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September 14, 2014

Signing the Contract: Things to Think About Before Becoming a Surrogate

There are many things to worry about when becoming a surrogate and/or an intended parent. The possibility of the relationship souring should not be one of them. It should filled with compassion and teamwork. However, as hard as you try, it is likely that both parties will not agree on everything. That is why a surrogacy contract is so important. A lawyer should be present at all times when handling legal agreements, but here are some of common topics you’ll want to consider before sitting down at the negotiation table:

1. Surrogate Compensation – Of course your surrogate will receive the standard base fee for the pregnancy, but there is also additional expenses to discuss: Invasive procedures, C-sections, maternity clothing, and many more. Your attorney will negotiate a fee for each expense, one that is reasonable and usually always with a capped limit. Before finalizing the contract, you’ll want to discuss when payments are going to be made, who will handle the coordination of the finances, and if fees are to be held securely in an escrow account.

2. Lost Wages For Pregnancy – Intended parents will typically pay for the surrogate’s lost wages if she misses work or has to take a maternal leave of absence. In becoming a surrogate, she must make these financial sacrifices to fulfill the arrangement—which also applies to bed rest.

3. Celibacy – This is to ensure that the surrogate does not become pregnant with her own child, which takes place upon one month before and after each transfer. It is fine to alter this clause to two weeks, especially if she has had a tubal ligation or her partner has had a vasectomy, as long as she has the proper medical documentation.

4. Medical Decisions – This is very important because it adds some stability in the uncertainty of becoming a surrogate. This section will cover the number of embryos transferred, the number of fetuses to be carried, selective reduction, her stance on abortion, and whether or not amniocentesis is to be performed.

5. Post-Birth Relationship – After the child is handed over to you, what kind of a relationship, if any at all, do you want with the surrogate? Is the child going to have future contact with the surrogate, or is any information going to be shared between the child and surrogate? These kinds of questions are very important, and you need to establish concrete answers well before the baby is born.

6. Breast Pumping – If you want the surrogate to pump breast milk, you need to first establish whether she is willing to do so, and for how long. Keep in mind that it is standard practice for the intended parents to financially compensate the surrogate for additional time and effort pumping milk, so compensation will have to be established. These are all questions that need to be answered during the contact stage of the surrogacy program.

7. Privacy – This deals with whether or not to disclose your surrogacy arrangement with the public or news and whether or not to reveal the identifying information of the surrogate or egg donors. Medical information will be exchanged, so the contract should always state that the HIPAA privacy rules are to be honored.

All of this can seem overwhelming, but Surrogate Parenting Services is there with our team of professionals, ready to guide you on every step of your amazing journey to parenthood.

September 7, 2014

Family Ties: How Becoming a Surrogate Impacts Relationships

Becoming a surrogate is a huge decision, so gaining the hearts of your family could be the key to a smooth and successful surrogacy. Even though they might at first seem to be on-board with your gestational surrogacy, take into account how each could possibly be feeling, though they may not outwardly express it, as well as the delicate nuances surrounding the situation.

Here are some tips for helping them adjust and understand the epic journey they may soon be undertaking with you:

Talk to Them About It

Before even filling out the application form, gauge how your family is going to handle you becoming a surrogate by calling a family meeting. Speak frankly and open-mindedly with your spouse and partner and children about the adventure at hand, making certain they understand your enthusiasm, as well as your reasoning behind the decision. In a similar way, your family should not only understand your desire, but share it. If your prospective surrogacy is met with adversity, solicit their feelings and honestly listen to their point of view.

Think about how this is going to affect your husband or partner in the long run, from medical check-ups, traveling to meet intended parents and other obligations, as well as the physical and mental support needed, right down to the restrictions on intimacy. After all, this is not just work for you, but for themtoo. Keep in mind that your family’s interest may not only be on their own inconvenience, but your health as well. No matter how well-managed and healthy a pregnancy seems, the risks do exist and involve everyone.

If you feel that it may be important to include others outside of your immediate family, like your parent(s), include them as well; but only you know the intricate dynamics of your family and how they might react. If you move forward without total consent, you may consider surrogacy a mistake, only to discover that your father or mother is strongly against it—which ultimately impacts the likelihood of whether your pregnancy will be a positive one.

Stifle Your Partner’s Insecurities with Reassurance and Facts

One of the problems a surrogate may face is the insecurities of her husband or partner, of “another man’s baby” being inside of her. The best way to combat these feelings is by reminding him that it is only a gestational surrogacy. Run through a detailed description of the process—that there is absolutely no genetic tie between you and the child, and the relationship between you and the sperm donor is merely professional and clinical.

