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Intended parents are individuals or couples who, often due to certain constraints or personal choices, opt for assisted reproductive technologies (ART) to become parents. You might find your story reflected here, as this term includes a wide range of people, each with their unique narrative and reasons for embarking on the surrogacy journey. Despite coming from different walks of life, all intended parents share the common goal of welcoming a child through surrogacy.

This guide simplifies the surrogacy journey for you, covering key steps, answering your questions and acknowledging the varied backgrounds of intended parents. We focus on everything you need to know to empower you with clarity and support.

Common Questions Intended Parents Have About Surrogacy

1. How Much Does Surrogacy Cost?

Intended parents should expect to budget between $130,000 to $140,000 total for the entire surrogacy process. This estimate encompasses legal and insurance costs, agency and surrogate compensation, among other expenses. Factors like opting for twins, experienced surrogates, donor eggs or additional medical care can influence the total cost.

2. Can Intended Parents Specify Preferred Traits in a Surrogate?

Intended parents often can express preferences for specific traits or qualifications in a surrogate through a reputable surrogacy agency. These preferences may include health history, lifestyle choices, previous surrogacy experiences or personality traits. If you work with an agency, their role is to facilitate a match that aligns with these preferences while ensuring a good mutual fit in terms of values and expectations.

3. Is Meeting the Surrogate a Part of the Process?

The opportunity to meet your surrogate varies based on everyone’s comfort level. Some surrogates and intended parents value meeting in person early to establish a connection. Others feel more comfortable limiting in-person interactions.

Open dialogue is essential to determine what feels right for you and the surrogate. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Most importantly, everyone is on the same page and comfortable with the agreed-upon level of contact.

4. How Is the Surrogacy Process Managed for International IPs?

If you’re an international intended parent, surrogacy involves additional logistics such as understanding different legal systems, handling long-distance communication and coordinating travel. Agencies experienced in international surrogacy play a crucial role in ensuring legal compliance, facilitating effective communication and managing the complexities of surrogacy across borders.

5. How Often Should Intended Parents Be in Touch With the Surrogate?

The frequency of contact can be customized based on what makes all parties feel comfortable. Some surrogates and intended parents communicate regularly throughout the journey. Others prefer less frequent contact mediated through our agency. There is no right or wrong – it all depends on your unique preferences and relationship.

6. What Will Happen After the Surrogate Gives Birth to the Child(ren)?

After the birth, the intended parents will take their baby home and begin their life together as a family. Some surrogates choose to pump and provide breast milk for the baby. Depending on your mutual agreement, you may want to coordinate photo exchanges, video chat or even reunions down the road if desired.

Step by Step: The Surrogacy Process for Intended Parents Explained

Surrogacy is a journey that involves several key steps for intended parents, each significant in its own right. Each stage is crucial, from the initial decision and finding a surrogate to the legal processes and the eventual birth of the child.

A pregnant woman sits with intended parents (male and female) look happy as they go over their surrogacy contract in a living room.

Here is a general overview of each step in the surrogacy process:

  1. Education: Research what to expect, understand the legal and medical aspects and emotionally prepare for the journey of surrogacy.
  2. Consultation: Meet with a fertility specialist to discuss your needs and find the best surrogacy option for you.
  3. Legal Agreements: Work with legal professionals to outline the rights, responsibilities and expectations of all parties involved.
  4. Surrogate Matching: Choose a known surrogate or work with a surrogacy agency to find the right match for you based on compatibility and preferences.
  5. Medical Process: Depending on the plan, medical procedures can include egg and sperm retrieval, in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer.
  6. Prenatal Care: Actively participate in the surrogate’s appointments with their healthcare provider during the pregnancy.
  7. Birth: Be there during the birth to support the surrogate and welcome your child into the world. Legal processes are initiated shortly after to establish parental rights. After that, your journey as a parent begins.

Who Might Become Intended Parents?

Couples Facing Fertility Challenges

According to UCLA Health, 15% of couples experience trouble conceiving. Many couples and individuals facing fertility challenges have endured demanding medical procedures, constant uncertainty and even emotional distress on their path to parenthood. Surrogacy offers these eager intended parents another avenue for having children that circumvents many of these challenges.

Single Parents

It’s becoming more common for individuals to make the decision to become parents without a romantic partner, and surrogacy can be a great way to make that happen. Those who have decided to embrace solo parenthood are often met with their own unique challenges, like financial considerations, parental rights, emotional support and legal complexities. That’s why single intended parents need to work with a surrogate who supports their family structure and communicates openly.

