This is a call for help to all women who enjoy being pregnant and who would love to help others. Have you ever considered becoming a surrogate mother? It just may be something that could change your life! You could help build a family from the ground up and be emotionally and financially rewarded in the process.
A surrogate mother is a special woman who helps others who physically cannot carry a child themselves. She, through IVF (In-vitro Fertilization), carries another’s person’s child in her womb and relinquishes that child to the Intended Parents when the child is born. A surrogate mother is a selfless angel helping others in their quest to become parents.
Surrogate Alternatives, Inc. (SAI) has the best “surro-sister” mentoring program in the world. These women have all been surrogates themselves and work alongside new surrogate mothers every step of the way. There are monthly support group meetings, family events and weekend retreats twice a year for all of their surrogate mothers to attend. The staff are always available to answer any and all questions you have and even attend doctor visits with you if you so desire. They hold hands and guide lives. Every woman has a different experience. Some carry twins, some help IP’s from around the world, some want a little involvement others want a lot. The additional support that SAI provides enriches every one of these journeys.
SAI needs you! If you meet the following criteria for their program, call them today!
1) You have to have given birth to at least one of your own and are raising that child
2) You cannot be not on welfare, AFDC or housing assistance.
3) You are between the ages of 21-40 (if you are older than 38, you have to have delivered in the past two years).
4) You cannot have had any serious medical conditions during your pregnancy or delivery.
5) You must be able to provide medical and delivery records, if requested.
6) You must have a vehicle and a valid driver’s license to be able to attend your doctor appointments.
7) You must be willing to be tested for STD’s and undergo a drug screening.
8) You must have a stable residence with no plans of moving out of your state from the time you submit your application to delivery.
9) You must agree to a background check and a psychological screening.
The total fees you receive are between $35,000-$50,000. Repeat surrogate fees are higher. Keep in mind that this is just an estimate for pain and suffering and reimbursement. If you are solely relying on this as income, this is not the “job” for you.
Becoming a surrogate mother is not for everyone. Those who choose to become surrogates are uniquely special women. Some of these ladies find the experience so richly rewarding that they choose to continue on and help more than one couple.
If you think YOU could be someone’s angel and give them ultimate gift: the gift of sacrifice, compassion and love; you may just have what it takes to be a surrogate mother. The rewards go above and beyond any monetary gain and it is an experience you will never forget.
If you feel you are that kind of person, apply with SAI today and see where this path takes you.
SAI’s office number is (619) 397-0757
Any woman who has used IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) will have an opinion on this matter. Do you need to stay lying down after an embryo transfer? And if so, for how long? Under what kind of conditions? Most of these opinions are given to us by our fertility doctor, whose individual ideas range and vary themselves in this ongoing debate. There is still no clear cut winner.
I just want to state the fact upfront, before I broach both sides of the argument: your freshly planted embryo WILL NOT FALL OUT. The female reproductive system is not designed that way. Once the little speck is in there, no matter how it got there, it stays. This by no means guarantees a baby, but that is one fear you absolutely do not need to worry yourself over. Ok here we go…
Nay-saying doctors don’t believe there is any substantial proof that bed rest increases your chance of conception; not even by 1%. Confined to a bed and feeling useless when you are totally healthy can increase stress and nervousness, thus decreasing the chances of a friendly environment for the embryo to adhere to. These are the type of doctors who like their patients to stay active and believe in a more “energetic” pregnancy. One of the more suspicious mothers I spoke with informed me she believes that bed rest is just a way for the doctors to have an excuse if the embryo doesn’t take. An out, if you will. “Well you must have gone down some stairs or got up to pee too often.” I do want to note, that most clinics that say no bed rest is needed do still recommend taking it easy for the first 24hrs afterward and no heavy lifting, but this is just common sense for any such procedure.
