I’m Considering Becoming a Surrogate: What Do I Tell My Family and Friends?

Part of becoming a surrogate is talking to your support base (usually your family and friends) about your desire to be a surrogate. Surrogacy isn’t necessarily a part of the general landscape of family building, so when you start considering surrogacy and talking about it, there is a lot of education to be done and a lot of feelings to sort through. Here are some tips for talking to family and friends about wanting to be a surrogate.

1. Talk to your partner/spouse and children first.

Since your surrogacy journey will also be the surrogacy journey of your family unit, their feelings and thoughts about the process are very important to address first. Talk to your family about how a surrogacy pregnancy might affect everyone (both positively and negatively); ask how everyone feels about giving the gift of family to someone else; talk about the hard things that can come with surrogacy, like pregnancy or fertility loss, and strains that could be put on the family. Talk to them about why you feel so passionate about it! Once your family is on board, they can help be your ambassadors to uncles, aunts, grandparents, and friends.

2. Know your surrogacy basics.

People who aren’t familiar with surrogacy sometimes have the false impression that a baby is being “given away” or that only people who don’t want to “ruin” their bodies choose surrogacy. Be armed with the facts. Know that gestational surrogacy has nothing to do with your own genetic material, and that the baby is genetically and legally the parents’ baby. Know that surrogates help people who can’t otherwise have a baby build the family of which they’ve been dreaming. Know that surrogacy isn’t some strange outlier these days: it’s a beautiful way for people and science to get together to help create or add to families.

3. Use the resources.

Request pamphlets on surrogacy from fertility clinics or surrogacy agencies to hand out to family and friends who are having trouble understanding the process. Send your loved one links to online community boards of those struggling with infertility and in need of a surrogate to build their families. Find a surrogacy support group near you and ask if you can bring friends. There’s a whole community of people and groups who want to educate folks about surrogacy – let them help you!

4. Use your metaphors.

Sometimes surrogacy is better understood when you can compare it to something people understand. Phrases like “Their bun, my oven” or “My belly, her baby” can help ease into conversations (this is especially helpful during a surrogacy pregnancy when strangers want to engage with you about your pregnancy).

A metaphor we’ve found helpful is that of loving childcare. Parents send their children to a place or person they have researched, and that person loves our children and takes great care of our children, and then very, very happily gives that child back to their parents at the end of the day. That is like surrogacy – the surrogate does everything she can to care for that embryo/fetus while she is carrying it, but after the delivery, she is so pleased to see this loved and deeply desired child go back to their parents. 

5. Give your loved ones time, if they need it.

Having the support of your family and friends during surrogacy is really important – it makes the emotional journey easier, and also gives you supportive people to help you when you’re pregnant, have appointments around town, and are looking after your own children. Some people are going to need time to get used to the idea. Keep talking to them about it, keep sending on stories and resources, and give them the time to get comfortable. While they’re getting used to it, you can be getting cleared through an agency or a clinic, and getting ready to meet the family for whom you will be granting this awesome dream.

Telling family and friends about your desire to be a surrogate can be challenging, but it’s an important step in getting ready for your journey! Hopefully you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how supportive people can be when they have good information and the time to process it.

Do you have tactics that have worked well for you when telling others that you’re considering surrogacy or that you’re pregnant with someone else’s baby? We’d love to hear them – post them in comments!

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June at Colorado Surrogacy

We hope you’re enjoying the June weather as much as we are! Here’s what we are up to this June:

Denver PrideFest

We are excited and proud to be working the Denver Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce booth on Saturday, June 17 at Civic Center Park in the afternoon. On Sunday June 18, we will be walking in the PrideFest parade and giving away our coveted squishy sperm stress toys.

RESOLVE Walk of Hope

RESOLVE is the National Infertility Association, a nonprofit, charitable organization working to improve the lives of women and men living with infertility. On Saturday, June 24th, we are sponsoring the Colorado Walk of Hope in Englewood. If you’d like to join our team, go here and type in Embryonic Steps for the team name! We’d love to walk with you for this great organization.

Also, for every intake form we receive from now until June 24th, we will donate $10 to RESOLVE to further their mission.

Referral Bonus

Did you know that we have a $1000 referral bonus? If you refer a surrogate to us and they end up with a signed legal gestational carrier agreement with intended parents, we will send you $1000 for that great referral! Please ask the person you refer to put your name in the “How did you hear about us?” part of the intake form.