You should explain your intended purpose, that ultimately this is a gift to help a couple in need, as well as for the financial benefit of your own family. Tell him that you want others to experience the joy that having children has brought you and to him.

Your Children Deserve a Say

Obviously, the way to talk to younger children about becoming a surrogate differs greatly from how to approach older ones. One thing that does not change, however, is the fact that, no matter what age, they deserve to know what’s going on. In the long run, they will find out anyway and will be affected by it, so don’t leave them out of the conversation. This may be more of a downhill battle, as opposed to your husband or partner, because children are generally far more accepting. Children also have much to gain in terms of learning from your pregnancy.

If you have very young children who need special sensibilities in the matter, you could try and explain that mommies carry babies in their womb. You might go on saying that some mommies’ wombs don’t work right and your helping carry another’s baby until it is born. One thing that should be absolutely clear, however, is that the baby you’re carrying is not their “new brother or sister,” and will not be coming home with you to live. Surprisingly, most surrogates report that their children are completely comfortable with the notion that their mother carrying “another family’s baby.”

Another issue to take into consideration is telling them that you do not love the baby you are carrying more than them. Reassurance of this early on can prevent any confusion or misplaced hurt the pregnancy may cause. That does not mean that you should not share your enthusiasm with them, and indeed your entire family, of the gift you are giving together.

August 30, 2014

Becoming a Surrogate Mother: From Application to Delivery

Surrogates come from across the globe, from all walks of life, but one thing ties them together: to help deserving families grow by becoming a surrogate mother. Like any other surrogacy agency, Surrogate Parenting Services (SPS) set their standards high to ensure that every surrogate selected is of optimal health, both physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Here we take a look at what the screening process looks like:

1. Becoming a surrogate mother is an extensive process, which must start by completing an online application filled with questions that gauge whether or not an applicant is fit for SPS. These questions are thorough, and can be as basic as inquiring about age and whether the applicant is a nonsmoker, to proof of previous healthy birth(s), and if there is a history of illegal drug and alcohol use.

2. Once the applicant has been cleared from her initial application and medical proofs, she will then need to be assessed by a licensed social worker and have a home interview. Both the potential surrogate and her primary support will undergo a series of criminal background checks and bankruptcy/judgment history checks. Psychological screenings and tests will also be administered by a trained psychologist.

3. For the final segment of the approval process, becoming a surrogate requires an in-person medical screening that will be arranged to take place in an IVF clinic. In some cases, depending on the doctor chosen, the potential surrogate’s partner may also require medical clearance.

If all the necessary steps have been cleared, then the surrogate will be accepted into the SPS program. She will be assigned a surrogate ID and the information contained in her application (minus her name and contact information) will be placed in a password protected database. Intended parents will then be able to access our Surrogate Database and search through our surrogate profiles to make their final selection. Due to the great pains we take during the personal matching process, the amount of time it takes to match a surrogate to an intended parent couple can vary greatly, but if for whatever reason SPS cannot match a surrogate with an intended parent couple, we will refer them to another reputable surrogacy program.

Please take into account that many women in a typical month apply to become surrogates, and only a percentage are actually accepted into the pool and matched with intended parents of similar expectations. Becoming a surrogate mother is an extensive and through process, and applicants who do pass the initial application process are not guaranteed to pass later screenings, like the matching stage, because of medical, legal, or financial reasons. We know no one is perfect, but our professionals at SPS try to focus on the “big picture” when it comes to reviewing surrogates to present to our clients.

August 22, 2014

Considering Surrogacy in California? Determine Whether It’s Right for You.

By all accounts, gestational surrogacy in California is a huge decision with far reaching consequences, both positive and negative. Beyond the standard requirements of age, health, and experience in childbirth, among other things, what personal questions should you be asking yourself before taking the plunge into surrogacy?

For starters, do you actually enjoy being pregnant?

Nearly all surrogacy agencies require proof from surrogates that they have had at least one delivery with no complications involved. Too bad there’s no way to prove whether surrogates actually enjoy it. An ideal candidate for surrogate motherhood should love the process of pregnancy: those 40 miraculous weeks, complete with rosy auras, a larger cup size, a nine month period vacation, and, not least among them, that you’re never lonely. Along with that, a surrogate should also be ready and willing to face the worst of pregnancy: the aesthetic and functional impact on your body, random predictions and strange comments made by strangers, and buying antacids in bulk—just to name a very few.

Will a pregnancy fit well in with your current lifestyle?

