Tags: Family Inceptions, Gestational Carrier, Infertility, Intended Parents, Reading surrogacy books, Sharon LaMothe, Surrogacy, Surrogacy Helps Make A Family Grow, surrogacy support, Talking to surrogate kids, Telling kids about surrogacy, Tummy Broken
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Tags: compensate your surrogate, gestational surrogacy, intended parents, paying surrogacy bills, Sharon LaMothe, Surrogacy, surrogate mother, surrogates under 21, traditional surrogacy
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I have some exciting news, in case you didn't see it on Face Book! Eloise Drane and I are going to be partners at Family Inceptions https://www.familyinceptions.com. (The website will reflect this partnership in the upcoming weeks.) For 10 years Family Inceptions (located in Atlanta, GA) has been helping surrogates, donors, and intended parents nationally and internationally with a high degree of ethical care to one and all. Eloise and I have also worked together on a number of projects since she started her agency in 2008! I have been her mentor all these years and she has also taught me new business concepts along the way. I felt this was a perfect partnership for both of us especially now that Washington State is opening its doors to compensated surrogacy in 2019.
My LaMothe Services. LLC business will remain open and running as both Eloise and I believe that it's important to help others in our field to be the best they can be. This includes social media, new agency education, website content and mentoring/coaching existing agency owners and staff. I will not be recruiting surrogates, however, or assisting new agencies in WA state or GA.
LaMothe Surrogacy Consulting will be shutting it's doors and merging with the Family Inceptions Educational Program that is already offered to Surrogates, Donors and Intended Parents that with to work with us building families. All of this takes time, of course!
We are looking forward to answering any questions you may have and you can contact me directly!
Thank you, faithful readers, for your support!
Posted by Sharon LaMothe at 12:35 PM in Assisted Reproductive Technology, Current Affairs, Egg Donation, Infertility, Intended Parents, Pregnancy, Surrogacy, The Making of a Surrogacy Agency | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tags: Eloise Drane, Family Inceptions, Family Inceptions International, Gestational Carriers, Intended Parents, LaMothe Serivices, LaMothe Surrogacy Consulting, Sharon LaMothe, Surrogacy, Surrogacy Agency, Surrogate Mothers
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In the interest of National Infertility Awareness Week I thought I would take the time to share my story of personal struggle becoming pregnant with my second child. Secondary infertility is no joke and when you had no troubles becoming pregnant with your first (wanted but not planned) you go into that phase of adding onto your family thinking that it will be as easy as stopping your birth control pill. Not so, at least not for me!
Tags: #mystory, Basal Body Tempature, Clomid, Infertility, Intended Parents, National Infertility Awareness Week 2018, NIAW, pregnancy testing, Secondary Infertility, Sharon LaMothe, sibling, Surrogacy
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Did you hear that the governor of Washington State has signed a NEW bill into law regarding compensated surrogacy? Starting January 1st 2019 women in Washington, who desire to help someone by carrying a baby for them, can do just that and be compensated for their time and dedication. Being a surrogate isn't an easy job, as you might remember from your own pregnancies, but it is rewarding and guaranteed to be a life changing experience. There are many issues to consider with surrogacy. If you are interested in speaking with me about all that surrogacy involves, I would be more than happy to answer your questions. I was a gestational surrogate twice, giving birth to two sets of twins for two different couples! I enjoy sharing my own experiences plus what I have learned throughout the past 20 years of being a consultant! You can email me at LaMotheServices@aol.com. Most requirements for a woman to be qualified to act as a gestational surrogate are based on the expectations of doctors and clinics and the laws that are in place (that vary state to state in some cases). Agency’s also have their own list of what their clients are looking for in a surrogate. If you feel that you have the qualities listed below, I would love to talk with you about what your next steps might involve!
I look forward to hearing from you soon!
This call is FREE OF CHARGE for those women considering surrogacy and just want some answers!
LaMothe Surrogacy Consulting
Issaquah, WA 98027
Tags: Become a surrogate mother in Washington State, Family Inceptions, Gestational Surrogates, Intended Parents in WA state, LaMothe Surrogacy Consulting, learn about being a Gestational Carrier in WA State, Learn about surrogacy, Sharon LaMothe, Surrogacy in WA State 2019, Surrogacy in Washington State, Traditional Surrogates
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I traveled to Olympia yesterday to support the new SB 6037 Uniform Parentage Action Bill. I was told that within the next week or so we will know if it moves on. There are several parts to this bill but the biggest hitch is the surrogacy portion. Most of us feel that this will be the best law regarding surrogacy in the USA. I invite you all to read it yourself and comment here, PM me on Facebook or email me as I would love to hear your thoughts. NEW SECTION. Sec. 702. ELIGIBILITY TO ENTER GESTATIONAL OR GENETIC SURROGACY AGREEMENT. https://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/.../Senate%20Bills/6037.pdf
I hope to be testifying when the bill reaches the House. I will keep you all posted. This will mean some big changes for WA state! The entire state would be open to new possibilities in the realm of Third Party Family Building!
Tags: LaMothe Surrogacy Consulting, New Surrogacy Bill for WA State, SB 6037, Sharon LaMothe, Uniform Parentage Act 2018 WA, Washington State Surrogacy
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Many women have said “I would love to be a surrogate but I have had my tubes tied.” They are very surprised to learn that, indeed, a tubal ligation will not prevent them from helping a couple become a family!
A tubal ligation is a permanent form of birth control, true. After this procedure has been performed, an egg cannot move from the ovary through the tubes (a woman has two Fallopian tubes), and eventually to the uterus. Also, sperm cannot reach the egg in the Fallopian tube after ovulation (release of an egg from the ovary.) To become a Gestational Carrier, where you are not using your own eggs or tubes and therefore a woman can become a surrogate even if her tubes have been tied. (You cannot become a traditional surrogate where you would be using your own eggs.)
If this is the only thing holding you back from becoming a surrogate, I suggest that you find an agency and see what else you need to do to qualify as a gestational carrier. You will be glad you did!
I cannot express how much it pains me to tell someone with a BMI of 36 that she is not qualified to become a surrogate mother especially when she is qualified in every other way! I know agency owners feel the same way. Many times, a wonderful woman, mother of 4, loves being pregnant, mid 30s, responsible and caring, no medical issues other than she is overweight is rejected because she needs to lose 30 lbs. Who made up these “rules”? The Reproductive Endocrinologist and the findings within the fertility community! And why, you ask? Because, for Intended Parents, surrogacy is their last best shot at having a family of their own and statics show that overweight people often don’t do as well via IVF as women within the normal range.
A high BMI indicates obesity:
A standard medical definition of "normal" body weight is a BMI of about 18.5 - 24.9
A BMI under 18.5 indicates that the person is "underweight"
A BMI of 25.0 - 29.9 indicates that the individual is "overweight", but not obese
A BMI over 30 indicates obesity
A BMI over 40 indicates extreme obesity
Obesity is associated with increased risk for several serious disease processes and that isn’t good for the surrogate or the baby she is carrying. The suggestion I often give out to women in the mid 30 BMI range is to start changing their eating profile and make some lifestyle changes. I hate saying “diet” because this weight has to stay off and healthy choices have to be maintained throughout the pregnancy. Give yourself 3-6 months to lose the weight and then try applying again to the agency of your choice.
Tags: #SurrogacyMyth, fertility, infertility, Intended Parents, overweight surrogates, pregnancy and overweight, weight and surrogates
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I have heard women say “Since I don’t want children of my own, I would be the perfect surrogate” or "I don’t want my own baby but I do want to experience pregnancy” or “I know I want children later but I want to be a surrogate now”. To all these women, if I feel they would be qualified, I say “What about egg donation because you are not qualified to be a surrogate”. Many sighs of disappointment and questions of “why not”? (Are you digging the quotes?)
Here are the main reasons that someone who has never had a baby should not be a surrogate:
*There is no previous experience with pregnancy and birth. No one knows what complications this body may have.
*Not sure if there would be any fertility issues
*No personal knowledge of the discomforts of pregnancy
*No personal knowledge of the pain of the birthing process
*Possible emotional issues through out
I have heard of surrogates without previous pregnancy experience be successful but that is almost always for a family member. Some clinics or doctors will make an exception in these cases. Again I remind my readers that the surrogacy process is costly with the Intended Parents investing thousands and thousands of dollars and having someone that has proven that she can carry and give birth to at least one healthy baby is an important part of the process.