We hope to see you at some of our events this June!

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Superstitions and Traditions for Embryo Transfer

French fries. Green and yellow socks. Turtles. Clowns?? The process of surrogacy (and embryo transfer in particular) enjoys a rich tapestry of superstitions and old wives’ tales. Take a look at this sampling:

1. Eat pineapple before an embryo transfer

With a quick Google search about “what to do to prepare for a embryo transfer” you will see lots of references to eating pineapple. Turns out that pineapple (especially the core of the pineapple) is rich in bromelain, an anti-inflammatory enzyme. The idea is that reducing swelling could help with blood flow to the uterus.

In the same vein, some people swear by eating Brazil nuts before an embryo transfer. Brazil nuts pack a punch of selenium, an anticoagulant, which may also increase blood flow.

2. Wear green or yellow socks to an embryo transfer

Both green and yellow represent fertility, so you will often hear people wanting to wear one of those colors to their transfer. The socks aren’t really for luck – they are to keep your feet warm because of the old wives’ tale that warm feet equal a warm uterus. Warm fertility socks! They can’t hurt.

3. Keep turtles around during your surrogacy pregnancy

Many women talk about wearing a turtle charm bracelet or a turtle necklace during their surro-pregnancy. Turtles are a symbol of womb health and receptiveness, as they are water animals (water represents the womb), and they are associated with protective energy. You don’t need to hop out and grab a real box turtle from the pet store right away – apparently the charm itself will do the trick.

4. Have acupuncture performed right after a transfer

This is a newer tradition popping up. The science is out on whether acupuncture actually improves embryo implantation, but what it does do that is proven scientifically is increase blood flow and reduce stress. And those are two things that can improve overall wellness during the process.

5. Eat French fries after an embryo transfer

You will see many women swear by McDonald’s French fries. Others believe In ‘N Out French fries are the key. But the consensus is clear: whatever your brand, just find some French fries. The interesting thing about this one is that it seems to have originated for egg retrieval, as doctors recommend having some salty food after retrieval to help absorb extra fluid. It has somehow traveled to be a tradition for embryo transfer, and there are very few surrogates who are disappointed when you say they really should go eat some French fries. Now. With your socks and your turtle.

6. Exposure to clowns right after embryo transfer helps with implantation

Haven’t heard of this one yet? There was an Israeli study a few years ago where the chances of implantation were 50% higher (!) for the women who had been exposed to clowning right after embryo transfer. It’s scientifically dubious, but some laughter and stress relief can only be good in this situation.

7. Sending “sticky thoughts”

You will often hear people wish surrogates and their IPs “sticky thoughts” or put sticky notes up around the house with inspiring quotes. The idea is for the embryo to “stick.” There are some really creative ways out there to wish sticky thoughts – like a Pooh Bear figurine with his head in a jar honey. Adorable!

Have you tried any of these strategies in your surrogacy journey? Do you have others you swear by? Let us know in the comments! And we send sticky thoughts and baby dust and lots of clowns (?) to all those out there working hard to have a baby.

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The Relationship Spectrum

One of the challenges of a surrogacy pregnancy is navigating the relationship between the surrogate and the intended parents (IPs). It can be hard enough to choose the person with whom you want to become a parent, but then to choose the person (and her family) who will carry your baby is a whole different level. The good news is that a surrogate/IP relationship can be incredibly rewarding. You just need to know what you want and what you’re ok with before discussing with your legal representation and signing that contract.

The Spectrum

We sometimes imagine the relationships between IPs and surrogates on a spectrum. At one end (let’s call it the BFF End) you have the IPs and surrogate who are creating a close friendship for the rest of their lives. They enjoy each other’s company greatly, they hang out every week, they text daily, and after the baby is born, the surrogate and her family will be at her IP’s house every weekend to visit. The IPs call the surrogate for advice, and the two families grow together over the years, being a part of every milestone that their kids reach.

On the other end (let’s call it the Business End) are the surrogate and IPs who are both interested in a more professional and independent relationship. They update each other monthly, and talk mostly about the baby. They are glad to have been matched together, but they lead independent lives and plan to continue those independent lives after the baby is born. When the baby comes, there are kind interactions, but soon after, both sets of people go on their way and do not have much contact again.

