Infertility, Surrogacy

How to do surrogacy on your own (Independent Surrogacy)

April 2, 2012

Gestational surrogacy can be quite complicated, so I wanted to share what I have learned.  Typically, surrogacy is outrageously expensive, but there are some ways to make it happen for less. It is my hope that this information might help others re-evaluate independent surrogacy as an option.

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What is it?

Gestational surrogacy is where a gestational carrier becomes pregnant with the genetic embryo of another couple through IVF, carries the fetus throughout the pregnancy and delivers the child for the intended parents.

Is surrogacy legal?

Yes, it is legal in Virginia, but it is not in some states. Laws vary widely from state to state, so you’ll have to do research in your state.  The best thing to do is to go ahead and find an experienced surrogacy attorney and consult with them before you get started.  Then, you will be ready when it comes time for the surrogacy contract between you and the carrier.

FDA Requirements
In addition to state laws, your clinic must operate under FDA rules and regulations, which essentially is to prevent the spread of disease.  So, intended parents and the gestational carrier need to be free of disease so as not to infect the carrier or the baby.

Example: Virginia Laws
There are two ways to handle surrogacy in Virginia: pre-approved and non pre-approved.  To my knowledge, hardly anyone ever does it as pre-approved, which would require both couples to have home studies done.  Here are the basic requirements:

  • The carrier must have had at least one live birth.
  • If the carrier is married, then her husband must be a party to the surrogacy contract.   All parties must enter into the surrogacy agreement.
  • All parties must receive counseling — both intended parents, the surrogate and her husband (if applicable)

Steps to take

These steps are not set in stone as to the order.  One through five is a good place to start, but after that, you can do things in a different order. For me, it was about doing the deal-breaker type things first and the less expensive things first.

  1. Come up with a budget.
  2. Talk to your clinic.
  3. Find an attorney.
  4. Find a surrogate and review her insurance policy.
  5. Discuss money and treatment decisions with the surrogate and come to an agreement.
  6. FDA Testing Requirements
  7. Do psychological pre-screening for surrogate and counseling for intended parents and surrogate and her husband.
  8. Complete the legal agreement with your attorney.
  9. More Pre-IVF screening for surrogate (hysterosalpinogram and trial embryo transfer)
  10. Get started!

Want to know how much to expect to pay if you do it on your own?

Get independent surrogacy estimate
Or, get ALL of the information and learn more about my complete guide to independent surrogacy.

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  • jaclyn

    Good luck! I hope it all works out for you. If surrogacy in Virginia doesn’t work out, would you be willing to consider surrogacy done internationally? I’ve read about clinics in India that are much cheaper than domestic surrogacy, but it does open new ethical concerns. Best of luck to you.

  • Lindy

    Whitney, I love that you compiled and shared this info in an easy-to-understand format! Thank you for this and I’m praying that the rest of your surrogacy adventure goes smoothly. Looking forward to updates here and on Facebook!

  • I love this compilation of yours,it is very informative without being overwhelming. Best wishes!

  • Jen

    I very badly want to be a gestational carrier, but I haven’t ever had a pregnancy. My husband and I don’t want children of our own, but would love to help another couple! Do you know if there’s any way around the law regarding one live birth?? Thank you!

    • Whitney Anderson

      Jen, I don’t think so. Not in VA, but you could possibly do this in another state? Maybe if the intended parents were in another state? I’m not sure.

  • Nicole

    Thank you for sharing the process. I was having a difficult time in finding the overall process of gestational surrogacy in Virginia. I hope very much that everything works out and, at this point, is going smoothly. My husband and I have just agreed to start the journey of giving someone the gift that we get to enjoy in our two girls and can only hope to find the most perfect intended parents who have also done similar research and have an overall plan. Again, thank you for sharing your knowledge it gives great insight! <3

  • Wen

    Thank you so so much for putting this together. My husband and I are just starting to talk about this possibility (and we live in Virginia) so all of this information is super helpful. THANK YOU!! And best of luck to you!

    • Whitney Anderson

      Wen, Best wishes to you. Would you be interested in joining a private Facebook group that I’m creating for Intended Parents using gestational carriers?

  • Please I can have child by my own if sameone can do a gestational carrier for me I will apreciate , am from texas

    • Whitney Anderson

      Silvia, Good luck to you. I hope you find someone to be a GC for you. Have you told all of your family and friends you are looking for this? Posted it to Facebook?

  • Latasha

    Great info!! I found this website while looking for info about becoming a surragate- it has been a desire of mine for a few years now- hoping all ges well w/ you! 🙂

    • Whitney Anderson

      Thanks, Latasha. Good luck with it. It’s a great thing you are trying to do! Are you in VA, too?

