Pregnant woman

Our surrogate standards are strict, but we have a good reason. Credit: Anna Maria Liljestrand, Flickr

For many surrogacy agencies, including Circle of Life Surrogacy, one of the biggest challenges we face is building up our database of qualified surrogates. This might be surprising to you. After all, our surrogates can make anywhere from $25,000 to $45,000, and that’s not including all the perks like a clothing allowance, health insurance, life insurance, and even optional nutritional counseling. Why, then, would it be so hard to find a few good surrogates?

The reason is because in order to make a good surrogate, a woman must meet a strict set of standards to ensure that they are ready for the challenges and rigors of the surrogacy process. If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to be a surrogate (at least at Circle of Life Surrogacy), keep reading. Here are the primary standards we require for our surrogates:

Surrogates must be between 21 and 41 years old

We want to work with mature women who are in a stable life situation so they can take good care of themselves and the little life growing inside of them. This is why we ask that our surrogates be at least 21 years old. We cap the age at 41 based on recommendations by reproductive endocrinologists. After a woman reaches a certain age, her ability to conceive decreases. Future parents pay thousands of dollars and put a lot of hope into the IVF treatment a surrogate receives, and in return we want to give them the best chance possible of a happy outcome.

Surrogates must have had a healthy pregnancy/pregnancies and have custody of at least one child

We want to work with surrogates who’ve shown that they can carry a healthy baby to term. Many future parents – and surrogates too – also worry that the surrogate will become too attached to the child they are carrying and will have trouble giving it up to its parents after the birth. One way to help mitigate these worries is to ensure that the surrogate already has custody of her own children. When a surrogate already has her own little ones to watch, care for, clean, and love, then she has no need to get overly attached to her surrogate child.

General good mental and physical health

Our surrogates must pass a medical screening to make sure they are healthy enough to carry a child to term. A BMI greater than 32 may decrease the success rate of IVF, so our surrogates must have a BMI less than 32.

Our surrogates must also pass a psychological evaluation that will be conducted by a licensed professional. It’s important that potential surrogates not have any history of post-partum depression or currently be taking any anti-depression medications.

No serious criminal records

The best surrogates have a stable home environment and are surrounded by a supportive family. If a surrogate, her partner, or anyone living in her home has a serious criminal record, this shows us that she is not in a stable environment or may not be able to handle the responsibility of taking care of herself and the baby during pregnancy.

Of course, if you or your spouse have a minor misdemeanor in your past, like shoplifting as a teen, then this wouldn’t eliminate you as a surrogate candidate. Past convictions for drug possession, assault, robbery, child or elder abuse, etc… are much more serious crimes that would most likely disqualify you from becoming a surrogate.

No government assistance

We ask that our surrogates not be on any type of government assistance, including welfare, food stamps, or government provided health insurance.

This particular standard eliminates many surrogate candidates. You may wonder why we don’t work with surrogates on government assistance when so many surrogates choose surrogacy to earn extra income. We want to ensure that all of our surrogates are in a financially stable situation so that they can take great care of themselves and the child they are carrying. Also, many government programs require a family to be at a certain income level in order to receive benefits. The income generated from the surrogacy could very well kick a woman and her family out of these programs so that she loses her assistance. This could create greater instability in her life.

This standard leads to our last and most important requirement:

It can’t just be about the money

Yes, the money is good and oftentimes it is a big help! The first time I chose to be a surrogate, it was because I needed to support myself and my two young children while I was putting myself through nursing school. We expect that our surrogates look forward to earning a nice bit of extra money for themselves and their family through the surrogacy process, but that can’t be the only reason they want to be a surrogate. Many times, our surrogates develop deep bonds with the couple they are helping. That is why we look for compassionate women who will find joy in helping future parents in need finally become parents.

We want to find women who love the higher calling of being surrogate. If that describes you, then please contact us or fill out our surrogate application. We are actively looking to add more qualified surrogates to our database.