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What is Surrogacy?
Surrogacy is a form of assisted reproduction in which a woman carries and delivers a child for the intended parents who want to start a family. There are two types of surrogacy. Traditional surrogacy is when a woman uses her own eggs to conceive for another family, meaning she would be genetically related to the baby. Gestational surrogacy (sometimes called a gestational carrier) is when a woman is not genetically related to the child she is carrying. In this case, the egg and sperm are joined through IVF, and the embryo is placed in the surrogate’s uterus. Because there are more sensitive legal issues involved when the surrogate is genetically related to the child, gestational surrogacy is far more common than traditional surrogacy.
What Are the Ways You Can Be Involved in Surrogacy?
Becoming a Surrogate
Some families choose to have someone they know as a surrogate, while others go through an agency. If you’re considering becoming a surrogate, an agency will start by conducting medical and psychological exams to make sure you’re a qualified candidate. When you are chosen by a family, you and the intended parents will each complete legal agreements. As part of the process, you will need to take hormonal supplements that prepare your uterus for the embryo before it is transferred. You and the intended parents will stay in close communication throughout the pregnancy.
Besides becoming familiar with the process, you also need to be informed about what to expect physically, emotionally, and financially as a surrogate. There are multiple financial benefits, which can include paid travel and compensation for lost wages, life insurance, and money for various other expenses. All of this compensation is in addition to the fee you receive for being a surrogate.
Becoming an Egg Donor
In some situations, the intended parent will use her own eggs or even use eggs that she has previously frozen. In other situations, though, egg donors are needed for surrogacy. This is sometimes called third-party reproduction, when the child is not genetically related to one or both intended parents.
Just as potential surrogates go through a screening process, you would undergo screening that includes a complete medical history. If you are chosen as an egg donor, the process involves injections that help sync your cycle with that of the gestational carrier. You can also expect ultrasounds and an office procedure to retrieve the eggs. Egg donors typically receive some financial compensation, but this can vary depending on the agency you use.
Becoming an Intended Parent
When you can’t have a baby on your own, for whatever reason, you face a big decision about which path to take to becoming a parent. If you’re new to the world of surrogacy, you probably have LOTS of questions. There are all kinds of myths about surrogacy. You may worry that the surrogate will try to take custody or that you will have a hard time bonding with your child. These myths are easily busted once you get further into researching the realities of surrogacy. Many people who are considering surrogacy also feel reassured from personal stories, like these families featured in the Dallas News.
As a new parent, you’ll have to plan for your baby’s arrival. This includes shopping for a stroller, car seat, and crib. You’ll also need to babyproof your home. Install gates on your stairs, secure heavy objects to prevent them from falling, and add guards to outlets and sharp corners. When you’re a new parent, it’s easy to neglect self-care, but your well-being is essential to your and your baby’s health. Before your baby’s arrival, relieve stress by decluttering your home, creating a space to exercise or meditate at home, and investing in some comfortable clothing like T-shirts and leggings to help you relax.
Ultimately, the decision to use surrogacy is very personal. No matter what part you play, it’s a decision to make based on what feels right for you and your family. For those who choose surrogacy, it can be extremely rewarding to be part of such a life-giving process.
Guest Post by Elena Stewart
Photo credit: Pexels