Pro-bed rest doctors believe that even if it’s just a theory, it’s better to try it, if it means a better chance of conceiving. Who wouldn’t want to do everything possible to become pregnant? Bed rest doesn’t do any harm and its common sense to keep the womb horizontal for a better chance of stickiness. It’s been described as a time when a woman can relax and ward off the anxiety that is often the enemy of fertility. These are the type of doctors who believe in a “calm and relaxed” kind of pregnancy. Although, the length of said bed rest varies from as little as one day, to as many as ten.
Speaking from my own personal experience, I don’t have any answers either (sorry). I have used both types of doctors. I’ve done three days of strict bed rest at a hotel down the street from the clinic because they wanted to keep my movement very limited. I’ve also been sent home 15 minutes after the procedure and told to take it easy for the rest of the day. Both ways worked. The first did result in a blighted ovum and, unfortunately, a D&C, but my body held on to the embryo like it was supposed to. In that way it was a success. The second stuck fast right away and turned into a healthy fetus. So, I, personally, am at a loss. I’ve spoken to other mothers who have had the broad spectrum of results from working out right after to taking it super easy the whole ‘in between” time. Each had vastly different results in each scenario.
The in-between time, is the time from your transfer to blood test. It’s that exciting/awful unknowing time when you don’t know if in the next week you’ll be crying or laughing. It’s stressful whether you are lying down or not, but I don’t know which is the lesser of two evils. What I do gather is it really depends on what kind of a person you are. Are you the kind that needs to stay busy so as not to think about things you have no control over? Or, are you the kind who finds being calm helps relieve you? These are elements best discussed with your personal physician. They can really give you the most tailor-made advice. Just know your of all options and do what you believe is best for YOU and you can’t go wrong.
Have you heard about this? A gynecologist in India has been charged with human trafficking and forgery after selling a baby using fake surrogacy papers. He and his “clients” have been making the international headlines for the past couple of months and it looks as if this has been going on for some time now. Dr. Bharat Atit, along with three of his staff, were arrested and booked after it was discovered that a newborn baby had been illegally sold via the Doctor by a woman and her boyfriend. Now they are investigating previous claims and more cases are coming to light.
The woman involved, claimed rape towards her boyfriend when she was 5 months pregnant. It was discovered that she had done this because they were arguing over the price of the child and she is to use this claim to cut the boyfriend’s percentage. Once this was found out she dropped the charges, however, this opened the investigation to that of the Doctor.
This newest scandal involving surrogacy in India raises the issue of legality when it comes to these delicate waters. India has had issues before dealing with the health and treatment of their surrogates during prenatal care and the backgrounds of the women that were being used.
India was a place that was considered to be “a great deal” to go to for people looking to start an “inexpensive” family which made it easy for some, to turn a blind eye to the murkiness involved. However, with these new legal issues piled on top of the old health ones, they may be losing their drawing power for even those with lesser morals.
First, it is used as a method of human trafficking. Second, the surrogates are treated like cattle. Yes, it is cheaper, but at what cost? This is a child we are discussing. A child carried by a person no less important or critical to the process than the intended parent. Having a child when you physical aren’t able to is tricky enough, without weighing on your conscience as well. People are now coming to realize it’s not worth the gamble of saving money. This is a child we are talking about and ensuring that child has the best start in life starts at conception.
Overall, India doesn’t seem to present a viable option for surrogacy now to those who were able to justify their means to an end before.
As I am doing research for this blog I have also just learned that India has now implemented new guidelines this year which no longer allow foreigners of same-sex couples, single individuals, unmarried couples or couples who have been married less than two years to commission a surrogate there. Also, if you did qualify to utilize their surrogacy programs, you would still be required to provide a letter from your countries government expressly giving you permission to bring your child home from India and that your country would agree to recognize this child as a product of a surrogacy pregnancy and birth.
I think the chapter on surrogacy in India is closing, and very quickly. After everything, it is my opinion this is for the best.
What many people don’t realize is that with surrogacy, there are many steps to take before you can even start trying to become pregnant.
A woman who wishes to become a surrogate fills out a super long, in-depth application; gets checked out physically and mentally; and has her background checked to make sure she isn’t really the missing Anastasia. Then she waits to hear back from the agency for the green light.
