Sharon LaMothe is the Director of PNW Surrogacy and Founder of LaMothe Surrogacy Consulting. She’s also a mom, two-time gestational carrier, author of the book “Surrogacy Helps Make a Family Grow”, and tireless surrogacy advocate with an incredible list of achievements. Leaning on her years of experience in family building, Sharon answers 10 common questions gestational carriers ask about eligibility, information that is equally useful for prospective intended parents.
1. What is the average age of a potential surrogate?
Reproductive endocrinologists prefer to work with surrogates who are between 21 and 39 years of age. Exceptions have been made in the past but this is an average.
2. Does a woman have to have had a child of her own before she may act as a surrogate?
Yes. Most clinics will require the surrogate to have at least one uncomplicated pregnancy and birth. C-sections are usually acceptable.
3. What about the health of a potential surrogate?
A potential surrogate must be healthy, for her benefit as much as for the child she will carry. Additionally, she will be screened for STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), and addictions such as drug, alcohol and tobacco. Certain medications, thyroid replacements may be acceptable to the clinic. Another factor most clinics take into consideration is BMI (height/weight ratio) and prefer that to be under 30. Calculate your BMI – Standard BMI Calculator
4. What if I had my own children but put them up for adoption?
Most psychologists and surrogacy agencies require you to be parenting your child/children. A previous adoption with a baby since then may be acceptable. The psychologist will speak with you about these issues to be sure you will be comfortable giving up the baby.
5. I have had some legal issues in my past….would I still be eligible to enter into a surrogacy contract?
Most Intended Parents do not want a person carrying their baby to have a criminal history. Most agencies will run a background check….minor offenses can often be overlooked. It is best to be honest with your agency and/or attorney and tell them if there is anything in your past that might complicate the surrogacy process.
6. What do I need to know about Health Insurance?
Having health insurance will reduce the Intended Parents’ out of pocket payment for your medical care. The best possible surrogate candidate will have her own health insurance with maternity coverage. This does not mean medicare or state insurance coverage for a surrogacy journey would be prohibited by law. If you do not have a health policy, in some cases the agency or intended parents can provide one policy for you.
7. I am out of work and heard that you can make good money being a surrogate. Is that true?
It is best to have a stable household income of your own before you volunteer to become a surrogate mother. Surrogacy is a gift to an Intended Couple or Parent and any money that may come your way usually starts after the confirmation of pregnancy. There is NO guarantee that you will become pregnant throughout your surrogacy experience and some women don’t become pregnant until the second or third IVF cycle. All told, pregnancy may not be confirmed until a year or more from the signing of the contracts.
8. I am not sure my family will support me in my decision. Will that matter?
It will matter. Remember that the process of getting pregnant up through birth can take a year or more. The fertility clinic will want to feel comfortable that you will be supported during the medical procedures. The Intended Parents will want to feel comfortable that your family will be positive while you are carrying their baby. You should really have your spouse and family on board with your decision to be a surrogate.
9. I don’t have a car but my new IP’s can take me to my appointments, right?
No. You need reliable transportation. There are many appointments that you will need to attend before you even sign your contract. Some of these include: meeting with your agency, meeting the Intended Parents (who may be from out of state), having an exam with the clinic of the IP’s choice, appointments with the psychologist and perhaps even meeting with an attorney, just to name a few. This isn’t even taking into consideration your OB appointments once you are pregnant.
10. Can I be accepted as a Gestational Carrier if I’m not vaccinated against COVID-19?
It’s your choice whether or not to take the COVID-19 vaccine, however, as Dr. Gad Lavy observes in his article Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy in Surrogates, most intended parents who visit his clinic want a vaccinated carrier. As Dr. Lavy points out, the CDC has published data on vaccine safety in pregnancy and most vaccine concerns are in fact based on misinformation. The benefits of the vaccine outweigh known and potential risks. Pregnant women are more likely than non-pregnant women to become severely ill from COVID-19 and be at risk of pregnancy complications, such as preterm labor. That said, and as Rich Vaughn Esq., Founder of International Fertility Law Group notes, medical decisions such as this should be discussed prior to the match so there are no disagreements later.