What is a gestational surrogate?
A gestational surrogate is a woman who acts as a “host carrier” for a couple or individual, who either due to medical or personal reasons is unable to carry their own child. In such circumstances, a patient may require the assistance of a gestational surrogate to go through the In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) process and have embryos not genetically related to the surrogate, implanted in her uterus via an embryo transfer (ET). This process can be a fresh transfer of embryos or the transfer of those frozen from a previous IVF cycle. This process is called a frozen embryo transfer (FET).
The intention is for the surrogate to:
1) achieve pregnancy via this procedure (with the patient’s child(ren))
2) carry the baby(ies) to term
3) upon delivery, relinquish the baby(ies) to the care of the intended parents.
The surrogate would not be genetically related to the child, thereby negating many of the legal/ethical issues surrounding traditional surrogacy. She is, in essence, “renting her womb.”
About the Footsteps to Family Gestational Surrogacy Program
Footsteps to Family recruits women who are between the ages of 21 and 38 with a history of at least one full-term, uncomplicated pregnancy and live delivery. She should be a United States resident, a non-smoker and be willing to submit to random drug testing. Although government assistance is acceptable, this should not be her sole source of income. Surrogates are required to complete the Gestational Surrogate application. It is important for the surrogate to understand that completing and returning her application does not guarantee she will be accepted into the program. She will need to undergo screening prior to final approval of her application.
If interested, please click on the link below and fill out the required information. A username and password will be sent to you via e-mail once the initial application process has been completed.
After a lengthy program acceptance process involving a mandatory psychological evaluation and background check, approved gestational surrogates may be accepted into the program. Concurrently, the intended parents will complete an application process in order to facilitate the progression of “matching.”
What is the matching process for a gestational surrogate and intended parents?
This is a two-way process. At this stage, a Footsteps To Family staff member will evaluate the needs of the gestational surrogate and those of the intended parents. The goal is to find like-minded individuals who have common objectives and expectations of the upcoming process. Once a potential match has been identified by Footsteps to Family and both parties have reviewed the profiles and are interested, a phone conversation or video conference call is initiated and facilitated by a Surrogate Coordinator.
Following the conference call, provided both parties remain interested and desirous of such, the match can be confirmed. Should the Intended Parents wish to have an in-person meeting, this will be coordinated and facilitated by Footsteps To Family at the expense of the intended parents.
Upon confirmation from both parties that there is interest in moving forward to the next step, Footsteps to Family will consider the match to be completed and all identifying information exchanged. Separate legal counsel is required to negotiate the terms of the contract between the parties. All contracts must be signed before the commencement of any cycle. At the time of legal referral, information is also forwarded to the cycling clinic. At this time, application for insurance will be submitted for the surrogates who do not currently have medical coverage.
After the contracts are signed and health insurance coverage verified, the IVF/ET/FET cycle is scheduled and the gestational surrogate is medically screened. This process will be done in accordance to the screening parameters set by the intended parent’s clinic and the FDA requirements. Following acceptable results from the tests, both the surrogate and the intended mother (or ovum donor) will start their stimulation process in accordance to the calendar prepared by their cycling clinic. If the cycle is a frozen transfer, only the gestational surrogate will begin the medications.
Once a pregnancy is confirmed by ultrasound confirmation of a fetal heartbeat, the obstetrical care for the gestational surrogate will be taken over by her chosen OB/GYN. Although contact with the medical staff of the cycling clinic will most likely dissipate, Footsteps to Family will be in constant communication with the gestational surrogate and the intended parents throughout the pregnancy and for one month post partum.