What is a "good surrogate" anyway? What type of qualities does one need to be in that illusive category of being Good? We all know that if a woman qualifies according to the clinical guidelines that she certainly should be at least Ms. "Good Enough".
Being a "good surrogate" really does go beyond the BMI and age requirements. Beyond how healthy or how easy her pregnancies were. Intended Parents (and agencies alike) seem to be looking for that 'thing' that will set one woman apart from all the others. Below is a list of those other qualities that seem to be in demand and I am going to write a series of articles about each point. Some maybe tongue in cheek and others I maybe quite serious about but all have a bit of truth in them!
Number One: A 'Good Surrogate' should show that she is totally committed to the surrogacy process.
Number Two: A 'Good Surrogate' is always easy to communicate with and easily reachable as well as responsive.
Number Three: A 'Good Surrogate' follows directions to a T and will double, no, TRIPLE check her doctors orders if she has the slightest question.
Number Four: A 'Good Surrogate' will put her Intended Parents first in all aspects during the pregnancy and her family will support her in her cause.
Number Five: A 'Good Surrogate' doesn't "need the money" that she may earn through being a carrier for another couple. It's just extra cash to spend on her family.
Number Six: A 'Good Surrogate' will take great pains to stay away from any toxic chemicals (no acrylic nails or cigarette smoke).
Number Seven: A 'Good Surrogate' is one who watches what she eats. She is trying to eat mostly organic foods and avoids fast food joints.
Number Eight: A 'Good Surrogate' loves to exercise and is in the best health possible.
Number Nine: A 'Good Surrogate' will consider her Intended Parents wishes when it comes to possible selective reduction and termination.
Number Ten: A 'Good Surrogate' has educated herself and isn't afraid to educate others about what she is doing.
Number Eleven: A 'Good Surrogate' will understand the demands of a new baby on her Intended Parents and know that they can't always be as close as they once were.
Number Twelve: A 'Good Surrogate' becomes a "Great Surrogate" after all of the above have happened. A Great Surrogate usually wants to be matched again and enjoyed the entire experience.
Now don't think that after this "Good Surrogate" series that I will have left out Intended Parents! What do you think makes "Good Intended Parents"? Because that will be the next topic of conversation!
Below is a short list of common questions that women ask when they are considering surrogacy. If you have any additional questions that you would like answered or would like to see on this list please comment below.
1. What is the average age of a potential surrogate?
Reproductive endocrinologists prefer to work with surrogates who are between 21 and 39 years of age. Exceptions have been made in the past but this is an average.
2. Does a woman have to have had a child of her own before she may act as a surrogate?
Yes. Most clinics will require the surrogate have at least one uncomplicated pregnancy and birth. C-sections are usually acceptable.
3. What about the health of a potential surrogate?
A potential surrogate must be healthy, for her benefit as much as for the child she will carry. Additionally, she will be screened for STD's (sexually transmitted diseases), and addictions such as drug, alcohol and tobacco. Certain medications, thyroid replacements may be acceptable to the clinic. Another factor most clinics take into consideration is BMI (height/weight ratio) and prefer that to be under 30. Calculate your BMI - Standard BMI Calculator
4. What if I had my own children but put them up for adoption?
Most psychologists and surrogacy agencies require you to be parenting your child/children. A previous adoption with a baby since then may be acceptable. The psychologist will speak with you about these issues to be sure you will be comfortable giving up the baby.
5. I have had some legal issues in my past....would I still be eligible to enter into a surrogacy contract?
Most Intended Parents do not want a person carrying their baby to have a criminal history. Most agencies will run a background check....minor offenses can often be overlooked. It is best to be honest with your agency and or attorney and tell them if there is anything in your past that might complicate the surrogacy process.
6. What do I need to know about Health Insurance?
Having health insurance will reduce the Intended Parent's out of pocket payment for your medical care. The best possible surrogate candidate will have her own health insurance with maternity coverage. This does mean medicare or state insurance coverage for a surrogacy would be prohibited by law. If you do not have a health policy, in some cases the agency or intended parents can provide one policy for you.
7. I am out of work and heard that you can make good money being a surrogate. Is that true?
It is best to have a stable household income of your own before you volunteer to become a surrogate mother. Surrogacy is a gift to an Intended Couple or Parent and any money that may come your way usually starts after the confirmation of pregnancy. There is NO guarantee that you will become pregnant throughout your surrogacy experience and some women don't become pregnant until the second or third try. All told, pregnancy may not be confirmed until a year or more from the signing of the contracts.
8. I am not sure my family will support me in my decision. Will that matter?
It will matter. Remember that the process of getting pregnancy up though birth can take a year or more. The fertility clinic will want to feel comfortable that you will be be supported during the medical procedures. The Intended Parents will want to feel comfortable that your family will be positive while you are carrying their baby. You should really have your spouse and family on board with your decision to be a surrogate.
9. I don't have a car but my new IP's can take me to my appointments, right?
No. You need reliable transportation. There are many appointments that you will need to attend before you even sign your contract. Some of these include: meeting with your agency, meeting the Intended Parents (who may be from out of state), having an exam with the clinic of the IP's choice, appointments with the psychologist and perhaps even meeting with an attorney, just to name a few. This isn't even taking into consideration your OB appointments once you are pregnant.
On July 16th the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the final version of its National Public Health Action Plan for the Detection, Prevention and Management of Infertility.
The National Action Plan developed over the course of seven years and began with an ad hoc working group that the CDC formed in 2007 to examine the scope of activities that were happening across the federal agency that were devoted to infertility. The working group was tasked with identifying gaps and opportunities in public health surveillance, research, communications, programs and policy development in this area. That assessment led to the publication of a white paper outlining the need for a national action plan on infertility and subsequently a 2008 symposium in which ASRM and approximately 60 other stakeholders participated. A draft National Action Plan was released in May 2012. ASRM provided input at each step of process under which the National Action Plan was developed and will continue to be involved as the National Action Plan is implemented.
The goals of the National Action Plan are to:
• Promote healthy behaviors to maintain and preserve fertility;
• Promote prevention and early detection and treatment of medical conditions that can threaten fertility; and
• Reduce exposures to environmental, occupational, infectious and iatrogenic agents that can threaten fertility.
The National Action Plan is available at www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/Infertility/PublicHealth.htm.
The CDC will host a Public Health Grand Rounds on August 19, 2014 on infertility.
For more information please see www.cdc.gov/cdcgrandrounds.
https://www.directrsvp.com/STARTART/ is the place to register! I have been attending for over 12 years and this is a great conference if you are a professional in the field of infertility or you are in the medical field and want to explore what's going on with Assisted Reproductive Technology. I hope to see you there!