What is Gestational Surrogacy?

Gestational surrogacy allows a person or couple who can’t become or stay pregnant to have a child that is biologically theirs. Through invitro fertilization (IVF), a doctor combines sperm from the intended father (or a sperm donor) with eggs from the intended mother (or an egg donor) in the lab.  These embryos are then tested to make sure that they are genetically normal then frozen.  They are later transferred to the uterus of a very special third person, a gestational surrogate, who will take excellent care of herself and the baby that grows within her womb. In about nine months, the gestational surrogate will deliver the baby on behalf of very grateful intended parents. The entire process usually takes 15 to 18 months.

Becoming a Surrogate

It takes an exceptional woman to become a surrogate. Our surrogates describe their journeys as filled with a sense of purpose. Seeing a newborn baby you helped to create in the arms of his or her elated parents is an incredibly fulfilling experience.

FFS surrogates want to help others and, at the same time, help themselves and their own families. In fact, love of family moves most of our surrogates to give back in this way – helping another couple to become a parents. Some surrogates become interested in surrogacy because they have watched a friend or relative struggle with infertility.  Others describe themselves as being “called” to surrogacy.  Many say that the idea had been percolating in their minds for many years before they acted on it.

The surrogacy journey is mutually beneficial. Surrogates and intended parents are parties to a binding legal contract that benefits and is fair to both. Intended parents realize their dream of having a baby and surrogates realize dreams of their own, such as staying at home with their children for another year or two, getting a head start on an college fund, or earning a down payment for a new house.

If you’d like to help intended parents create a family, earn money while doing something wonderful, and you enjoy being pregnant, please fill out this short online survey to see if you qualify for surrogacy with FFS. Our Surrogate Coordinator will call you within one business day of receiving your completed survey. If you’d like to talk right away, feel free to reach out to her at valerie@ffsurrogacy.com or 303-257-5151.

As an FFS surrogate, you will:

  • Set your own surrogate fee – so that you can be sure you receive the highest compensation available in your area, based on supply and demand. You may adjust your compensation fee amount at any time prior to matching.
  • Match immediately – FFS has a waiting list of intended parents right now. If you set your fee within the recommended range for your area, based on insurance and experience, you’ll be matched immediately after you pass the psychological screening.
  • Choose your intended parents  – FFS does extensive screening of both surrogates and intended parents and, as part of that process, we endeavor to match you with parents who’ll be a good fit for your personality and circumstances. That said, you have the final say on which intended parents you match with. At FFS, both sides have to accept a match with one another – and we will never pressure you to accept a match.

The Surrogacy Process – Step by Step

PRELIMINARY SCREENING

SCREENING & MATCHING

CLINIC VISIT

CONTRACTS

EMBRYO TRANSFER

PREGNANCY & BIRTH

 Understanding the Process

Family Forward Surrogacy is unique in that we allow surrogates to set their own fees.  You can set your fee as high or low as you believe is fair.  If your compensation is very high in comparison to other surrogates it may take you longer to be matched.  You can start with a higher fee and then lower it if it is taking too long to match.  On average first-time surrogates with surrogacy-friendly health insurance ask for a fee of $46,000 (about $48,000 including allowance and other benefits) in Maryland and Pennsylvania, and $42,000 ($44,000 including allowance and other benefits) in other surrogacy-friendly states. Surrogates with no health insurance or health insurance that has an exclusion for surrogacy should expect $2,000 – $5000 less in compensation.

You will receive an extra fee of $10,000 per additional child carried (e.g., an extra $10,000 for twins).

Experienced surrogates can set a higher rate depending upon how many successful surrogacies they’ve completed – usually about $5,000 more per successful surrogacy until you reach the maximum of five prior pregnancies total, or two or three (depending on the IVF clinic’s requirements) C-sections total.

Additional Compensation and Expenses:

  • Lost wages for appointments or doctor-ordered bed rest – cap of $10,000 over the term of the surrogacy
  • Up to four weeks lost wages postpartum for a vaginal birth and up to six weeks postpartum for a C-section
  • Travel, lodging and meals during surrogacy-related travel
  • Maternity clothes allowance of $500, or $750 for multiples
  • Life insurance policy

All costs related to the surrogacy, such as travel and lost wages, will be paid directly or reimbursed to you by the intended parents, so you can be comfortable that you won’t have any unanticipated costs.