Tags: #SurrogacyMyth, Gestational surrogacy, Infertility, Intended Parents, pregnancy, proven fertility, surrogate pregnancy, surrogates with children, traditional surrogacy
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Once all parties make the beginning steps toward becoming part of a surrogacy arrangement, separately or together, all of past medical issues will be revealed. (At least the ones that have to do with pregnancy, fertility, any transmitted diseases, depression etc.) Everyone has to sign medical waivers and the surrogate will know the back ground of the IPs just as the IPs will know the medical background of their surrogate. The RE/clinic will also have records pertaining to past pregnancies of the surrogate or IVF cycles involving the Intended Parents. Nothing can be secret or sacred when the health of the surrogate is at stake or the best chances for the embryo. If you have something to hide then surrogacy in the USA is not for you.
Tags: #SurrogacyMyth, Intended Parents, privacy during a surrogacy, surrogacy, surrogacy medical waivers
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This is a total myth as everyone knows how dangerous second-hand smoke is to pregnant women as well as other adults and children. If you are exposed to second-hand smoke during pregnancy, both you and your baby are put at risk. Some of the health conditions associated with being exposed to second-hand smoke are a miscarriage, low birth weight, early birth, learning or behavioral deficiencies in your child, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Third-hand smoke is the residue left behind by cigarettes on furniture, in rugs, in paint, etc. Third-hand smoke can stick around for months or years. If a place smells like smoke, even if no one is currently smoking, it is a safe bet there is tobacco residue there. You can read more about second and third hand smoke and pregnancy here: https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-complications/second-hand-smoke-and-pregnancy/
All Surrogacy agreements have a non-smoking clause or at the very least a clause that states the surrogate will follow OBGYN’s orders/guidelines and in those orders is to not expose yourself to smoke or pollution of any kind (within reason) besides cigarette and marijuana smoke there are the chemical fumes from mani and pedicures, some hair dyes, and gasoline fumes to name a few sources.
Some women who want to become surrogates have partners or husbands who smoke. Even if they state they will only smoke outside the home, there is still that chance of 3rd hand smoke in the car and on clothing. The best bet is to have everyone in the home to be non-smokers.
Tags: #SurrogacyMyth, 2nd hand cigarette smoke and pregnancy, 3rd hand cigarette smoke and pregnancy, cigarette smoke and surrogacy, healthy pregnancy, Intended Parents, surrogacy
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Some people shake their heads over this #SurrogacyMyth but this thought has been voiced on more than one occasion. “Keeping one of the babies” comes up when a surrogate doesn’t want to go through a selective reduction and she thinks that the issue could be solved by her taking the responsibility of one child. There are so many reasons why this wouldn’t work. Who are the parents of these babies? The Intended Parents. Who is responsible for anything and everything that happens to these children after they are born? The Intended Parents. Most likely the contract states that the surrogate will agree to a selective reduction but now that the time has come, wants to change her mind, or wants the IPs to change their minds.
Can the Intended Parents force anyone to terminate a fetus? No, but they can state breach of contract and depending on how things are handled, a huge conflict between all parties will ruin the surrogacy relationship. If the surrogate decides to go against her agreement the IPs will still be completely responsible for all additional babies. Yes, the Intended Parents can put any and all of their children up for adoption at birth (or at any time; they are the parents) but I have found that most will keep any offspring that the surrogate gives birth to. There are rare exceptions, as always.
I personally don’t know of any gestational carriers who are raising someone else’s child that they, themselves, carried as a surrogate. If you know of someone, I would love to post their own personal story here.
Ahhhh the Maternity Clothing Allowance, a topic of many a conversation. Most surrogacy arrangements have an amount of $750-$1000.00 earmarked for maternity clothing. In the case of twins, a surrogate may use that money around the 10th week of pregnancy and for a singleton she may use it at around 12-14 weeks. Nothing stops anyone from buying clothing earlier from what the agreement states but the surrogate will not be reimbursed until the time agreed.
Some intended parents might ask a surrogate why she would need new maternity clothing especially if she had a baby within the past 2 years. Here are just a few reasons:
*She gave all of her maternity clothing away not thinking that she might need them again
*She had her last baby in the winter and will need a wardrobe for an entirely different season(s)
*She has a “professional” career and needs to update her wardrobe
*She has a job that requires a uniform and she needs to buy maternity sizes in order to continue working
*She tossed all of her old maternity undergarments and will need to buy new (comfortable bras and underwear often need replacing)
*She has an event that she will attend during her pregnancy and will need to buy appropriate clothing
*She needs clothes for all reasons: Sleeping, playing, swimming, working, lounging, going out and staying in.
If your wife or significant other were carrying this baby, would you not expect her to buy clothing that was stylish and actually fit for her growing body? Case closed.
Posted by Sharon LaMothe at 10:41 AM in Assisted Reproductive Technology, Cancer and Infertility, Current Affairs, Egg Donation, Egg Freezing, Embryo Technology, Escrow Accounts, Fertility, Infertility, Intended Parents, Male Factor, Pregnancy, Sperm Donation, Surrogacy | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tags: #SurrogacyMyth, Gestational Surrogacy, Intended Parents, Sharon LaMothe, Surrogacy 101, Surrogacy Blog, Top 50 Surrogacy Blogs, Traditional Surrogacy
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Can we all say the word ILLEGAL all together? Surrogacy does not equate the selling of babies. No matter what some say, any money a surrogate may make is nothing compared to a full-time job. What payments a surrogate does receive is to either assist her in taking care of herself or taking care of the unborn baby she carries OR reimbursements for co-pays or incidentals needed to follow her contract throughout the surrogacy process.
A first-time surrogate receives between $28-$34 thousand. That may look like a lot but the average surrogacy journey lasts for at least 15-18 months. At the high end, that’s $1888 per month (for those that hate math). I wonder how much day care costs per week these days? And that would be 5 days a week for 9-10 hours. If it were 24/7 I would hazard a bet that it would be more then 2k per month. There is a benefit package that often accompanies the base fee which includes reimbursements for things like lost wages, child care, housekeeping, and maternity clothing, to name a few. There is also compensation for invasive procedures like amniocentesis, C-sections or D&C’s.
In Gestational Surrogacy, women are volunteering to carry a baby for another person or couple. Yes, there is money involved. Payments are also made to the clinic, the egg donor, the RE, the attorney, the mental health professionals, the pharmacy, the OBGYN, and the hospital. This list doesn’t include any specialist that might be involved with the pregnancy/birth. Surrogacy is an expensive process no matter how you look at it.
The thing to remember is surrogacy is an unselfish feeling that has to start in the heart. Of course there are other reasons and rewards that women may want to be a surrogate but the main point is helping others have the children they need to make them parents. It’s simple really. People helping people, families helping families. What could be wrong with that?
Tags: #SurrogacyMyth, gestational surrogacy, intended parents, payment for babies, surrogacy payments, surrogate fees, traditional surrogacy
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Today I am sharing a great article from the Huffington Post written by Jennifer “Jay” Palumbo Writer, Public Speaker, Infertility and Women's Rights Advocate! I was selected to participate in reading the 1985 version of the Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood and then we discussed it during a Skype session and again on a phone conference AND then we answered more questions via email. Follow the link to see what we all thought about this controversial piece. If you also have read the book I know that we all would love to hear your take on it!
Here is one of my quotes (STRONG thoughts about this book and how it relates to Surrogacy): SHARON: I think they are very far from reality of surrogacy as it stands today here in the United States. Even in India, this would not be called surrogacy. This is rape. This is enslavement. This is kidnapping. This is inhumane.
Handmaid’s Tale: Separating Fertility Fact from Fiction
Below, some of my friends (who also happen to be fertility professionals) discuss the book based on the questions I put together after finally reading it. The questions below are more fertility focused but still hit on so many big issues. If YOU have read the book, I also hope you’ll share your comments below. For now, let me introduce you to the members of the book club! They are:
Sharon LaMothe - Surrogacy Expert
Annie Kuo - Principal of Emerald Fertility Consulting
Carrie Van Steen - Fertility Coach & Patient Advocate
Lisa Rosenthal - Strategic Content & Advocacy Lead at Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut; Founder of Fertile Yoga: Fertility Activist
Tags: Annie Kuo - Principal of Emerald Fertility Consulting, Carrie Van Steen - Fertility Coach & Patient Advocate, Handmaid's Tale, Infertility/Women’s Rights Advocate and a Marketing Strategy & Communications Consultant, Jennifer “Jay” Palumbo Freelance Writer, Lisa Rosenthal - Strategic Content & Advocacy Lead at Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut; Founder of Fertile Yoga: Fertility Activist, Margaret Atwood, Sharon LaMothe - Surrogacy Expert
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Sorry but NO. Has it never happened before, an 18-year-old becoming a surrogate? I am sure it has in the past but there are many reasons that it is rare, especially in the USA. Here is my take on why it is best to wait until a woman is at least 21 to become a surrogate.
