Some women feel destined to become parents. That it is their ultimate purpose, and the reason they are alive. It’s not uncommon for them to start fantasizing about this early in life. Through make-believe and playing with dolls, she always seems to play the role of mother. The nurturing caretaker, who is first on the scene if someone is injured, sick, or in need of comfort. Unfortunately, in her adult years, biology gets in the way. Conception turns from difficult to impossible. Her dreams of parenthood shatter.
Does this sound familiar? Sadly, infertility is a growing issue, causing many would-be parents pain and grief. But there is good news! Virginia Frank provides another way for you to have the family you’ve always dreamed about! Here are some surprising facts about surrogacy that will help you start your journey.
16. Surrogacy Isn’t Legal Everywhere
Is surrogacy legal where you live? This will be important to research, as surrogacy isn’t seen favorable everywhere in the United States. In fact, each state differ enough to make it a state-by-state basis. So, make sure you know whether or not you’re in a surrogacy-friendly state, and consult with your fertility specialist for the most updated information.
15. “Surrogacy” Equals “Gestational Carrier”
When you hear someone say “surrogacy” or “surrogate,” they are actually referring to the women who will be carrying their child. She is known as a “gestational carrier.” The terminology is often used interchangeably, which causes confusion.
14. It’s Not Just for the Young
You’ve no doubt heard that your best child-bearing years happen before you turn 35. Beyond that, you are more apt to shift into the “high-risk” category. Right? Well with surrogacy, there are some expectations. While many surrogacy agencies do prefer women under 40, previous pregnancy history and overall health, more times than not, overrule age. Mentally, emotionally and financially stable women over a certain age can still become a gestational carrier or intended parent.
13. Agencies Prefer Women with Previous Pregnancies
As aforementioned, women with previous pregnancies are sought with agencies. Particularly if her pregnancies have gone smoothly and without complications. It proves that her body is able to handle all the physical and hormonal changes associated with pregnancy. Additionally, that she’s at a lower-risk for any complications in the future.
12. Some Carriers Don’t Attach to the Baby
There’s a common misconception that the gestational carrier won’t give up the baby when he or she is born. But this is not true. Gestational carriers understand that the child she is carrying doesn’t belong to her. What’s more, the baby isn’t biologically related to her. While she may still develop an emotional attachment with the baby, she won’t have any intention of keeping him or her after birth. Any subsequent contact following the delivery is entirely up to the agreement you two have made.
11. Psychological Evals are Required
In order for any surrogacy agreement between intended parents and gestational carriers to go smoothly, psychological evaluations are required. Expect a lengthy visit with a licensed therapist for this. Agreeing to be someone’s gestational carrier is a big decision, and the therapist will ensure that the carrier understands exactly what she’s getting herself into. They will also determine if you and the carrier make a good match.
10. You Must Have a Lawyer
It’s extremely helpful to have an expert help you with the legal ins and outs of your surrogacy journey. This is especially important for all gestational carriers as well. Everyone should have equal representation and protection when entering into a surrogacy agreement.
9. Most Women Don’t Do it for the Money
Even though the minimum paycheck of $35-40K sounds like a good bargain, financial compensation is rarely a woman’s top priority when agreeing to be gestational carrier. In fact, money is last on her list of motivations. Women who choose to become gestational carriers are often mothers themselves, and have a heart for helping families who cannot have children of their own. They are among the most selfless people you’ll ever meet.
8. Carriers Can Become Pregnant while Carrying Someone Else’s Baby
You read that correctly! Gestational carriers can, in fact, become pregnant while carrying your baby. Despite the hormones preventing it, her body may continue to ovulate during pregnancy. However, this is extremely rare.
7. You can be a Gestational Carrier More than Once
Just as there are mothers who give birth multiple times, gestational carriers can also do the same thing. Whether that’s with the same family, or a different one, is completely up to her. These women are often seen as the superheroes or angels of surrogacy.
6. Allowing the Carrier to Nurse in the Hospital is OK
Intended parents often worry that allowing their gestational carrier to nurse in the hospital will make her not want to release the baby. But, as discussed in #12, this is incorrect. Allowing the gestational carrier to nurse at the hospital -- especially if she will be pumping milk for the baby later on -- helps with her milk flow overall.
5. Agencies can Save you Time and Money
Sounds like a no-brainer, right? But, this is an important tidbit to know, nonetheless. Working with an agency is the most convenient and cost-effective way to go through your surrogacy journey. It will help you avoid any and all potential obstacles, and a more positive experience.
4. People will Offer Empathy with their Congratulations
When you announce that you’re having a baby via a gestational carrier, you may receive mixed responses. This is normal and expected. It may take a second for your friends or family to process what you’ve said; thus, coming out in a look of empathy alongside congratulations.
3. You’ll Have Elevated Stress Levels
Yep -- even though you're not the one carrying your baby. How is this possible? Think about it. Who are you going to worry about the most during the nine months? That’s right. Your gestational carrier. Especially her health, as it directly relates to your baby. You’ll feel the urge to check in on her frequently, and make sure everything is ok.
2. You Aren’t as Prepared for the Sleepless Nights
When you are pregnant, you feel all the physical and emotional changes that come with that. But, when you are using a gestational carrier, none of that applies. You are definitely well-rested by the time your baby is born, but you may have a harder time adjusting to the sleepless nights after delivery.
1. Surrogacy Stories Inspire Others
There is no shame in sharing how your children joined your family. Surrogacy isn’t something that is often talked about, despite how many intended parents and gestational carriers have built families together. This should change. Be proud of your decision! Sharing your story could inspire someone else, and give them hope of having their own family. They may even choose surrogacy as their path to parenthood. You never know.
Bonus: Surrogacy has existed since Biblical Times
That’s right! In fact, the first known surrogacy on record occurs with the founding father of the covenant -- Abram, who was later renamed Abraham. He and his wife Sarai’s story can be found in Genesis 16. The second recorded instance of surrogacy happened in the 12th century with a Spanish king. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that the first official legal agreement regarding surrogacy was enacted.
Surprising Facts about Surrogacy
Which fact surprised you the most? Are there any that we missed? Let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear from you!
About the Author
Rachel Robertson is a published journalist, book editor, certified Publishing Specialist, and aspiring novelist. She graduated from Central Washington University (CWU) in March 2011, having found her writing voice within the Creative Nonfiction genre and grew to work as a freelance book editor for small presses all across the United States.In June 2018, she embarked on an internship with Virginia Frank and came on board with Adoption Choices Inc., Not for Profit 501(c)(3), in December 2018. Between her mutual passion with adoption and surrogacy, and her own personal history with adoption, Rachel is excited to research and share topics each week that will spread awareness and better serve the faithful patrons of Virginia Frank.
When Rachel isn’t haunting her local Starbucks or Barnes and Noble, she’s avidly pouring over her Writer’s Digest subscription or cozying up with a cup of tea and book. She currently resides in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her beloved wife and Border Collie.