For a detailed list see the FFS Compensation Guidelines.

Medical:

  • Age 25-41
  • BMI between 19-32
  • Have given birth to a child you are raising
  • Uncomplicated pregnancies carried to at least 38 weeks for a singleton or 36 weeks for twins
  • No more than three previous cesarean sections
  • No more than five total previous deliveries

Lifestyle:

  • Non-smoker with no exposure to second-hand smoke
  • Supportive family and friends
  • Healthy with no serious medical issues
  • No drug use
  • No criminal background (surrogate or partner)
  • If receiving government assistance, must also have a source of income
  • Live in a surrogacy-friendly state.  You may not live in Michigan, Nebraska, Louisiana, Indiana or Arizona

As a small agency, we have the luxury of taking the time to get to know you.  We work with both surrogates and intended parents to understand preferences and expectations for the journey.  We’ll ask questions about how you would like to communicate with each other during the pregnancy and how often. Do you want to match with a traditional married couple or would you prefer to match with two Intended Fathers?  Do you want the IPs to come with you to most of the appointments or just to milestones like the 20-week sonogram? We take great care to match you with IPs who have similar expectations for the journey. And, if for some reason you don’t feel the first IPs you are matched with are the perfect fit, we’ll match you with another set of IPs.

FFS has a waiting list of IPs and can present you with matches within one week of your completing the application and psychological screening.

In order to become pregnant with the IPs child, you will have take medications, either by injection or via transvaginal suppository, over a period of about two weeks to develop the lining of your uterus. The IPs IVF clinic will prescribe the medications and give you a detailed calendar of when and how much medication you should take each day. The clinic will also teach you (and your partner) how to administer injections and use suppositories. While taking the medications you’ll go to a few monitoring appointments, either at the IPs’ IVF clinic or at a clinic close to your home, to check how your body is responding to the medications. The monitoring is done through blood tests and transvaginal ultrasounds.

When it is time to become pregnant you will travel to the IPs IVF clinic to have the embryo transferred into your womb.  The transfer procedure is simple and feels similar to having a pap smear. You should be able to travel home (if you are not local to the clinic) the day of transfer or the following day. About two weeks after embryo transfer, you will have a pregnancy test!  If the pregnancy test is positive you will continue to administer medications to yourself until about 10-12 weeks gestation.  At that time your care will be handed off to a local OB/GYN and should be similar to your previous pregnancies.

For a detailed step by step guide to the entire surrogacy process please see our guide to “The Surrogacy Process – Step by Step.” 

 SURROGATE FAQs

Simply put, to protect yourself. FFS requires IPs to participate in a psychological counseling session prior to matching to ensure that they are stable and emotionally prepared for the process of becoming parents through surrogacy. We require that the IPs submit financial records to FFS so that we may verify they have the financial means to complete the surrogacy process. We also require that your entire fee, plus expected medical expenses and an additional buffer amount, are put into an escrow account before you have an embryo transfer. 

You and the IPs will sign a binding legal agreement, the Gestational Surrogacy Agreement (GSA), that is fair to both sides. You’ll have your own lawyer experienced in Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) to represent you and to make sure you and your family are protected. The IPs will have their own lawyer. The GSA will be based on the FFS Surrogate Compensation Guidelines to protect you and make sure that you are fairly compensated for the time, discomfort, and personal sacrifices you make throughout the surrogacy journey. Additionally, FFS will act as a sounding board and mediator for you and, if necessary, talk with the IPs about any issues you may not be comfortable discussing with them directly.

FFS is a small agency dedicated to making the surrogacy experience a positive one that you’ll always cherish. We’ve been in business for nine years and have, on average, 12 births per year. We’re not trying to be the biggest. We’re working Moms with families of our own, and FFS is not just a job to us…it’s our passion. FFS is in the fortunate position of being able to choose the IPs with whom we work. The bottom line is that if we have any reservations about IPs, we don’t accept them into our program. That said, we still have a waiting list of IPs. Sandra Lippard, our founder, is a former Intended Mother and Mom to twin girls delivered by Missie, a wonderful gestational surrogate. Valerie Miller, our Surrogate Coordinator, carried and delivered a little boy for a couple in the United Kingdom. As a result of our personal experiences, we truly understand the process and the emotions from the inside out. 

