A question I get asked all the time is, “What does being a surrogate entail – what is the process?” I like to say most of the “hard” work comes at the beginning of the journey. Just with most things, the set up usually takes the most work. This is true with the surrogacy journey as well. Getting set up with an agency, going through the screening process and legal contracts, and then the IVF process is the heavy lifting of the surrogacy journey.
Of course, this doesn’t account for any major complications that could happen. Once you are released to your OB, it is no different than any other pregnancy except for the fact the baby is a member of another family.
It’s crazy I know!
In this post, I’m going to give you a basic overview of the surrogacy journey based on my experience, plus you can download a visual blueprint of the process.
Surrogacy Journey Timeline
Stage 1 – The Journey Begins
- Discussion with family
It’s really important to have your family on board with your decision because you don’t want to be going through this journey alone. Also, you may need extra support throughout your journey.
- Meet the standard requirements
There are standard requirements established by the ASRM for becoming a surrogate and if you use an agency, they may have additional requirements.
- Find an agency (or go independent)
Using an agency is not required, but they handle all the details for you, plus they will give you extra support if complications arise. There are a lot of different agencies you can work with. If you know someone who has been a surrogate previously, I recommend finding out their experience with the agency they worked with – what they liked or didn’t like. You may not be required to be local to your agency and most will have a virtual option.
**Note: I have only worked with an agency, but I believe doing it without and agency the process is still the same with the exception of the surrogate and intended parents having to do all the work of finding professionals and setting up everything themselves.
- Fill out the agency’s application process
This may include an initial online application, a call with the intake specialist, a full paper application, a phone interview, etc. The application process can take a couple weeks.
- Agency accepted and surrogate profile created
Once your application is processed, your medical records are received and your background check is completed.
- Be 100% committed to going through the journey
Your agency will be sharing your profile with intended parents who are ready to move forward and some have had a long journey already. You want to be sure you and your family are committed to going through the process.
Stage 2 – The Matching Stage
- Considered an available surrogate
Once you become an available surrogate, it can take up to 4 months to become matched. The agency you work with will likely have an exclusivity policy where you agree to give them a certain time frame to match you before looking elsewhere. ** Note: If you recently delivered a baby, you have to wait 6 months if you had a vaginal delivery to get pregnant again and 1 year if you delivered via cesarean, which is industry standard, but may be different depending on your OBGYN’s recommendation or the fertility clinic you are working with.
- Profile shared with intended parents (IPs)
- Meet/connect with potential IPs
Once an intended parent or parents are interested in your profile and working with you, the agency will contact you to let you know and set up a time for you to connect with them.
- Everyone decides it’s a good fit
- Become officially matched!!
Stage 3 – The Screening and Legal Process
- Complete the psychological screening
This is done by an LMFP, licensed marriage, and family therapist, and is completed in person or virtually.
- Meet fertility specialist and complete the medical screening
- Receive tentative cycle/embryo transfer calendar
- Complete and sign legal contracts
Stage 4 – The Cycle and Embryo Transfer Stage
- Monitoring of hormone levels and uterine lining (~ 4wks for FET)
- Start medication to prepare for the embryo transfer
Once you get to this stage, everything starts to really move – that has been my experience anyway.
- Embryo transfer
- Pregnancy blood test – 2 weeks after transfer
- Heartbeat Ultrasound ~ 2 weeks after a positive pregnancy test
- Continued monitoring by IVF Clinic
- Graduate!! Released to your OB
- Stop medication between weeks 10-12
Stage 5 – The Pregnancy Stage
- Regular OB appointments
- Keep your IPs updated and involved
- Take care of yourself
- Deliver your surrogate baby to IPs
Congratulations!! You helped a family and your journey is complete!
- Rest and recover
- Is another journey right for you? Start at the beginning.
Want to get a birds-eye view of what the overall process entails? Click on the image below to download the Surrogacy Journey Blueprint.