Forget that drinking alcohol is off limits when you’re pregnant. How about saying goodbye to your coffee addiction, love of sushi, and extravagant shopping habits. The minute you become pregnant, your priorities have to be reordered to best suit the tiny person living inside you. Does attending numerous medical screenings and doctors’ appointments sound like a nice way to spend the day? The truth is that surrogate motherhood fits well with most of us, but for some, the hustle and bustle of daily life and personal responsibilities are so big there’s just no room for a baby bump.

Are you okay with some very invasive probing, both personal and physical?

While we at Surrogate Parenting Services have no desire to pry and make you feel uncomfortable, it is absolutely crucial that all details of your lifestyle and medical history are disclosed. This includes everything from your past use of illegal substances to any criminal history, past abortions and miscarriages, your psychological stability, financial situation, religious affiliations, and to whether or not you have had or currently have a sexually transmitted disease.

Once all of those aspects are cleared, then be prepared to be subjected to a barrage of medical exams, including: high resolution ultrasounds, fetal monitoring, amniocentesis, etc.—all of which may be shared with the intended parents, who will sometimes be present during the procedures. Again, this is all in the service of a healthy outcome for the surrogate mother, the baby, and the intended parent.

Do you have the support needed to fulfill this responsibility?

Day-to-day emotional, as well as practical, support is essential. The perfect candidate for SPS’s surrogacy in California program has their family and friends backing their decision enthusiastically and positively, as you are in helping another family fulfill their dreams of parenthood. On a more practical note, a form of reliable transportation is a necessity to get to and from screenings, in-vitro fertilization, routine medical testing and meetings with intended parents and the agency.

Support also encompasses your financial situation. No one wants to be stressed out by money, especially during pregnancy. The emotional health, and by extension physical health, of the mother and child is at stake. That is why ask our candidates for surrogacy in California to be financially stable, and not to be on any form of government assistance or food stamp program. The fee you receive should never be the main or only reason for desiring to become a surrogate.

August 15, 2014

California Surrogacy: Keys to Forming a Successful Relationship with Your Surrogate

Surrogate Parenting Service (SPS) encourages intended parents going through California surrogacy to have a positive relationship with their surrogate because they believe it is essential to success and to the overall health of the child. The kind relationship you wish to establish is totally dependent on the intended parent’s expectations, so SPS will work diligently to make sure your preferences are met by finding an ideal surrogate. Surrogates are screened and evaluated with directives to be honest about their expectation for the relationship, as well. Any inconsistencies and secrecy are detrimental to building a safe, open relationship for the best possible environment.

So, right from the beginning, it is important to be assured and truthful about what you want. Options can vary from a more personal, close working relationship with open communication – regular updates via email, texts, phone calls or weekly Skype messages – to a relationship that’s more “business like.” If you are for the latter, SPS will be doing most of the communicating between you and your gestational surrogate, keeping you informed of the latest medical updates. This is to allow you the option of attending any doctor’s appointments or medical checkups.(remove….we don’t encourage this type of relationship at all…IPs must be in contact with their GC throughout the process)

If you are an intended parent who desires a close relationship, one of the best ways to make it positive and stress-free is to be diligent in following through with appointments, phone calls, and visits to the doctors. This builds feelings of respect and loyalty, whereas couples that continually cancel or reschedule or frequently forget appointments, may leave one party feeling disregarded. It is also important to remember that surrogacy is a financially and emotionally draining commitment, making it important to constantly renew each other through acts of kindness and thoughtfulness. This could entail simple but meaningful things like going out for a meal and a chat after a doctor’s appointment, gifts for a birthday or sending over a meal.

Another great way to build a strong relationship in your California surrogacy is to include the surrogate, and her family, in social events such as a baby shower. There could be no higher compliment to a surrogate than real acceptance into one’s own family. After all, surrogates enjoy the attention that comes from this life-altering choice, as anyone would.

Regardless of the level of involvement you wish to have with your surrogate over the early part of the pregnancy, it is important to increase communication before the child’s birth. If you talk to your surrogate and create a plan that deals with the events, seen and unforeseen, it ensures that everyone’s expectations are the same on delivery day. Some things you might bring up might be what the surrogate’s wishes are for the delivery, and if a tour of the hospital is important to her (we always do a tour). Other talking points could include asking her if she is comfortable with you in the delivery room; if she is willing to pump breast milk; and, perhaps most importantly, how you both will proceed with the relationship after the baby is born? We use the psychologist at the end of the pregnancy to help both parties communicate about their expectations for the delivery…maybe you can include that somehow.

The decision to keep a surrogate in your life is completely your choice, but we believe it is important to stay connected even after the baby is born. The contact in this stage of your California surrogacy would probably vary, but ordinarily intended parents and their surrogates develop strong ties naturally. That is why it’s also important for an intended parent and surrogate to have an open discussion on post-birth, in order to eliminate confusion and the potential for disappointment in expectations.

