From Considering Gestational Surrogacy to Delivery
Being a surrogate. Are you considering being a surrogate? Are you looking for a surrogacy agency in Wisconsin? Maybe something that is more local and personalized? Whether you have been a surrogate before or today is the first time you have considered it, working with Forward Fertility, you will find support, clear communication, and competitive compensation.
Meet Christie Olsen, the Nurse Practitioner who founded Forward Fertility and whose expertise and compassion will guide your experience as a surrogate from start to finish.
What are the steps of becoming a surrogate? The steps below outline the process from applying to be a surrogate to delivering a baby for a family.
Steps to becoming a surrogate with Forward Fertility
Do I qualify to be a surrogate?
Many women wonder, "Do I qualify to be a surrogate?" There are a number of factors that go into answering this question. Some of the basic criteria are:
- age 21-39
- have had at least 1 healthy full term delivery
- non-smoker, no drug use, and able to abstain from alcohol during pregnancy
- healthy body weight
- quality social support
- no current mental health issues
- no chronic health issues currently being treated (high blood pressure, diabetes) or autoimmune diseases (Rheumatoid arthritis, Chron's, etc.)
- not currently receiving public assistance
- have insurance that is not Badgercare/Medicare/Medicaid
- no previous endometrial ablation
- if you're not sure -- apply -- you miss all the shots you don't take! We'll let you know if you can proceed with the application.
Applying to be a gestational carrier (surrogate)
The link above will take you to our secure online application. There is a short screening application you will submit. Once we receive that, you'll get an email letting you know if you qualify to complete the full application. If you have any troubles with the application, please call us at 608-217-7511 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gathering information and getting to know you.
CALL WITH CHRISTIE. If your full application is accepted, you will receive an email from us. Christie Olsen, the founder of Forward Fertility and a women's health nurse practitioner, will set up a time to speak with you.
To Do List. Amy Osgood, our coordinator, will reach out to you with a 'to do' list. This list involves gathering your medical records, paystubs, insurance information, and other items to prepare your file for a match. Forward Fertility will directly request your medical records for you.
ZOOM WITH YOU. Once we've gathered the information, we will schedule a zoom call with you (and your partner, if applicable). No need to take time off work for this -- we can be flexible and do these calls on evenings or weekends to make this process easy for you.
HOME VISIT. After the zoom call, Christie will schedule a short home visit to meet you and your partner (if applicable). This is an example of how we go out of our way to really get to know you and to make this process as easy as possible.
CONSULTATION WITH MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL. All IVF clinics will require you to complete a psychological evaluation. At Forward Fertility, we have you do this prior to meeting the parents. This evaluation is usually done over video conference. Forward Fertility pays for this visit. We will talk with you about what to expect for this appointment.
IVF CLINIC - MEDICAL RECORDS REVIEW. We work with IVF clinics that are known to have good success rates (you don't want to go through all of this and not have the process work!). We also work with IVF clinics that frequently work with surrogates, so the process should be smooth for you. With your permission, we will send your medical records over to the IF clinic for approval before you meet the parents.
DISCUSS YOUR IDEAL MATCH. When we do the work of getting to know you up front, then we are able to suggest a match that will (ideally) meet your expectations for this process.
Families waiting to match.
Forward Fertility matches 15-20 surrogates and families each year. We work hard to identify families who have a good chance of a successful embryo transfer. We work with families who have their embryos at IVF clinics with high quality surrogacy programs and good success rates. Post-COVID, most of our clients are from the Upper Midwest. A few of our clients are from the East Cost. Forward Fertility is based in Madison, Wisconsin. To give you a sense, 53% of our parents-to-be matched in 2021 lived in Wisconsin, 20% were from the East Coast, and the remaining 27% were from the Midwest (Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan). More than geography, IVF clinic, or embryos, Forward Fertility looks to take on clients who are going to be genuine, kind, good partners with you and with us as we go through the surrogacy process together.
Families we do not work with: Forward Fertility does not work with International Clients. Forward Fertility does not take on clients who are transferring more than 1 embryo at a time. We do not take on clients who are working with two surrogates at the same time. We don't work with parents or surrogates who are mean, pushy, demanding, or who won't treat others with respect.
Factors to consider when matching
Many agencies will match you with the next person on their list or someone who has been waiting a long time. At Forward Fertility, we focus on the best possible fit. We want to learn what is important to you.
Factors we will discuss with you:
- Are you willing to travel? Driving to the IVF clinic or flying to the IVF clinic?
- Do you prefer to work with a family who doesn't have children? Or, a family that is trying to expand their family and have a sibling?
- Do you have a vision of your relationship with the parents? Close? Friendly? Business-like?
- Do you want your children to meet the parents? Or, prefer not?
- Do you want to work with a same sex couple? Or, an opposite sex couple? Or, it doesn't matter?
- How do you feel about critical medical decisions (pregnancy termination/abortion if there is a fetal abnormality, testing done during pregnancy, COVID vaccine and booster for you and/or your family)?