If she’s cleared, she’s put in a database with other women in the same situation and waits to be chosen by an Intended Parent (IP). It’s up to the agency to find and match suitable surrogates with IPs. You want to be on this journey with someone you get along or “click” with. This is very important and sometimes it’s an instantaneous click and sometimes it’s not. Even if a woman has been a surrogate before she still has to go through this process each time she re-applies.
Once this stage of the process is complete–and it can take months to get matched–she steps into the legal process. A legal contract for both parties to review is provided by the IP’s lawyer and reviewed with the surrogate by her lawyer. Luckily, SAI works with specially trained fertility-law specialists who know what they are doing and have been doing it for decades. However, the law is the law. There are mountains of paperwork which are a necessary evil (and a good sleeping aid) to get through.
After everything is all legal eagle–which can take a month or more–it’s time to either match up cycles with the egg donor or IP (if using fresh embryos) or straight on to the poking and prodding (if the IPs have frozen embryos). Either way, this is part of the journey usually takes another month and is full of fun things like vaginal ultrasounds, peeing in a cup, different hormonal injections and daily medication. When using a gestational surrogate, the body must be “tricked” into thinking it’s pregnant so it won’t reject a foreign embryo. Hooray for science! But again… it’s the wait is about another month or so.
In my personal experience, these three steps can take anywhere from 3-6 months’ time to achieve pregnancy, if it works on the 1st go round. Patience is a virtue and the rewards are well worth it in the end. So as Dori from Finding Nemo would say: “Just keep swimming”…….You’ll get there.
When people find out that I’m a surrogate, the very first thing they usually ask me is “How much do you get paid?” I felt their question was insulting, but I’ve come to realize that it’s just plain curiosity and they’re not judging me. I now tell them “I don’t.”, which is true. We surrogates do not get paid to have someone else’s baby. It’s not a buying and selling market, like if you wanted a new pet. This is a person’s child, a human being that they themselves could not physically carry.
As surrogates, we are helping them receive what they have been yearning for. We do what we do for the emotional fulfillment and to give something back because we are capable. We do get compensated for pain and suffering (which let me tell you…and I will in another blog post sometime down the road…there is plenty of), however, that compensation equals to about the same as working a part time job. That compensation allows us to do what we do, making it financially possible to be pregnant for another, while having our own family as well. We’ve gone through having the joy of our own children and the money allows us to do the same for someone else. The compensation can help put surrogates in a better financial position as well. We can go back to school; put a down payment on a home; it can help a stay-at-home mom set realistic goals and feel useful. People seem to have this idea in their heads that if you carry someone else’s child you get all your debts paid off, free plastic surgery, a platinum card, AND a new car! Not to mention getting showered with gifts from your intended parents who must be millionaires themselves (not!).
The truth: it’s expensive to conceive a child if you can’t do it the ol’ fashioned way. Most people who come to the decision that they need a surrogate are already financially strapped. They have probably gone through tens of thousands of dollars already via fertility treatments, etc. Just because someone wants their own baby using modern technology doesn’t mean they are wealthy. This is why Surrogate Alternatives is so helpful. They know all of this. They deal with the finances. They help everyone understand what is needed and what expenses to expect and why some things are necessary and some are not.
Please remember, it’s more than just the intended parents and the surrogate involved. There are many factors to consider: the different types of insurance needed, fertility clinics, lab work, travel, doctors, hospitals, lawyers, and the red tape that is the law. From personal experience, you should not do this on your own. On both sides of the playing-field, it can be financially and emotionally challenging. Having experienced professionals that know the ropes and have gone through every possible scenario is invaluable. Someone in your corner to fight for you and make sure things come out all right can be the difference between life and death for some (thankfully very rarely). And when it all works out beautifully, oh how amazing that is!