First, an 18-year-old with a baby, because she has to have had an uncomplicated pregnancy and birth AND parenting her own child as per most requirements, will have her hands full just parenting! Secondly, although she is of legal age to sign a contract, it could be challenged in court depending on the circumstances. Third, the rest of a woman’s fertile life has to be considered. There is a chance that she might lose her fertility due to a complication within the surrogacy pregnancy/birth. Although this is the same for older women it can be even more devastating for those under 21.
Very few 18-20 year old’s will pass the psychological evaluation due to maturity. Responsible and mature women with life experience make the better surrogate/carrier (one would hope). I know that statement will not be a popular one among those younger women but the truth is the surrogacy process is very expensive for Intended Parents. Upwards toward $125,000.00 and that means that the majority of the responsibility rests on the shoulders of the surrogate. She needs to take her part very seriously. A surrogate needs to follow all of the doctor’s orders. She needs to take all of her shots, pills, patches etc. at the right times. She needs to have reliable transportation to attend each and every appointment. She needs to take care of herself even if it means putting her own family on the back burner. If she is put on bedrest that means staying on bedrest, if she is told no sexual activities with her partner then that means NONE. If she is told she can’t lift more than 10 lbs. that means no picking up her 30-pound toddler. She needs to keep track of every receipt, bill, statement and parking permit throughout the process.
Needless to say, for those of you who are under 21 and dream about becoming a surrogate, just wait. Do all of your research, read the qualifications and requirements and be ready when the time comes to fill out that application. Your heart is in the right place and that is the first step!
Searching for someone to help you build your family is never easy no matter what you read in the magazines or online. Because of the long list of requirements and qualifications, even the most warm hearted and kind women can be rejected for seemingly the simplest reasons. This makes it very difficult to find the right surrogacy candidates even for agencies. Think of it this way: First, the age group of 21-38 (sometimes through 40 depending), then only those who have had an uncomplicated pregnancy and birth are considered. Out of that group, healthy weight and lifestyle (BMI below 30, nonsmokers or drinkers, no STD’s or medical issues such as depression etc.) will continue on. The field is narrowed even further with only those women who are not on state or federal assistance and have their own transportation.
Now, if the woman you are looking for has passed all of these hurdles she still needs to pass a psychological and medical evaluation. More importantly she has to WANT to be a surrogate. Most women do not. They are raising their own families and/or have a career to consider. Or they hated being pregnant. These women may not have husbands or partners who would be supportive of the whole idea of surrogacy. Even if a woman wanted to be a surrogate and met every requirement listed above, if she lives in a state that criminalizes surrogacy, you are both out of luck.
On top of all of these guidelines, requirements, stipulations and so on….there are the “wish lists”. Intended Parents may want a woman who lives locally to them or at least in the same surrogacy friendly state, they may want someone who is of the same religion or race, or they may want someone who will follow a certain diet like vegan or vegetarian for example. They may want a “stay at home mom” or someone without very young children. How about a woman who has her own insurance that allows surrogacy arrangements? And what about her base fee? Low compensation in order to save money? Or maybe money isn’t a issue and the IPs are wanting someone who has been a surrogate before. Not just an experienced surrogate but a successful surrogate. Oh! And someone who would be willing to carry twins! The list can grow very long.
Let’s not forget the surrogate’s side of things. She has her own ideas on who she carries a baby for. She may want a couple who are gay….or not. She might consider carrying for someone who is single or International. She will want her husband or partner to like the Intended Parents too. She might want someone who will allow her to keep in touch after the birth, pump breast milk, or she has visions of lifelong friendship. Maybe she has plans for the money she will make as a surrogate so she is asking for top compensation for her services. She might sign on with an agency or feel like she can “go independent” with no representation. The surrogate’s list can be very long too!
Now I know I haven’t listed all possibilities but this post is just to highlight why finding a surrogate mother, gestational carrier is anything but easy. However, don’t give up hope! Keep your wish list short and your expectations reasonable. You can hire an agency to help you but know that it’s not usual for you to find a match in a week or even a month. These things take time and patience. Surrogacy is not for the faint hearted but for those who persevere.
Tags: #SurrogacyMyth, Finding a surrogate, Gestational Surrogacy, Intended Parents, surrogacy agency, Surrogate wish list, Traditional Surrogacy
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There was a recent surrogacy news article about a Dutch gay couple and their surrogate. She gave birth and the couple was very happy…until the DNA test came back and the baby was actually the Traditional Surrogate’s and her husband’s baby girl. How did this happen? Apparently, the surrogate and her husband had intercourse instead of abstaining when she should have. Needless to say, the gay couple had to give the baby back. You can read all about this case here: https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2017/05/gay-couple-told-to-hand-back-baby-to-surrogate-after-dna-tests/ ‘As gay parents, you actually have no rights,’ Janssen told the AD. ‘Everything depends on the mother’s willingness and good faith. Apart from an internet checklist, we had nothing on paper.’ It seems that they skipped may steps including drawing up a contract!
This is just one of many examples as to why hiring professionals to assist you during the surrogacy process is so important. DNA testing, especially within a traditional arrangement, can be so important. Don't skimp on surrounding yourself with knowledgeable and competent professionals.
It’s so nice when you are struggling to find someone to carry your baby for you, a person from your friends or family list steps up and volunteers to help you build your family in the most intimate of ways. Some may think that all they need to do is inform their clinic that they have found a woman to be their carrier and assume that the clinic will just walk them through the process. Not so! I strongly suggest that any IP or woman who wants to be a surrogate do some research before spending a dime.
As wonderful as an offer of surrogacy is, make sure that your friend or family member is qualified. After saying Thank YOU! call your clinic and see what their requirements are for a gestational carrier. There might be an age range (21-40), healthy BMI range, she has to have had a uncomplicated pregnancy and currently parenting her child/children, non-smoker, not on (most) medication to name a few qualifications. Don’t assume that just because she has had a good pregnancy in her past that she will automatically qualified. You want the best person to be your surrogate and even if emotionally your choice seems like a good one there is a lot to be said about a healthy body too!
Unfortunately, not all US states have jumped on the surrogacy band wagon! These 5 states are not surrogacy friendly at all (meaning that women from these states should not give birth to a surrogate baby within state lines) Louisiana has very limited laws and I suggest that you talk to a reproductive attorney before you even consider LA. Michigan is a very emphatic NO along with New Jersey and New York. A surrogate could be criminally charged. Washington state allows “compassionate, non-compensated” surrogacy arrangements but all other paid arrangements are considered criminal.
Heterosexual Intended Parents from the above states can work with a surrogate in any of the surrogate friendly states. Gay or single intended parents also have to be aware of the laws in certain states. Here is a great website to learn about each states surrogacy laws from Family Connections GESTATIONAL SURROGACY LAW ACROSS THE UNITED STATES.
Remember that these laws often change and contacting a local reproductive attorney BEFORE you get started in a state you are unsure of is the best advice I can give you.
Tags: #SurrogacyMyth, Gestational Surrogacy, Intended Parents, Reproductive Laws in the USA, Surrogacy Laws State by State, Traditional Surrogacy
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Wednesday I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Alice Domar speak on the topic of "Reducing the Burden of Care" at the Seattle Tacoma Area Reproductive Society’s meeting (STARS) in Seattle. What a great subject especially for those in the fertility field who have set out to help their patients and clients navigate the process of infertility treatments and, at the same time, maintaining a positive mind set. Dr. Domar introduced this great phone app that she helped design called FertiCalm. https://www.ferticalmapp.com This app can be used by women who need coping techniques in everyday situations. (Alice says they are currently working on an app just for men.)
Coping for Every Situation…Any time, Any Place, Anywhere. FertiCalm provides a variety of more than 500 custom coping options for over 50 specific situations which have the potential to cause distress throughout the family building journey located right on your phone.
