Girlfriend to Girlfriend’s Guide to Surrogacy (Part One) By: Sharon LaMothe (As seen in the New 2011 AFA Directory)

As incredible or unexpected as it may seem to you, you have found out that the only way to build the family of your dreams is either through surrogacy or adoption. You have weighed all of the pros and cons of each option and know what you want to do. And surrogacy came out on top of your list. But where to start? Everything out there, all the information, support groups, research data, websites advertizing services and clinics offering IVF packages just leave you reeling in confusion. Don’t panic because I am going to walk you through a typical surrogacy process that will help you organize your thoughts and move one step closer to realizing your dream of parenthood.

First, I have to say that I should never have used the word ‘typical’ because there is no such thing. We are dealing with human emotions and because each of us is unique, we have different expectations of ourselves and of each other. The first thing that should to be done then is to define those expectations. Having a friend or family member become a gestational carrier (Not related to the baby and is impregnated via In Vitro Fertilization) for you might seem ideal at first but what of the relationships that you are already having with this woman personally and with her own family? Are you prepared for those relationships to change and is there a fear that you will never be able to ‘repay’ such kindness? What about hiring a surrogacy agency to find you a woman who carries no baggage into your relationship and is focused on growing a friendship with you while carrying your baby. Would this seem less of a burden? Would you feel better helping another woman financially while she is carrying your future child in her womb? What do you expect out of this relationship (besides a baby)? Once you decide what would make you feel the most comfortable it’s time to put your plan into action.

If you are thinking of a friend or family member then you have to be prepared to tell everyone in your circle that you are looking for a surrogate and answer the questions ‘why?’. If you have someone particular in mind you have to approach them with all the facts. They (and their family) need to be educated about just what you are asking this woman to do for you. This means gathering the appropriate information yourself. You need to find a reproductive attorney and make sure that surrogacy arrangements are legal in your state. You need to contact an infertility clinic and see what their requirements are regarding the qualifications of a surrogate mother. You need to locate a mental health professional who is well versed in surrogacy and perhaps arrange an initial appointment for you and your partner. Let’s not forget to talk to a financial advisor as well.

If you don’t have a friend that will be willing or able to assist you in this HUGE endeavor then you might be thinking of hiring an agency to match you with either a woman who has been a carrier in the past or is a mother herself who has the desire to help someone build their family via gestational surrogacy. I strongly suggest that you find a qualified agency and not go out on your own answering classified ads or browsing the web in order to save money. An agency will be able to guide you through the surrogacy process and recommend professionals in the infertility field to assist you each step of the way. Your surrogacy agency will know what states have the best surrogacy laws, will have an estimate of the costs involved, will point you toward a mental health professional who knows what questions to ask and is experienced in surrogacy evaluations, will suggest an attorney to draw up your contracts and, if you need a recommendation for an infertility clinic for either the embryo transfer or a satellite office to monitor your surrogate, the agency should have a list of prospects for you to contact. Remember that women who want to become surrogates are well educated about this process when they sign up and are accepted by the agency. They know what to expect and are prepared to move forward with Intended Parents who are a good match for them.

Look for Part Two…..

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