Choosing your surrogate is an incredibly important decision, so how to choose a surrogate that’s right for you? Of course you’ll seek out someone who is healthy, fit, and a great mother already. But a lot more than that should go into finding your ideal surrogate. Things you may have never even considered will wind up making all the difference in the world. And, if we’re being honest, it’s probably best to do some hypothetical surrogate selection in your mind long before you actually start meeting real, live surrogates. Here’s what we mean.
How to Choose a Surrogate: The Basics
If you’re working through an agency, then the screening aspect of finding your surrogate will already be done for you. Agencies are great at weeding out applicants whose motives may be less than stellar, or who have health or lifestyle issues that are incompatible with surrogacy. However, if you’re NOT working with an agency, you’ll want to start your search by looking at a large pool of women, narrowing them down to first meet these fairly basic parameters:
- Non smoker
- Non-drinker, or willing to abstain from drinking during pregnancy
- Healthy pregnancy and birth records, and willing to share those records with you and your doctor
- Able to take, and pass, a psychological screening by a licensed mental health expert
- Resides in a surrogacy friendly state
- Has a great support system, particularly in her immediate family
- Is already a mother, to demonstrate ability to become and carry healthy pregnancies
- Maintains an adequate monthly income and is not on public financial assistance in any form, to remove the potential for coercion
- Not on necessary medication that would conflict with a healthy pregnancy, including some mental health prescriptions
- A clean criminal background check and no pending legal matters
Once you’ve narrowed your pool of candidates to those who would actually be ideal carriers in a general sense, it’s time to start considering what matters to you on a personal level. For example, if you’re sincerely hoping for a twin pregnancy, you wouldn’t be likely to want to work with a surrogate candidate who only wanted to carry one child at a time.
It is important to be incredibly honest with yourself during this planning phase. It’s easy to fall in love with a surrogate applicant, even if she doesn’t align with you on important issues at the onset, only to regret those compromises later on. Trust us when we say, whatever it is you’re seeking in a surrogate, there is a surrogate out there seeking that as well. Also trust us when we say that the pickier you are, the longer it may take to find her. In any case, it’s not worth it to sacrifice the things that matter most to you in an effort to move quickly through your journey.
This is why we encourage you to think about the following options and form a mental picture of your “ideal” surrogate before you start talking to potential carriers:
- How many embryos will she be willing to transfer per attempt?
- How many fetuses is she willing to carry?
- How does she feel about selective reduction in general?
- Due to multiples?
- Due to medical issues?
- Is she willing to have you in the room during labor and/or delivery?
- Is she willing to express breastmilk for you following the birth?
- What type of communication and relationship are you envisioning having with her?
- What type of relationship will she be hoping to have with you both before, during, and after the pregnancy?
- Does she currently work, or does she stay home with her children?
- Has she done this before, or is this her first time?
Considering these contributing factors will ensure that your ultimate choice is guided by your heart and your head; not just an emotionally driven heart.
The Over and Above
Surrogacy is an intimate experience. It’s not a brief encounter with a person, it’s several months, sometimes years, spent in the company of a woman with whom you’ll likely need to share very intimate conversations. While the range of relationships that can form out of surrogacy can be vast, the best surrogacy experiences are formed when you’re working with a woman who you actually respect and like. Once you’ve found a candidate who is qualified to carry, and aligns well with you on the major issues listed above, you have one more level of consideration to get through: the gut feeling.
If you’re a person with a great sense of humor, it may be worth it to you to find a surrogate who is a bit funny herself. Maybe you’ll find common ground in a shared hobby or similar line of work. Maybe you’ll just have easy conversations and enjoy one another’s company. It’s important to listen to that little voice in your head who says, “This just feels right.” It is especially important to listen if that voice is telling you the opposite. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a potential surrogate if something just feels “off.” It’s a choice you are not likely to regret.