Dr. Domar and Dr. Grill, the creators of this app, are reproductive psychologists with over 45 years combined experience, at two of the most prominent infertility centers in the US. They provide counseling for women, men and couples as they work to build their families and saw an unmet need. Many people don't have the time, money, or geographical access to see a therapist specially trained in infertility counseling. While FertiCalm is not substitute for treatment with a licensed therapist or psychologist, FertiCalm serves as a helpful resource for women in the exact moment they feel distress, whenever and wherever they are, by providing them with coping techniques for many common social scenarios faced by women on their family building journey.
Check it out and let everyone know what you think! Please leave feedback here, in the comments section!
Posted by Sharon LaMothe at 09:20 AM in Assisted Reproductive Technology, Cancer and Infertility, Current Affairs, Fertility, Healthy Living, Infertility, Intended Parents, Male Factor, Pregnancy, Surrogacy | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tags: coping techniques, Coping with infertility, Dr. Alice Domar, Dr. Elizabeth Grill, FertiCalm app, reproductive psychologists
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In Vitro Fertilization is a true miracle to those needing extra help conceiving a child. Sometimes IVF alone is not the answer, especially for gay couples or women with medical conditions like cancer. When another woman is needed, a gestational carrier, IVF breathes new hope into a once seemingly hopeless situation.
No fertility clinic that I know will guarantee a pregnancy on the first attempt of IVF (or on the 4th attempt for that matter) The intended parents are the people who usually choose the RE/clinic so we all hope that they have done their homework regarding live birth statistics. All involved also hope that any embryos that are made and transferred are of great quality. They hope that the eggs and sperm are from the most perfect source. There is a LOT of hope involved in IVF BUT, surprise surprise, even if everything is deemed A+, Grade 1, “Excellent”, and the carrier has the “best lining I have ever seen” the IVF process can still fail! And because of this fact, the surrogacy agreement often will state that it will cover the time frame of up to 3 IVF attempts.
My best advice beyond “expect the worst but hope for the best” is for intended parents to do their research and find the best clinic they can afford. Secondly, be prepared for an IVF cycle not to work for no good reason. Everyone is doing their job and it will still fail because we are human and nothing is perfect. Keep the hope, follow doctor’s orders, know that you are not alone but be realistic. Everyone wants the same thing. A healthy pregnancy and birth.
Don’t we all wish this were true! But over the past decade or so most insurance companies have revised their policies to exclude surrogacy arrangements. Some policies are vague and read as if there is some wiggle room but a surrogate candidate must be very careful as she reviews her policy. If bills pertaining to a surrogacy pregnancy and birth are submitted to an insurance company that decides that payment is not their responsibility, several things can happen. First, remember all surrogacy contracts state that the Intended Parents are responsible for all medical bills in relation to the surrogacy arrangement. Most, if not all, medical bills are in the name of the surrogate so as she receives these bills she is expected to arrange payment. If these bills are submitted in a timely manner then the IPs may pay them as soon as possible, perhaps money from the escrow account would be used or maybe they will arrange payments with the OBGYN or hospital. If the insurance company takes it’s time with the decision, the escrow account could be emptied and closed as well as the Intended Parents leave the state or the country (If they are International) and these bills could be left for the surrogate to be responsible for.
This has happened several times. What can be done to make sure that an insurance policy will be held up and make the payments expected? First, have a professional review the entire insurance policy. If there is any question then the Intended Parents need to invest in a backup plan or full surrogacy insurance coverage backed by a Lloyds of London policy. No one wants to be left with bills after giving an amazing gift of life and family, just as no intended parent wants to be stuck with unexpected medical debt.
This is the last day for National Infertility Awareness Week! I have 2 books 'Surrogacy Helps Make a Family Grow!' by Sharon LaMothe for surrogate mothers to share with their children or for Intended Parents to give to their surrogate for her own child! A $16.00 value. E-mail me your name, address and why you are interested in winning to SurroMatchFL@aol.com to be entered into this drawing by Sunday April 30th. Postage is included and the winner will have their signed book mailed out to them next week! (all names and addresses kept confidential if requested. Initials maybe used when announcing the winners!)
I have posted about the topic of Selective Reduction in the past. Carolyn Zinn, who wrote the post of her experience, below, has given birth to triplets and she has some wonderful insights on the decision of selective reduction. I decided, instead of listing this post as a comment, it needed its own place on the blog. Thanks Carolyn and thank you for sharing your thoughts on this very important topic.
"I feel this information couldn't be stressed more. I have been a personal friend of Sharon's for many years and we have shared numerous surrogacy experiences and feelings throughout those years. I am THRILLED she has put together such a wonderful blog for those involved in the infertility world. I am a Gestational Surrogate 3X and I carried triplets my first time (in 2000) of which compels me to respond to this topic. Although I entered into my first surrogacy with the purest intent and deepest desire to help a couple have a child, I had no idea what all was involved, but at the time, it really didn't matter... I was going to do this! It wasn't until I was matched and entered into the contract stage that I realized how many issues I had to think about, be comfortable with and agree to. However, I was totally determined and nothing was going to stand in my way. I put a lot of thought into what my true feelings were concerning abortion, selective reduction and other related issues and if there is anything that I have stressed to intended parents and surrogates in the past.
It is imperative that everyone be completely honest about their needs and desires. As Sharon stated in her post regarding selective reduction , one never knows what is going to happen and you truly need to feel comfortable with and be able to live with whatever may arise. I never dreamed that we would end up pregnant with triplets but it had been decided by myself and my IP's that there would be no selective reduction and we agreed to no more than three embryos’ implanted. Boy... was that a good judgment call. We placed three excellent quality embryos back and low and behold... they all three took. Our journey was one to be treasured and the outcome was nothing short of incredible. All three babies were delivered at 33 and a half weeks (considered full term for triplets) and extremely healthy. They are beautiful and thriving but myself and my IP's often have said that we can’t even imagine not having one of them around if we had done a selective reduction. Please think and re-think things before agreeing to anything. If you find a couple and your expectations are different, don't feel bad for not working with them... don't think you will never find anyone else... or they will never find anyone else... follow your heart and move on. You each will eventually find that "right" match and everyone will be happy no matter what happens."
For some patients, gestational surrogacy is an option, if repeat implantation failure is a problem. This is particularly true if PGD normal embryos have been transferred, and the rest of the evaluation is negative. I started working with surrogates in 1992. Until recently, virtually all the agencies I worked with held to standard that surrogacy should only be considered when the intended mother really cannot safely carry a pregnancy to term.
A recent tragic death of a surrogate mother from a rare but well-know pregnancy complication known as abruption of the placenta, underscores the ethical problem with asking women to serve as surrogates for non-medical reasons. To the family of this unfortunate woman, the reason she was surrogate does not matter right now. However, for those of us who defend the practice of compensated surrogacy in the United States, it is an important reminder that the practice should only be allowed for legitimate medical purposes. Dying from a pregnancy-related complication is so rare in the U.S., that many people take it for granted and feel it is acceptable to transfer the risks of pregnancy to another woman. Somehow, a tragedy like this seems less egregious, if the surrogate mother was doing it for a woman who otherwise could not have a child.
Why the change in social attitude and acceptance of the looser standards? One possible reason is the recent rise in the popularity of doing surrogacy in less developed countries like Mexico. Most of these programs have a “no questions asked” policy, and financial reward for the surrogates is an important incentive. Also, we have seen an increase in wealthy women from certain countries that can easily carry a baby, but see gestational surrogacy as a way to obtain a U.S. passport for their child. Finally, there are some misconceptions about medical facts. For instance, many women in their late reproductive years forties erroneously think that surrogates have a better chance for success than they do. Ironically, many of these women are only in their late thirties or early forties, and we still work with healthy surrogate mothers in this age range!
Critics of compensated surrogacy will point to the financial benefits as an inducement for women to take this risk. In my experience, this may be true in poor countries. However, in the U.S., the agencies I work with do not accept indigent women, and the compensation to these wonderful women, when amortized over the whole pregnancy amounts to less than minimum wage.
In conclusion, while the serious risks of pregnancy in the U.S. are small, they do exist. The recent tragedy is a reminder of this and should make us all reflect on the importance of maintaining a high ethical standard in deciding which patients should benefit from surrogacy. Along with the more common and less serious complications, combined with the major imposition of a surrogate mother and her family, appropriate compensation still seems reasonable. However, the financial compensation should not induce women to take these risks. Intended parents and health care professionals alike should keep these risks in mind when they consider moving forward with gestational surrogacy.
