Truths About Being A Surrogate That Most People Do Not Know

Surrogate pregnancy is a process that often seems shrouded in mystery. Though most people have a vague idea of what surrogacy entails, they still wonder exactly how it works.

The process is incredibly lengthy and surrogate mothers actually endure substantial risks by taking on the job. Even a normal pregnancy can be harrowing, but surrogate pregnancies add an extra layer of legal red tape and medical procedures. That said, it can also be extremely rewarding. For some surrogates, there's nothing better than the moment when they hand over a new babe to overjoyed parents. There are also some things about surrogacy that you might not expect, like the fact that there's a substantial demand for American surrogates from Chinese families.

Read on to learn about what it's really like to be a surrogate. 

  • Families Hire Surrogates For Many Different Reasons

    The motivations for hiring a surrogate are as varied as the people who do the hiring. That said, they tend to fall into two distinct categories.

    The first category includes women who, for a variety of medical reasons, are unable to conceive, carry, or deliver their own children. One noteworthy example is Kim Kardashian West, who decided to hire a surrogate to carry her third child. During her second pregnancy, KKW developed placenta accreta, a condition where placenta becomes embedded in the walls of the womb and is difficult to remove. Because of this, doctors advised the social media mogul to consider alternate methods for having children.

    The second category includes male same-sex couples and single cisgender men. For obvious reasons, they are unable to have their own biological children without outside help and surrogates can provide it.

  • Prepwork Can Be Physically Intense

    Preparing to become a surrogate is a far more involved process than simply becoming pregnant. Many surrogates use a nasal spray called Synarel and an injected medication called Lupron before the insemination. Together, these drugs essentially shut down the ovaries so that the surrogate's menstrual cycle can be controlled. Following this, the surrogate may take estrogen and progesterone.

    These drugs can have side effects that range from headaches to heart attacks, adding to the dangers that are already inherent in the pregnancy process. For some surrogates, the medications are the hardest part.

  • The Baby's Genetics Can Impact The Surrogate's Health

    Surprisingly, a baby's genetics can actually have an impact on the outcome of the pregnancy. One women nearly died from pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy condition characterized by dangerously high blood pressure and organ damage. Tragically, her baby died as a result. The woman decided to try a gestational pregnancy with a surrogate and things were going well until the surrogate developed the same condition.

    The surrogate hadn't had pre-eclampsia during her previous pregnancies, so doctors didn't think it would be an issue. It turned out that something in the baby's genetic material was driving the surrogate's blood pressure to dangerous heights. The surrogate was ultimately able to deliver a healthy baby and regain her own health, but the case was an instructive one. The baby's genes can be a major factor in the outcome of the pregnancy. 

  • It May Not Pay Well Or At All

    Depending on where a surrogate operates, she may or may not get paid for her efforts. Some states, like New York, have actually banned commercial surrogacy, which means that all surrogates in the state must have purely altruistic motives. Otherwise, they're breaking the law. Other states, like California, have a thriving paid surrogacy industry.

    A surrogate who receives payments might receive between $35,000 and $45,000, often in monthly installments. 

  • The Surrogacy Requirements Are Strict

    Many people think that any fertile woman can become a surrogate, but the requirements are actually quite strict.

    To qualify, a woman must not only have given birth to a child previously, she must also have reared the child herself. She can't have put the child up for adoption. She alos has to have a robust support network. This doesn't necessarily require a partner or spouse - it could mean family or friends - but surrogacy cannot be taken on alone.

    Women who have certain health issues, especially ones pertaining to pregnancy, are disqualified. Even having taken antidepressants in the past can be a deal breaker. Finally, a surrogate must already be financially comfortable; she can't live under the poverty line or receive government assistance. This is to prevent surrogates from applying for purely financial reasons.

    Because the requirements are so strict, only two out of every 20 women who apply are accepted.

  • There's A Demand For American Surrogates In China

    When some people think about international surrogacy, they assume that certain Americans go to third world countries for discounted services from sketchy agencies that exploit their surrogates. This does happen but there's a actually a large demand for American surrogates from foreign countries, particularly from China.

    There are many reasons why a Chinese person might want to hire an American surrogate. This process grants their child an American passport. This has many benefits, and not just in relation to American immigration. For example, highly competitive Chinese universities often prioritize applications from foreigners (in this case, ethnic Chinese people living elsewhere) over applications from Chinese citizens.

    Also, American surrogacy laws are much more comprehensive than those in China. Gestational surrogacy is actually illegal in China, so while it is practiced, it may not be regulated at all. American surrogates sign contracts promising that they will abort the baby on request, and that they won't change their mind and refuse to give the baby up. All of this makes American surrogacy an extremely attractive option for hopeful Chinese parents.