I want to bring you all hope, not discourage you. Yes, the money is an issue but remember the rewards: the surrogate who can be proud of herself and her children, who are proud of her because she gave something special to someone in need, while improving her (and her families) life. The new parents who finally get to bring a beautiful baby (or two) home with them and be together for the very first time as a real family. It is that boost up a tall wall. The reality of surrogacy is that it may be an unconventional situation, but those same feelings of happiness are still there once you have climbed over that wall. We are not in the business of selling babies, we are an alternative route to parenthood, walked together creating families.
Ch-ch-ch-changes (turn and face the strain)… this always gets stuck in my head when I’m thinking about anything prenatal. So much goes on in a woman’s body during pregnancy. Some noticeable to the observer, some not so much. Your breasts are definitely a noticeable one. Usually, to the greater satisfaction of your partner. Hands off though, ‘cause: Ouch! Those things are for looking only, no touching at first. They will be so tender, but boy are they perky. Go ahead and enjoy them while they are still all yours. Take as many glances in the mirror or pretend to be looking down at your shirt and check yourself out as much as you can! So many things bum us out when we’re preggers, uncomfortable or self-conscience. Not this though. Uncomfortable maybe a little, but admit it: it’s totally worth it. Enjoy!
There ARE some less enjoyable aspects of your new boobs…There are several other things besides their size you may notice that happen to them throughout your 40 weeks. They’ll get tender; your nipples may stick out more and/or get darker; you might notice some stretch marks (coco butter worked best for me); You may even get your colostrum (a watery yellowish pre-milk substance loaded with nutrients for the newborn) leaking from them near the end of your journey.
After delivery, it doesn’t get easier right away. I’m going to let you know something that no one ever told me before I had kids: breastfeeding, pumping, and/or stopping your milk production can HURT! That’s right, it can all be fricken’ painful and uncomfortable. No matter which route you take — nursing, expressing for someone, or using formula — you’ll get rock hard breasts and your nipples will get sore. Sometimes they crack and oh-ho-ho that smarts! If you’re not allergic, lanolin is a godsend for those babies. When you do stop your milk production, the best recommendations I have are these: Frozen cabbage leaves tucked into your bra (I kid you not, they really DO work!). It really relieves the pressure. Many say to take a warm shower. Warning: That is an immediate fix only! It will encourage your breasts to produce MORE milk, not stop it. You’ll just be starting a vicious cycle of pain and relief over and over again. They make breast pads to catch the leaks but those can be pricy. I’ve found that just buying pantie-liners or pads (depending how heavy you leak) and cutting them in half works just as well. They also conveniently have that sticky back to attach to whatever clothing you may be wearing.
The boob fairy give(ith) and she take(ith) away. You may be one of the lucky ones that get to keep your perky and full pregnancy boobs. I know some of those lucky ladies myself. Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of them. Mine just kind of went back to being my pre-pregnancy size. Other ladies I know said they got what they call “Mom boobs”. Bigger but saggier. It really is the luck of the draw. It’s all part of that ever changing process we woman chose to go through to procreate. Definitely, well worth it if you ask me.
Speaking with IP’s (Intended Parents) and surrogates alike–as well as taking from my own personal experiences–there are two types of relationships that IPs tend to cultivate with their surrogates: familial and business.
The familial is how it sounds. The IPs welcome the surrogate into their lives with open arms, believing that this woman is giving them the greatest gift of all. The hope is for a continued relationship with her after the child is born. Often, this is displayed as going out to dinner together, bringing her and her family gifts and showing other signs of their appreciation. After delivery, they tend to send pictures and email updates to their surrogate mother. Throughout the years they may even visit, forming a continuous bond made for life.
In the second situation, the IPs believe they are reimbursing the surrogate for services rendered concluding with the birth of their child. The road to becoming parents has been so difficult for them that they do not wish to have anything possibly hinder them in their endeavor. The surrogate is a necessity, but not necessarily an extended part of their family or someone they wish to stay in contact with. Some may not even wish to tell their children how they were conceived, due to personal reasons.