Tags: American Surrogacy, Dr. Michael Feinman, Gestational Surrogacy, HRC, Surrogacy for medical reasons, Surrogacy for nonmedical reasons, Surrogacy in USA, Surrogates
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The options of starting a family through surrogacy are peaking. Demand and competition are driving the clinical costs down, and it's more affordable for couples who want their own biological child or who want to raise a newborn through the gift of surrogacy and egg donation.
The giver of the gift of surrogacy and the people who are accepting it have needs and expectations of how the relationship should develop. If a comprehensive plan hasn't been made, then complications can arise.
Let's start by giving a hypothetical situation. Mr. and Mrs. Smith need the help of a surrogate. They accept the offer from a friend, Mary. They feel comfortable with this friendship and trust that this woman will take care of herself during the pregnancy. Mary asks for a certain amount of money to cover costs during pregnancy, and the Smiths agree. In the back of their mind, Mary is being "paid" to carry their baby.
Mary gets pregnant via in vitro fertilization (IVF) and is now carrying twins for the Smiths. The Smiths call her every day to see how she is. They ask if they can do anything. They want to attend all the appointments. They ask the OB if Mary's working, eating, sleeping and sexual activities are OK for their babies.
Mary feels overwhelmed and micromanaged. After all, she has given birth before, and she knows what she is doing. Resentment sets in. Soon she is avoiding phone calls and gritting her teeth through appointments, and her husband is wondering what in the world they got themselves into! The Smiths feel her pulling away and become worried and start to mistrust her actions. They have a right to ask these questions. After all, they are "paying" her, and she is carrying their children. The rest of the pregnancy is filled with stress on both sides, as Mary now can't wait to give birth and get these people off her back.
The babies are born healthy and strong, and the Smiths take them home. Now Mary hardly EVER hears from them. It may be months before she even sees them, and they used to be close friends. She feels used and left behind, forgetting how she felt during the pregnancy. Regret sets in.
As for the Smiths, they are coping with two new lives! They are not getting the sleep they used to and bills from the surrogacy and new babies are piling up. Their lives have been turned upside down, and they can barely get time alone with each other let alone make calls to Mary.
Can you see what happened? No one really discussed expectations. The before, during and after pregnancy relationship needs were not met, and therefore, a bad taste has been left behind where the beauty of families working together to bring a much-wanted child into the world should have been.
Before anyone makes the choice of surrogacy, certain aspects need to be thoroughly thought out and discussed. Here is a short list:
* Should a family member be asked to be a surrogate?
* Would a friend be a good choice? (If the answer is yes in either of these categories, then there is a separate list of concerns to think about.)
* What race, religion and marital status would you like a surrogate to be?
* What is the working status preference of a surrogate?
* What do you envision your role in the pregnancy?
* What are your expectations as to the amount of contact with the surrogate during and after the pregnancy?
* What are the financial expectations, and how will that be handled?
These questions are just the tip of the iceberg, but they open up a dialog and can make a huge difference in a surrogate relationship.
Having someone to mediate is also helpful. A successful surrogate arrangement can be done independently, but having a third party assist you with relationship management can be invaluable. Having a third party to handle the escrow account can be a great relief on both the intended parents and surrogate. Mixing the topics of money and babies is a sticky situation at best and should be avoided - if possible - in order to concentrate on the pregnancy and the surrogacy relationship. A well-managed escrow account can also make all the difference.
Additional questions? Check out LaMothe Surrogacy Consulting https://www.lamothesurrogacyconsulting.com Save $150.00 with our fall consulting special!
Additional questions? Check out LaMothe Surrogacy Consulting https://www.lamothesurrogacyconsulting.com Save $150.00 with our fall consulting special!
Additional questions? Check out LaMothe Surrogacy Consulting https://www.lamothesurrogacyconsulting.com Save $150.00 with our fall consulting special!
By now your hair must stand on end at the sound of the phrase “failed IVF.” It’s loaded. Not only were your hopes dashed, but if you’re normal, your mind automatically goes to the larger meaning of the word failed as if it represents all of who you are. This is true especially if there has been more than one assisted reproductive attempt that has left you in a heap of depression and anxiety.
If you are reading this you might be starting to open your mind to ovum donation. Moving on to this option requires a new emotional talent. This time, not only is it necessary to grieve the loss of a potential pregnancy, but the hole in your heart yawns wider as you seek to find a way to grieve the loss of a biological connection to the baby that you will carry by going the ovum donation route to parenthood.
It takes time to clear the decks and locate the well of resilience needed for this seemingly never-ending challenge to enlarge your family. Grieving has its own tempo that needs to be respected. You may be sick of grieving, but it is a healthy part of opening your heart to a new reality.
Letting go of a dream does not mean developing amnesia. It is important to know that as you put your attempt(s) to create a genetically related child behind you, it will remain a part of your history that cannot be “un-had.” But that does not mean that you will stay stuck in the immediate pain of the loss(es). If you realize that you will have random times of sadness, less so as time goes by, then you can feel that sadness when it arises and acknowledge it without drowning in it.
How can you stretch your mind to the idea of a child that may not look like you? Some people cannot. In my experience these are people who feel trapped in a fear of judgment from their parents or society, or trapped in an unwillingness see a reflection of someone other than themselves. Others are more at ease with adoption because one or both partners prefer a “level playing field”—an “either both of our genes, or none” attitude.
Next comes wrapping your brain around the genetic reality of your child via the ‘gift’ (yes, a gift even though you pay for it) of an ovum. Will a baby that comes to you by what may feel like science fiction feel unnatural? In other words, how will you feel going this route? And what will you tell the child; how will your child feel?
To best answer these questions and other concerns, I refer you to the article below that was written two years ago by my daughter, Kim, mother to my three ovum-donation granddaughters. Jaden is now 13 ½ and her twin sisters, Macy and Reese are 12. You can get a window into how you might feel with the uncertainties that may need to be metabolized and the obstacles that your mind may be cooking up.
This is not a sales pitch. Only you can soul-search and arrive at the decision that is right for you as a couple. But meanwhile, the scales may tip if favor of ovum donation if you listen to someone who has been where you are. Get set for a dose of Kim’s humor in the bargain. Kim writes…
What happened when we had THAT conversation…
I have 3 daughters via egg donation, an 11& 1/2 year old and twins who are almost 10. I have always believed that my children should be aware of how they came into this world. I never wanted them to remember being told that they were conceived via egg donation, I wanted them to feel as if this information was something they always knew, like how you always know your parents love you and how you always know that the sun will come up in the morning and set at night. When my girls were younger, especially when a friend or relative was pregnant, and the inevitable “where do babies come from?” question arose, I always told them simply that when a mommy and daddy want to have a baby they get together and love each other very much and the mommy gets pregnant. Sometime they need help. Mommy and Daddy needed help and a doctor and a very nice lady helped us out so that we could have you. As they got a little older this progressed to telling them that the lady gave us a “cell” so that we could get pregnant. However, I always knew I would eventually have to give more information, and that eventuality inevitably arrived.
Last year when Jaden, who is very physically mature, was about to enter 5th grade, the time came for the class to watch “the movie.” I told her that I wanted to be the one to tell her what she would need to know before she saw the movie. I tried to separate the puberty/period conversation from the sex conversation. At the end of what I though was a great conversation I asked, “Do you have any questions?” She said “Yeah, when are you going to tell me about THE SEX?” And so it began. I explained intercourse and how you make a baby. This was the first time I used the words egg and sperm, and explained that mommy and daddy had used an egg donor. She took it all in stride (as well as an 11 year old can). I wasn’t quite sure she understood the magnitude of the conversation, but she seemed satisfied. I had a cocktail and called it a night.
Fast forward one year. Sitting at the dinner table and I guess because my husband was not at dinner that night, Jaden says “Mom – I think you should tell the girls about what they are going to see in the movie next year.” I paused, waiting, hoping that the two little ones didn’t hear her. Then she says, “Wait, I’ll tell them!” She then proceeds to say: “So girls, the PENUS goes into the BAGINA and SPERUM comes out and makes a baby!” Now my twins, while the best of friends, with many similar interests, are very different. Macy is more interested in boys, more interested in her body and learning about sexual things, and very easy going. She worries about very little. Reese, on the other hand, is very physical, always doing back bends and cartwheels and flips (everywhere) and is also very anxiety prone. She is also my most honest child. She tells me EVERYTHING, for which I am very grateful, especially since Macy is very sneaky!
