Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Recent articles have come up in the media opposing surrogacy, so I thought this week we'd cover some interesting history on surrogacy and discuss why people care so much about controversial topics such as surrogacy, public nursing, homosexuality, and the differences in parenting. Take a deep breath and relax...why does or doesn't this bother you?

Here are a couple news clips from this week:



Accroding to Webster.com-
: the practice by which a woman (called a surrogate mother) becomes pregnant and gives birth to a baby in order to give it to someone who cannot have children
According to Wikipedia.com-
Surrogacy is an arrangement in which a woman carries and delivers a child for another couple or person. The surrogate may be the child's genetic mother (called traditional surrogacy), or she may be genetically unrelated to the child (called gestational surrogacy). In a traditional surrogacy, the child may be conceived via home natural or artificial insemination using fresh or frozen sperm or impregnated via IUI (intrauterine insemination), or ICI (intracervical insemination) performed at a health clinic. A gestational surrogacy requires the transfer of a previously created embryo, and for this reason the process always takes place in a clinical setting.
The intended parent or parents, sometimes called the social parents, may arrange a surrogate pregnancy because of female infertility, other medical issue which make pregnancy or delivery impossible, risky or otherwise undesirable, or because the intended parent or parents are male. The sperm or eggs may be provided by the 'commissioning' parents, but donor sperm, eggs and embryos may also be used. Although the idea of vanity surrogacy is a common trope in popular culture and anti-surrogacy arguments, there is little or no data showing that women choose surrogacy for reasons of aesthetics or convenience.
Monetary compensation may or may not be involved in surrogacy arrangements. If the surrogate receives compensation beyond the reimbursement of medical and other reasonable expenses, the arrangement is called commercial surrogacy; otherwise, it is often referred to as altruistic surrogacy. The legality and costs of surrogacy vary widely between jurisdictions, which results in high rates of international and interstate surrogacy activity.
Here is information on the history of surrogacy.  The good, the bad, and the ugly...
Both our IPs and our family work with an amazing agency, IARC, found at fertilityhelp.com.  Here is a list of requirements and the process to become a surrogate found on their website.
Following are some examples of what is required for all our surrogates:
  • Within the proper age range (21-39 for Gestational Surrogates, 21-33 for Traditional Surrogates)
  • Non-smoker
  • Healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy history
  • No significant history of depression or any mental health disorder
  • No criminal record

Getting Started

To get started, please complete our online initial screening form. Once you fill this out, it will be submitted directly to our Surrogate Recruiter, who will be in contact with you to set up an initial phone call. This initial call will be informational and will go over all aspects of what it means to be a surrogate with our agency. We will be able to answer any questions you have about our agency and the surrogacy process during this call.


Once you complete your initial phone call, you will be sent an application packet, which must be filled out and returned to us along with several documents we will need to complete your screening process. These documents include the following:
  • Birth Certificate
  • Driver's License
  • Social Security Card
  • Passport (if applicable)
  • Photos - (the photos you submit must include at least one headshot and one full length photo)
  • Obstetric records from your most recent pregnancy and delivery
  • A copy of your full insurance booklet
  • Front and back copy of your insurance card
  • A Clearance Letter from your physician stating that you are fit to carry another pregnancy
The two things that we will need in order to begin your screening process are your obstetric records from your most recent pregnancy and your completed application packet. If it takes slightly longer to return the other items, that is fine, but we will not be able to complete your screening process until we have all of the documents listed above.

Screening Process

Unlike most agencies, we prescreen all of our surrogates. We recognize the time, energy, and emotion that goes into the matching process, so we want you and the intended parents to feel confident that you are qualified to be a surrogate before a match is made. The following are the steps that will be completed during your screening process:
  • Obstetric record and health history review and approval - One of the physicians we work with will review and approve your obstetric records and health history.
  • Insurance review - We have a staff member who specializes in reviewing insurance policies to determine whether the surrogate pregnancy will be covered by your policy or not. If it does not cover a surrogate pregnancy or you do not have any insurance at all, we will work with the intended parents to purchase an alternative policy for you that will cover the pregnancy and delivery.
  • Criminal Background check - You will complete a release form with your application packet, and we will use that do to a quick criminal background check for you.
  • Psychological evaluation - You will be required to have an appointment with a psychologist who is experienced in the assisted reproductive technology field. This will include a face-to-face meeting as well as complete an MMPI-2 written personality test. The purpose of this appointment is to evaluate your fitness to act as a surrogate as well as provide you with information about what to expect throughout your journey. If you have a spouse or significant other, they will also be required to attend this appointment.

