Why would you be using surrogacy?
Infertile couples generally move to surrogacy after being given a definitively negative diagnosis about their ability to conceive. While there are many, many factors that contribute to the decision of using a surrogate, some broad examples of diagnoses that lead to surrogacy are endometriosis, hysterectomy, and poor egg quality. A couple may also choose surrogacy if they are told they cannot safely carry a baby to term.
There are two types of surrogacy: Traditional Surrogacy (TS) and Gestational Surrogacy (GS).
With TS, the carrier's eggs are used and the child is biologically related to her. With GS, the Intended Mother's (IM) or a donor's egg is used and the child is either biologically related to the IM or to the donor. With both TS and GS, either the Intended Father's (IF) or donor sperm can be used.
What to Expect
1. Time. The surrogacy timeline is not usually very short. Expect at least 4 months to pass between the time you decide on surrogacy until you are waiting for the call from the Dr. with your pregnancy test results.
2. Finding a carrier. Whether you are using a TS or a GS, finding the best carrier for your family is the most important part of the process. In an ideal world, we'd all have a friend or family member willing to give us the special gift of carrying our child. But since that isn't possible for everyone, it's important to do your research and find a good agency or surrogacy service that will match you with the perfect partner. Sometimes partners match independently without the use of a service and many of these matches are made online. I have read some beautiful stories as a result of Internet matches, but of course, as with anything on the Internet, anyone seeking a match this way should proceed with caution.
3. Legal issues. The laws regarding surrogacy are different in each state. Finding a good surrogacy lawyer is imperative as is having a contract drawn up between the carrier and the intended parents. This process can take quite some time, so starting early is important.
4. Money. Surrogacy is not an inexpensive option. The major fees are legal, compensation for the surrogate, and medical fees. The range is wide—but no matter your situation, you shouldn't expect to pay any less than $10,000, and many people will pay up to $50,000 or even $100,000 depending on the situation.
5. Insurance. In most cases, the carrier's insurance will cover the pregnancy. Your lawyer should advise you to carefully read her policy to make sure there are no significant exclusions. If the carrier doesn't have insurance, you may be required to purchase insurance for her (or you may want to find a carrier that does have insurance).
Problems That May Arise and Ways to Troubleshoot
It would be impossible to consider ALL of the legal issues that might possibly arise as the result of a surrogate pregnancy. Therefore it is so important that you find legal representation from someone who has extensive experience with surrogacy. You'll be surprised at the number of things you have to work out before you can even start the meds or go to transfer! It's also important to make sure you and your carrier are on the same page concerning some major issues such as compensation, number of embryos to transfer, number of cycles to try, pre-natal testing, and difficult decisions such as selective reduction/abortion. Figure the tough stuff out before any money changes hands.
Don't do surrogacy until you're emotionally ready to do it. If you think you'll be too angry that someone else can carry and you can't, you might not be ready. On the other hand, it might be healing to you. You will know when/if you're ready.
Have the carrier's major testing done before paying a lawyer to draw up your contract. (You will likely have to pay a retainer fee, though, to get you started with some things). Be completely honest with your carrier from the very start. Keep as open a relationship as possible. And do the same with your partner!
It's easy to feel separated from the pregnancy since you aren't cycling or carrying. Keeping a blog or a journal during the process might help you feel more connected.
Some online resources: