed work due to OB appointments, travel to the IVF clinic,  postpartum time, and any other bonuses or allowances paid to the surrogate during her journey. Additionally, surrogates receive two allowances for purchasing maternity clothes, along with a monthly stipend for extras like parking fees and mileage reimbursement. 

    Who Can Become a Surrogate?

    Different agencies have various rules surrounding eligibility. At Surrogacy GRACE, they have three initial requirements. The potential surrogate must:

    1. Have had at least one healthy pregnancy and delivery
    2. Be between 21 and 41 years old 
    3. Be a US Citizen or legal resident (Note: intended parents do NOT have to be US citizens or legal residents.)

    Women who meet these three criteria will be contacted by Ashley at Surrogacy GRACE. She will gather medical information in order to approve the surrogate in the program. Surrogates will still have a medical and psychological evaluation performed by the fertility clinic before proceeding further. 

    Image of IVF doctor speaking with her female patient.Additionally, the Grace team goes through past medical records to help ensure a successful outcome for everyone. They will also perform a home assessment, which may be in person or virtual.

    What Do I Do To Be a Surrogate?

    Although each experience is unique, here is a basic overview of the process for surrogates:

    • The surrogate contacts Grace LLC to express interest.
    • Surrogacy GRACE gets their initial information and medical records and performs a home assessment.
    • If she qualifies, the surrogate gets approval to be in the program.
    • The surrogate is then matched with intended parents.
    • The surrogate travels to the chosen IVF clinic for medical and psychological clearance.
    • When medically cleared, all parties start the legal process and sign a surrogacy agreement.
    • When legal clearance is in place, the surrogate starts the cycle of medication that eventually leads to the embryo transfer at the IVF clinic.
    • The surrogate is pregnant! She will attend all the typical appointments and eventually deliver in her hometown.
    • The intended parents now have a baby!

    Given the delicate and emotional nature of this process, Surrogacy GRACE offers plenty of postpartum support for the surrogate and her family, as needed. They stay in touch with their surrogates to make sure they are recovering well, physically and emotionally.

    What’s Included in the Contract?

    The short answer to this question is…a lot! The surrogate (and her spouse, if married) and the intended parents sign a very hefty contract. Surrogacy GRACE helps make sure all parties understand what is included. They will help surrogates and parents connect with attorneys to represent them in this arrangement.

    Image of Black couple sitting together on couch, happy, talking with their attorney.Understandably, surrogacy carries very unique risks and uncertainties. With that in mind, the contract attempts to cover any surprising turn of events that may occur for everyone involved. And it particularly aims to discuss everyone’s intentions with this surrogacy. That is, it establishes the intention for the surrogate to carry the baby for the people who intend to be the parents.

    Some of the most critical pieces the contract addresses include the following items:

    • Compensation
    • Insurance
    • Surrogate Behavior – what she can or cannot do during the pregnancy
    • Communication – expectations and boundaries surrounding communication between the surrogate and the intended parents
    • Privacy – social media, etc.
    • Abortion/Termination of the Pregnancy
    • Unplanned Eventualities – unexpected occurrences such as the following:
      • The embryo splits
      • The surrogate is in a car accident
      • The pregnancy doesn’t survive to term

    At around the 13-week mark of the pregnancy, a second legal process starts for establishing parental rights for the intended parents, not the surrogate. The rules surrounding this are different in every state, so the contract addresses the laws of the state where the surrogate will deliver.

    Interested In Learning More?

    Gaelle invites all of our interested readers who meet the criteria to reach out to Surrogacy GRACE for more information or to start the process of becoming a surrogate. There are so many potential parents out there looking for the perfect person to help them create a family, and you just might be the right fit!

    And be sure to follow Surrogacy GRACE on Facebook and Instagram for another look at what they do for surrogates and parents.

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    Kristin
    Kristin Ratten is passionate about seeing moms and entrepreneurs succeed. As the mom of four teenagers, she understands the ups and downs of parenthood in all its stages and the unique challenges that come with running a business while running a family. And as the owner of Little Lambs Christian Montessori School, Kristin has 30+ years of teaching and parent coaching experience. Kristin also owns Kristin Ratten Content Services, where she spends time creating high-performing content and strategy for small business owners. She is a vocal advocate for small businesses and supporting local economies. When she’s not teaching/writing/parenting, Kristin is an avid reader, making her uniquely suited to the rainy days of her native Pacific Northwest. She and her husband are embracing this stage of parenting that involves being called “Bruh” on a regular basis.

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