What Are the Requirements to Be a Surrogate?
Gestational surrogate requirements at Creative Family Connections:
- Between the ages of 21-43
- Have had at least one, full-term (37 weeks or later) healthy pregnancy and delivery (a 6th delivery would be a surrogate’s last)
- Have had no more than 3 prior c-sections
- Have a BMI of 35 or below (32 or below for most IVF clinics)
- Financially stable
- Reside in a surrogacy-friendly state (See Our US State-by-State Surrogacy Map)
- Received or willing to receive COVID-19 vaccine before match
A gestational surrogate is a woman who carries a pregnancy for another person or couple. A heterosexual couple may be unable to become biological parents for any number of medical reasons. For single intended parents and same-sex LGBTQ intended dads, an egg donor and/or sperm donor may be needed. A gestational surrogate does not have a genetic link to the baby because the embryo that undergoes gestation was made with an egg from a donor or the intended mother. A gestational surrogate’s partner (if applicable) also does not have a genetic link to the baby.
Going through the “surrogate mother” process means providing a couple or a single parent the amazing opportunity to have a biological baby. They would otherwise never be able to have a biological child of their own without a surrogate’s help. Being a surrogate is a rewarding and life-changing experience that requires careful thought, research, and planning. A “surrogate mother” is not the mother to the baby, but she is the “oven” who takes care of the baby as if it were her own. She helps intended parents become parents!
If you’re wondering if it is hard to be a surrogate and what the journey entails, you’re definitely not alone. Surrogacy is complicated! One of the benefits of working with a surrogacy agency is that you will have a team of experts helping you through each and every step of your surrogacy journey. What exactly are the requirements to be a surrogate? Read more to discover all you need to know about surrogate qualifications and how you can start the process.
Three basic qualifications of a surrogate
Gestational surrogate requirements consist of three basic categories, including medical, emotional, and screening qualifications:
1. Physical health qualifications
Physical health requirements ensure minimal risk to yourself and the baby. Of course, every surrogacy agency, like Creative Family Connections, and every IVF clinic has different guidelines and requirements to become a surrogate.
2. Psychological qualifications
Every woman considering the path to surrogacy should be aware of the journey’s psychological and emotional components. When you become a surrogate, you will attend doctor’s appointments throughout your journey and, in most cases, commit to developing a close relationship with the intended parents.
While you juggle responsibilities with your everyday life and family, you will also experience hormonal changes and emotions associated with any pregnancy. A mental health professional who is specifically experienced with surrogacy journeys will explain what you can expect moving forward and help you prepare for the various emotional components in a surrogate pregnancy.
At Creative Family Connections, we are proud to work with an incredible group of healthy, educated, fun, and sincere women who decide to become surrogates. It takes a compassionate, exceptional person to become a surrogate. Our team has the honor of helping you give to another family in one of the most selfless and loving ways possible.
3. Screening qualifications
If you think you meet the “surrogate mother” requirements in your state, your next step in starting the surrogacy process will be to contact a surrogacy professional or surrogacy agency. If you decide to go with an agency who will guide you on your journey, you can expect to fill out an application and several forms to confirm that you are eligible. A surrogacy professional will then speak with you about the process and answer any lingering questions you may have.
Before becoming a surrogate and undergoing the embryo transfer, there are several steps to take first for a successful surrogacy journey. You will meet your intended parents in person or via videoconference with the help of a case manager (if you decide to work with an agency that hand holds through the process) to guide you through this important first meeting! If everyone feels comfortable moving forward, you will be required to undergo psychological and medical screenings to confirm your readiness to begin a surrogacy journey. Some surrogacy agencies complete psychological screenings before you meet your intended parent(s) as part of the pre-screening process.
Before starting the medications for the cycling process of a surrogacy journey, you will complete the surrogacy contract with your own surrogacy attorney.
Become a surrogate with Creative Family Connections
Are you hoping to become a surrogate and help a couple build their family through surrogacy? Seeing your intended parents or intended parent hold their baby or babies (in the case of a twin surrogate pregnancy) for the first time at the hospital or birthing center with your family and theirs is truly such a beautiful, miraculous moment. But finding that right surrogacy agency to help you on your surrogacy journey can be a roller coaster in and of itself. Meeting your intended parents for the first time right from the safety of your home is an amazing feeling. Not to worry, you’ll have a case manager to help you with each and every step of your journey.
We are so grateful to the incredible women who feel that their own family is complete, have had easy pregnancies (and loved being pregnant!), want to change someone else’s lives to allow them to experience the joy of parenthood, and are willing to take on another pregnancy, fully aware of the fact that any pregnancy or surrogate pregnancy could be the last. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has created countless resources for surrogacy professionals and intended parents, and guidelines for screening gestational surrogates. Surrogacy agencies and IVF clinics use these resources as just that, guidelines. In fact, many top surrogacy agencies, like us, Creative Family Connections, and IVF clinics impose even stricter requirements to help make a surrogacy journey as happy and healthy as possible.
