How to Choose a Surrogate Mother
If you’re new to the process of surrogacy, you are probably wondering how to choose a surrogate mother. Simply put, next to choosing the right agency, the decision of how to choose a surrogate mother is one of the most important decisions you will make during this process. So what criteria should you consider? It is important to keep in mind that sadly there are generally far more intended parents in need of help than there are eligible surrogate mother candidates, and this is good to keep in mind when weighing what qualities are a must, and what preferences are flexible as you navigate this process. Intended parents can sometimes get a bit overwhelmed with the minutia of finding a good match, when one of the most important aspects of a great match is actually the social component, and getting too caught up in a checklist might mean missing out on connecting with a very special woman willing to help you on your path.
Here is a quick list of some of the criteria that intended parents will typically consider:
- The surrogate mother’s health: Of course the most important thing when you choose a surrogate mother is that your surrogate mother is healthy and that she can be medically cleared to proceed. But how do you define this health status? Some of the criteria that medical offices will examine include height, weight, age, pregnancy history and delivery history.
- Body Mass Index/BMI-Every medical office will use slightly different criteria. Some may be more flexible with regards to the surrogate mother’s Body Mass Index (BMI) and most concerned with checking if her BMI is above the normal range that she had healthy pregnancies at a similar BMI in the past. Weight is not always the best indicator of health, and other factors should be taken into consideration.
- Age- Although many intended parents instinctively ask about young surrogate mothers, age is not always the best factor to determine whether a candidate is a great fit. A younger surrogate mother in her twenties may live a busier active lifestyle, while an older surrogate mother in her thirties or even very early forties might be more stable, responsible and calm. Bear in mind a gestational surrogate does not use her own eggs, so her age is not as important as her overall pregnancy history in determining whether she is a good candidate.
- Pregnancy/Delivery History- This tends to be the criteria that most intended parents prioritize and rightfully so. A good previous pregnancy history is reassuring for future pregnancies. But what does a good pregnancy history look like? Some surrogate mothers may have had c-sections in the past and are still wonderful medical candidates assuming they recovered well from the procedure. Perhaps twins came early but the surrogate is still a great candidate for a singleton pregnancy. Also, a full term delivery for a singleton is anywhere from 37 weeks and on. While a healthy pregnancy history is important, there are many varying degrees of normal when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth, so it is best to defer to a doctor to make determinations on whether a candidate is medically suitable, and whether any past concerns are likely to recur.
- The surrogate mother’s location: Intended parents often want to choose a surrogate mother who resides near to them, or in a major city near an airport like Los Angeles. Most surrogate candidates reside outside of Los Angeles, some are in Northern California, and many are in other surrogacy friendly states. Realistically when it comes down to being able to be involved in the process, unless the surrogate lives right in your town some travel will likely be required and it can be just as easy to fly out of state as it can be to fly to smaller areas of California that aren’t near major airports. Technology also allows for close contact regardless of distance helping as well with overcoming location barriers. Intended parents enjoy staying connected with their surrogate mothers by text, video conference, phone, and traveling to visit in person for milestone appointments.
- The surrogate mother’s relationship status: Surrogate moms are after all moms themselves so their family composition can come in all shapes and sizes. Some surrogate mothers are married or in committed relationships, which provides a partner as their support person for the process. Others may be single moms who rely upon family and friends for their support system. The more important factor when you choose a surrogate mother is that your surrogate mother has a solid support system for the process, and that the people she surrounds herself with offer positivity for her journey.
- The surrogate mother’s lifestyle: Some intended parents feel very open about the surrogate mother’s lifestyle with the understanding that they are basically living a healthy lifestyle that is conducive to pregnancy. They may not mind if the surrogate eats out occasionally. However, some intended parents have special requests such as eating organic, or adding/limiting certain foods to the surrogate’s diet. This can be possible as long as the expenses for the requests are covered such as a food allowance for the costs of eating organic. Make sure the agency knows your requests upfront, so they can advise if there is a surrogate candidate who is comfortable with making the requested lifestyle changes.