So I proceeded to tell them the real story about sex. How it works, how a baby is made – everything. During the conversation, Jaden is piping in her two cents. Macy is sitting close to me, wide eyed, very attentive, taking it all in. Reese’s anxiety is elevating before my eyes, as exhibited by the back bends, leg extensions, and cartwheels she is doing around the kitchen table where we were all sitting. So this is the first time I have used “egg” and “sperm” in a conversation with Macy and Reese and the first time that I have very clearly told all three that the very nice lady I have been talking about all of these years actually gave us several eggs and that is how I was able to become pregnant. And this is the first time I heard the question I have been dreading for 12 years: “So wait a minute, you are not actually our mom!?!?”
I have to say, the dagger through my heart that I have anticipated for 12 years did not cut as sharply as I had thought it would. And here is why. I explained that while this very nice lady (whom we lovingly refer to as Mrs. X) gave us cells/eggs, it was mixed with daddy’s sperm and put inside of me and that I was pregnant with all of them and I got to nurture all of them since the moment of conception (well 5 days after conception, but who is counting?). And that I got to give birth to all of them. I have raised them since the day they were born, and that I know that they are all 100% my children. And while they may not look like me, they all have pieces of my soul in them. That my blood ran through their little developing bodies while I was pregnant, and that I have put my heart and soul and every ounce of love I have into raising them since the day they were born.
Jaden responded to this explanation with a look of content and understanding, although I’m sure I saw behind her eyes a glimmer of: “okay – I’ll hold on to this for use at a future date when you really piss me off…” Macy sort of dismissed the sappiness of the conversation and while I know she heard me and understood the magnitude of what I was saying, she responded by asking if there was a video she could watch to learn how to do THE SEX correctly. I quickly told her no, because I was not yet ready for the porn conversation. I’m sure she’ll google that on her iPad soon enough! (Now you are about to understand why I am so grateful for Reese’s honesty.) Reese, who had been quiet for most of the latter part of the conversation, albeit twisting her body into all sorts of various contortions, spoke up. She said: “I do not care what anyone says, YOU ARE MY MOM, 100%!” I agreed and smiled, more in my heart than my face, and with that the conversation ended and the dinner table quickly emptied and we resumed our normal busy, crazy, chaotic life. And I would have it no other way!
Perhaps this offering by my daughter will be a source of information that can contribute to achieving clarity; information is notorious as an anxiety-reducer. Here’s more information that may contribute you reducing your anxiety:
Many years ago, one of my friends adopted a daughter. As the years went by, I became more and more amazed—stunned even at times—at how alike mother and daughter were. Since genetics played no part, it was clear that environment was exercising a huge influence on the child’s development.
Similar to adoption, and at the risk of sounding simplistic, the environmental influence on the ovum donation child's life through the love and security and values provided in the environment figure in large. Really large.
But different from adoption, the phenomenon of epigenetic modification is an additional and potent influence. The word epigenetics comes from the Greek, the prefix “epi” meaning over or above genetics.
A baby conceived using a donor egg gets his/her genes from the donor; she gets the “instructions” on the expression of those genes from the woman who carries him/her to term. The uterus is more than an oven in which the baby is cooked. The most important aspect of all pregnancies – including egg donation pregnancies - is that your future child is literally fabricated and influenced in and by the mother’s body. The uterine lining becomes the placenta through which protein, sugars, calcium, nitrates, and fluids from the mother’s body go into the growth of the child. In addition, the birth mother influences how the child’s genetics are expressed.
So my daughter had it right. Respect your child’s right to know the genetic story. Love your child with your whole heart and soul, because genetics and parenting are not the same. And remember, those who have genetic children are not exempt from needing to face the many trials and tribulations of parenthood.
Building or adding on to your family via surrogacy is no easy matter. While some will try to go at it alone, others often decide to hire a surrogacy agency to assist them in finding a woman to carry their baby and take care of all the overwhelming details.This short post will help you think about what to look for in a surrogacy agency. Still, you may have a lot of questions. LaMothe Surrogacy Consulting can help you choose the right agency for your unique situation and educate you on the entire process. **Remember that your first 40 minute call is free!
The best way to start your search for an agency is ask your clinic who they recommend. Usually the clinic works with several agencies but they may have a favorite. You can also find a list of agencies online and, of course, you could ask for referrals from people in your support group if you belong to one. Once you have the names of several agencies and perhaps have read through their websites, then you need to interview them yourself. Email or call to set up an appointment and expect to spend a couple of hours on each interview. Remember that the agency will need to know about your own needs and desires in order to answer your questions to the best of their ability.
Some questions you might ask are:
Most E&O policies cover judgments, settlements and defense costs. Even if the allegations are found to be groundless, thousands of dollars may be needed to defend the lawsuit. They can bankrupt a smaller company or individual and have a lasting effect on the bottom line of larger companies.
In short, E&O coverage provides protection for you in the event that an error or omission on your part has caused a financial loss for your client.
*How much does the surrogacy agency charge? and for what services?
Agency Services might include:
*Providing Surrogates and/or Egg Donors and their profiles (Pre-screened or not)
*Arranging Life, Disability and Health Insurance Policies for the surrogate
*Arranging verbal agreements between parties on important issues like selective reduction, termination and basic fees etc.
*Recommending/Providing at least 2 reproductive attorneys for providing a contract and surrogate review
*Recommending Psychologist for evaluation
*Assisting with the location of a "surrogate friendly" OB (If needed)
*Coordinating Escrow/Trust accounts for the distribution of funds throughout the contract time frame (This should be separate or the agency should be bonded)
*Providing mediation or counseling if needed between IPs and GC
*General Case Management and Support (Providing an emergency telephone contact number, plenty of staff to support amount of people currently in the program)
*Attending Transfers, Appointments and Births if asked
*Support of all parties after the birth (at least 6-8 weeks)
Don't ask how many pregnancies or births an agency has had because that is solely dependent on the clinic/RE working with those past surrogates and is no reflection on the agency itself. How many matches they are currently working with and how many staff is appropriate if you don't want to feel like a number or feel that the agency is overwhelmed. You can also ask for a copy of their retainer agreement and have your own attorney review it if you don't understand some of the jargon.
Of course there is always more to know and it's good to research and educate yourself before you more forward with your search for an agency.
Tags: Gestational Carrier, Gestational Surrogacy, How to Choose a Surrogacy Agency, Intended Parents, LaMothe Surrogacy Consulting, Questions to ask a surrogacy agency, Surrogate Mother
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Tags: Gestational Carrier, Gestational Surrogate. Surrogate Mother, LaMothe Surrogacy Consulting, Top 10 Don't's When Planning a Surrogacy Arrangement, Traditional Surrogacy
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Maybe you’re in line for that big promotion and want to put off raising a family until you’re better equipped to provide for them. Perhaps you’re in between relationships and feel your biological clock ticking away. Whatever your personal reason is, there is an option that you can explore if you’re interested in putting the idea of children on hold for the time being.
Freezing your eggs can expand your choices and help to eliminate the pressure that comes with having to choose between your current lifestyle and the potential of a future family. Below we have provided a short summary of what to expect, should you decide to pursue egg freezing, in addition to some of the main reasons that make it an attractive option for so many young women.
During the egg freezing procedure, you will first undergo preliminary screening to determine the current state of your reproductive cycle. After these tests, you will take a variety of drugs and hormones that assist in stimulating your ovaries and allow your body to release more eggs than usual.
After your body has been prepared, you will undergo a short egg retrieval procedure in which each available egg is collected from your ovarian follicles. Once the collection has occurred, your eggs will be frozen through an advanced technological process known as vitrification. This technique is proven to provide a more successful freezing outcome.
Now that you know a little more about what’s involved, what are some reasons that would make this such a beneficial treatment for you?
By choosing to freeze your eggs, you’re able to help control the ‘whens’ and ‘hows’ that can accompany your desire to get pregnant. This is an intelligent way to think about growing your family and it allows you to provide a much better life for your potential child.
Empowering yourself to make a decision about conception and childbirth without having to consider your present circumstances or age as a factor, you are making a positive decision about your child’s well-being.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of our modern society, a two-parent household is still the preferred way of raising a child. Romance, however, tends to take second place in the harsh reality of earning a living.