LGBTQ+ Couples

As societal attitudes have changed over the years, there is a growing number of LGBTQ+ couples and individuals who pursue surrogacy to start their family. Even so, there are still unique challenges this community faces. LGBTQ+ individuals can face discrimination bias within the healthcare system, as well as social stigma and judgment from others that can feel discouraging. It’s important to understand these challenges and remain inclusive so that these couples and individuals feel supported on their journey to parenthood.

International Parents

Some couples and individuals pursue surrogacy options outside of their home countries. Reasons for this can include:

  • Cost differentials between countries.
  • Cultural attitudes toward surrogacy.
  • Higher-quality medical care.

Laws can vary significantly across countries around surrogacy — in some nations, it’s completely illegal. The United States is widely considered a safe and surrogacy-friendly option for international intended parents, with regulation and legal protections in many states.

Parents with Medical Conditions

There are a number of medical conditions that can impact a couple or individual’s ability to conceive. Some examples include

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): A common condition that affects hormones in females.
  • Male factor infertility: Can be attributed to low sperm count, abnormal sperm morphology, poor sperm mobility and more.
  • Endometriosis: When tissue called endometrium grows outside the uterus.

Surrogacy offers a way to have a biological child despite these obstacles.

Parents with Different Cultural and Ethnic Backgrounds

Intended parents come from all types of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and it’s important to consider this in surrogacy arrangements. For instance, different cultures have diverse beliefs, customs and values, and surrogacy arrangements should respect and support these cultural nuances.

Some cultures encourage surrogacy, while others may have their qualms, so it’s crucial to be empathetic and mindful when partnering cross-culturally. Open communication is the cornerstone of a happy and successful surrogacy journey, so linguistic differences must also be considered to foster clear dialogue and avoid damaging misunderstandings.

Parents of All Ages

The ages of intended parents can vary greatly, and it’s common for couples and individuals of different age groups to have different motivations for pursuing surrogacy. Younger intended parents may be excited to start their family but are struggling with infertility due to medical or genetic factors. Additionally, surrogacy may be more practical to avoid interruption to any career or educational pursuits. 

For older intended parents, they may have decided to start their family after reaching an age where their fertility has decreased, or their risk for pregnancy complications and genetic abnormalities have increased. Outside of health considerations, they may be more established in their career and financially stable, and pursuing surrogacy may be more viable for them than when they were younger.

Parents From Various Economic Backgrounds

Intended parents seeking out surrogacy come from a wide variety of economic backgrounds. For high-income couples and individuals, it may be easier to allocate funds and cover the total cost of the surrogacy process. 

Those with middle-class income will likely budget carefully and explore options like loans or payment plans. Low-income intended parents may need to save money for a long time, explore financial assistance programs or grants and have reduced options for surrogates due to financial constraints.

The Value of Diversity Among Intended Parents

One of the most beautiful aspects of surrogacy is that it can change the lives of people from all backgrounds. Intended parents all have their own unique stories, experiences and reasons for choosing surrogacy to have children. Making the effort to understand, respect and support these different backgrounds makes the journey of surrogacy inclusive and empathetic for all.

Become an Intended Parent with the Help of Joy of Life Surrogacy

Intended parents have a variety of reasons and unique stories that led them to choose surrogacy — but the one thing they have in common is the desire to grow their family. 

Surrogacy is a fantastic option for LGBTQ+ couples, couples with fertility challenges, single intended parents and many others. At Joy of Life, we believe that people from all walks of life can experience the joy of raising a child through communication, empathy and inclusivity. Contact us to find out how we can help you become a parent.

Joy Millan

Author Joy Millan

I’m Joy, the founder and CEO of Joy of Life. With a professional background as a fertility clinician, I’ve spent thousands of hours working with surrogates and intended parents alike. As a mother of two, I often wished for more support and a deeper commitment to care for those embarking on non-traditional family-building journeys. This is why I established Joy of Life: to create a more robust, compassionate experience in parenthood for both parties involved with surrogacy. In 2021, I stepped back from daily operations at Joy of Life to fight cancer. Fortunately, the combined 20 years of experience from our incredible team has allowed me to focus on my health & recovery. I continue to provide company guidance and serve as the head liaison for our network of doctors, clinicians and caregivers.

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