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.

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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Becoming A Surrogate Mother: Meet Charity

Becoming a surrogate mother is a big decision, and many potential surrogate mothers want to know what it is like to be a surrogate. This is a new blog series where we’ll follow the experiences of our past and current surrogates, Charity and Nicole, to share their personal journeys with surrogacy.  This is the first post from Charity.

How in the world did you ever become involved in surrogacy?Surrogate Motherhood

This is one of the most common questions I’m asked. And the answer is unique.

It was a typical Sunday morning. My husband was watching sports, our son was playing and I was sitting on the living room floor with the Sunday paper surrounding me.

I was looking through the help wanted section, I always like to see what kind of jobs are out there, when an ad caught my eye.

“Looking for Ovum Donors and Surrogates.”  What in the world is that?  I was 24 years old and these words were new to me. I read the ad to my husband and he wasn’t sure either. I clipped the ad and made it my mission to find out what it was to be a surrogate or ovum donor.

Monday morning I called the company on the ad, and learned that it was an agency that facilitated egg donation and surrogacy programs.

My first question: What’s an ovum donor? 

Answer: A woman who donates her eggs to help someone else have a child.

OK, I could do that.

My second question: What’s a surrogate?

Answer: A woman who carries a child for someone who can’t carry one herself.

Whoa…..there’s no way I could ever do that!!  Could I?

And it started. The wheels in my mind were turning faster than most wind turbines in a March storm.

That was 15 years ago, and during the past 15 years I have helped create and add to four families. I’ve had many ups and a few downs. But when I think back over those years I will never forget the moment that cemented me into surrogacy.

It was my first journey—my first delivery as a surrogate. I had just delivered a healthy 7lb, 11 oz. baby boy. My husband was by my side holding my hand telling me what a great job I did and how proud he was of me. Then I looked up. At the end of my bed stood my IM (intended mother), tears were streaming down her face, and her hands were shaking, moving slowly from her mouth, to her heart, to her child. She turned to me, smiled, wiped her tears and kept saying “thank you, thank you, thank you”. I knew in that moment this was not the only family I would help.

Through this blog I will share with you experiences from both my gestational surrogacies and my traditional surrogacy. I hope I will be able to answer questions you may have and share with you the joy I have felt and the relationships I have built. Most of all I hope I will be able to help you answer your own question—Could I be a surrogate?

Do you have questions about surrogacy? Please feel free to post any questions in the comments section and I will do my best to answer them in a timely fashion.

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Medical Procedures for Becoming a Surrogate

Becoming a SurrogateIt’s common for women who are considering becoming a surrogate to have questions about the medical procedures that are involved for becoming a surrogate mother.

If you choose IARC as your surrogate agency we will walk you though the entire process and will be there to answer questions every step of the way. However, here are some basics on what is medically required to be a surrogate mother.

Medical Testing

You’ve made the decision to become a surrogate, have been matched with IPS, and signed the contract. The first medical step is infectious disease testing. Your IARC® Program Coordinator will assist you with scheduling an appointment to complete this testing. This testing may be done in your local area. The testing will involve a blood draw and vaginal/cervical swabbing. Clinics will often require an in person visit for this testing as well as a uterine evaluation.

Mock Cycle or Mock Transfer

A mock cycle involves going through the medication regiment to ensure your body responds to the treatment.  This is not common. A mock transfer involves inserting a catheter similar to one that will be used for the transfer in order for the physician to determine your cervical shape, etc. This is more common and would be completed at your screening appointment.

Fertility Treatment

After you’ve completed your medical testing requirements, we will coordinate with you and the intended parents’ clinic to prepare for the medical procedure.

For Gestational Surrogates, this will mean preparing your uterine lining for the embryo transfer. This involves

  • Tracking your menstrual cycles so they are in line with the intended mother’s or ovum donor’s cycles.
  • Taking fertility medications, some of which may be daily injections.
  • You will be required to travel to the intended parents’ fertility clinic the day before the embryo transfer date and will return one to two days after the embryo transfer occurs.
  • You will then be on bed rest for at least 24 hours after the transfer.

For Traditional (AI) Surrogates, you will administer medications, usually via injections, that will improve the quality of eggs produced. This means that:

  • You will likely have several appointments in your local area to monitor your hormone levels prior to when you travel to the intended parents’ fertility clinic for the insemination.
  • The Artificial Insemination procedure feels similar to a pap smear.

In both cases, you will need to complete a blood pregnancy test at your local doctor approximately two weeks after the insemination/embryo transfer.


The fertility medications you will be taking are all very safe. However, there are some minor side effects that women can experience.

  • Estrace: These are synthetic estrogen tablets. The purpose of these tablets is to thicken your endometrial lining in preparation for the embryo transfer.
  • Progesterone: This medication can be administered as a vaginal suppository, oral medication, or intra-muscular injection. Progesterone is the natural hormone your body produces to maintain a pregnancy. Following an embryo transfer (or occasionally artificial insemination), doctors prescribe these medications to increase or help support your own progesterone to assist in maintaining an early pregnancy.

For more information about medications involved in becoming a surrogate, please visit American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s website.

Pregnancy and Delivery!

All of your prenatal appointments will happen in your local area, so the only travel required will be for the actual insemination/embryo transfer. Even after a pregnancy is achieved, your IARC® Program Coordinator will stay in regular contact with you to make sure that everything is going smoothly with your program, that you are being reimbursed for program-related expenses, and that contact between you and the intended parents is going well.