By freezing your eggs until you’ve found the partner that you love and want to share a child with, you’re helping to provide that child with a nurturing environment that both parents can be a part of.
We’re living in unstable financial times. This may be weighing on your mind when it comes to family planning. The fact is, you owe it to your future family to be able to provide for them the best that you can. Freezing your eggs is a choice that allows you to stay focused on your career, which in turn means a greater ability to provide for your family later in life.
On the other hand, the idea of having family simply may not be particularly appealing to you at the moment, and you wish first to accomplish more in your professional life while not sacrificing the possibility of starting a family later in life. There is nothing wrong with that.
Sadly, almost 12% of women will experience breast cancer in their lifetime. Radiation and chemotherapy can have a devastating effect on a woman’s ability to conceive a child. Increasingly, young women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer have wisely chosen to have their eggs frozen.
If your family has a history of breast or uterine cancer, then freezing your eggs may provide you with the best chance of having a family.
Your Life, Your Choice
Ultimately, it all comes down to you. Medical technology has given you this wonderful option that allows you much more freedom in how to choose your approach to parenthood.
By freezing your eggs, you’re able to live the life you want to, achieve what you need to achieve, and put yourself in the position where you’re eager and ready to support and nurture a family. The time that you spend with your child should never be a time of regret and disappointment.
Do yourself a favor: research the options and possibilities and make a choice that’s right for you.
Tags: Cancer and Egg Freezing, Egg Freezing, Freezing your eggs, Life Choices, putting your family on hold, What is Egg Freezing
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Facebook and other social media outlets are truly a marvelous invention…until it gets in the way of your relationship with your surrogate or intended parents. We are often reminded to watch what you post because you don’t know who may be reading your blog, timeline,tweets or looking at photos. Employers are often vetting applicants by Googling them and reading the latest activity or looking at the newest photos. Even if your privacy setting is on the most restrictive there are ways to get around all of that!
When you are sharing so much information out in the cyber world you have to take into consideration what others (IPs, case managers, surrogates) may think of your cartoons, announcements and status updates. If you have an unusual ritual that may flip out even your closest family member just think of what an IP may think especially if you are already pregnant with their child. Perhaps you are an intended parent struggling to quit your smoking habit and are posting that online. If your surrogate doesn’t know of this issue at the start of your relationship she may ask herself what else has been hidden from her. If a surrogate, who has agreed to cut back on her caffeine, posts that she has already had 3 cups of coffee and it’s not even 9 am she may have a concerned phone call from her IP’s.
This is not about hiding facts or holding back important information but more about watch what you post or tweet because the reactions on both sides could be filled with misunderstandings. Don't forget all those support groups out there where you feel fine about venting and then realize that your words have been read by people you have a surrogacy relationship with.
Has something like this ever happened to you? Would you like to share that experience with our readers?
Tags: Facebook, Instagram, Intended Parents, Surrogacy Agency, Surrogacy and social media, Surrogacy Support groups, Surrogate Mother, Twitter
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Tags: Gestational Carriers, Intended Parents, LaMothe Surrogacy Consulting, Listen to your instincts about surrogacy, Red Flags in Surrogacy, Sharon LaMothe, Surrogacy Agencies, Surrogate Mother, The Surrogacy Contract
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“I researched surrogacy for over a year and joined an online support group called Parents Pursuing Surrogacy,” Jenn remembers. “When my husband and I finally signed contract papers, I felt pretty confident we were going in the right direction.” But when the agency director mentioned a gestational carrier, Jenn didn’t know what she was talking about. “Do you mean a surrogate mother?” she asked. According to Sharon LaMothe, a Seattle-based surrogacy consultant, gestational carrier is the more-recent term for a surrogate mother who is biologically unrelated to the baby she carries for a couple. “That sounded clinical,” Jenn remembers. “Not what we were going for, at all.”
On a waiting list for five months, Seattleite Jenn says she felt butterflies when she met Long Beach native, Mel, for the first time at the agency’s-office in Orange County. Told that surrogates were in short-supply, Mel was the only one ready at the time whose ideas about the surrogacy process matched Jenn and her husband’s. “I saw her photo and e-mailed with her a few times, but when I met her in person, I didn’t hear a word she said. I was listening to my instincts on this one, and my heart,” Jenn says.
Mel admits the same. “Jenn and her husband were my third set of Intended Parents. I worked for several years with a couple who never had success—and it was heartbreaking.” Several embryo transfers for the couple failed and the whole experience was very discouraging,” she says. But Mel didn’t give up. Matched a 2nd time with another couple, she was pregnant with and delivered a baby girl for them. “Having a baby girl for my couple was one of the greatest things I ever did. I don’t have words for the joy it brought to everybody.” It was right then that Mel knew she wanted to do another surrogacy—but only with a couple who shared her values. “I clicked with Jenn and her husband, instantly,” Mel says. “It was love at first sight.”
Although it was one of the hardest things she’d ever done, Jenn stood by attentively while her microscopic 3-day embryos were transferred to Mel’s womb, for safe-keeping. “I knew I had to let them go to Mel. And although I am a very analytical, somewhat-controlling-person, I was able to take a step back. Mel knew the process and was a consummate professional. Even more, I could tell her heart was in the right place.” A giant leap of faith by Jenn, she says the feeling is impossible to describe. “I placed our babies in a woman I barely knew. We were asking for a miracle.”
On their second embryo transfer (Jenn’s eggs and her husband’s sperm), the team of Mel & Jenn were pregnant. Their jointly-chosen OB called Mel’s pregnancy “textbook”, but the whole experience for Jenn, was anything but. And as much as Mel was financially compensated for what Jenn calls “ultra-early-babysitting”, it turned out Jenn’s hunch about “gestational carriers” was spot-on: “Mel wasn’t a carrier—she was a MOTHER.”
Baby at 12 weeks
Jenn says that not only did Mel eat right, rest, and get great prenatal care, she involved Jenn and her husband in her pregnancy and family from day-one. “I have an open-door policy so I invited Jenn and her husband in,” Mel says in a matter of fact way. “She cared for our baby like he was a member of her family,” Jenn explains. “And Mel’s husband and kids did too. I was in California for a prenatal visit once and stayed with Mel and her family. While Mel read a Harry Potter series book out loud to her own children, my baby stopped kicking to listen.” “He’s quiet now, Jenn,” Mel whispered. The look in her eye said it all. Gestational Carrier? “No, it was LOVE,” Jenn says.
Finally, one warm February day, Jenn’s dream came true when Mel went into labor. Meaning “gift from God”, they pronounced the baby “Jonathan”. Holding back tears, Jenn cut the cord from her surrogate to her precious gift. “You are the luckiest boy in the world,” she told her new baby. “You’ve got TWO moms.”
Jenn cuts the cord
Of course, many surrogacy stories end, right here. The parents take their baby home. The surrogate feels fulfilled. The end. But although Jenn and Mel didn’t know it at that moment, for them, it was only the beginning.
Jenn remembers that Mel’s husband looked her straight in the eye on the way out of the hospital. “We’re all going to stay together, now, aren’t we?” he asked. “Absolutely,” Jenn remembers answering. According to surrogacy expert, Sharon LaMothe, “Most legal contracts between IPs and surrogates have verbiage preventing the surrogate from contacting the family, after the birth. It must be a mutual feeling, a needed connection between all parties. ” Jenn and Mel’s contract was no different. But before they signed it, they talked about their hopes and dreams for a relationship, once the baby was born.
Mel and Jonathan, age-5
As Baby Jonathan grew, the families kept in touch. Jenn and her family (that included daughter Laura) flew almost every year to California from Seattle, to visit Mel and her family. Mel and her family flew up to Seattle, during school breaks.
Mel and Jonathan, age-8
The gifts and love, from the surrogacy experience, just kept flowing.
Mel, Jonathan, and Jenn
An avid Lacrosse player at age-14, now-teen-Jonathan found a sports camp (through an Internet search) in the Los Angeles area and wanted to go. “No, it’s too far from Seattle,” Jenn remembers telling him. But he wouldn’t drop the idea. “What if Mel and her husband looked after him, while he was there?” Jenn’s husband suggested. It was at that precise moment, that a light bulb went on. Just 15 years before, Jenn stood by, and let go of her child to Mel. And now, as if by some grand design, here they went, AGAIN. After a bit of soul-searching, Jenn says she realized that she felt very comfortable letting her son fly by himself from Seattle to Lost Angeles. His mom would pick him up in baggage claim. It wouldn’t be Jenn, herself. And it wouldn’t be a gestational carrier. It would be Mel. Jenn says it felt like the most natural thing in the world.
