We all know that it takes a village to raise a child. But in some cases, it can take a village to even conceive a child.
There are so many people who would love to start a family but are unable to get or be pregnant. Sometimes, a woman has a medical condition that would be worsened by pregnancy or childbirth. For some people, pregnancy and childbirth could even be fatal. There are times when a woman has tried multiple times to conceive and has miscarried in each attempt. In other instances, the necessary biological parts to conceive and carry a baby just aren’t there, such as with same-sex couples and single moms. For these deserving people who want to become parents, the options for building a family are limited and can be costly.
- One option that is becoming more popular is surrogacy.
It can be difficult, though, to find someone that is qualified to carry a pregnancy for someone else. Thankfully, there are resources that can help. One local resource is Vermont Surrogacy Network (VSN), an agency that specializes in matching intended parents with women who are willing to help others achieve their dreams.
Jes Stumpf and Kurt Hughes founded VSN back in 2014 when Jes was undergoing her own surrogacy journey. Since then, they’ve helped build families around the country and the world by matching parents and surrogates. Vermont Surrogacy Network’s mission is to create a personal, ethical, and affordable experience for both intended parents and surrogates.
- Have you ever offered (or considered offering) your “womb for rent” to a friend or family member that’s struggling with fertility issues? Was pregnancy a fantastic experience for you that you’d love to relive, even though your own family is complete? Perhaps you’ve already looked into becoming a surrogate, but aren’t sure where to start.
What is surrogacy?
The word “surrogate” in its most basic form, means substitute, or one who acts in place of another. In this setting, it refers to the fact that one woman is carrying a pregnancy for another person who isn’t able to, for a number of different reasons.
There are two specific types of surrogates:
- A traditional surrogate is a woman who carries a pregnancy that’s been created with her own eggs and the sperm of someone with whom she isn’t sexually intimate (either the intended father or a donor). This means that the surrogate would be carrying a child that is genetically hers. Traditional surrogacy carries significant legal and ethical considerations and is not offered at VSN.
- A gestational surrogate is a woman who carries a pregnancy created with eggs and sperm from other parties. The child she would be carrying has no genetic link to her, which reduces the risk of any legal complications. Even so, gestational surrogacy is not something that is supported in every state. Gestational surrogates can be a friend or family member of the intended parents (known as compassionate carry) or can be found through an agency.
Are there any basic requirements for becoming a surrogate?
Every state and every surrogacy agency has specific requirements for their potential surrogates. At VSN, initial guidelines recommend that potential surrogates:
- Be between the ages of 23 and 42
- Be US citizens
- Have a BMI under 35
- Have had at least one successful pregnancy and childbirth
- Have health insurance that covers pregnancy
- Have not had more than 3 c-sections.
If you are interested in becoming a gestational surrogate, and you’ve determined that you meet the initial requirements, fill out and submit the contact form. You’ll get an email response prompting you to schedule an initial call with Jes.
Once you’ve had a chance to speak with Jes, she’ll give you access to the online portal where you’ll complete your application. You’ll be asked about your medical, pregnancy, and delivery history. You’ll also answer questions regarding what your ideal surrogacy journey would look like, such as: how far you’re willing to travel for the cycle; how many embryos you’re willing to transfer; whether you are okay with carrying a multiple pregnancy; and if you wish to allow the intended parents in the delivery room. This will help intended parents determine if you’re a good match for them and how they imagine their journey.
Are surrogates paid for their service?
Surrogates that are matched through an agency do receive compensation. Compassionate carriers are not necessarily paid for their service unless there is an agreement for this in place with the intended parents. There are also a number of different expenses that are covered by the intended parents, and not the surrogate, from the initial screening tests to a clothing allowance, to mileage and lost wages. All of the expenses are finalized in the legal contract, but Vermont Surrogacy Network has an extensive list of potential expenses and reimbursements that are available to surrogates. Surrogates are required to have medical insurance that will cover their pregnancy once it is achieved.