Everything You Need to Know About Surrogacy ✅

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Surrogacy is rapidly growing as a way to grow families. In 2019, surrogates were part of 5.4% of all in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures in 2019. Why? It is the most successful treatment for infertility, with a 75% success rate. That number can increase as high as 95% for a birth once the gestational carrier is pregnant.

ConceiveAbilities has been helping hopeful people build their families by working with surrogates and egg donors for 25 years, a time during which assisted reproductive technology has gone through a revolution. And, we’ve learned so much during that time as we’ve witnessed an entire generation of families come into being. Here’s our take on the most common questions asked by potential surrogates, intended parents, egg donors and those that support all participants in this most modern of ways to build families.

What is Surrogacy?

Surrogacy is a modern and growing means of bringing new life into the world, where a woman carries a baby for another person or a couple. The intended parents undergo IVF meaning fertilization outside of the body, to transfer their embryo into the surrogate's uterus. In our work at ConceiveAbilities, surrogates are not genetically or legally related to the baby and are compensated for their time and service by the intended parents. In 2019, more than 17,000 births took place by surrogate in the United States and the market is steadily growing at 15% per year based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And, in the past ten years, the percentage of all IVF transfers that took place with a gestational carrier grew more than 5-fold, from just over 1% to 5.4%.

A surrogate, or gestational carrier, is a woman who carries a baby for an individual or a couple that has no genetic relationship to her. The person who is trying to have a baby with the help of the surrogate is known as an intended parent. At ConceiveAbilities, we work with intended parents who undergo IVF so that the surrogate can carry a baby to whom she is not genetically or legally related. The surrogate is paid for her time and efforts by the intended parent(s). The embryo is created from the intended father’s sperm, or donor sperm, and the intended mother’s egg, or donor egg. When the baby is born, the intended parents are listed on the birth certificate as the legal parents and assume all responsibility for the child.

People often misunderstand what a gestational carrier, or surrogate, is. Today, in a modern surrogacy journey, a gestational surrogate has no genetic relation to the baby she is carrying for another person. In prior times, however, a traditional surrogate used her egg and also carried the baby for the intended family. Dr. Daniel Shapiro of Reproductive Biology Associates further explains the difference between a traditional vs gestational surrogate.

To understand surrogacy success rates is to understand how and why surrogacy is the best chance in making a dream of a family come true. This data helps potential surrogate mothers have confidence that their time and commitment to helping a family is highly likely to have a joyous outcome.

Learn more about what is surrogacy here.

Why Does Someone Need a Surrogate?

There are many reasons people choose surrogacy to make their dream of a family come true including infertility, medical reasons, and men who don’t have a uterus. Some women have medical reasons like our intended mother Kelly Cesare who had a heart transplant and survived cancer. She shared her story in the New York Post article Surrogacy Legal in NY: What This Means For New Yorkers.

Intended parent Ashley Katzen shared her fertility journey and how she decided to use a surrogate to build her family in An Intended Parent's Surrogacy Journey.

Between 10-20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. According to the March of Dimes, that number may be as high as 50% when we take into account pregnancies ending before a woman misses a menstrual cycle. Intended parent, Lara Beth Levy, shared how she and her husband chose to use a surrogate after suffering miscarriages with the NY Post.

Not all surrogacy journeys begin with an infertility diagnosis. Some choose surrogacy for personal reasons. Surrogacy is also a highly successful option for the LGBTQ+ community and single men to become parents. Listen to A Single Dad’s Surrogacy Journey with Joseph Tito of The Dad Diaries to hear how Joseph, a single gay dad of twins, became a father through his surrogacy journey. Learn more about the people a woman can help by becoming a surrogate in Six Reasons to Use a Surrogate Mother. Surrogates are so very needed and treasured to grow families.

Learn more about why does someone need a surrogate here.

What is Infertility?

Infertility is a disease of the male or female reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a pregnancy after trying to conceive for 12 months or more. Infertility affects 6.7 million women in the U.S., about 11% of the population's reproductive-age population. It's estimated that 1 in 8 couples (or 12% of married women) has trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy.