We’ll take the time to get to know you and your hopes and expectations for your surrogacy journey. We ask detailed questions of both you and the IPs, and put a great deal of thought into the match we suggest for you. However, if you don’t feel comfortable with the match we propose, you can choose to work with other IPs. You’re our client as much as the IPs are, and we want you to be happy and have a great experience that you will always treasure.

Medical:

  • Age 25-41
  • BMI between 19-32
  • Have given birth to a child you are raising in your own home
  • All pregnancies have been uncomplicated and carried to at least 38 weeks for a singleton or 36 weeks for twins.
  • No more than two Cesarean Sections or five total previous births

Lifestyle

  • Non-smoker with no exposure to second-hand smoke
  • Family and friends supportive of decision to be surrogate
  • Healthy with no serious medical issues
  • No drug use
  • No criminal background for either the surrogate or her partner
  • If receiving government assistance, must also have a steady source of income
  • Live in a surrogacy-friendly state.  You may not live in Michigan, Nebraska, Louisiana, Indiana or Arizona.  

Family Forward Surrogacy is unique in that we allow surrogates to set their own fees.  You can set your fee as high or low as you believe is fair.  If your compensation is very high in comparison to other surrogates it may take you longer to be matched.  You can start with a higher fee and then lower it if it is taking too long to match.  

The industry averages are as follows:  First-time surrogates with surrogacy-friendly health insurance usually ask for a fee of $46,000 (about $48,000 including allowance and other benefits) in Maryland and Pennsylvania, and $42,000 ($44,000 including allowance and other benefits) in other surrogacy-friendly states. Surrogates with no health insurance or health insurance that has an exclusion for surrogacy should expect compensation of $4,000 to $5,000 less.  

There is an additional fee of $10,000 per child carried (e.g., an extra $10,000 for twins). 

Experienced surrogates typically ask for higher fees depending upon how many successful surrogacies they’ve had – usually about $5,000 more per successful surrogacy until you reach the maximum of five prior pregnancies total, or two or three (depending on the IPs’ IVF clinic’s requirements) C-sections total. 

Additional Compensation and Expenses:

  • Lost wages for appointments or doctor-ordered bed rest – cap of $10,000 over the term of the surrogacy 
  • Up to four weeks lost wages postpartum for a vaginal birth and up to six weeks postpartum for a C-section 
  • Travel, lodging and meals during surrogacy-related travel
  • Maternity clothes allowance of $500, or $750 for multiples
  • Life insurance policy 

All costs related to the surrogacy, such as travel and lost wages, will be paid directly or reimbursed to you by the intended parents, so you can be comfortable that you won’t have any unanticipated costs.   

Click here for detailed compensation guidelines.

It’s standard practice for agencies to require that you are in a stable situation and are not pursuing surrogacy at an uncertain or difficult time in your life. Also, the fees you earn from surrogacy could jeopardize your ability to receive government assistance. 

FFS can match you as soon as you complete the administrative documents and pass the psychological screening. FFS has a waiting list of IPs and can present you with matches within one week of completing the application and psychological screening.

For the medicated cycle(s), you’ll take medications, either by injection or via vaginal suppository, over a period of about two weeks to develop the lining of your uterus. You’ll go to a few monitoring appointments, either at the IPs’ IVF clinic or at a clinic close to your home, to monitor how your body is responding to the medications. The monitoring is done through blood tests and transvaginal ultrasounds. Your body must be able to develop a uterine lining of at least 8mm thick to be cleared to become a surrogate.

After the legal and financial pieces are in place, and it is time to become pregnant you will have an embryo transfer.  The transfer procedure is simple and feels similar to having a pap smear. You should be able to travel home (if you are not local to the clinic) the day of transfer or the following day. About 10-12 days after embryo transfer, you will have a pregnancy test!

You can start the agency screening process soon after delivery as it can take a few months to gather all the medical records and complete the agency paperwork.  Most IVF clinics want you to wait for at least six months after giving birth to begin the clinic’s screening process.  You will also have to stop breastfeeding before you start a medicated cycle. 

No, if you don’t have health insurance or you have health insurance with an exclusion for surrogacy, the IPs can buy health insurance to cover the pregnancy. These policies are typically at least $5,000, so your compensation may be lower if you don’t have surrogacy-friendly insurance.