Once we've completed the application process, most carriers will be matched within a few weeks.
A good match between a gestational surrogate and parents-to-be is like any good relationship: both parties contribute to the quality of the relationship. And, the relationship will grow and evolve over time. When each participant makes kind, honest, genuine efforts to build a solid relationship based on respect and trust, the outcome is best.
Forward Fertility works hard to facilitate that relationship and will be here for you to celebrate the successes and hurdle the obstacles.
Before treatment begins, you will undergo a medical screening, meet with a mental health professional, and sign legal contracts.
As the gestational surrogate, you will typically meet with a medical provider at the fertility clinic to review the process and obtain informed consent. The fertility clinic will likely require you to complete some tests, including infectious disease testing, blood type, thyroid level, other hormone levels. Usually, there is also an evaluation of the uterus called a Sonohysterogram or a Hysteroscopy to ensure the uterus is healthy and able to carry another child.
Meeting with a Psychologist or mental health specialist.
The American Society of Reproductive Medicine is the guiding organization for fertility treatment in the United States. Their guidelines strongly suggest the gestational surrogate and her partner (if one is present) meet with a qualified mental health professional prior to beginning treatment. Forward Fertility supports these guidelines and requires all surrogates to complete this screening. Forward Fertility has worked with numerous psychologists and mental health professionals who are knowledgeable about the fertility process and assessing gestational surrogates. The meeting will give you and your partner an opportunity to discuss your decision to become a surrogate, your support system, current stressors in your life, your partner’s feelings, and your ability and strategies to navigate the relationship with the parents-to-be.
You and the Parents to Be will agree upon the terms of the Gestational Surrogacy Agreement. This agreement is a legal contract that discusses the rights and responsibilities of each party. Forward Fertility will connect you with an attorney who has expertise in the field of gestational surrogacy and assisted reproductive technology.
Topics addressed in the agreement include, but are not limited to your compensation, the parameters for getting pregnant, details of the delivery, and more.
You probably didn’t learn how gestational surrogates get pregnant in your high school health class.
The basic process for getting pregnant via gestational surrogacy can be boiled down to three goals for the gestational surrogate. These goals are coordinated by Forward Fertility under the guidance and instruction from the medical team at the fertility clinic where you will be getting your care.
Goal one: Keep the gestational surrogate’s body from ovulating.
Most women, when they are not on hormonal birth control, will mature one egg each month and release it. That process is called ovulation. When you are a gestational surrogate, we don’t want your body to do that. So, medications are used to keep your ovaries on “vacation” so to speak.
Goal two: Thicken the gestational surrogate’s uterine lining
Once the fertility clinic medical staff have confirmed you are not ovulating, they will give you medications to take that will temporarily thicken your uterine lining. After a set amount of time, you will return to the clinic so the medical staff can assess your uterine lining and confirm your ovaries are still at rest. If the ultrasound shows that your uterine lining has responded the way the medical staff would like, then you move on to goal three.
Goal three: Transfer one or more embryos into your uterus at the right time.
You will be instructed by the fertility clinic to begin progesterone medication and return on a particular day for the embryo transfer. The embryo or embryos must be placed into the uterus on the right day; this day is determined by the stage of the embryo and how many days you have been taking progesterone. You will usually have a blood pregnancy test in the clinic about ten to twelve days after the embryo transfer.
They say every pregnancy is different. A pregnancy as a gestational surrogate is surely unlike any pregnancy you have had with your own children. A whole team of people helped make this pregnancy possible: the medical staff at the fertility clinic, attorneys, psychologists, your support network, the Parents to Be, and you.
That means many emotions are present. Mostly, there is happiness and excitement. But, you should also be prepared for other feelings. Some mothers-to-be who have had multiple miscarriages may associate your positive pregnancy test with the beginning of a time for worry. Some gestational surrogates say they feel an enormous sense of responsibility, as if so much is riding on their every move.
The fertility clinic will refer you to your standard OB provider around seven to nine weeks from your last period, usually after an ultrasound has been performed to confirm the fetal heartbeat.Depending on what you have specified in the legal contract, the Parents to Be may or may not be in the delivery room. A woman in labor can have specific desires, but with surrogacy, medical decision making is often a group effort. Labor is a dynamic process and sometimes decisions must be made in the moment about interventions during labor or after the delivery. Forward Fertility is present to help navigate these decisions and advocate for you as the surrogate, parents-to-be, and the baby being born.
You have been the center of attention for the Parents to Be for the last nine months, but now they will be turning their focus to the little bundle of joy they have dreamed of having.The relationship between you, the parents, and the child certainly changes after the delivery. Perhaps you are an “auntie” or maybe receiving limited updates of the baby is what you have agreed upon. Your own family will likely welcome you back into the fold of family life. Recovering from the delivery and looking ahead for yourself and your family will be your focus.
Each gestational surrogacy match is different. Sometimes, the two families become very close. Other times, they tend to go their separate ways, always cherishing the chapter of the book they shared creating that little boy or girl.