Fertility declines as people age. A couple of ages 29-33 with a normal functioning reproductive system has only a 20-25% chance of conceiving in any month. After six months of trying, 60% of couples will conceive without medical assistance.

Approximately one-third of infertility is attributed to the female partner, one-third to the male partner, and one-third is caused by a combination of problems in both partners or is unexplained.

What causes infertility? There is a wide range of potential sources. For instance, one cause of female infertility is something called hostile cervical mucus, often referred to as a hostile uterusHashimoto’s disease is also linked to infertility and can make getting pregnant more difficult. That’s because decreased levels of thyroid hormone interfere with ovulation.

Another cause of female infertility has to do with a hormone called prolactin. When levels of prolactin are high, it can be an indicator of deeper hormonal issues and, potentially, lead to infertility.

Learn more about what is infertility here.

What Are Infertility Treatments?

Some women seek infertility treatment using medicines like Letrozole to induce ovulation and improve endometrial thickness. Since Letrozole only addresses ovulation, it doesn’t impact other potential root causes of infertility.

40% of female infertility is related to tubal factor infertility. In order to get an official diagnosis, doctors may perform an hysterosalpingogram (HSG) test, a procedure that can help diagnose tubal occlusion or obstruction, as well as uterine malformations, pelvic inflammatory disease, and Asherman’s syndrome. Once confirmed, women may have a clearer understanding of the next steps to take in order to build their family.

Couples that are pursuing infertility treatments may live on an emotional roller coaster, as each pregnancy attempt is high stakes. They learn the difference between a viable and non-viable pregnancy and, while a couple who suffers from a non-viable pregnancy may well find future success, repeated setbacks may lead the couple to consider a different path to build their family.

Learn more about what are infertility treatments here.

How Do Intended Parents Find a Surrogate?

A surrogacy journey requires a large team of professionals to reach the end goal of having a child.

Finding the right surrogate to partner with can make all the difference in a successful surrogacy journey. Some intended parents choose to source their own surrogates and find themselves in a partnership that isn’t what they expected. A team of professionals is essential to find a surrogate who has shared values and expectations. A surrogacy journey is a deeply personal journey for both the intended parent and surrogate.

ConceiveAbilities properly vets potential surrogates to ensure she is both physically and emotionally prepared to embark on a safe and healthy surrogacy journey. Because of our diligence, 95% of our surrogates pass fertility clinic medical clearance, saving loss of precious time and potential heartache of not being able to continue a surrogacy journey.

Often, when people source their own surrogate, they are not prepared for the legal expertise and time it takes to manage a journey. ConceiveAbilities guides both parties through creating a legal contract outlining the surrogacy journey. Additionally, surrogacy laws are complex and differ from state to state and sometimes even county to county and can lead to difficult and expensive parentage and unnecessary stress in a time that should be joyous.

A surrogacy journey is longer than a natural pregnancy. ConceiveAbilities ensures that intended parents and surrogates alike are educated and emotionally prepared for a longer journey. Your roadmap, built for you, is rooted in 25 years of experience in navigating clinic-by-clinic (and doctor-by-doctor) requirements for surrogate qualifications, state-by-state (and county-by-county) requirements for securing parentage, relationship dynamics between intended parents and gestational carriers in making important decisions, and the unique ups-and-downs that every surrogacy journey presents. ConceiveAbilities provides expertise in every facet of the journey to support your successful process, such as in-house mental health professionals, to the joyful outcome we all strive for: a healthy baby home with its parents.

Learn more about how do intended parents find a surrogate here.

Why Does Someone Become a Surrogate?

For many people, their path to parenthood has been challenging. Knowing that surrogacy gives them the best chance to hold their baby in their arms is remarkable. As more people turn to surrogacy, more women are finding themselves called to surrogacy. Why?

