At Denver Fertility Albrecht Women's Care, we often receive common questions from couples about using a Gestational Carrier. We reached out to Colorado Surrogacy Director, Jennifer White to get her take on common questions that they often answer:
"5 Most Commonly Asked Questions Intended Parents Have About Surrogacy
Getting the news that you need to use a Gestational Carrier to grow your family is not an easy thing to hear. No one comes to surrogacy as a first choice! The world of surrogacy can be confusing and full of strange new acronyms. So what are the most asked questions when your Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) tells you that you need to use a Gestational Carrier (GC) and will now be considered an Intended Parent (IP)? Let’s explore!
How do we know the gestational carrier won’t keep our baby?
It’s extraordinarily rare for a GC to even threaten to keep your baby. Yes, you can google and find some of the major horror stories out there but compared to the number of successful surrogacy journeys each year, those stories are statistically insignificant (and in fact, it’s actually twice as likely that IPs will walk away leaving the GC wondering what to do with a child that legally isn’t hers – but both scenarios are very rare). Most GCs come to surrogacy understanding that they are the (very caring and giving!) oven for another family’s bun. Or, as we sometimes like to call it, they are extreme babysitting! Just to make certain that a GC is fully aware and pursuing surrogacy for the right reason, she is required to undergo a full psychological screening. You will also enter into a legal agreement with the GC before the embryo transfer that lays out everyone’s rights and responsibilities from start to finish. The truth is, most GC’s cite their favourite part of the entire surrogacy journey as the moment they see the new parents hold their baby for the first time!
Can’t the gestational carrier just use our health insurance?
Health insurance is a huge issue throughout surrogacy as it can account for a major part of the costs involved. Unfortunately, the GC is not an insured person under your policy so your policy can’t be used that way. It’s much more important to look towards the GC’s personal insurance policy and determine what it does or does not cover. Many private insurers out there cover pregnancy-related expenses when a woman is acting as a compensated GC (and many do not – it’s *very* important to have a professional review conducted to make certain). If you are lucky enough to be matched with a GC during open enrolment, Colorado has a number of surrogacy-friendly insurance policies available through the exchange. If you aren’t as lucky, there are several companies out there that offer backup liability protection policies. Yes, they are expensive, but they do protect against financial liability in the event of catastrophic medical situations.
What is the legal process involved in surrogacy?
Colorado has a favourable legal environment for surrogacy. The first step before moving forward with a GC is to enter into a legal agreement, typically called a Gestational Carrier Agreement (GCA). Both sides (the GC and her spouse, and the IPs) need to be represented by their own attorneys that specialize in Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) law. The agreement should spell out everything that is important to both parties: compensation, termination, how many embryos to transfer and how many attempts – nothing should be left off the table or out of the agreement. Once the GCA is in place and the GC is pregnant, the second legal step is to secure a Pre-Birth Order (PBO). The PBO is an official order from the court that determines parentage (granting it to the IPs!) and places the IP’s name(s) directly on the birth certificate from the moment of birth.
How much is this going to cost?
This is the huge question and, unfortunately, not an easy one to answer as it varies widely depending on individual circumstances. There are multiple items that each person needs to consider when making their surrogacy journey budget. Do you already have embryos? Will you need an egg donor? If you need an egg donor do you have a family member who might be willing to donate at a reduced (or no) compensation amount? The main budget categories to consider are: Reproductive Endocrinologist related fees and expenses (can be up to $50,000), Egg Donor related expenses (can be up to $20,000), Agency Fees (typically between $25,000 and $35,000), Legal Fees (typically around $10,000) and Gestational Surrogate related expenses (typically between $70,000 and $90,000, including health coverage costs). A typical surrogacy journey can easily cost between $130,000 and $160,000. It is not inexpensive and there are many parts of the journey that it is highly inadvisable to attempt to cut costs or corners. Which leads to the next question:
Why should we use an agency?
An agency is a large part of the outlay for surrogacy, it’s true. But a good agency should give you far more value than the amount of money you pay to them! A full service surrogacy matching agency will find and screen qualified gestational carriers, collect all medical records, have her records professionally screened, collect and review insurance information, run background checks, coordinate a psychological examination of the GC, make sure that you are matched based on your and her beliefs and desires and guide you through the IVF process and all the way through the pregnancy. No easy feat! Many agencies also offer concierge or smaller service packages. If you already have a gestational carrier (such as a family member or close friend) but are unsure about the rest of the pieces of the process, this can be a great choice as most agencies charge far less if you provide the GC. On top of the basics of facilitating the process agencies often have “behind the scenes” contacts that can be helpful in making things go even smoother!
The questions that come to mind when a person finds out they need a Gestational Carrier are wide, varied and all very important to fully consider. Surrogacy requires the coordination of many complex variables, most of which the average person doesn’t deal with on a daily basis! Colorado Surrogacy is happy to provide free consults to help explain more fully the questions above as well as any others you might have. Schedule your free, no obligation, phone consult today.
What are IP’s looking for in a match with a GC?
Each Intended Parent comes to the table with a different history and set of beliefs, so it’s hard to predict what they might be looking for, but in general, all IPs are looking for a Gestational Carrier who is in good physical and mental health, who has a history of complication free pregnancies, who loves being pregnant and who has compassion and a desire to help them create a family. It’s *that*simple!
What happens if the baby comes early and the IPs can’t make it in time for the birth?
In Colorado a Pre-Birth Order should be in place before it’s even close to time for the birth. If that is the case and there is a fear or risk that the Intended Parents might miss the birth it is possible for the IPs to create power of attorney, giving someone else temporary guardianship and power to make medical decisions for them until they can arrive. This could be the GC if all parties are comfortable with the arrangement, or it could be the surrogacy agency or a trusted friend who lives in the area."