Becoming a surrogate mother: Common questions for a first-time surrogate

Surrogate Mother - NicoleBecoming a surrogate mother is a big decision, and many considering this decision want to know what it is like to be a surrogate. In this blog series we hope to shed some light on the surrogacy process through the experiences of our past and current surrogates, Charity, Jaime and Nicole.

Even before I was pregnant with my own son, I had an interest in helping intended parents have children. I looked into agencies, read some of the forums to see what other experienced surrogates had to say about their journeys, and did quite a bit of soul-searching before I took the first steps of actually talking with an agency about a surrogate program.

After having an informative conversation with the first agency, I was still in the very early stages of learning about surrogacy and pretty hesitant and flat out fearful to take the plunge. My son was about two-years-old at that time and I decided to let the idea go quiet for a bit, choosing not to move forward and not really knowing whether I would ever really “get the guts” to follow through with being a surrogate.

I still didn’t fully understand the role of the surrogate agency and I personally didn’t know any other surrogates who I could go to with questions; plus, I felt like surrogacy was such a hush-hush topic.

I was concerned that intended parents would take advantage of me and I wondered what would happen if I miscarried and suffered complications that would keep me from having more children of my own. I wondered what would happen if intended parents were suddenly not able to afford to pay for medical bills and I wondered what would happen if the intended parents decided to suddenly back out. I’ve come to learn that these are all common questions among other “newbie” surrogate candidates.

I chose to look into what IARC had to offer when my son was five, having put surrogacy on the back-burner for about three years. At that time, I was interested in IARC but I was stressed out at work and wasn’t planning on sticking with my employer for much longer. I told IARC that I was still interested, but that I would need to go “on hold” until I found and settled into a new job. I began my search for a new job and found that, of all places, IARC was hiring a surrogate coordinator. What a coincidence!

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Surrogacy for gay couples: What you need to know

Same Sex FamilyFor intended parents, whether single or coupled, going through the surrogacy process can be a long, confusing and emotional journey, but for gay prospective parents there is an added layer of legal complications that must be navigated. This post is meant to help gay men who are considering surrogacy get smart on what questions they should be asking, who they should be talking to, and how to go about the process in the safest and easiest way.

Step 1: Find an experienced lawyer

One of the first things any gay man or couple looking to have a baby through surrogacy should do is consult with a lawyer who specializes in surrogacy and is specifically familiar with issues related to gay partnering, marriage, adoption, and parentage. These are unique issues, and not every lawyer fully understands the issues and their ramifications. Ask any lawyer you are interviewing how many gay clients he/she has represented and what the extent of his/her working knowledge is of such issues. If the lawyer doesn’t have enough experience to make you comfortable, keep looking.

Step 2: Find an experienced agency

For the greatest success and certainty in your surrogacy program, find a reputable and experienced agency. Finding an agency that is run by an experienced attorney simplifies both of the first two steps. (For a list of other qualities to look for in an agency, read this post.) Again, gay men should look for an agency that is knowledgeable about specific challenges related to surrogacy for gay intended parents. For example, gay surrogacy occasionally needs professionals experienced and familiar with surrogacy for HIV positive intended fathers and the use of sperm washing to keep the participants safe. (To learn more about sperm washing, read this post.) The right agency will understand such issues and serve as a guide and advisor to the gay intended parent throughout the entire process to make sure all steps are followed at the appropriate time and in the appropriate order. This is the best way to insure a safe and successful outcome. Not all agencies are astronomically expensive. Some take into account that raising a child is an expensive endeavor in and of itself. Carefully compare and contrast agencies, their costs, and the services they provide. 

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Maternity and prenatal: An essential benefit, but is it essentially covered for surrogacy?

Prior to the Affordable Care Act, if you were pregnant and without insurance, you faced an uphill battle to get medical coverage — resulting in massive bills and possible debt.
surrogates-doctor-visits

Due to the nature of what insurance companies previously defined as “pre-existing conditions,” such essential benefits like maternity and prenatal care were left uncovered. Or worse, plans had such long waiting periods for coverage that a child would be birthed by the time coverage went into effect.

For women and intended parents entering surrogacy, the legal waters were even murkier for insurance coverage. Many times surrogates who had insurance held the assumption that their pregnancy was covered; however, many insurance policies explicitly excluded coverage for women carrying a child for another family. Intended parents also faced challenges in using their coverage to support maternity and prenatal care, leaving both the surrogate and intended parents at risk for substantial hospital bills.

The “Obamacare” effect

As intended parents and surrogates embark on a journey toward child delivery, it’s important to understand the health care coverage landscape in the age of what many call, “Obamacare.”

With the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2013, the U.S. government defined 10 essential health benefits (EHB) that are mandated to be covered for all Americans enrolling in a health care plan. Within this list of 10, maternity and prenatal care is now considered essential coverage.

Steven Snyder, executive director at the International Assisted Reproduction Center (IARC®), said of the law’s enactment and its impact on surrogacy coverage, “By defining essential benefits and taking away pre-existing conditions and other exclusions that could impair maternity and prenatal care, the ACA may improve the ability of women who are acting as surrogates to have their maternity expense covered by insurance.”

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