ConceiveAbilities recently hired research firm Accelerant Research to better understand surrogates. The firm surveyed 100 surrogates, more than 500 qualified surrogacy prospects and more than 1,000 women from the general population. Of the surrogates and qualified surrogacy prospects, Accelerant found:

  • More than half volunteer regularly
  • Nearly half are registered blood and organ donors
  • Almost one-quarter of them foster pets
  • More than three-quarters said they did so because they knew someone personally in need
  • Two-thirds said they had first-hand exposure to a relative or close friend’s struggle with weighing the infertility

“We found that the single biggest motivation for surrogates is the simple desire to help,” Nazca Fontes, CEO of ConceiveAbilities shared. “Eighty-seven percent said they find joy in helping others; 74 percent reported they are motivated by a sense of empowerment as a surrogate.” Other driving factors include that 78 percent of these women know someone in need and 68 percent want to support the LGBTQ community.

Deciding to become a surrogate is a deeply personal and courageous decision. There is a lot of information about surrogacy to research. Listen to our podcast Busting Surrogacy Myths with OB-GYN Dr. Heather Carlson who explains the facts of surrogacy and dispels some surrogate misconceptions. One of the biggest surrogacy myths is that the surrogate is genetically related to the baby. ConceiveAbilities surrogates have no genetic relationship to the intended parent(s)’ child.

It is important to understand the process of gestational surrogacy and the motivation behind why women want to become a surrogate. A woman thinking about becoming a surrogate may want to know what could disqualify her in the surrogate application process. Our team is always on hand to answer any questions and provide support throughout the process of learning about surrogacy.

For women considering becoming a surrogate, the best resource we can provide is personal experience. Many of our surrogates have volunteered to be advocates to speak directly with women thinking about being a surrogate. Our surrogates’ stories have also been featured in their local news including: Andrea Brenes in Miami Mom Collective’s One Amazing Mama Shares Why She Became a Surrogate, Kristi Graves in How To Become a Surrogate in Denver and Briana Buck in Charlotte Mom of Two Earns $52,000 As A Surrogate.

Learn more about what inspires women to become a surrogate, factors that play into her decision to give the gift of family and what matters most to her throughout her surrogacy journey in How To Decide To Become A Surrogate Mother.

What are the requirements to be a surrogate? The most important requirements are quite basic: she must have given birth before and she must be a US citizen or permanent resident of the United States. Check out Surrogate Medical Requirements FAQs to review the basic qualifications and find answers to frequently asked questions about becoming a surrogate. The Age Limit for Surrogate Mothers outlines why age is such an important factor in becoming a surrogate. Many women also want to know if they can become a surrogate after a tubal ligation. Find out why having a tubal ligation can actually be advantageous for a woman in a surrogacy journey.

We encourage all women who feel they have been called to become a surrogate to learn about the full process of How To Become A Surrogate Mother.

Learn more about why does someone become a surrogate here.

How Do Surrogates Find Intended Parents?

Choosing the right surrogacy agency provides a surrogate with proper compensation, legal and financial support, and protection throughout their surrogacy journey. Partnering with an experienced surrogate agency prevents a surrogate from experiencing hardships and pitfalls that can occur in a surrogacy journey, especially when a surrogate is choosing to partner with the family she was meant to help.

Matching with the right family is a top priority for a surrogate. A surrogate is a partner in the surrogacy process. Through our Matching Matters™, ConceiveAbilities takes into consideration personal preferences to help pair a surrogate with the perfect family for her that has shared expectations and values.

A surrogate is bravely giving the gift of family and should be focused on what matters most, taking care of herself and her family while carrying the baby. ConceiveAbilities allows surrogates to do that by having a surrogate process in place. Without an agency, much of the paperwork, communication and arrangements fall to the surrogate and are time consuming.

ConceiveAbilities ensures a surrogate’s needs are protected. Financially, our surrogacy agency vets and creates financial assurance to secure surrogate compensation and all the resources needed for the surrogacy journey to be a successful one. We provide legal guidance to make sure a surrogate’s rights are met throughout every step of the surrogacy journey. Our agency ensures a surrogate has proper health and life insurance, is fairly compensated, legally protected, and physically and mentally supported throughout every step of a surrogacy journey.

Learn more about how do surrogates find intended parents here.

