For all couples who wish to become parents, but who cannot have a child naturally, there is surrogate motherhood, a process that consists in using a surrogate mother. This solution is tedious and requires a long medical, psychological and financial preparation. In order to help you understand what is involved in surrogacy in the United States, discover in this article the complete guide to surrogacy.

Surrogacy in the US

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What does Surrogacy mean?

Surrogate motherhood is a medically assisted reproduction procedure in which a woman agrees to carry the child of a couple or a single person. In this case, it is called “surrogate mother”, because the embryo is conceived with the egg and sperm provided by the intended parents or gamete donors (sperm donor and/or egg donor).

Surrogate motherhood is therefore open to all persons who wish to have a child, but whose state of health, marital status or sexual orientation does not allow it. This is the case, for example, for homosexual couples who wish to have a biological child. But also, women without a uterus, people who have suffered repeated miscarriages, or who have undergone radiotherapy treatments (cancer).

There are 5 types of surrogate motherhood :

  • the use of the biological parents’ gametes, which allows them to have a genetic link with their future baby;
  • the use of the biological father’s sperm and a donor’s oocytes is a solution that allows the intended mothers, who have no viable oocytes, to have the possibility of conceiving an embryo. This option is also available to same-sex male couples;
  • the use of the oocytes of the mother of intention and the sperm of a donor: this possibility is implemented when a single woman wishes to have a child. But also, in the situation when, in a couple, the man has fertility problems;
  • the use of an egg from an egg donor and sperm from a donor. This case applies when both parents are unable to fertilize an embryo naturally.
  • the use of an embryo donation already created by a family who wishes to donate their excess embryos to another family who wishes to benefit from them.

Is surrogacy legal in the USA?

In the United States, the legislation concerning surrogate motherhood differs from state to state. Indeed, the use of surrogate motherhood can be authorized or not.

For example, in the states of California and Connecticut, using a surrogate mother involves paying compensation throughout the pregnancy and until the baby is born. However, there are states in which surrogacy is completely prohibited. These include Michigan and the District of Washington. Surrogate motherhood is therefore not possible everywhere in the United States. In addition, in some states, surrogacy must be performed through a state-approved surrogacy agency.

The first surrogacy law was enacted in 1985 in Washington State. In 1993, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) published recommendations for the ethical conduct of surrogacy, which became a model for other states to follow. Today ASRM and The Society for Ethics for Egg Donation and Surrogacy (SEEDS) publish an annual roadmap of good practices for surrogacy in the United States.

Can a foreigner have recourse to GPA in the USA?

Foreigners can perfectly resort to GPA in the United States. Whether they are residents or not, many foreigners travel to the United States in the hope of having a child through surrogacy.

When the biological parents reside in the United States, the administrative procedures are less complex, but all foreign parents can return home with the baby without any difficulties. Nevertheless, before carrying out your surrogacy project in the United States, if you live abroad and not in the United States, check all the obligations in terms of birth certificate, visa, and passport to bring your baby back home under the best conditions. The professionals of GPA in the United States (clinic, agency or lawyer) will be there to accompany you in your steps.

What types of costs should I expect?

On average, ABM in the United States costs between $150,000 and $200,000. The fees for the entire procedure depend on many factors. For example, you are required to pay agency fees, attorney fees, as well as compensation to the surrogate mother depending on the state in which you wish to perform the surrogacy procedure.

Thus, these fees include an average of $45,000 for the surrogate mother’s compensation, approximately $50,000 for all medical examinations throughout the surrogacy, attorney’s fees, as well as medical insurance that you must purchase to cover the surrogate mother until your baby is born. In addition, there are various expenses such as: maternity clothes for the surrogate mother, or compensation for a possible loss of salary. But also, your stay near the fertility center to make your donations and near the maternity hospital during the birth of your child, your travel, and your catering expenses.

How does the process work?

Finding your Fertility Clinic

When you want to become a parent through a surrogate mother in the United States, you must go through a Fertility Clinic. The first step is to find the clinic that will be able to accompany you in the creation of the embryos. This step is very important, because the goal is to find a team with whom you feel confident, and who will give you all the information you need to continue the adventure, in all transparency.

The Fertility Clinic will create your embryos and medically validate the surrogate that will be presented to you by your surrogacy agency.

