Surrogate Mother Requirements And Qualifications
Since COVID began, it hasn’t been easy to find qualified and available surrogates, but that doesn’t mean the surrogate screening process has become less comprehensive or thorough.
What exactly does the screening process entail? And what are the requirements of women who want to become surrogates?
Whether you’re an intended parent looking for a surrogate or a woman who wants to know how to become a surrogate - the following information will help you understand the screening process each potential surrogate is required to go through.
What Are The Requirements To Becoming A Surrogate?
Each screening process begins with an initial screening, which is basically a questionnaire that determines whether a candidate meets a list of basic requirements.
Women who want to become surrogates should be between the ages of 21 and 45, financially stable, in good health, with a healthy BMI between 19 and 32, non-smokers and drug free, including legal drugs such as marihuana. They also need to have given birth to at least one child with no serious complications.
In addition, there are also some medical surrogacy disqualifications, such as a history of preeclampsia, diabetes and hepatitis.
Once it is determined that a surrogacy candidate meets all the initial requirements, she meets with the agency to make sure all the information she provided is accurate and to hear about the next steps in her surrogacy process.
Next, the agency will review the candidate’s medical records and collect her relevant medical history, to make sure she meets the medical requirements of the fertility clinic.
Once all the information has been collected, intended parents can ask the agency to view the dates and full details of the candidate’s previous deliveries.
The potential surrogate will also undergo medical screening, including blood and urine tests and a physical examination, to make sure she is physically capable to undergo the treatments and procedures ahead.
Since the surrogacy process is demanding not only physically but also emotionally, each candidate is required to undergo psychological screening. The results of this particular screening are valid for one year so it’s best to perform it as close as possible to the meeting with the intended parents.
“…The agency should follow the guidelines put forth by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, which include psychological screening by a qualified mental health professional and also a test called a PAI: personality assessment inventory, or the MMPI,” explains Lisa Schuman, a mental health professional who has been working in the family building field for over two and half decades, and the founder of The Center for Family Building.
“Those are objective tests [that] are very important, because even though there is no bullet-proof solution, it is essential to screen for psychopathology.
Also, there are indicators for deception in both of those tests. This is important because if the potential [surrogate] is lying on the test, either trying to impress the therapist or trying to hide aspects of themselves they don’t want anyone to see, they could also be lying about their medical information. Ideally, the patients should have an objective person screening the…surrogates so there is no incentive to pass them.”
The psychological screening includes personality tests and personal interviews.
Although all the costs and expenses involved in the surrogacy process are covered by the intended parents, surrogates are required to be financially stable and not dependent on state or federal financial aid. This means that the surrogacy disqualifications list includes public housing, welfare and section 8.
If you’re curious about how much surrogates make, you should know that the base compensation usually runs between $25,000 and $60,000, depending on a number of things: the type of surrogacy - first-time or returning surrogate - twin or singleton pregnancy, specific characteristics that are considered rare, surrogate location, which affects the travel expenses, and more.
Stable Home Environment, Lifestyle and Support System
The agency will now determine whether the potential surrogate’s living situation is appropriate to carry a pregnancy, including making sure the candidate has a good support system at home and that her family members don’t have a serious criminal record or drug use history.
The surrogate is required to live responsibly and have the support of the friends and family she is surrounded by. Although it’s not a requirement, many agencies prefer that surrogates have a spouse or partner who can support them through the physical and emotional challenges of the surrogacy journey.
“The emotional support system is as important as the physical support, because the surrogate will need help to arrive at all her check-ups in time and do everything necessary to ensure her environment can support the pregnancy”, says Parham Zar, the founder and managing director of EDSI fertility agency, which is known for its extremely thorough screening process.
The Screening Process
It’s worth noting that some agencies perform the entire screening in advance while others only perform an initial screening and then complete the screening process after the surrogate has been matched with intended parents.
“I would recommend that intended parents ask their agency about their screening policy, because it can significantly affect the time it takes to start the journey,” says Zar.
Do you still have questions about the screening process of surrogates? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to arm you with all the answers you need.