Both of these views are completely understandable and should be acceptable to anyone choosing to become a surrogate. However, both types of IP’s have been known to switch sides during or right after their journey. For most, the journey is uncharted territory and it is very difficult to know what your emotions will be like during each stage. Incredibly supportive IP’s have cut ties abruptly with surrogates once the baby is born and somewhat apprehensive ones have opened up and taken to their surrogate more than they expected.
What is really needed for the whole process to work is a calm understanding. A surrogate needs to understand that the IPs have gone through more than they could imagine to get to this point; it’s only natural for them to be scared when they perceive that they are so close and yet still so far from their dreams. The IPs need to understand that the surrogate has chosen her role to help a family in need, knowing full well that the child is not hers. She will go through many changes she’s experienced before, but this time there is a mix of altruism and the unknown that are present. Both sides need to be able to trust one another.
No company knows this better than Surrogate Alternatives. Not only is this their trade, this is their passion. Filled with past and present surrogates and egg donors they understand the entire process from both sides. Their goal is to tailor each surrogacy to each person’s expectations. They know how to match IP’s with the right kind of surrogate so that trust and understanding can thrive. No matter the family dynamic, they strive to give 100% of their time, effort and experience into each arrangement so that a healthy, happy baby (or two) may be born into a loving family. Every one of them fits a heart shape.
**This blog was provided by a wonderful Surrogate named Krystal Taylor-Cahill
When I was young, I used to have the fear that I would never be able to have children. It was an irrational fear because I had no reason to believe I could not become pregnant. Later, when I became sexually active, I didn’t want to test out my theory. In fact, within three weeks of losing my virginity, I had gone to the doctor, had my first pap and went on birth control. I refused to be a “teen mom.”
Then while in college, after only a few months off of birth control and a month or two of not using contraceptives, I found myself with child and gave birth to a beautiful blue-eyed baby boy. I should add, we weren’t exactly “trying”. But in my opinion, no birth control is trying to get pregnant.
Fast forward 5 years. We were looking for something to fill the void in our lives by starting over in a new place with two small children (my son and step daughter). So I found myself without health insurance, moving across the country and out of birth control. This time it took seven months without the pill and three with no other form of birth control and we found ourselves pregnant with a baby girl! We now have three beautiful children in our home. As an adult, I have spent more time in my life trying not to get pregnant than I have, ever even thinking, about getting pregnant.
Trying to become a surrogate over the last year has been a real experience for me. During my first surrogacy journey, I realized becoming pregnant was a gift I have always taken for granted. It opened my eyes and now I see, for some, this is a journey full of heartache, sorrow, grief and loss. All things I never had to deal with in my own life. I want very much to help a couple turn into a family. Despite all the trials and tribulations, there is real joy that being a parent brings to your life. I believe that having my son saved my life. It gave me something to work for and now everything I do in my life is geared toward my family and raising my children.
During my first cycle, I was so confident; the odds are on our side, right? We had a good egg donor, good embryos… Only one embryo my first transfer because my couple was intent on having a son. Time to just sit back and wait…
I knew I was pregnant. I could feel the fullness in my belly. The injections had already caused swollen, sore breasts and cramps as my uterus expanded. I was good and didn’t cheat-I waited for the HCG test. When they tested me, the results came in at 21 (Huh?). “You are pregnant,” they told me, “but that’s extremely low [home pregnancy tests won’t read a number under 25. However, a number over 5 is considered pregnant]. Today is Thursday. Come back Monday to retest and hope it’s gone up.”
My IPs didn’t know what to think. I was still hopeful. Someone told me the embryo could have just implanted late. I stayed positive, did a lot of research and found out that, in theory, HCG numbers should double on a daily basis. So, if I was 21 on Thursday and things are progressing normally, Saturday a home pregnancy test will be pink, right?
I cheated and ended up running to my bed crying: The test was negative. I was devastated. I felt sorrow and loss and grief and so, so sad for my IPs. They wanted this so badly. I cried and cried. I called my surro sister and cried some more. What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently? I didn’t tell my IPs yet, I couldn’t do it. It was difficult to talk to them after I knew because I am not a good liar and you can hear it in my voice—the reassurance is gone. We ended up the 40-50% of embryo transfers that do not work. I can tell you friends, it sucks.