Bottom Line

We are here to make sure that as many administrative responsibilities as possible are taken off of your shoulders so you and the intended parents can enjoy the pregnancy and the relationship that will develop between you!  This will be an incredible experience for everyone, and we truly appreciate your willingness to give this amazing gift to another family; it is truly remarkable!

Please contact us if you have further questions about the medical procedures involved for becoming a surrogate mother.

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IARC’s Egg Donation Information Now in a Webinar Format!

Be Informed! In hopes of making the lengthy screening process more user-friendly and convenient, IARC will now begin the egg donation screening with a short webinar. The first webinar is scheduled for Tuesday, August 20 at 10 a.m. Central Standard Time. Subsequent webinars will follow.

Each webinar will be directed at prospective donors and young women that are interested in learning about the program. Interested women can expect to learn about the following:

· How to become an egg donor (the screening process, requirements, etc.)
· The timeline
· Reimbursement for expenses

As each webinar is strictly a learning experience, a commitment to become a donor is not required. Women will be directed to the IARC website to continue the application process if they are interested. Each presentation is easy to attend (all you need is an Internet connection and a phone line) and FREE for participants.

To register for the webinars, go to or click on the button on the right-hand side of There are numerous webinars, so women can sign up for the day that fits in their schedule.

For more information, please email Lindsay at or call IARC at 763-494-8800.

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IARC Surrogate Delivery Today!

IARC has another surrogate that delivered this morning in Pennsylvania. Welcome to the IARC family, little baby, and congratulations Rasheeda!! We wish you the best!

For more information about our surrogacy programs call 763-494-8800 or email us at

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Join IARC at the 15th Annual Rainbow Families Conference

If you’re looking for something fun to do this Saturday, April 10th, come visit IARC at the Rainbow Families Conference in Minneapolis. This supportive community event is for everyone but focuses on LGBT and their families.

We’ll be there in order to provide education about various family building options available to both couples and individuals to have genetically-related children. We’ll also be there to share candy (dark chocolate, Steve’s favorite!) and show pictures of our newest additions to the IARC family!

Rainbow Families begins at 8:30am at Anwatin/Bryn Mawr Schools, 256 Upton Ave. S., Minneapolis. Online registration for the event is closed, but you can still come and enjoy the day’s activities.

For more information and a schedule of events, check out Rainbow Families’ website: www. or email us at

We hope to see you there!

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Calling all surrogates!

IARC’s surrogacy program is about to take off and we’d like you to be a part of it. We’re looking for reliable, responsible women that want to donate something very special to a deserving family.

Although being a surrogate mother doesn’t seem like the most glamorous donation a woman could give, all of IARC’s surrogates are valued and promised to be supported throughout every step of the process. We ensure an organized beginning, middle and end to the gestation, something that is distinctive to our agency.

All surrogate mothers, or gestational carriers, must meet the following qualifications:
· Be between 21 and 38
· Be a non-smoker
· Possess a clean criminal record
· Have proven, previous healthy and full-term pregnancies
· Live in a surrogacy-friendly state (excludes: AZ, DC, IN, KY, LA, MI, MO, NE, NJ, NV, NY, NM, NY, WA)

Becoming a surrogate is a big decision, so we’re here to educate you and walk you through the screening process. For more information, call IARC at 763-494-8800 or email us at

For all of you wonderful surrogates that already work with IARC, refer another dependable woman and you could receive $500!

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Picture Perfect for Egg Donors

A picture can say a thousand words. Make sure yours says great things about you.

When parents begin their search for an egg donor, one of the first things they’ll see is a profile photo. Donors must realize that those photos serve as an important first impression. They are the portal to show if you’re happy, if you have a conventional or unique look, a cheery disposition, or if you are a confident young woman. Most importantly, donors need an accurate depiction so parents can evaluate the desired resemblance.

There are other factors that parents consider before selecting a viable donor, but the photos serve as your most persuasive matching aid. The best pictures have a few things in common:

·        They should be professional (but not necessarily professionally-taken).  They should be normal pictures of you. Funny faces and tongue-out pictures will not necessarily attract the right parent. The pictures should look like you intended to show them to others (i.e. – natural backgrounds, decent resolution, in focus, etc.).

·        They do not depict a wild atmosphere or a bar scene.  (Avoid pictures that show you with a beer in hand or the bartender making a lewd gesture in the background.)

·        They should concentrate on you as the focal point.  (Your friends are great, but make sure you’re the stand-out. Parents want to see you, not your small face in a large crowd.)

·        They should show you from your most flattering perspective.  (Avoid using those up-the-nose shots or strange angles that catch your body in a tangled mess.)

·        They should show the “real,” every day you.  (Halloween costumes are great, and so are the fun pictures of you when you went skiing last winter, but parents want a clear view of your body type and all of your features. Avoid masks, heavy make up and clothes that distort your body.)

·        There should be a variety of shots and perspectives.  (Parents want to see you from all angles, so you should use a couple good head shots and at least one full-body shot.)

·        They should show you at different ages.  (Parents will also be interested in what you looked like as a child and how you developed throughout the years. Include a few developmental shots that are staggered throughout the years.)

·        If you have children, they include pictures of your babies.  Since you will affect what the parent’s child looks like, they want to know what your children look like.

Don’t be afraid to have a friend or a family member take a few new, current pictures of you. The more you can submit, the better. The Assisted Fertility Association says that donor photos are not unlike a dating service. If you are uncertain as to which pictures would work and which ones should be kept in your personal photo album, run them by your family or your best friends.

Remember, your photos should be these important qualities: clear, flattering and varied.


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