A surrogate should be between the ages of 21 and 43 when she first applies
- ASRM guidelines allow for a surrogate to be up to 45-years-old. However, most IVF clinics require that a first-time surrogate deliver before she turns 44.
Had at least one healthy pregnancy and delivery (and no more than 5 prior pregnancies)
- A 6th pregnancy and delivery would be a surrogate candidate’s last.
- Exceptions have been made for repeat surrogates on a case-by-case basis.
- Had no more than 3 prior C-sections
Note: Some clinics limit to no more than 2 prior C-sections, but there are many who accept 3 prior.
Had full-term (37 weeks or later), complication-free prior pregnancies
- No delivery of a singleton before 37 weeks. Exception: If someone had a singleton delivery at 36 weeks, but had several full-term (37 weeks or later) pregnancies afterwards, they may still be able to be pre-approved.
- No delivery of multiples before 35 weeks. Exception: If someone had twins before 32 weeks, but had a full-term (37 weeks or later) singleton pregnancy afterwards, they may still be able to be pre-approved.
- The best predictor of a safe surrogacy pregnancy are prior pregnancies.
Note: The specific requirements vary by IVF clinic.
Have a BMI between 18% and 35%
- A select few clinics will consider 35% and below on a case-by-case basis.
- Many clinics cap the top limit lower at 32 or below.
Be financially stable
- Candidates must have stable income or be in financially stable homes with a partner or parents. Surrogate candidates are not required to have their own health insurance policy, so long as health is prioritized – Many existing health insurance policies exclude maternity care for a gestational surrogate. Interestingly, in early 2019, Nevada was the first state to pass legislation that prohibits “an insurer from denying certain coverage for maternity care because the insured acts as a gestational carrier…” Go Nevada!
Reside in a surrogacy-friendly state
- We cannot match surrogates who live in a state where compensated surrogacy is prohibited. Effective February 15, 2021, New York will no longer prohibit compensated surrogacy; however, there are many requirements for surrogacy to take place in New York. Visit our US Surrogacy Map for details about your state.
No history of gestational diabetes requiring medication
- If you were able to manage your gestational diabetes with dietary restrictions alone, you can still qualify to be a surrogate.
No history of a psychiatric diagnosis such as major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, psychosis, or a significant anxiety disorder and no current use or dependency on psychiatric medications, including all SSRIs
- A GC candidate must be off all SSRIs for at least 3 to 6 months (varies by IVF clinic) with prescriber approval before medical and psych screening occurs.
No history of drug or alcohol abuse
- History of nicotine and marijuana use when not pregnant is considered on a case-by-case basis
- It is typically required that a surrogate candidate be smoke-free for at least 1 year before applying to be a surrogate. Vaping nicotine must be discontinued 3-6 months before medical screening – This policy varies by IVF clinic. A candidate with a history of infrequent marijuana use when not pregnant may be approved on a case-by-case basis depending on the IVF clinic and matching will depend on the perspective of the intended parents.
Must be willing to carry a twin pregnancy in the event that 1 embryo splits into 2
Must be willing to terminate a pregnancy in the event of catastrophic defects where there is no chance for quality of life
Preferences regarding terminating or not terminating in the event of a Down Syndrome diagnosis or similar condition are considered and a match can be made if we have intended parents who feel the same way about this important topic.
- We mostly work with intended parents who are not sure what they would do if Down Syndrome or a similar condition were to be diagnosed. Most intended parents we work with prefer to be matched with a surrogate who is willing to defer to them, as the biological parents, and the medical professionals about whether to terminate or not in this sensitive scenario.
What about my preferences for my intended parents or intended parent?
It’s completely normal to have other preferences about your intended parents! Those preferences deserve a clear and careful conversation — first with your partner (if applicable, we love working with single surrogates too) and then our surrogate team. Creative Family Connections works with surrogates and intended parents of all different personalities, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender identifications, religions, relationship statuses, and more. We value the importance of inclusivity and diversity, but there may be some preferences to consider for the kind of person you want your intended parents to be. Depending how strong your views are, you may have requirements or preferences for us as your agency to consider in finding the right person or couple to be your intended parents on your surrogacy journey. Examples of preferences that relate to your match could include geographic location of your intended parents, location of the IVF clinic, compatibility on issues such as termination and selective reduction, and the number of embryos to be transferred. This is part of our surrogate matching process and we discuss these preferences with you on our first call with you!
Ready to apply to be a surrogate?