Sadly, our second attempt ended with almost identical results. And the aftermath of round two was worse. The first thing I did was blame myself. I cried and was devastated again. This time I would’ve rather had a negative from the first test, just drags out the inevitable. At that point, my IPs were unable to try again as they could not afford another cycle or stand any further heartache, I’m sure.
I have been reassured that the problem is not me. I know statistics. No matter how many times you do something, the odds remain the same. There is no guarantee. You can play and play the roulette table but the odds will still be the same: You may never hit red.
This entire experience has opened my eyes and made me appreciate the gifts that I have been given so much more. I will be starting with my second couple and hoping that the odds will be in our favor. I don’t think it ever gets easier, but it is a reality we have to accept as surrogates. We are starting our own journey with these families and as much as we feel the joy, we have to prepare for the loss.
I am truly grateful for the experience I have had and so thankful for the support of my surro sisters. Having these ladies understand the hope, the joy, the pain and the sorrow, makes it so much easier. SAI is such an amazing place and hopefully my journey is just beginning.
Krystal Taylor Cahill
In California, we already have very good surrogacy case-law, but with the passage of California Assembly Bill 1217, we now have new and improved – and positive – California legislation regarding surrogacy which goes into effect on January 1, 2013.
The good news is that the very strong case-law in California (which is surrogacy friendly and considered by many to be the strongest law in the country) remains unchanged. The current case-law essentially provides that intended parents in an assisted reproduction arrangement, whether or not biologically related to the resulting child, should be declared the legal parent of the resulting child. The current legislation in California under the Uniform Parentage Act defines the parent-child relationship as the legal relationship existing between a child and the child’s parents, and it governs proceedings to establish that relationship. Existing law provides that a party to an assisted reproduction agreement may bring an action under the Uniform Parentage Act at any time to establish a parent and child relationship consistent with the intent expressed in the agreement. Existing law also regulates the practice of surrogacy facilitators in assisted reproduction agreements, including surrogacy agreements.
The new legislation, however, provides additional guidance relating to the manner in which surrogacy agreements must be executed, when medical procedures can be commenced, and where parental establishment cases may be filed. Although some of the procedures outlined in the bill were already utilized by experienced assisted reproduction practitioners, they were not required by law. So, in essence, the new law creates clear guidance and codifies some best practices for the benefit of all involved. There may well be more we can do in California to further codify best practices, but the provisions outlined in the new law clarify for courts what constitutes a properly executed surrogacy agreement and they help protect all parties to the agreement—surrogate, intended parents and child—from potential exploitation.
In relation to Gestational Surrogacy Agreements, the new law:
- Requires that intended parents and a surrogate be represented by separate legal counsel.
- Requires notarization of gestational surrogacy agreements.
- Requires the execution and notarization of an agreement prior to the administration of medications used in assisted reproduction or any embryo transfer procedure.
- Requires the parties to a gestational surrogacy agreement to attest, under penalty of perjury as to their compliance with these provisions.
- Provides that an gestational surrogacy agreement executed in accordance with these provisions is presumptively valid.
In relation to establishing legal parentage between intended parents and the resulting child, the new law:
- Permits intended parents to establish parentage prior to the child’s birth.
- Permits intended parents to establish parentage prior to the child’s birth and permits the filing of the parentage action in the county where the child is anticipated to be born, the county where the surrogate or intended parents reside, the county where the agreement was executed, or the county where the medical procedures were performed.
- Requires that a copy of the gestational surrogacy agreement to be filed with the court as part of the parentage action.
- Seals records of the agreement to all except parties except the intended parents, surrogate, their attorneys and the state Department of Social Services.
****I would like to personally thank Richard Vaughn at International Fertility Law Group for this information and remind you that the above summary does not take the place of obtaining legal advice based on your unique set of circumstances. As always, it is best to seek such advice from a qualified and experienced assisted reproduction attorney.