So, you’re interested in pursuing your first surrogacy journey, or you’re an experienced surrogate but need a quick reminder of the exact surrogacy process. What should you expect in the following months after applying to become a gestational surrogate with GSHC Surrogacy Agency? Here is the process, laid out in easy-to-understand steps.
1. The Initial Surrogate Application
The first step is to apply to become a surrogate on the GSHC Surrogacy website by filling out the form the form. One of our intake managers will reach out promptly to begin the surrogate intake process with you.
2. Surrogate Intake Phone Call
Your intake manager will schedule an intake call with you, the first phone call for you to get to know GSHC as an surrogacy agency, as well as gather all the necessary information about surrogate compensation, the process, and what your journey would look like moving forward with GSHC. You can usually expect this call to last about 20 to 30 minutes, we will discuss our practices as an agency, go over the compensation, talk about the process in detail, and of course address any of your questions and concerns. The intake call is a good opportunity for you to get to know your intake manager.
3. Completing the Surrogate Application and Initial Forms
After this phone call, our intake managers will send you three emails. One will be our “Welcome Paragraph” welcoming you to our ever-growing family of incredible women. In this paragraph, there will be a link that will direct you to our website where you can register and fill out the full application.
The full surrogate application is a questionnaire that includes information about your pregnancy(ies), delivery(ies), lifestyle, employment, health insurance, etc. All this information is necessary so we can make the best match with potential intended parents for you. It is important that you be as accurate as possible when recounting information about your previous pregnancy(ies) and delivery(ies). Later in the process we will request and share your full pregnancy and delivery medical records with the medical professionals at the IVF clinic where the embryo transfer will take place.
The other two emails will contain a link which will take you to the website hellosign.com, where you can digitally sign forms. These initial forms are: a medical and HIPPAA release, so we can request your medical records from your pregnancy(ies) and birth(s), and the basic surrogacy agreements.
The basic surrogacy agreements consist of;
- A surrogacy agreement which basically states that all the information you provided to us thus far is true to the best of your knowledge, and that you do consent to move forward with the surrogacy process.
- An intake agreement which states that for the next three months you will not sign up with another surrogacy This is so we can ensure that you are dedicated to the process and will not match with intended parents through another agency while we are working together. If at any point during these three months you do decide not to move forward, that is okay, we just ask that you communicate this to us. We understand that unforeseen life circumstances do happen.
- A social media agreement in which you are stating how much you are, or are not, comfortable with us sharing updates from your journey on our social media pages.
4. Medical Records Request Phase
After your intake manager has all the necessary forms signed and filled out by you, she will begin the process of requesting your birth and delivery medical record information from the OB clinic you attended during your pregnancy(ies), as well as from the hospital where you delivered your baby. We will not be requesting any of your child’s newborn information. We will then review your medical records to ensure that our fertility clinics will be able to approve you to become a gestational surrogate carrier. We will check for things like gestational hypertension, drug usage, preterm labor, and other serious complications which may prevent you from becoming a surrogate for your own safety and wellbeing.
5. The Surrogate Match Phase
At this point, your medical records have been reviewed and approved internally by our intake team. Next, we will send you a few emails listing all the necessary forms and items required to complete your surrogate profile.
We will need:
- Nice looking photos of you and your family for your surrogate profile.
- Picture or copy of your driver’s license, social security, or passport.
- Copy or picture of your insurance card (if applicable).
- Two recent paystubs from yourself and your partner (if applicable).
- An “About Me” paragraph introducing yourself. We will send an outline for you to follow, but please do write it in your own words, as we want the intended parents to get a feel for your personality!
- Partner’s email to send a background check authorization, if applicable.
- Ready to match forms signed, sent in a separate email.
The ready to match forms are: an FCRA authorization and disclosure, so we can process your background check, a surrogate declaration which states once again that all the information you provided up to this point is true to the best of your knowledge, and your compensation package which details the full compensation you are entitled to earn as a gestational surrogate during a journey with intended parents.
Once we have all these forms and items back, your surrogate profile will be ready, and we will start presenting you to our intended parent. We present surrogate profiles to intended parents one at a time so that they can review all information without comparing surrogates against one another. Once intended parents are interested in working with you, we will share their information with you so that you decide if you are interested in pursuing a match with them. Information provided by intended parents can include photos, a letter introducing themselves, and/or their full application as well. We will also provide you with any information that may not be included on these forms. To give a few examples, the amount of embryos they have ready, which gender embryo they will want to transfer, where their fertility clinic is located, etc.