Finding your surrogate agency

Once your embryos are created, you will have to engage with a surrogate agency that will find your surrogate and take care of the logistics of your GPA. All the women proposed to you meet a certain number of criteria that you indicated during your first interview with the agency’s coordinating team.

When you have decided on a surrogate mother, who also wishes to participate in your adventure, in this case, you will be able to formally establish all the criteria of mutual agreement. You will agree on the amount of compensation paid throughout the pregnancy, but also on the way the 2 parties will interact throughout the 9 months of pregnancy.

At this point, you will need to purchase health insurance specifically designed for surrogacy to cover the surrogate mother for any medical examinations she may need to perform, or for any medical treatments during the pregnancy.

Also, it is highly recommended to take out travel insurance for the United States for you and your family, in case of illness or accident while you are there, you are not covered by the SECU and medical expenses in the USA are very expensive!

Medical Examinations

The medical examination stage is essential in the surrogacy process, as it is both medical and legal.

First of all, the surrogate mother must go to the fertility clinic to have a complete medical check-up.

At the same time, psychological examinations are performed to determine if all the conditions are met for the surrogate mother to consider this project. On your side, your couple will also have to undergo medical and psychological examinations.

Once the intended parents and the surrogate mother are medically validated and a contract has been signed between the parties, we can begin the treatment to carry out the embryo transfer.

You have the possibility to participate in all these steps, if agreed upon in advance with your surrogate mother.

Period of pregnancy

At the 10th week of pregnancy we will determine if your embryo has a heartbeat. This will define if the embryo is a fetus and to be sure at 98% that the pregnancy will reach its term with a healthy child.

From this point on, the pregnancy will proceed smoothly. The surrogate mother will undergo medical examinations throughout her pregnancy in order to monitor the proper development of your baby. You have the opportunity to participate in each of her ultrasounds in order to begin bonding with your future child.

From the 20th week of pregnancy, you will be able to start choosing the maternity hospital where the surrogate mother will deliver your child. The ideal is to reserve the room so that the meeting with your baby takes place in optimal conditions! Often the maternity hospital is chosen according to the insurance of the surrogate mother.

It is also from this period that you will have to contact your lawyer in order to establish the parental rights from the birth of your baby. Once these legal and administrative formalities are completed you can then prepare all the affairs for the birth of your child.

Your first days as a parent!

The day of the birth is a special day! Plan a stay of at least one month near the maternity hospital where the surrogate mother will give birth. You will be able to attend the birth and your child will legally be your child from the minute he or she is born.

Are there ways to finance this life project?

GPA is a process that costs a lot of money. On the one hand, because many intermediaries are involved, such as the fertility clinic, the surrogate mother agency and sometimes “liaisons” (intermediaries between the future parents and the agencies/clinics). On the other hand, you must also take into consideration the legal fees throughout the procedure of requesting authorization for GPA from the judge. In your project budget, you should also take into account the medical costs if you wish to perform genetic tests on your embryos.

In order to plan each step of your procedure, it is therefore very important to organize the distribution of your budget. Ideally, you should prepare the overall amount of your ABM beforehand and check all the financial solutions available to you.

Applying for a bank loan for a Surrogacy

If you are unable to pay for all of the expenses in cash, it is perfectly possible to apply for a loan from an US bank if you have a good credit score. It is common for prospective parents to use this solution to finance their FAM projects.

Ideally, you should prepare several years in advance so that you can set aside some savings, even if only to partially finance your project. This allows you to reduce the total amount of the bank loan to be requested from financial institutions. As a general rule, the bank will study your financial situation and set up the most advantageous financing plan for you: medium-term loan, use of savings, home mortgage, etc.

Raising funds for your ABM project

There are many participatory sites that allow you to raise funds. Their operating principle is very simple. You create an account on, for example, GoFundMe, and share your project with the community. The Internet users then decide to contribute to your fund, which will allow you to finance your wonderful project of becoming a parent!

Save money to build a family

If your project of becoming a parent is more or less long term, in this case the easiest solution is to save money. To do this, you just have to change your lifestyle and put aside a certain amount of money every month.

To do this, you can, for example, take stock of all your current expenses. This allows you to see which expenses you can restrict. This can be: eating out, expensive gifts for family or friends, too many new clothes for each new season, vacations that can take place in more modest places, etc.

You can then create a savings account specifically dedicated to your ABM project, which you will use entirely to conceive your future baby!

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