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Becoming a surrogate mother: How I decided my compensation amount

Becoming a surrogate mother is a big decision, and many considering this decision want to know what it is like to be a surrogate. In this blog series we hope to shed some light on the surrogacy process through the experiences of our past and current surrogates, Charity, Jaime and Nicole. To read previous post from Charity, click here.

Charity Photo

Compensation. Or, as my husband calls it, “the big pink elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about”.

Let’s face it. Most surrogates don’t become a surrogate for the compensation. Surrogates become surrogates for a lot of other reasons: We love being pregnant, we want to help or simply because we feel called to it. However, the compensation does help. It helps our family. Maybe it will help with a down payment on a house, pay off a stack of bills or simply help us take our families on that once-in-a-lifetime vacation.

But how does a surrogate decide what her compensation should be? If you’re anything like me, as you think about the compensation amount you start to feel bad. Here are these parents whose only desire is to have a child. You likely know that they are spending a lot of money for this journey and now you have to decide how much they will compensate you.

While money never drives us, it is a factor and that factor often looks better, bigger. So if someone is willing to pay you $25,000 why should you tell them no? Picking a compensation amount is challenging, but for me it boiled down to what felt right. I had to look deep down in my heart of hearts and I had to pick a number I knew I could live with.

What you don’t know about me is I have very thin skin. By that I mean that if I feel I have wronged someone it eats at me, to the point that I will make myself sick. Even if it wasn’t “really” wrong, if I feel it’s wrong, it’s wrong. I’m the one who has to live with it.

I have been doing surrogacy for nearly 13 years. The very first child I ever had turned 11 this summer (now I’m just aging myself for all of you!). When I was told to pick my compensation the very first time I had no idea what I should do. I was given a range of numbers, you know, what people typically charge. I remember feeling floored that someone wanted to give me that much money to carry a baby. Hmm…..that much money to do something that is so simple for me. At first, I felt like I was taking advantage of someone. Then my mind started running full speed ahead. WOW!! The list of what my family could do with that money was endless. After I was able to slow down a bit I started to put everything in perspective: What the parents have been through already, the money they are spending on everything from medical procedures, traveling, doctors and my compensation.

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Becoming a surrogate mother: Meeting the intended parents for the first time

Becoming a surrogate mother is a big decision, and many considering this decision want to know what it is like to be a surrogate. In this blog series we hope to shed some light on the surrogacy process through the experiences of our past and current surrogates, Charity and Nicole. This is the second post from Charity, if you’d like to read her first post click here

Charity Photo

The very first surrogate baby I ever had turned 11 at the end of May this year, yet I remember the entire journey like it was yesterday.

I remember on the flight to the clinic that my husband and I were both very nervous and excited. We were going to meet our intended parents for dinner and share in their excitement for the embryo transfer scheduled to take place the next day.

When we got to our hotel room, there was a message that K&V were waiting for us. “Call when you get in,” it said.

Despite the fact that we had spent a few months calling and emailing with each other, I felt a nervous flutter when K answered the phone. It was a rush of excitement and anticipation. We agreed to meet in the lobby at 4:30 and go find someplace to have dinner.

I’ll never forget that first hug from my intended mother. She was a little stiff and a bit reserved. Me, I’m a hugger. 🙂

We had a great time at dinner. Our husbands each had a beer, and V & I sat over our sodas and talked about the excitement of the transfer.

K&V had always known they would need help in order to have a family. They were young – in their mid-20s. I think that helped our connection since they are about the same age as my husband and I. It was heartbreaking to hear V’s full story. It was that moment that it really hit me how blessed I’ve been to be able to easily get pregnant and have a child.  Not everyone is that fortunate.

You really start to think about all the things you take for granted. For V, this was her first chance at a family. I’ll always remember how nervous K was (LOL).  His nervousness continued throughout the entire journey (and the birth for that matter)! We called it an early night since the excitement was a bit much for all of us.

The next day the four of us met in the lobby to head over to the clinic for the embryo transfer. We chatted like old friends all the way there but did not talk about the, hopefully, upcoming pregnancy.

Becoming a surrogate mother: Why I chose to do a second surrogacy

Surrogate Mom - JaimeBecoming a surrogate mother is a big decision, and many considering this decision want to know what it is like to be a surrogate. In this blog series we hope to shed some light on the surrogacy process through the experiences of our past and current surrogates, Charity, Jaime and Nicole. To read previous posts from Jaime, click here.

My first surrogate experience was flawless and the most amazing, rewarding experience I’ve ever had in my life. My agency couldn’t have picked a better set of parents for me to work with. We met, had one embryo transferred, and I gave birth to a healthy baby. After birth they mentioned briefly that they had frozen embryos and may possibly want a sibling for their son. I was open to the idea of helping them if they decided to have another child.  

My second journey came unexpectedly. I had contacted my agency to ask a billing question so when I saw the incoming call from them, I was expecting it to be the answer to my question. To my surprise, they were calling to see if I was interested in matching with a new family and doing a second journey.

