10 Things To Consider When Selecting A Gestational Carrier
by Shelley M. Tarnoff
1. Positive Interactions – Many challenges may be faced during the surrogacy process. It’s important for the parties to communicate well with each other and have a mutual feeling of goodwill.
2. Similar Expectations – Some surrogacy arrangements are more “business like” with communications limited to updates regarding the pregnancy, while others include attendance at all pre-natal appointments as well as social gatherings. Contact may continue post-birth upon the mutual agreement of the parties. The failure to communicate and reach an agreement about the level of contact may leave a gestational carrier feeling “smothered” on the one hand, or “abandoned” on the other.
3. Meeting of the Minds regarding Abortion and Reduction – Because of Roe v. Wade, the gestational carrier will have the ultimate right to decide whether or not to abort or reduce; these contract provisions cannot be specifically enforced. Therefore, it is important to have a specific conversation at an appropriate time to confirm that the parties are in agreement regarding the specific terms for pregnancy termination.
4. Lifestyle – The surrogacy agreement will include certain restrictions regarding diet and conduct (i.e. no alcohol, nicotine, or eating fish with a high level of mercury content, etc.), but asides from the possibility of random drug and alcohol testing, you are trusting the gestational carrier to provide a healthy and safe in utero environment for your child. For example, it is unrealistic to expect her to eat organic unless a supplemental food budget is provided. Your legal counsel can advocate for your preferences, but they must be mutually agreeable.
5. Support from Family and Friends – While it’s possible that not everyone in the gestational carrier’s life will be feel positively about her decision, having a supportive network of family and friends will make the process a more positive one. This includes accompaniment to appointments and procedures, moral support during a pregnancy loss, and assistance during physician prescribed bed rest or activity restriction.
6. Motivation – The financial compensation is usually an important motivator, unless the surrogate is working with a close friend or family member. The fee may be help start a college education account or fund a home improvement project. However, many women report that they enjoy being pregnant and look forward to the experience even though they are complete with their own family. Others feel grateful for their children and want to share this blessing with others who are unable to conceive on their own.
7. Outside Stressors – While a surrogate candidate may be highly motivated, it is important to assess any outside stressors that might interfere with her participation in the process. The psychological interview will include questions about the impact of the surrogacy process on her primary relationships, the general health and well being of the surrogate’s family, and financial and employment stability.
8. Ability to Attend Appointments and Procedures – The gestational carrier will be required to attend many appointments for medical screening, cycle monitoring, and the embryo transfer procedure that may require staying overnight near the vicinity of the IVF Clinic. If employed, she will need to confirm that she can arrange for necessary work absence. Also, she will need to have a reliable means of transportation and available childcare.
9. Pregnancy History – The IVF Physician will review the gestational carrier’s completed medical questionnaire and her obstetrical records. An elevated Body Mass Index, history of gestational diabetes, and history of post-partum depression may result in a failure to pass medical screening.
10. Financial Terms – While the specifics of the surrogate’s financial compensation and expense reimbursement will be set forth in the surrogacy agreement, there are certain items that may vary. In the event the surrogate is placed on physician prescribed, pregnancy related bed rest, lost wage reimbursement and payments for childcare and household assistance may exceed original expectations. The Intended Parents must honestly assess their financial ability and assure that they will be able to fulfill all contractual obligations.