The Fertility Center of Las Vegas is a leader in all things reproductive medicine. We are passionate about helping you start your family through our many procedures, including surrogacy. Here’s insight from a former gestational carrier on what becoming a surrogate is like. She uncovers the best parts of the process, along with some things you should consider before making the decision.
What is a Gestational Carrier?
A gestational carrier, also known as a surrogate, is a healthy woman who carries a baby for an individual or couple who is unable to carry a baby on their own. Many women, like Kassandra Wisley, become surrogates because they are passionate about helping people who may otherwise come across problems while trying to conceive.
Finding a Surrogate and the Legal Process
After going through the surrogacy process, Kassandra wanted to share what to expect with other women who are considering becoming a surrogate. Before any medical procedures occur, the surrogate must find an individual or couple who they will carry a baby for. Most of the time this requires a surrogate agency and/or a family lawyer to find the right match.
The agency/lawyer will then come up with a contract between the surrogate and the intended parent(s) that includes details about the pregnancy, delivery and parental rights, amongst other things. With gestational surrogacy, the surrogate has no genetic (DNA) link to the child, so she will have no parental rights after the child is born. Traditional surrogacy (where the surrogate’s eggs are used for conception) is not recommended due to the legal and emotional pitfalls that can occur when the surrogate and child are genetically linked.
During the Pregnancy
While the surrogate carries the baby, there will be frequent check-ups with a doctor. If it is geographically possible, the intended parents can attend these appointments. Even if they are not able to attend the appointments, intended parents are kept up to date with the health and wellbeing of their baby and the surrogate throughout the process. Depending on the relationship with the parents, the surrogate will keep open communication about how she feels and what the baby’s activity is like.
Kassandra notes that she had a good relationship with her intended parents, Matt and Britt. They communicated well and attended doctor’s appointments together. The couple even got along well with Kassandra’s husband. These types of relationships are always important to build when becoming a surrogate.
If you have kids of your own, it’s also important to explain the situation to them in a way that makes sense to them. Kassandra told her kids, “Some mommies and daddies can’t get pregnant on their own, so they need a mommy belly to carry the baby. They’re using my belly to grow the baby and then I’ll give the baby to them.” This was an easy explanation that worked well for her family.
Parts of the Surrogacy Process to Consider
During the process of becoming a surrogate, Kassandra had to take many medications and hormones to get her body ready for pregnancy. And while she was pregnant, Kassandra was asked by a lot of people why she became a gestational carrier. Many just thought she liked being pregnant. Kassandra says, however, this was not the case. She still went through the same woes of being pregnant, which includes sometimes feeling sick and exhausted. There is a great physical demand when you’re pregnant, and because she was carrying someone else’s baby, she was even more concerned about being able to carry the baby all the way through a healthy pregnancy without complications.
There are also emotional tolls on the surrogate. Kassandra had to remind herself that the baby was not hers. She had to try to not get too attached to the child that she had to give away after delivering. Despite these worries, Kassandra reminded herself of the blessing that would come from this process.
The Joys of Becoming a Surrogate
Kassandra and other surrogates will tell you that the most rewarding part of becoming a surrogate is the feeling of joy you get when you see the new parents with their new baby. Issues with infertility can cause emotional trauma, and sometimes the feeling of giving up. So, when a surrogate comes in the picture and is able to help someone have the family they have been hoping for, the feeling is incomparable.
Kassandra was especially dedicated to supporting an LGBT couple who were not able to conceive a child on their own. She was raised by lesbian mothers, so she values the roles that a gestational carrier, egg donor and sperm donor play in LBGT family building.
Gestational carriers are compensated for their process but only about 10% of women who apply to become a surrogate are cleared to proceed. This is due to the strict medical, psychological, and financial screening that a woman undergoes prior to becoming a gestational carrier. The most ideal candidate is a woman who has already carried a healthy baby on her own and one who is financially stable.
Resources for Finding or Becoming a Gestational Carrier
Starting a family through gestational carrier is one of the many procedures we offer here at The Fertility Center. Contact us if you are looking to have a child via surrogacy. You can also ask us your questions on how to become a surrogate. The possibilities are endless.