Approximate Timeline of the Surrogacy Process
First and foremost, keep in mind that surrogacy is not a quick process. It can sometimes take years to complete a single journey. This is due to the many variables and factors that go into each surrogacy arrangement and IVF (in- vitro fertilization) cycle.
Many parties and individuals need to sync schedules, testing needs to be done, medical and psychological clearances need to be completed, legal contracts need to be drafted and signed, everyone needs to be reacting well to medications, the embryos need to be developing properly, and more. This is all needed to ensure everyone is in good health both mentally and physically, and are able to continue in such a manner.
*No two surrogacy journeys are the same, therefore this is an approximate surrogacy timeline.*
1 – 6 Months
Take as much time as you need.
While absolutely beautiful, surrogacy is not for everyone. If you’re new to the idea of surrogacy, or just now looking into becoming a surrogate, you’ll want to take your time and research before jumping in. We have a free ebook which is a great starting point. You can download your copy here: The Complete Guide to Surrogacy for Surrogates.
MEET NECESSARY REQUIREMENTS
Women looking to become surrogates will need to meet a standard set of requirements, set forth by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine – ASRM. These guidelines are to ensure the safest, healthiest possible pregnancy and relationship between the surrogate and Intended Parents.
Requirements to Become a Surrogate:
- You must have previously given birth to at least one (live) child.
- You are between 21 – 42 years old, and in good health.
- You are a non-smoker, and do not use drugs.
- You are of a healthy weight with a BMI in the normal range. Some will allow a little wiggle room here, with the maximum BMI allowed usually a 32.
- Have a history of healthy pregnancies with no complications.
- Be financially stable, and not on any form of public assistance.
INDEPENDENT OR AGENCY SURROGACY
1 Week – 1 Month (to discuss and decide)
Do you want the aid and assistance of a surrogacy agency guiding things along? Would you enjoy the knowledge and support from those who’ve been through it, and know how to navigate surrogacy? Would you like someone doing all of the planning, preparing, and laying out the journey for you, step by step?
If you answered yes to any or all of the above questions, signing up with an agency might be your best bet.
An agency will act as the middleman during the surrogacy and assist with ushering everything along during the journey, whereas you will be in charge of communicating with your Intended Parents to make sure all steps are followed, and processes are lined up an independent journey.
There is no right or wrong answer here, as there is no one-size-fits-all approach to surrogacy. Do what you feel comfortable with, whether it be taking charge of your journey independently, or signing with a surrogacy agency.
IF AGENCY, SUBMIT APPLICATION
2 Weeks – 2 Months
Generally once you submit a surrogate application, you will hear from the agency within 2 weeks, to set up an initial interview. This means you have passed their initial requirements. Now is your opportunity to get a feel for the agency. Make a list of questions you have ahead of time, so you don’t leave anything unanswered.
If you decide to proceed with this agency, you will complete a surrogate profile, send in your pregnancy and medical history, and allow a background check to be run on you and your partner (if applicable).
IF INDEPENDENT, FIND AND MATCH
WITH INTENDED PARENTS
There are many places online where surrogates and intended parents can meet and connect for the purpose of matching. Check into Classified ads on surrogacy websites, or surrogacy matching groups on Facebook.
1 – 4 Weeks
The fertility clinic in which your Intended Parents are working with will be the one to conduct your medical screening. You will need to travel to the fertility clinic for this screening, which is usually just a 24-hour trip to the clinic used by the IPs, either local or out of state. Child care arrangements will need to be made as no children will be allowed during the screening process.
1 – 2 Weeks
A licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFP) will conduct the psychological screening. Depending on what the therapist allows, you will either meet in person, on Skype, or over the phone to discuss your desire to become a surrogate, and to make sure you know what you are signing up for. Most screenings will also include an MMPI test, or similar.
MATCH WITH INTENDED PARENTS
(IF NOT ALREADY MATCHED)
This is open ended, with no for sure amount of time, as it really differs depending on what you want, whether you’re looking for an independent match, or signed with a surrogacy agency.
When looking into possible matches, it is important to pair with Intended Parents who are on the same page as you in regards to carrying a singleton or multiples, termination, reduction, any religious views that may come into play, and so on. Never casually agree to something thinking “this will never happen to me” because trust me, it does happen. We don’t want anyone in a position where they’ve agreed to something they are not comfortable with.
