Friday, July 24, 2015

Parenting Pointers: What to Consider Before Becoming a Surrogate

Women who make the decision to become a gestational surrogate, typically enjoy pregnancy and genuinely want to help another couple or individual to create or add to their existing family. They also receive compensation for their time and efforts.

Staci Swiderski, Co-Founder of Family Source Consultants, has helped to screen countless surrogates over the years and has even used a surrogate to complete her own family. If you’re considering becoming a surrogate, Staci says that these are some of the most important facts to know before you make a decision:

1) Understand the difference between a traditional and gestational surrogate. One of the most common misconceptions that I often hear about being a surrogate is that she will be genetically-related to the child. Traditional surrogates utilize their own genetics (i.e. their own eggs), while gestational surrogacy - which is the only type of surrogacy we provide at Family Source Consultants - sees the embryo created with either the intended mother's genetics or an egg donor; or in some circumstances, a donated embryo could be utilized.

2) Understand the surrogacy laws where the surrogate resides. The current legal landscape for surrogacy across the USA is inconsistent, with surrogacy laws differing between states. It's important that the surrogate delivers in a state where the intended parents' and surrogate's legal rights are protected. Some of the best states for this legal protection include Illinois, Florida, California, Nevada, Arkansas and Connecticut. Some of the less surrogacy-friendly states include New York, Michigan, Washington and Nebraska. The recent same-sex marriage Supreme Court ruling is helping to improve parents’ legal rights to a child born through surrogacy in these less-friendly states (see recent Forbes article featuring Family Source Consultants), but there’s still a long way to go until we see a nationwide law. I can't stress enough the importance of working with an attorney who specializes in reproductive law (a good surrogacy agency will be able to recommend attorneys to clients) and having a legal direct agreement in place prior to the surrogate beginning inject-able medications.

3) Surrogates need to have at least one child of their own to be accepted. This is one of our requirements of surrogates at Family Source Consultants. When I first told my friends and family I was planning to complete my family by having a child through surrogacy, a few of them were fearful that the surrogate might want to keep the child. This couldn't be further from the truth. The reality is that surrogates already have their own children. They sign up to the process to help make baby dreams come true for other people. All surrogates should be comfortable with the fact that if any complications arise, they are content with their family should they not be able to have additional children of their own in the future.

4) Surrogates need to be comfortable with the medication protocol. For example, all of the surrogate's previous pregnancy and delivery records will need to be obtained prior to the matching process and the surrogate may need to have inject-able medications at the beginning of the pregnancy. Most fertility medication will be discontinued around the tenth week or so of pregnancy.

5) Understand that the surrogacy journey is a group effort. The decision to become a surrogate affects not only the surrogate, but the surrogate's family too, and they should be part of and support the journey. Surrogates can expect the intended parents to often be actively involved in the process - they're usually typically excited to be included in the pregnancy and delivery. I have an abundance of love and appreciate for my surrogate family. I feel extremely blessed that they gave me the most special gift in the world - my son. It's also useful to know that the matching process between surrogates and intended parents is a mutual decision. Surrogates share their expectations of their intended parents and vice versa before both parties are matched.

About Family Source Consultants
Family Source Consultants is one of North America's leading surrogacy agencies, with offices in Illinois (Hinsdale and River North in Chicago) and Florida (Cape Coral). When matching and facilitating gestational surrogacy and egg donation arrangements, Family Source Consultants work with traditional, gay or lesbian couples and individuals of all races, religious and ethnic backgrounds.

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