Gestational Surrogacy Application Explained
You’ve done some soul searching, you’ve talked to your partner about becoming a surrogate. Maybe you’ve solicited advice from trusted friends or close family. You’re sure you want to begin this journey — or at least see if you’re a good candidate. You’re ready for the next step: beginning the gestational surrogacy application process!
Every Surrogacy Agency Application Is Different…But Similar
When you’re researching which surrogacy agency to work with, you’ll notice that each agency has their own gestational surrogacy application process. Some may be all online, nicely automated and organized. Others may involve more of a paper trail and require you to be on top of keeping the details straight. But every legitimate surrogacy agency will have an application process to be sure their applicants comply with requirements set out by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), as well as any local and federal laws.
Some parts of the application process may seem odd or irrelevant, but every question asked and each step along the way has a purpose. Let’s take a closer look.
A Typical Gestational Surrogacy Application Form
This is a very basic form that gets your contact details and immediately helps you (and your surrogacy agency) determine if you meet the most basic requirements for becoming a gestational carrier. Expect questions about where you live, how old you are, how much you weigh, and what your previous pregnancies were like. Every one of these qualifiers are designed to reduce the risk to you and your family, the baby, and the intended parents.
Here’s why these requirements matter:
Do you live in the United States?
You must live in the United States and be a U.S. citizen to be a surrogate for a U.S.-based surrogacy agency. Surrogacy laws vary by state, and in some states surrogacy is not recognized. The laws are predicated on where the surrogate lives and where the baby is born. It’s important that you live in a state that is favorable towards surrogacy.
Are you between the ages of 21 – 45?
This is a guideline set forth by the ASRM. It is for your health and safety and the baby’s health. (Pregnancies in women older than 35 are considered high risk and are more closely monitored, regardless of how the pregnancy was achieved.)
What is your height and weight?
Your BMI (body mass index) must be between 19 and 32. Anything outside of that range on either end can put you or the pregnancy at greater risk.
You don’t have to be a fitness model or be at your pre-baby weight to be a surrogate. However, your weight must fall within a healthy range for your height. A BMI over 32 is considered medically obese. Obesity increases the risk of hypertension, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and more during pregnancy. A BMI under 19 is considered medically underweight and puts the pregnancy at risk for pre-term labor, and puts the baby at risk for being underweight and undernourished.
What medications are you on?
When involving a third party in the pregnancy (that is you, the gestational carrier) fertility doctors want the best environment possible. Some medications can interfere with pregnancy, including most antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications, which is why you must disclose all medications and supplements you are taking. You may need to stop using certain medications for six months before beginning any embryo transfer process.
Even common, everyday things like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, melatonin, Vagisil, and creatine should be disclosed. Over-the-counter (OTC) medications and supplements could impact things like blood flow to your uterus, or affect your hormones in a way that could interfere with the process of becoming pregnant.
The FDA classifies OTC and prescription drugs’ safety during pregnancy on five levels, ranging from “Class A” (no evidence of risk) to “Class X” (risk to the fetus outweighs any benefit to the mother). Because Class C drugs could cause harm to the fetus, they are contraindicated for gestational surrogates.
Most antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications are considered Class C. Gestational surrogates who are taking these medications could still qualify if they are able to get off of the medication for 6 months and still be able to handle the daily stresses of life.
What if you can’t be off these medications? Your mental health is incredibly important and if you decide to stop your medication it must be under the supervision of your mental health provider, or medical doctor. While becoming a surrogate is rewarding, there are many other ways in which you can help families aside from being a surrogate.
Does anyone in your home smoke?
Smoking cigarettes or marijuana during pregnancy is harmful to a developing fetus. Second-hand smoke is also harmful. That’s why it’s imperative that no one in your house smokes, or if they do, that it is always outside and never around you.
Are you up to date on all your CDC-recommended vaccinations and boosters?
The American Academy of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends pregnant women are up to date on all vaccinations and boosters before becoming pregnant. Some vaccinations should not be given during pregnancy, or should be given during specific weeks of a pregnancy.
Included in these vaccinations and boosters is the COVID-19 vaccine.
Have you given birth to at least one child?
Because the goal is to reduce the risk to you, the baby, and the intended parents, it’s a critical part of the gestational surrogacy application to know that you have successfully carried a baby to term. Be assured that having a miscarriage does not automatically disqualify you. (About 10-20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage for varied reasons, according to the MayoClinic. If you have had multiple miscarriages, however, you may not be a good candidate for gestational surrogacy.
Are you raising that child now?
Raising a child yourself shows that you have the social support you’ll need around you during the pregnancy. It also helps to set the intended parents at ease: they are assured you have your own child(ren) and will not try to keep theirs (even though legally that is impossible.)
How many times have you been pregnant?
You must have had no more than five total pregnancies to qualify as a surrogate. This is for your own health and safety, as every subsequent pregnancy can increase risks to your body and health.
What was your previous pregnancy like?
A healthy history of a successful pregnancy shows that your body responds well to being pregnant. If you show a history of hypertension (high blood pressure), gestational diabetes, or preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy, then you are more likely to experience those things in your next pregnancy. Remember, your health and safety is just as important as the health, safety, and successful delivery of the baby.
Did you have a C-section?
You must have had no more than three C-sections. A C-section carries different risks than a vaginal delivery, and those risks are compounded with each subsequent C-section.
Is your family complete?
A real — although rare — risk in any pregnancy is that you could lose your uterus. Be sure your family is complete before helping someone start their own family.
Insurance & Income
Do you have health insurance?
It’s important that you have medical insurance. Not having it puts you and your family at an unnecessary financial risk. Your insurance may or may not cover a surrogate pregnancy, which is determined through a professional review. Your intended parents are responsible for the medical costs associated with your surrogate pregnancy.
Are you on public or state assistance, such as food stamps (EBT) or Medicaid?
If you’re receiving state assistance, it indicates that your financial situation is not ideal for surrogacy. While being a gestational surrogate does include monetary compensation (read more about how much surrogates make), it should not be seen as a primary source of income. Secondly, if your aid is income-based, it could impact that aid if you receive income from surrogacy.
Applying to Other Surrogacy Agencies
Have you applied to other agencies?
Interview multiple agencies before applying to any of them. This journey is a big deal – make sure you’ve done your due diligence! Here are 5 questions to ask a surrogacy agency.
Every agency has its own protocols, personalities, and compensation packages. Find one that will take care of you from the start. You should always be treated with kindness, in a professional and well-informed manner.
It is a professional courtesy to let each agency know that you are applying to more than one.
Have you been accepted by another agency?
If your application has been accepted by another agency, do not apply to any more unless you rescind your accepted application. Once you apply, many wheels are set in motion. The surrogacy agency begins working hard to verify your candidacy and create a match for you. It would be unfair and hurtful to all parties involved if you were matched with more than one set of hopeful intended parents.
If you have any questions about the gestational surrogacy application, feel free to reach out. If you are ready to become a surrogate, please fill out our application today!