How Do Intended Parents Prepare for a Successful Surrogacy Journey?

Understanding the surrogacy process is important for a successful journey.

There are many myths and misconceptions about surrogacy, including Does a Surrogate Mother Share DNA with the Baby? and Do Surrogates Get Attached To The Baby? Dispelling myths and researching concerns is important to feel comfortable through every step of the surrogacy process.

In addition to researching the process of surrogacy, intended parents need a plan to pay for a surrogacy journey. At the outset, that may seem straightforward but it requires a thorough understanding of the full cost of surrogacy. Our All-In Program for intended parents, a first-of-its-kind offering, leverages our 25 years of experience to offer the most comprehensive and risk-free surrogacy program in the market.

One of the more important decisions for intended parents is how to create embryos. For instance, an intended mother can choose to harvest her own eggs even after a hysterectomy. Many hopeful parents will need to find a great egg donor. ConceiveAbilities is a pioneer in the egg donor business and has grown into a full family fertility agency by always putting the security of intended parents and egg donors first. From application through retrieval, we make sure each party has the egg donor information needed, including the egg donation timeline, so each party is as informed and empowered as possible.

Learn more about how do intended parents prepare for a successful surrogacy journey here.

How Do Surrogates Prepare for a Successful Surrogacy Journey?

Deciding to become a surrogate is an important decision for a surrogate and her family. Timing, the right match and the right support is just the start of How To Prepare for a Successful Surrogate Pregnancy. Our surrogates are driven by a tremendous sense of joy in helping another family. Being aware of the pros and cons of surrogacy is integral when deciding if becoming a surrogate is the right decision.

Managing the process well is essential to a successful surrogacy journey. Many surrogates are new to the steps that she will go through to carry a pregnancy for another couple or person. This calendar is a helpful resource for surrogates to understand, day-by-day, every step of this important early phase of the surrogacy journey, the IVF process.

Throughout the process, ConceiveAbilities is fully invested in the health and well-being of each and every surrogate. We prioritize the health and safety of each surrogate from preparing to begin a surrogate pregnancy through her recovery. Learn more about the importance of the Fourth Trimester on our All Things Conceivable surrogacy podcast with Dr. Aasta Mehta.

ConceiveAbilities delivers a comprehensive All In Surrogate Care and Compensation program to ensure a successful fourth trimester recovery, from the start of pregnancy and based on the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists standard of care.

Every surrogate with ConceiveAbilities will have a personalized consultation covering the facts behind, and options for:

  • Doula care and birth preparation
  • Physical therapy
  • Nutrition
  • Fitness / movement
  • Monthly Q&A sessions with rotating experts throughout pregnancy

After a woman has decided to become a surrogate, our staff will guide her through the step by step process. Some steps may seem familiar from prior pregnancies, such as receiving a RhoGam shot. And, because she will be preparing her body for a surrogacy pregnancy, there will be differences from a personal pregnancy from IVF Medication FAQs to what she should know before the embryo transfer.

And, no doubt, a surrogate should be well-paid for her time, effort and contribution. A ConceiveAbilities surrogate earns top pay in the surrogacy industry in an easy package, customized to each individual surrogate, in addition to monthly care packages throughout her surrogacy journey. Surrogate compensation differs depending on if the surrogate lives in a high demand area and her experience. Find out the estimated surrogate salary ConceiveAbilities surrogates with our pay calculator.

At all times, a surrogate should know her rights as an essential partner in the surrogacy agreement. The surrogacy agreement with the intended parent outlines the surrogacy journey in detail. ConceiveAbilities has an experienced legal team that is ready to expertly guide a surrogate through the legal process. We make sure every step of the process is protected for both the surrogate and the intended parent(s). Research more about a surrogate’s legal rights.

Learn more about how do surrogates prepare for a successful surrogacy journey here.

How Does Surrogacy Differ from One Part of the Country to Another?