  • Thank you Whitney for posting this information. My husband and I have tried IVF twice and been unsuccessful both times. I have some complicating medical issues that make the process that more complex. After our second try we decided it would be best to look for a gestational carrier. I had my mother offer, but not able, my cousin offered but then back out. My aunt and uncle have offered so we are just beginning the process with them. There is so much information to think about and understand. The second most difficult part I feel so far as been to find an attorney that is reasonable in price and knows/understands the laws. And I agree you have to put it out there that you are looking for a surrogate/carrier because I found out a few of my friends would consider it and that my aunt had already talked with my mother and offered months ago. I hope you are able to find someone that is able to help you make dream of becoming a mother come true soon.

    • Whitney Anderson

      Good luck to you Alliyson! Would you be interested in joining a private Facebook group that I’m creating for Intended Parents using gestational carriers?

  • Vanessa

    Thank you for the great information! My husband and I were on our last steps of egg donor IVF when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. A GC is probably our only way of having a child. The process and expense seems so insurmountable at times.

    • Whitney Anderson

      You’re quite welcome. I am so sorry about the infertility and cancer. It’s so unfair. I never thought using a GC would ever be possible for us either. Let everyone know that you are interested in going this route and see what shakes out. Best of luck to you with your treatment and pursuit of a child. ♥

  • Steffanie

    Thanks for posting this! I’m super, super, super high risk and my doctors are advising me against even trying. We are trying to figure out what we can do in VA or if we should look at trying to find someone in another state.

    • Whitney Anderson

      Steffanie, Just wanted to say good luck to you!

  • Dawndee

    Thanks so much for posting this! I am looking into the possibility of being a GC for a friend and this is a great summary of VA law and the process. I had my own infertility journey, but never had trouble staying pregnant once I got pregnant (2 pregnancies and 3 kids later). I wish you the best with the twins you have on the way – my twins are 4 1/2 years old now.

  • Nicole

    Thank you so much for posting this! I am so happy I was able to find your article. I was diagnosed with Uterine Cancer 8 weeks after the birth of my last child. After undergoing treatments and a hysterectomy I was able to keep one ovary in hopes of being able to complete our family. I am now ready to start this journey but scared to death also. We recently moved to VA and I have been trying to look into the laws here and your article was very helpful. I look forward to spreading the word to everyone I meet here now in hopes of finding an angel that will be willing to carry a child for us. Thank you for this and good luck with your new baby bundles of joy!!

    • Courtney

      Nicole, I’m sorry to hear about your cancer. I have always wanted to be a GS and with the blessing of my husband I am ready to take that step. If you have not found anyone yet I am more than happy to help you grow your family. My email is courtneynbrown@yahoo.com if you would like to talk. If you have already found someone I wish you the best.

  • Cristi

    I have been a surrogate before and am negotiating with another couple to carry for them. If anyone wants info from the perspective of a GC feel free to ask!

  • Ellen

    I have 3 amazing children and have wanted to become a surrogate since my first-born was a baby. Having been adopted myself, I have always wanted the opportunity to give back somehow. I feel like I am called to this and I can’t think of a greater gift to give. I only recently convinced my husband of this:) He is on board and I am thrilled! Thank you for sharing this information and your story!

    • Meghann

      Hi Ellen, I am wondering if you are continuing (or have continued) to research becoming a carrier. My husband and I live in Baltimore and recently found out that I will never carry another child (our daughter is a miracle from our first IVF). We are *imaptiently* searching for a carrier–just haven’t found the right one yet. Are you still interested?

    • Rekha Iyangar

      I am interested ..I am looking for GC please let me know if you can be my surrogate.please send me or email your contact info on Rekha.iyangar1@gmail.com

  • Paige

    Upon a Google search, I found http://www.artparenting.com/surrogate-mothers-virginia.html and http://www.washingtonfertility.com/surrogacy.htm. How are these different from “agencies?” Also, I thought insurance does not cover surrogacy as an infertility treatment? ~Interested in Being a Carrier

    • Whitney Anderson

      Hi Paige. Not familiar with them, but I’m assuming they are charging to “match” you — they are doing that for “free” and then you pay them to be your attorney. As for insurance…no, insurance never covers surrogacy as a fertility treatment. The IPs always have to pay the IVF clinic for that on their own. What IPs are interested in as far as a surrogate’s own insurance — is whether it covers the pregnancy since it is a surrogate pregnancy. IPs don’t want to pay for the pre-natal and birth out of pocket with no insurance coverage. Some exclude surrogacy, some don’t mention it and some include it.

  • Surrogacy is not cheap. And when you think about the human costs and complications involved in delivering a child, it makes sense.

  • whitney moore

    Thank you so much for all your help whitney. My spouse and i just found out that she cant carry children and we want children of our own so bad. I just recently found this page and i was wondering if you still have your facebook page, it would truly be a blessing to have someone carry our child for us, we would pay anything, we love children and are so ready for a family.

  • Pingback: The Infertility Voice | Resolve to Know More About… The Surrogacy Option()

  • Erin

    Great blog. I have some questions for you. Which clinic in VA were you with? Also, if someone has a surrogacy exclusion how much are supplemental plans? So if a family member wants to be my surrogate but has an exclusion it could cost thousands?