Matching Process

The surrogate matching process with IARC® is a two-way process where both you and the intended parents must mutually select each other. The first step in the matching process is circulating your profile to intended parents who might be a good fit for you. Your profile will include the following information:
  • General information regarding your physical characteristics
  • Educational and employment history
  • Diet and exercise habits
  • Pregnancy history
  • Personal medical history
  • Your responses to questions that relate to the surrogate pregnancy and program such as your thoughts on selective reduction, how much contact your want during the pregnancy, etc.
  • Photos
  • Dear Parents Letter
  • Insurance Summary
  • Your selected fee
When circulating your profile we will take into account your preferences for types of intended parents you are willing to work with, similarity of views relating to termination and selective reduction, etc. How long it takes to find a match will depend on the intended parents who are searching for a surrogate at the time you become qualified, but we constantly have intended parents from the U.S. and abroad who are signing up for our surrogacy program. We will let you know each time your profile is viewed by intended parents and provide you with their feedback. If they are interested in you based on your profile, we will then send you information regarding the intended parents and their situation. If you are also interested in them as a potential match, we will set up a telephone call between you and the intended parents that will be facilitated by our Matching Coordinator. Most surrogates and intended parents are able to determine whether it will be a suitable match based on the phone call, but face-to-face meetings are also an option if location permits. Once we establish a match, we will immediately proceed with your the contract phase.


IARC® will draft the contract between you and the Intended Parents. This contract is very detailed and extensive and discusses all aspects of your program so that everyone will have clear expectations moving forward. You will be required to complete an independent review of the contract with an attorney. Any attorney's fees associated with this review will be paid for by the intended parents. The Matching Coordinator will provide you with a list of attorneys in your state who are experienced at reviewing surrogacy contracts, and you will be able to select an attorney to work with based on this list. Once the finalized draft of contract is signed by all parties, we will proceed with the medical portions of your program.

Medical Testing

The first step once the surrogacy contract is signed will be infectious disease testing. Your IARC® Program Coordinator will assist you with getting an appointment scheduled to complete this testing in your local area. The testing will involve a blood draw and vaginal/cervical swabbing.

Fertility Treatment

When your medical testing requirements are completed, we will coordinate with you and the intended parents' clinic to prepare for the medical procedure. For Gestational Surrogates, this will mean preparing your uterine lining for the embryo transfer. This preparation will involve tracking your menstrual cycles so they are in line with the intended mother's or ovum donor's cycles as well as taking fertility medications, some of which may be daily injections. You will be required to travel to the intended parents' fertility clinic the day before the embryo transfer date and will return either one or two days after the embryo transfer occurs. You will be prescribed bedrest for at least 24 hours after the transfer occurs. All of your travel accommodations will be organized by your IARC® Program Coordinator.

For Traditional (AI) Surrogates, you will administer medications, usually via injections, that will improve the quality of eggs produced. You will likely have several appointments in your local area to monitor your hormone levels prior to when you travel to the intended parents' fertility clinic for the insemination. The Artificial Insemination procedure feels similar to a pap smear.
In both cases, you will be instructed to complete a blood pregnancy test at your local doctor approximately two weeks after the insemination/embryo transfer. If you are not pregnant, your Program Coordinator will talk with you and the intended parents to confirm whether all parties want to proceed with another attempt. If everyone agrees to try again, your Program Coordinator will work with the clinic to get another insemination/embryo transfer scheduled. If either of the parties does not want to proceed with another attempt, the Matching Coordinator will facilitate finding you a new match.

Pregnancy and Delivery!

All of your prenatal appointment will happen in your local area, so the only travel required will be for the actual insemination/embryo transfer. Even after a pregnancy is achieved, your IARC® Program Coordinator will stay in regular contact with you to make sure that everything is going smoothly with your program, that you are being reimbursed for program-related expenses, and that contact between you and intended parents is going well. You will likely communicate directly with the intended parents regarding your prenatal appointments and how the pregnancy is progressing. IARC® will assist in coordinating all legal requirements. We are here to make sure that as many administrative responsibilities as possible are taken off of your shoulders so you and the intended parents can enjoy the pregnancy and the relationship that will develop between you! If the intended parents are not local, they will typically plan on arriving a number of days prior to the due date. This will be an incredible experience for everyone, and we truly appreciate your willingness to give this amazing gift to another family; it is truly remarkable!