Taken off guard, I was speechless. They explained to me that they had a “high profile” client, which in the surrogate world usually means someone famous, and they thought I would be a great match. I explained my first family was my priority and I wanted to check to see if they were ready for a sibling. I spoke with my first family and learned they were happy with their son and may have changed their mind about having another child. After that conversation, I agreed to meet the new family and proceed forward.

I met the new family and they were incredible. Famous? Yes, but they were very down to earth and wonderful people. This journey gave me a whole new insight into the realization that surrogacy isn’t a sure thing. I was this couple’s second surrogate and last hope for a baby. Read more

Becoming a surrogate mother: Common questions for a first-time surrogate

Surrogate Mother - NicoleBecoming a surrogate mother is a big decision, and many considering this decision want to know what it is like to be a surrogate. In this blog series we hope to shed some light on the surrogacy process through the experiences of our past and current surrogates, Charity, Jaime and Nicole.

Even before I was pregnant with my own son, I had an interest in helping intended parents have children. I looked into agencies, read some of the forums to see what other experienced surrogates had to say about their journeys, and did quite a bit of soul-searching before I took the first steps of actually talking with an agency about a surrogate program.

After having an informative conversation with the first agency, I was still in the very early stages of learning about surrogacy and pretty hesitant and flat out fearful to take the plunge. My son was about two-years-old at that time and I decided to let the idea go quiet for a bit, choosing not to move forward and not really knowing whether I would ever really “get the guts” to follow through with being a surrogate.

I still didn’t fully understand the role of the surrogate agency and I personally didn’t know any other surrogates who I could go to with questions; plus, I felt like surrogacy was such a hush-hush topic.

I was concerned that intended parents would take advantage of me and I wondered what would happen if I miscarried and suffered complications that would keep me from having more children of my own. I wondered what would happen if intended parents were suddenly not able to afford to pay for medical bills and I wondered what would happen if the intended parents decided to suddenly back out. I’ve come to learn that these are all common questions among other “newbie” surrogate candidates.

I chose to look into what IARC had to offer when my son was five, having put surrogacy on the back-burner for about three years. At that time, I was interested in IARC but I was stressed out at work and wasn’t planning on sticking with my employer for much longer. I told IARC that I was still interested, but that I would need to go “on hold” until I found and settled into a new job. I began my search for a new job and found that, of all places, IARC was hiring a surrogate coordinator. What a coincidence!

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Snyder responds to opponents of proposed surrogacy regulations in minnesota

Steve Snyder, Executive Director IARC

Earlier this month, Steve Snyder, executive director of IARC, wrote an opinion piece for the Pioneer Press in response to opposition to proposed legislation that would help regulate surrogacy in the state of Minnesota (S.F. 2627 and H.F. 291).

Steve’s response, “Taking exceptions: ‘How many surrogates did you interview?’”, supports the need for regulations and legislation for surrogates. It helps readers understand the important role surrogates play in the process of child birth for intended parents, describing the ultimate gift surrogates give infertile couples: a family.

Steve stated, “The few surrogates who criticize the process are typically those who self-match and go through the process without the guidelines and protections afforded by working with experienced physicians, psychologists, and attorneys — the very guidelines, protections, and professional support required by the pending legislation.”

To read the complete op ed, click here or visit twincities.com.

Maternity and prenatal: An essential benefit, but is it essentially covered for surrogacy?

Prior to the Affordable Care Act, if you were pregnant and without insurance, you faced an uphill battle to get medical coverage — resulting in massive bills and possible debt.
surrogates-doctor-visits

Due to the nature of what insurance companies previously defined as “pre-existing conditions,” such essential benefits like maternity and prenatal care were left uncovered. Or worse, plans had such long waiting periods for coverage that a child would be birthed by the time coverage went into effect.

For women and intended parents entering surrogacy, the legal waters were even murkier for insurance coverage. Many times surrogates who had insurance held the assumption that their pregnancy was covered; however, many insurance policies explicitly excluded coverage for women carrying a child for another family. Intended parents also faced challenges in using their coverage to support maternity and prenatal care, leaving both the surrogate and intended parents at risk for substantial hospital bills.

The “Obamacare” effect

As intended parents and surrogates embark on a journey toward child delivery, it’s important to understand the health care coverage landscape in the age of what many call, “Obamacare.”

With the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2013, the U.S. government defined 10 essential health benefits (EHB) that are mandated to be covered for all Americans enrolling in a health care plan. Within this list of 10, maternity and prenatal care is now considered essential coverage.

Steven Snyder, executive director at the International Assisted Reproduction Center (IARC®), said of the law’s enactment and its impact on surrogacy coverage, “By defining essential benefits and taking away pre-existing conditions and other exclusions that could impair maternity and prenatal care, the ACA may improve the ability of women who are acting as surrogates to have their maternity expense covered by insurance.”

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