You will then review their profile and make sure all the basic information matches what you’re looking for in a match. If everyone agrees to move forward then we will schedule a “match meeting,” which is a video call with you, the intended parents, and one of us from GSHC to help guide the call, as there are often “first-date jitters” so to say. You will have the opportunity to ask the intended parents any questions you may have and get a feel for their personality and what kind of relationship they would want to develop during the journey. After this call, you have around 48 hours where you can ask your intake manager any further questions you have for the intended parents and let her know if you would like to match with them or find another family to match with.
6. Psychological Screening Phone Call
After your match is confirmed, a psychologist will reach out to you to schedule your psychological screening phone call. In this phone call, a Mental Health Professional (MHP) will ask you questions about yourself, your background, and how you feel about surrogacy overall. They will then write a report for the fertility clinic stating that you are safe to move forward with surrogacy. Every fertility clinic is different, and some may require your partner to have their phone call as well, to ensure they are supportive and on board.
7. Surrogate Medical Screening
There are two times in your entire journey that you will travel to the fertility clinic (with costs covered for you and a support person), and the surrogate medical screening appointment is the first of them.
At this appointment, you will have a meet-and-greet with the medical staff who will be involved with your IVF process. A blood test will be conducted to check for hormone levels, vitamin levels, immunities, drugs, alcohol, etc. Your partner will also have a blood test to check for drugs, alcohol, and communicable diseases. You will also have an ultrasound conducted where the reproductive endocrinologist will be checking your uterus polyps, cysts, lining thickness, and anything else that they need to be made aware of before an embryo transfer can take place. Every clinic is different, and there may be other tests conducted like an endometrial biopsy, saline ultrasound, etc.
8. The Legal Process for Surrogates
Once you have official medical clearance from the clinic, you will then be entering the legal phase of your surrogacy journey. You will have a professional attorney who specializes in fertility law representing you, and the intended parents will have their own attorney who represents them. Your legal expenses will be covered by the intended parents. The intended parents’ attorney will send a draft of the surrogacy contract to your attorney, who will first review it to make sure everything looks okay, then, they will get on a phone consultation with you where you both will review the contract paragraph by paragraph. Your attorney will make sure that you understand and are comfortable with all of the information included and will inquire if you wish to propose any changes. It is very important that you are comfortable with everything written in your contract, because once signed it does become legally binding.
When the clinic receives your legal clearance letter, they will send you an IVF calendar. This calendar outlines exactly when you will start which medications, and when your projected appointments are – including monitoring appointments and the embryo transfer.
All appointments, except the embryo transfer, will be done in a fertility clinic or imaging/blood draw center in your hometown and results are sent to the IVF clinic.
The medications used in surrogacy are primarily the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Since your egg is not being used, your ovulation is being suppressed. These medications are signaling your body to make your uterine lining thicker and getting your body ready to accept a pregnancy. The medications can come in oral, suppository, or patch form as well as injectable medications. Every clinic has a variation of the medication protocols, and many include antibiotics to prevent infections.
If your hormone levels and uterine lining rise appropriately at your monitoring appointments, you will then go on to your embryo transfer appointment. This will be the second time that you travel to the fertility clinic.
The embryo transfer is a very easy procedure, no anesthesia is required. You will lay down on the bed, the doctor will have an ultrasound on your abdomen to monitor your uterus location, and they will insert a soft catheter through your cervix and into your uterus. This is often painless, comparable to a pap smear. The catheter will contain a liquid which holds the embryo. The liquid will then be pushed all the way back into your uterus. Then, you will lay on the bed for approximately 20 minutes. After, you will either continue to have 24 hours of bed rest or you will resume normal activity, depending on the fertility clinic’s protocol.
10. Surrogate Pregnancy
The part you are most familiar with is here! About 8 days after your embryo transfer, you will have the first blood pregnancy test. Then, you will have your first ultrasound around 5-7 weeks pregnant. After this, around 10-12 weeks pregnant is when you will stop the medications entirely and move on from your monitoring clinic to the OB of your (insurance-approved) choosing! After this point, everything slows down, and you get to really enjoy the milestones of pregnancy and sharing the experience with your case manager, and growing a relationship with your intended parents.
We are so excited to have the opportunity to be a part of the surrogacy journey with you, and we thank you for wanting to give such a beautiful gift to a family who couldn’t have a baby otherwise!