2 Weeks – 6 Weeks
It is crucial to have contracts in place for any surrogacy, even if the Intended Parents and the surrogate are friends or family. Each party will need to have their own legal counsel, separate from the other party’s. This is to ensure each lawyer has their client’s best interest when drawing up and/or reviewing and negotiating contracts.
START MEDICATIONS & MONITORING APPOINTMENTS
After contracts have been signed and notarized, you will move onto preparing for the embryo transfer by starting your surrogacy medications and attending your monitoring appointments.
Each doctor and each fertility clinic will have their own medication protocol that is favored. This is usually what that particular RE is comfortable with, and has good results from using. Because of this, not everyone will have the same medications, nor a set amount of time that they will be on the medications.
We often see surrogates start medication around 4 weeks before the embryo transfer. If the embryo transfer is successful, the surrogate will remain on medications until around the 10th – 12th week of pregnancy, per doctor’s orders.
Monitoring appointments are necessary to check the uterine lining via internal/ vaginal ultrasound, and certain hormone levels with blood draws. These appointments are done at a select clinic near your home, referred to as the monitoring clinic, or at the RE’s office (if local). The chosen monitoring clinic will be relaying the results to the RE’s clinic where your transfer will take place.
Your actual transfer date will fluctuate based on how your body is responding to the medications, how the Intended Mother, or egg donor is responding to medications (in the case of fresh transfers), and the quality of the embryos.
You will need to travel to the clinic where your transfer will take place, if not local. The embryo transfer itself takes around 30 minutes.
Approximately two weeks (another variable, your clinic will give you a set date) after the transfer you will go to back to the fertility clinic – if local, or your local monitoring clinic, for a blood draw. This is referred to as a beta test.
TRANSFER WAS SUCCESSFUL
2 Weeks from Transfer (2ww)
CONGRATULATIONS – You are (all) pregnant!! You will continue appointments with the IVF clinic, or local monitoring clinic, until around 10 – 12 weeks gestation.
2 Weeks from Transfer (2ww)
If the transfer was unsuccessful, your clinic will have you stop all medications. Once things are ready to go again, you will start medications again and undergo another embryo transfer.
4 Weeks – 6 Weeks from Transfer
Your first ultrasound will be around the 6 – 9th week of pregnancy, again, depending on certain factors. During this ultrasound the RE will check on the growth, heartbeat, and determine how many embryos you are carrying (if you had a multiple embryo transfer, or if any split during the implantation process).
RELEASE TO OB CARE
8 Weeks – 10 Weeks from Transfer
Once you reach the start of your 2nd trimester you will “graduate” from the monitoring clinic, and barring any complications you’ll be released into the care of your regular OB/GYN for the duration of the pregnancy.
30 Weeks+ from Release to OB
Pregnancy is something you already know, and will be pretty much the same, save for any complications that could potentially arise – as is a possibility with any pregnancy. You’ll attend regular appointments with your OB/GYN just as you did with your own pregnancy, and have the same testing and ultrasounds done.
The biggest difference with surrogate pregnancies is that it’s the Intended Parents’ pregnancy, too, and something you should try to include them in as much as possible – at a level you are all comfortable with.
When meeting and matching with Intended Parents, a big topic to discuss will be the delivery. Of course the parents want to be present to watch their baby/babies enter the world, but they also understand there are hospital rules, and ultimately the surrogate will have a large say as she will be the one delivering.
Make sure the hospital and your nurses are well aware of the surrogacy situation so the Intended Parents are a part of the delivery as well. Most times there are no issues with surrogacy, and baby/babies are handed directly to the new parents for bonding and skin-to-skin. The parents will be given the I.D. bands for the babies, and depending on room availability, can also have a separate room to room in and bond with their baby/babies.
Another key point to discuss when matching with Intended Parents is whether or not you will be pumping breastmilk for the baby/babies after delivery. While not everyone can or will want to pump milk, it is an important decision to be made between the surrogate and Intended Parents.
If your IPs do not want your breastmilk, there are many options available, such as: helping a local mother and baby in need, or donating it to a milk bank.