Neither is better than the other, and both types of relationships have the wonderful outcome of a loved and well-cared for baby. And successful surrogate mother and intended parents relationships come in all levels of privacy and communication.

Communication During Pregnancy

How often you agree to communicate is up to each match. Some IPs are much more comfortable being in frequent contact, instead of just talking monthly after prenatal appointments. Some IPs would like to attend prenatal appointments (and most surrogates are happy to accommodate them.) Some IPs, however, want less contact, and are better matched with surrogates who are comfortable doing things more independently and with more privacy. Somewhere in the middle is texting or emailing every couple of weeks during the pregnancy, video calls after (or during!) appointments, and more frequent phone contact near the due date. Whatever you prefer, being open with your surrogate about what feels best is key.

Communication After the Birth

You may dream of having your surrogate involved after your baby’s birth in order to keep this special person in your life, and to introduce her to your baby as she or he grows. You may want her and her family to be around for the baby’s milestones or birthdays. It also perfectly normal to want to be in touch every now and then, send pictures, but not really be involved once the baby is born. Usually about six weeks after the baby is born, you and your surrogate no longer have a legal obligation to each other. Once again, being open with your surrogate about your expectations and asking her expectation can help you grow the type of relationship you want going forward.

Flexibility

Ah, flexibility. It seems to make an appearance in every post about surrogacy. The relationship between and surrogate and IPs is a complicated and nuanced relationship, and flexibility on both sides will go a long way to better understanding of each other and a happier relationship, whatever your communication style and desires.

Choosing how much interaction and communication you want with your surrogate is hard work, and can feel a little strange, but doing the introspection beforehand, and being open with your agency up front about the type of relationship you’d like can help them match you with a compatible person. As always, openness and flexibility within your desired outcome will help you foster the kind of relationship you dream of – whether it’s BFF or Business, or somewhere in between.

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What is Pre-Birth Order (PBO)?

Your Gestational Carrier is pregnant, YAY! Now how do you make sure you, the Intended Parents, are legally declared the parents of the baby and have your names on the birth certificate? The short answer is: it depends. Each state has its own system and you should always consult an attorney knowledgeable in assisted reproductive technology law in the state where the birth will take place (that’s where your parental rights will be determined). 

Surrogacy Law in Colorado

Gestational surrogacy is permitted in Colorado because no statute or published case law prohibits it. Courts typically grant pre-birth parentage orders (PBOs) (a court order issued during the pregnancy confirming the intended parents as the legal parents of the child) without complication.

To learn about other states, Creative Family Connections has a helpful map that outlines the legal status of surrogacy in all 50 states.

Non-Friendly States or States Where Surrogacy is Illegal

In some states surrogacy, or certain forms of surrogacy (such as compensated surrogacy), is illegal: LA, MI, NJ, NY, and WA. If the state is non-friendly to surrogacy, there are potential legal snags and inconsistencies (such as only granting PBOs for heterosexual married couples, or if both intended parents are genetically related to the child). Depending on the state, the surrogacy process may prove very difficult.  States in this category include: AK, AZ, IA, ID, IN, MS, MT, NE, TN, VA, and WY.

In a state where a PBO is not accepted or allowed, IPs may have to go through a post-birth adoption procedure, or petition for a post-birth parentage order. Each state is different; researching and consulting with an attorney is very important when surrogacy is being considered. 

What Does a Pre-Birth Order Do?

This document – a court order – gives all parental rights to the IPs, including ordering that the IPs’ names should go on the child’s birth certificate and the IPs have the right to name their child. This document also removes the gestational carrier from having any parental rights or obligations for the child once it is born.

Cost of the Pre-Birth Order

The cost of a PBO in Colorado is typically $1,500 to $2,500 for an attorney to represent you and prepare the documents, another $500 to $1000 for an independent attorney to represent your gestational carrier in the petition, and approximately $300 for court filing fees and certified copies of the order. The cost for court filing fees and attorney fees varies in other states.

When to File the Pre-Birth Order

Many intended parents wait until after the first trimester (when the risk of miscarriage goes down) to start to the PBO petition, but they also aim to have it done by the time a fetus is generally considered viable (24 – 26 weeks of gestation). In Colorado, once the petition is filed, the court usually returns the order within two or three weeks, according to Ellen Trachman, Esq. of Trachman Law Center.

Soon that baby you have been longing for will be born and you will be legally named the parents – thanks to your PBO!