As a national surrogacy agency, we have a deep understanding of how surrogacy works in every local market and the professional and medical network to make sure each surrogacy journey, as an intended parent and as a surrogate, is the most successful and seamless as possible. Learn more about surrogacy in these areas:

Surrogacy in New York

Surrogacy laws are continually evolving and it is important to have experts who understand the changing legal aspect on a surrogacy team. Just recently, New York legalized paid surrogacy. ConceiveAbilities was one of the first licensed New York surrogacy agencies. Not only are we able to quickly navigate the changing landscape in New York to help surrogates and parents, we are leading the way for other surrogacy professionals because of our knowledge and experience.

ConceiveAbilities was one of the first surrogacy agencies to become licensed in New York since paid surrogacy became legal. Because of our earned reputation, NYC hospital systems, OB-GYNs, and fertility clinics are turning to us to help them navigate the surrogacy journey. We partner with the best IVF clinics in New York including CCRM-NY, NYU Langone Fertility Center, RMA of New York, Shady Grove Fertility in NYC and Weill Cornell Reproductive Medicine that are readily accessible for surrogates from upstate New York and the New York City metropolitan area alike.

Surrogacy in Chicago

Chicago is home to some of the best fertility professionals in the world and a great place for your surrogacy journey. The Windy City has always been known for its innovation. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine actually held its first meeting in Chicago. ConceiveAbilities is proud to be a part of that forward-thinking tradition as we lead the surrogacy industry in Illinois alongside top fertility clinics, doctors and surrogacy experts. Our deep roots here are with the very best experts in the field, as our hometown and the start of it all with CEO and Founder Nazca Fontes.

Surrogacy in Denver

As the first agency in Denver, we opened our doors in 2004. Since then we've fully staffed this location with excellent team members, including our Director of Operations Kristin Welch and Tisha Bean-Wilcox, LPC, CACII, our Manager of Clinical and Matching Services. Not only are Kristin and Tisha trained experts in the surrogacy field, they both were Denver surrogates and know the Colorado surrogacy process first-hand to help guide our surrogates through their journey. With their leadership, we have helped hundreds of surrogates fulfill their dream of being a surrogate in Colorado.

Surrogacy in Atlanta

Atlanta is also home to three of the five major fertility centers in the United States. At ConceiveAbilities, we have deep, long standing relationships with all of these fertility centers, making a journey as a surrogate in Georgia one with great access to top-tier medical care and advanced fertility solutions. We have the on-the-ground experience to protect a surrogate’s interests at every step, so she can focus on the joy of helping another family build their family and get paid well for doing so.

Surrogacy in Houston

As a full service Texas surrogacy agency, we work to keep all aspects of a surrogacy journey in house to ensure the most efficient and smooth experience as possible. Some agencies outsource matching, escrow and other parts, but because we have highly qualified personnel including lawyers, accountants, insurance experts, nurses and mental health care professionals, we are able to provide each individual surrogate very focused attention because we are all familiar with individual cases. To boot, many of our staff are experienced surrogates, egg donors or intended parents themselves, so not only do we have the professional experience, we have the personal experience as well.

Learn more about how does surrogacy differ from one part of the country to another here.

What is Egg Donation?

Egg donation is a long-standing and important path to parenthood for many hopeful people. ConceiveAbilities has decades of experience in working with intended parents and egg donors alike to assist in the creation of embryos. To learn more about who becomes an egg donor, check out 10 Signs You'd Make a Great Egg Donor.

Learn more about what is egg donation here.

With surrogacy, a modern and successful path is now available to build families for hopeful people everywhere. At ConceiveAbilities, we are privileged to have witnessed its emergence over these last 25 years and, here, lay bare the answers to some of the most common questions you may have about surrogacy. Generations of families have come into being due to these advancements in assisted reproductive technology, and what an incredible honor it is to support the courageous men and women that are part of these journeys. We can’t wait to see what the next 25 years will bring.

Calling All Surrogates

And, are you a woman who enjoyed a healthy and successful pregnancy? Do you have friends or family who have suffered from infertility or need assistance from someone else to build their family? Have you ever considered the role you could play in helping someone else build their family - as a surrogate? Learn more about the process of helping someone else's dream of building a family come true. 


Join us in the comments with your questions.