There are many women out there (you may be one of them) who have considered helping a couple or individual who can’t otherwise conceive a child build their family by serving as their surrogate. It takes a particular type of strong and resolute woman to follow through with providing such an amazing gift to another family, but we do find that there are scores of women who have had this thought cross their mind and have wondered “is this the right thing for me to do?” The short answer? If you meet all of the qualifications, then yes – it certainly is.
One of the most frequent questions encountered in the surrogacy agency domain is “do I qualify to be a surrogate?” Of course, this is the most important question from the onset – because if there is even one red flag that prevents a woman from becoming what we refer to as a “Gestational Carrier” (a surrogate who carries an embryo that is not created from her own genetic material, so she is not genetically related to the offspring), she can be disqualified before she even applies. We like to try and avoid this, which is why we apply a set of criteria and guidelines established by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), as well as some of our own standards that we believe would apply in confirming that a woman can be an ideal Gestational Carrier. So, what are they?
If you happen to be a healthy woman between the ages of 21-45 who is considering becoming a Gestational Carrier (just for purposes of brevity, we will call them “GCs”), you may begin doing some research to see if you qualify. You have just crossed the first guideline off of your list (appropriate age) – congratulations! Many of the GCs who apply state that they absolutely love being pregnant, so that definitely helps. In all likelihood, you probably enjoyed the pregnancy experience immensely. This will no doubt give your potential Intended Parents (and your own family) a sense of comfort.
Next, you must have given birth to at least one child and have agreed that your family is complete and you do not wish to bear any more of your own children. Ideally, the births of your child(ren) went off without a hitch and you delivered at term and without any complications. You must have a healthy BMI and be generally healthy overall, so no medications that can interfere with pregnancy, no grave underlying medical conditions that would make a pregnancy risky, no smoking or alcohol abuse, etc. (we know these are obvious, but nonetheless they bear repeating). It doesn’t matter if you are married, divorced, single, etc. – but you must have a stable home environment and have at least one person who you can lean on as a support person throughout the process, whether it be a spouse, parent, sibling, friend, or coworker.
Other considerations to bear in mind are that you may not have had more than 5 previous deliveries or more than 3 c-sections.
So, if you’ve gotten this far and have met all of these qualifications, you would make a fabulous GC. Great! However, there are a few other things to consider before you apply. The other ingredients to add to the mix would be your altruism (like feeling a “calling” to do this or REALLY wanting to help a family), your mental preparedness (Am I ready for this? Do I have my family’s support? Would it take a toll on them in any way?) and your understanding that this journey can be a long process (on average 15 months to 2 years), so you must be committed. But if you have gotten this far, you probably are. Now you just have to fill out the paperwork, which can take some time – but we are here to help guide you through this process.
Once a GC enters the program, she will have to agree to receive a psychosocial evaluation along with her spouse (if she has one) to confirm that she is ready (both physically and mentally) for the journey. This is not as daunting a process as it sounds – and many GCs actually enjoy the process. It is quite rare that a GC “fails” to be recommended by a mental health professional for continuing the process (though it *can* happen), especially if she has already gone through a lot of these questions in her own mind, and has met all other qualifications. So, no need to worry! This will also help the agency with the matching process in order to help deliver the best possible match with Intended Parents.
If you’ve gotten this far and you happen to BE that woman between 21-45 who has thought “why not me?” – then it may be time for you to take that next step. Gestational Surrogacy in the midwest is common (most of our GCs are from Wisconsin and Minnesota) and the laws here are generally quite favorable. Signing on with an agency will ensure that you will be supported every step of the way – logistically, emotionally, legally, and financially (yes, you DO receive compensation!). Bonus: We work with Intended Parents from all over the world, so you may get to travel a bit.
In conclusion: Thank you for considering becoming a surrogate in Wisconsin, Minnesota, or any state that does not prohibit it. Any agency – and certainly many IPs – would be lucky to have you!