Jonathan and Mel, at the airport
“There are surrogacy stories that hit the press—more now than ever before,” says Sharon LaMothe. “But what happens between the surrogate and family, five, ten, or fifteen years down the road? These stories are just beginning to be told. There is no one-way to handle the situation. But the story of Jenn and Mel shows that it can be a good thing for all involved.”
What lies ahead for the team of Jenn and Mel? Neither mom is quite certain, but there’s one thing they know for sure: when you have faith, and let-go, no distance is too far and your own biology ceases to matter. “It’s all about love,” says Mel.” “Absolutely,” Jenn agrees.
Mel and Jenn
*JP Tammen is a freelance writer in the Seattle area
Tags: CA Surrogacy, Gestational Surrogate, JP Tammen, LaMothe Surrogacy Consulting, Seattle Intended Parents, Sharon LaMothe, Surrogacy, Surrogacy Pregnancy, Surrogate Mother
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What a wonderful feeling when all the stars and the planets align and your prayers are answered! Your surrogate is pregnant and everything looks like it should! As a matter of fact she will soon be released to her own OB! Now what?
This is a question that hundreds of Intended Parents ask themselves every year. The focus thus far has been on just getting through the red tape! Finding, meeting, matching with your surrogate, medical and psychological tests and contracts, and, finally, the egg retrieval and embryo transfer! There had been so much to discuss, plan and hope for and now all of that is in the past. The future looks bright! But wait! Now what do we talk about during the remaining months of this miraculous pregnancy? How do we maintain a positive connection?
This is a critical time for all Intended Parents and their Surrogates. A time when you can all relax into this journey and plan for the future and also cement your relationship. Usually phone calls become a weekly habit with extra updates after OB appointments and ultrasound scans. If your surrogate lives far enough away from you where you can’t attend most of these appointments you might try e-mailing several times a week as well. As your surrogate progresses with the pregnancy she may be uncomfortable and even moody. Take this all in stride and perhaps offer to send a gift card to her favorite restaurant or encourage her to go out to dinner or take a prenatal exercise class. Knowing that her IPs care about her feelings and well being goes a long way in the relationship department.
Women who are surrogates are always taking care of someone else. Her own children for instance as well as carrying yours. Acknowledging her dedication once in a while with a card or letter really is appreciated. Remembering birthdays and anniversaries with flowers or a plant is a nice gesture as well.
As the pregnancy arrives into the later months, take the time to visit her and tour the hospital where your baby will be born with her. Talk about the preparations you are making and if you need advice you can ask your surrogate! After all she has had experience with newborns!
Most of all a great relationship with anyone is based on mutual respect and honesty. You and your surrogate can maintain a wonderful friendship even after the birth of your baby. Just know that this is a special time for everyone involved and keep the lines of communication open!
You know, you can find out what your surrogacy agency charges their Intended Parents just by asking your case manager or looking on their website. It's no secret. Agency fees are anywhere between $15,000 and $23,000 and the services that are offered are varied. I can hear you now exclaiming OMG and You have gotta be kidding me! But I am telling you the truth...ask anyone. As Intended Parents you may find a lower price out there but you get what you pay for. One thing that I do want to make clear is that although the Intended Parents are paying these fees the surrogate shares equally in the benefits of having an agency without paying a dime.
Interviewing prospective Surrogates - Personal interviews and Phone conferences, Placing ads if needed, Arranging the home visit, Educating the surrogates on the process of IVF and all expectations of a surrogacy journey
Interviewing Intended Parent(s) -Personal interviews, Phone conferences, Educational materials
Matching Surrogates with Intended Parent(s)
Arranging background checks for all parties
Assistance arranging Psychological screenings for all parties
Assistance arranging for a Life Insurance Policy and disability for the Surrogate
Reviewing medical and maternity policies
Assistance arranging for Legal Representation for all parties
Assistance with Contract information for all parties
Assistance in locating a fertility specialist or fertility clinic for the surrogacy process
Assistance in locating an obstetrician
Assistance arranging mediation and counseling if needed
Case Management: hot line, guarantee of returning calls and e-mails within 24 hours or next business day, online/phone guidance and support, expert advice and personal meetings.
Attending transfers and births
Plus luncheons, retreats, gifts and other perks for the Surrogates and for the Intended Parents, assistance with travel arrangements, finding hotels, information on Visa's, Social Security numbers and other documentation for international situations etc.
Let’s not forget that, for the surrogacy agency, this can be a two year+ commitment to their Intended Parents and Surrogates. The surrogate may not become pregnant on the first embryo transfer, she may miscarry and the IPs might need to be rematched, the pregnancy alone is 40 weeks and then there is the support after the birth. Running an agency is a huge commitment!
What a surrogate does contribute to this sensitive process is her time and her body. She is dedicated and responsible and is expected to include her IPs in all of her medical decisions regarding the surrogacy journey. She reassures, she cares for herself and the baby she is carrying, she takes time out of her life to help another family and her agency stands behind her, guiding, supporting and educating where they can. She sets her family life aside, at times, to put this surrogacy first and all the while hopes that this life changing event will be appreciated.
I believe that agency owners are invaluable and that their services cannot be duplicated. I also believe that surrogates benefit from a support system that only an agency can offer.
Tags: Gestational Surrogacy, Intended Parents, Surrogacy Agency Fees, Surrogacy Agency Retainers, Surrogacy Agency Services, Surrogate Mothers, What is happening at the surrogacy agency
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Tags: paid surrogacy, Surrogacy Agencies, surrogacy benefits, Surrogacy costs, surrogacy expenses, surrogacy fees, Surrogate agency
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"I can't believe that just when I want to help someone else as a surrogate and give the ultimate gift I am rejected by 3 agencies because my BMI is too high! What is the deal here? I was 42 lbs overweight with my last 2 kids and everything was just fine! I think I'll go indy!!" Oh, you just don't know how many times I have read this, heard it, or have talked about these 'weighty' issues. If you think I am quoting Y.O.U. believe me, I am not. You just happen to fall into a very large category of rejected surrogate applicants.
Agencies, for the most part, are not run by doctors or nutritionists however, they do take their direction, when it comes to medical qualifications, from the Reproductive Endocrinologists (RE's). It won't matter if you "go independent" or through an agency, when it comes to weight, the scale at the RE's office will be the deciding factor. Many clinics are very strict and will not accept any surrogate over a 30 BMI. Some will make exceptions for 10 or 15 lbs over that but the majority will reject you at least until you are under their weight limit. So basically the agency is saving the Intended Parents time and money by not accepting you into their program. (It costs the agency or the IP money the minute you step foot into the Dr's office for a medical exam.)
A BMI below 18.5 is considered underweight.
A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered healthy.
A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight.
A BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.
It doesn't feel very good, does it, to be called obese. Because that is what it means when your BMI is over 30. So we all know that obesity is a huge problem in America and the "side effects" of being obese are numerous. The agency doesn't want to put your health in jeopardy, nor do they want the RE's office to think that they find women who are obese acceptable as surrogates. Women who want to become surrogates need to be as healthy as possible and taking care of your body is high on the list.
If you don't know this already one of the side effects of obesity is...guess...premature birth risk. "A new Journal of the American Medical Association study found that obesity increases a woman's chance of having a preterm baby, especially when her body mass index is 35 or higher. The study's authors speculate that having too much fat may inflame and weaken the uterine and cervical membranes. Whatever the reason, it can have devastating effects. Premature birth is the leading cause of infant death and long-term disabilities." Quoted from ABC News.
So, if you really want to be a surrogate then help yourself first and get into the best shape you can now. Don't judge how your own pregnancies went because a surrogacy journey has many more medical layers and a lot more money and people involved. Most of all, don't take this 'rejection' to heart. This IS something you can control, change and be better off once you do.
Check out the first of this series: What is Happening at the Surrogacy Agency-A Sneak Peek Behind the Scenes of the Matching Process
Tags: High BMI, Obese Surrogate, Obesity and pregnancy, Rejected for high BMI, Surrogacy agencies, Surrogacy and Obesity, What is Happening at the Surrogacy Agency
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