I didn't realize that surrogacy is such a controversial topic.  I guess I'm blown away by the extreme proposed bill they have in Kansas to criminalize surrogates and intended parents that were involved in commercial surrogacy.  I wonder what happened to this woman to go off the deep end on a beautiful process.  She stated that surrogacy lessons the dignity of women and children.  Speaking as a surrogate, I feel the opposite!  Has she been a surrogate?  Is she a child born via surrogacy?  Has she experienced infertility?  Why does she have the right to speak negatively for those of us who have been involved in the process and can only speak wonderfully of it?  Why does she care? 
A surrogate baby is one of the worlds most planned and wanted people on earth.  What does she think of unplanned and unwanted pregnancies?  People that waste their time and energy on a subject that has proven to be extraordinary baffle me.  These people should spend their time educating people who don't want their kids instead of fighting those who so desperately want them and can't carry their own.
Most of us have witnessed a new mother dog feeding her puppies and couldn't take our eyes off the amazing wonder of how natural and beautiful that process is.  The mother dog isn't told she should lick her puppies clean after each is born, or that she should lay on her side and allow her puppies to nurse from her, she just does it naturally.   
Now, imagine someone tells you to take your plate of food and go eat in a locked dirty bathroom under a sheet.  How do you feel with that demand?  Why do people in society feel like they need to tell nursing mothers that they should be confined to a locked dirty room to feed their child/ren?  Why do they really care?  Why does one waste emotional time and energy on a topic that doesn't really concern them?  If you choose to bottle feed, nurse publicly covered, or spend your life locked in your home to nurse your baby, that's your choice and no one should tell you that it's right or wrong.  What works for you might not work for everyone.  Choose what works for you and your family! 
I worked in an amazing office full of nursing mothers.  Each nursing mom would pump throughout the day to supply her child enough milk while she was away at work.  Lunchtime was part of the pumping schedule so she wouldn't be away from patients as much.  We all ate lunch around each other where boobs were out and hooked up to pumps while milk was being expressed into a bottle that was resting on the same table next to my food.  In the two years I worked with these incredible women I never ever heard one person say that it was wrong for them to pump in our staff lounge.  They could have a private room if they choose, but each of them choose to pump around the rest of the staff and NOT ONE PERSON WAS UNCOMFORTABLE!  Our spouses/significant others would occasionally come and visit but nothing changed when or where these women would pump.  It seems so normal, why would this bother someone? 
I've heard mothers of boys say that they don't want a woman to whip out her boob and have her son see it.  The truth is that boobs were created to feed children in a natural and healthy way for both mother and baby.  Society is telling us that boobs are created for sex appeal, though that may be another natural attraction for men and women, a woman has a natural reaction to feed her child after it's born.  We can walk into any store, mall, drive by most billboards, or open our internet browser and find boobs displayed sexually everywhere, look around you and you'll find boobs right now.  Do you feel uncomfortable when you pull up your internet browser?  Why do people feel uncomfortable when a woman is feeding her baby in public or at home where she chooses not to cover?  Again, why do you care?  Take a deep breath and choose not to care...it doesn't matter!   
I dream of an accepting world where everyone can be happily comfortable in their own skin.  Lets do some soul searching... 
What do you look like?  What color are your eyes, hair, and skin?  Did you grow up in a happy home where your parents loved each other or two loving home where your parents were separated?  Do you have a disability?  Did you choose any of these?  Why do people say that sexuality is a choice?  When did you choose to become attracted to the opposite sex?  We're born with traits that we don't choose.  Lets look at these traits as unique qualities that make us who we are and lets LOVE who we are!  Look back to your younger years and name the person who you knew was gay or a lesbian.  These people may have waited years to "come out" or haven't yet, but we can all pinpoint a childhood classmate that we knew was homosexual when were young and not surprisingly came out later in life.  Do you think that child would demonstrate homosexual tendencies by choice in a world that is so unaccepting?  Still think it's a choice?  Again, at what point did you choose to be straight?  We can't help who lights that fire inside us.  Maybe it'll take you to have a child that is gay to realize that you'll love them no matter who they are and what traits they were born with.  They're not any different than you or I.  Still, weather you think it's right or wrong, is it worth your blood pressure rising?  Why do you care?  Take a deep breath and choose (yes, this is a choice you have) not to care...it doesn't matter! 
I wish everyone could realize that each family has what does and doesn't work for them and we can accept that we're all doing the very best we can for our own family.  Some homes have two working parents, some have a stay at home parent, some families have a single working parent.  What works for one family might not work for others.  Some parents buy their kids everything they want while others choose not to or can't buy their kids everything.  I see so many differences in parenting and realize that what works for our family might not work for yours and what works for your family might not work for ours.  Are your kids in every sport that you can put them in?  Do you allow your kids to have unlimited access to electronics? Do you belong to a church or do you teach your kids your family ethics and beliefs at home?  Do you eat family dinner together every night?  Do you eat fast food?  Do you only feed your kids organic or local grown food?  Do you medicate your child or choose alternative methods?  I think if you ask any parent they would tell you that they are doing what is right for them and their family.  Who are we to judge and why do we care to express our opinions on others?  Lets accept the fact that we're all doing our best! 

Pregnancy Update
I'll be 32 weeks in just a couple days and my right rib and back are in so much pain!  I feel like at times I want to curl up in a ball and cry.  Today I can't seem to push him out of my ribs, so I took my sisters suggestion and got down on all fours to get some relief.  It seems like the only position that I can feel comfortable.  Sleeping has been terrible for the same reasons.  This baby must really be really comfortable in my right rib.  I'm ready for the little fellow to go home with his parents.  It's been a great ride but I'm ready to get off! 
When my IPs were here last they brought a book that they read into for us to play to the baby.  We've made it a point to play it daily or multiple times a day so the baby can be familiar with their voices.  I've attached a couple photos of what a typical night looks like in our house.   

Jack, our 8 year old, took this photo.  He's normally snuggling with us.
George, our 5 year old, pretending he's playing the book for his belly

1 comment:

  1. You have an amazing family, I am sure you are very blessed to constantly have all these smiles in your house. My husband and I have had 2 children so far and I feel that has been more than enough blessings for us. 2 boys can be a tough time but we have had a lot of fun, thank you.

    Cynthia @ Tomorrow's Parents International