Yes! Go ahead and start the application process. When we talk with you live, we can discuss your timeline. You’ll have to stop breastfeeding before undergoing IVF treatment.

In order to become a surrogate, you must not have taken anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medications for at least 12 months prior to applying. You may not be a surrogate with FFS if you have had postpartum depression in the past.

A critical part of the surrogacy process is that you abstain from intercourse for a period of two to four weeks prior to and just after embryo transfer. The IVF clinic you work with will give you more specific instructions about this.

Usually, the IPs choose an IVF clinic near their home. If you live more than 100 miles round trip from the clinic, the IPs will cover the costs of travel, hotel and meals while you are visiting the area for testing and embryo transfer. At about eight to 12 weeks gestation, the IVF doctor will hand over primary responsibility to an OB/GYN. You can usually continue to use the OB/GYN you already see, but in some cases, the IPs will want you to have a different OB/GYN (for instance, if your OB does not have a favorable view of surrogacy). You may also have to be followed by a high-risk OB/GYN or Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) doctor if the pregnancy becomes high risk (all multiples pregnancies are considered high risk). The hospital where you’ll deliver is usually dictated by where your OB/GYN has privileges, but if the pregnancy is high risk, the hospital may be chosen based on the level of its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

In almost all cases, the IPs would like to be in the delivery room to experience the birth of their child and to support you. In the case of a C-section, only one support person is allowed in the operating room. We encourage you to talk with your IPs about preferences before you match to be sure that you have similar expectations. Most surrogates say that the most gratifying moment of the entire journey is when she sees the baby in the the IPs arms for the first time. That said, if the baby decides to come early and the IPs live far away, they may not be able to get to the hospital in time to participate in the birth.

The IPs will have all parental rights, all financial responsibilities, and will make all medical decisions regarding the baby. The baby will be covered under the IPs’ health insurance from the moment of birth. You will be compensated, as described above, for lost wages for up to four weeks after a vaginal delivery or up to six weeks after a C-section. Most often, the surrogate and the IPs will see one another a few times in the weeks after birth and will continue to communicate via email or video conference, depending upon how the relationship developed during the pregnancy. Almost every IP will occasionally send pictures of the baby and almost always send holiday cards in December or January. Some FFS surrogates have attended first birthdays and a few visit with the IP family on an ongoing basis.

You don’t have to pump breastmilk for the baby, but many IPs would like you to do so. It would be a good idea to talk about this and make a decision prior to matching, so everyone has the same expectations. About half of our surrogates pump milk for at least three weeks after birth. You will, of course, be compensated ($25 a day) for your breastmilk.

The Gestational Surrogacy Agreement will require you and the IPs to participate in court proceedings to establish the IPs as the sole legal parents of the baby or babies. In most states in which FFS operates, a pre-birth order will be issued at about 22-24 weeks gestation so that the IPs’ names will appear on the birth certificate. In other states, you may be required to complete some paperwork after the birth. These proceedings will terminate your parental rights and ensure that the IPs are the legal parents of the baby. The specific procedure for you and your IPs will be outlined in detail in your GSA.

Surrogates are not considered employees of the agency or the IPs. Neither FFS or the IPs will issue a W2 or 1099. Please discuss the tax treatment of surrogacy income with a tax professional in your state.

If the IPs get divorced, you won’t have to take care of the baby. The IPs are still responsible for the baby and will have to work out custody arrangements between themselves.

The Gestational Surrogacy Agreement names a legal guardian(s) of the baby or babies if the IPs die prior to birth.

Surrogate Testimonials

  • From the beginning Valerie was always there to answer my questions and help me step by step through the whole process. Whether it was by email, phone calls or text messages she responded quickly to me and I appreciate her guidance throughout the process. She even introduced me to another lady that lived in the same town as me and who was a surrogate at the time. It was great to get her perspective on it all and have someone close to me to reach out to.
  • Becoming a surrogate made me realize just how much I love helping other people and got me started with helping other organizations within my community. Becoming a surrogate also helped me show my children how special it is to help others. They were with me every step of the way and gained an extended family.
  • The mostly rewarding thing about this is I got to be a part of creating a family for someone. Seeing them hold their child for the first time was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever been a part of.
  • Do it! You won’t regret the impact being a surrogate will have on you. It is one of the greatest things I have ever done. If I could have done this again and again I wouldn’t have hesitated.