If you do not feel comfortable generating any of these conversation on your own, program coordinators at California Surrogate Parenting Services will be there to help initiate and moderate communication.

August 8, 2014

Conceive the Possibilities: The Benefits in Choosing to Become a California Surrogate Mother

On behalf of California Surrogate Parenting Service, we would like to thank each and every surrogate mother “giving the gift of life” to parents who could not have a child otherwise. For those of you who have not yet experienced the personal fulfillment of becoming a surrogate, but are thinking about it, this list is intended to reveal what so many other women already know: that choosing to become a California surrogate mother can be very enriching both personally and financially. Some of the benefits include:

Personal Satisfaction

Everyone knows that infertility can be devastating for many couples. Only through outside assistance can they realize their dreams of parenthood. Helping others can be a powerful motivator, and can lead to strong feelings of personal satisfaction because of the dramatic impact your choice will have on the lives of people in need. As a surrogate, you will even likely have the opportunity to choose the parents you wish to assist, which enables you to focus your selection on parents who share the same outlook and beliefs as you.

Developing Friendships

The intense feeling of gratitude IPs (intended parents) feel towards the surrogate helps to forge a relationship that may prove to be strong and enduring, perhaps lasting long after the baby is born. At California Surrogate Parenting Service, we feel it is of the utmost importance to maintain this positive environment for the sake of the unborn child. That is why SPS focuses on carefully matching two parties who have the same expectations concerning the relationship. Some families may choose to continue this emotional connection and others may prefer to discontinue it – but, in the end, the gratitude will live on either way.

Receiving the Best Health Care

At all stages of your surrogacy, you are closely monitored by some of the best healthcare professionals in the country, ensuring that you receive the best possible care. This comes at absolutely no expense to you, so if you have struggled to provide healthcare for yourself, you will have complete coverage during the surrogacy process. The coverage also extends prior to pregnancy in the form of extensive health testing, which include cervical cultures, blood tests and a hysteroscopy (a uterine evaluation to ensure implantation can occur).

Financial Compensation

In addition to the top-notch, costly healthcare included in the program, surrogates also receive significant financial benefits paid for by the IPs for the service of pregnancy and delivery. The compensation depends on different factors, but on average SPS pays a surrogate up to $35,000, with the potential to earn more in additional reimbursements.

A Complete Support Network

As a California surrogate, you will have the support and care not only from your IPs, but also the dedicated team of professionals at Surrogate Parenting Services. We will be coaching you every step of the way, and ensuring that you are happy, healthy, and safe at all times.

August 1, 2014

New California Surrogacy Bill is the Most Progressive in the World

For California, surrogacy law has progressed in leaps and bounds in the past decade. In 1993, the landmark Johnson v. Calvert case established that the procreative intent of the parties would be used to determine the legal parents in a surrogacy relationship. The California court of appeals then expanded on that ruling in 1998, and now includes parents with absolutely no genetic relation to the child. Last year, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1217 into law, in reaction to the incendiary scandals and called to modernize California’s surrogacy statutes relating to third party reproduction—this law coming less than two month after a similar surrogacy bill in New Jersey was vetoed by Governor Chris Christie. Efforts to codify the California surrogacy law have been ongoing for two decades without success, until now.

Some key points in the groundbreaking article include:

• To ensure that adequate protections are established to safeguard intended parents, surrogates and children. The bill was also intended to be non-discriminatory, recognizing the rights of all prospective parents, without regard to marital status, or genetic connection to the child. That is why the definition of ‘intended parents’ was plainly defined as ‘an individual, married or unmarried, who manifests the intent to be legally bound as the parent of a child resulting from assisted reproduction.’

Recent California surrogacy legislation also contains a little provision that may appear unimportant at a glance. However, Assembly Bill 1217 actually holds the potential to dramatically alter who is a parent by defining “intended parent” as an “individual” whether “married or unmarried.” Subsequent California case law has expanded on this definition even more so, and now includes same sex couples, whether registered as Domestic Partners under California law, or same sex cohabitants.

• Assembly Bill 1217 also contains a number of important safeguards designed to protect all parties involved in surrogacy arrangements, which includes requirements that both sides of a surrogacy arrangement be represented by independent counsel. This is under the pretense that the gestational carrier agreement must be in effect before injectable medications commence.

• The law permits to establish the parent-child relationship and sets forth where that should be filed. Bill 1217 was written for intended parents and surrogates, with the purpose of establishing legal parenthood and to minimize discrimination in surrogacy.

The points set forth are just some of the reasons California surrogacy laws are some of the most progressive found anywhere, making it the most favorable state in which to have your surrogacy preformed.