Q: We need a Surrogate Mother and an Egg Donor. How do you find women willing to help us?
A: We find that many potential surrogate mothers and egg donors contact us after being referred by a woman who has previously been a surrogate or egg donor through our agency or from another agency whom they had an unsatisfactory journey with. Many of our surrogate mothers and egg donors are “proven” or “experienced”. We are also routinely contacted through Internet links, online forums, social media publications and advertisements which are diligently followed and updated by our dedicated staff to ensure we always have an available database of candidates to choose from. SAI is proud to report we have NEVER had intended parents waiting to become matched, due to our agency having no available surrogate mothers or egg donors to offer.
Q: What qualities do most intended parents prefer when considering a Surrogate Mother and/or Egg Donor candidate?
A: Intended parents prefer a surrogate or egg donor that is mentally and physically healthy. A surrogate mother should have a good pregnancy and delivery history free of major complications and a healthy uterus. A qualified candidate should also be free from the use of all illegal substances, drugs, tobacco and be found suitable for our agency’s program requirements. It is important that all candidates confirm their commitment to the process, expressing responsibility and confirming they have met our requirements. Finding a surrogate mother you feel comfortable with is also very important, as she will play the biggest role in your journey.
Q: How much contact should I have with Surrogate Alternatives (SAI)?
A: Your Agency Director is reachable 24 hours a day in the event of an emergency, to provide you and your surrogate mother with support so none of you feel alone during your journey. You will find there will be more contact between us during the early stages; the screening process, the legal phase and during your first pregnancy attempt through surrogacy. Once a pregnancy is achieved, we focus most of our attention on the surrogate in order to promote good mental health, ensure proper medical attention is being received, the legal agreement is being followed and all legal phases are completed prior to the birth. You are welcome and encouraged to contact us with any questions you may have and we will provide you with answers, guidance and support. This is a delicate journey and we take great pride in supplying all of our clients with quality service. We can be reached throughout your journey, by phone, email or Skype for your convenience.
Q: Our surrogate is pregnant! When are we considered the “legal” parents?
A: Prior to the 20th gestational week of pregnancy, you will be required to retain your attorney, for the purpose of establishing your legal rights to the child or children. Your attorney will prepare, review and process all necessary documents to begin the paternity establishment. Your attorney will request a certified paternity establishment with the State of California and will appear in court on your behalf. (NOTE: Although, it is extremely unlikely and rare, there are special circumstances, which may require a physical court appearance by the parties) a CERTIFIED copy of this document will be sent to you. An uncertified copy will be sent to your surrogate, to Surrogate Alternatives and to the delivering hospital. When you arrive at the hospital with proof of identity and the CERTIFIED, Pre-Birth Court Order, the hospital will officially recognize you as the legal parents. Your names will be listed on the original birth certificate because in the State of California an adoption is not necessary.
Q: I live in another country and do not speak English. Is there someone at SAI that can help me?
A: We are registered as a California business, practicing under the English language, however, SAI does have a Spanish translator on staff and access to translators in all languages that can assist with with communication prior to retaining our services and throughout your arrangement. Please note: All documents must be signed in English.
Q: What if I am gay? Will a Surrogate Mother want to help me?
A: Many of our surrogate mothers are open to helping a gay single man, woman or couple. If the surrogate is not, it will be listed in her profile and your agency director will inform you if the surrogate is not a suitable match for you due to her personal preferences.
Q: I do not live in the United States. How many times will I be required to travel to California?
A: If you are using your own sperm and/or eggs all medical testing must be conducted in the U.S. to meet the FDA guidelines and clinic requirements. You will need to come to California for the egg retrieval process and/or leave your sperm sample and should expect to be here for a period of at least 5-7 days. It is recommended, but not required that you try and be here at least once during the pregnancy and of course for the delivery of your child. You will not know when your surrogate will go into labor, so the last month of the pregnancy you should be prepared to come to California on short notice or at least 2 weeks prior to your surrogates due date if she is carrying one child. If she is pregnant with twins, you will want to be here at least 3-4 weeks before and for a triplet pregnancy, you will want to be here 2-3 months before. Be sure to stay in close contact with your surrogate during the last trimester of pregnancy to ensure you have ample time to make travel arrangements if you plan to be present for the delivery.
Q: If our Surrogate becomes pregnant with twins or triplets, will we be required to pay her more money?
A: Yes, similar to other agencies in California, SAI does require all intended parents to compensate their surrogate mother an additional amount (for each fetus she carries). In a multiple pregnancy, there is an added strain on a woman’s body, many more medical appointments are required and her pregnancy will be more uncomfortable. There is also more risk involved in a multiple pregnancy. Surrogates will receive an additional $7,000 (per additional fetus). NOTE: Proven surrogates may request to receive more than $7,000 (per additional fetus). In addition, as an agency standard, please note once your surrogate reaches the second trimester, the monthly non-accountable expense allowance she receives will increase by $100 (per fetus) per month. Your surrogate will also be entitled to a (one time) maternity clothing allowance of $1,000 if she carries a multiple pregnancy ($200 more than the standard maternity clothing allowance for a singleton pregnancy).
Q: I am an international citizen. How do I obtain a California certified birth certificate and a passport for my child so I can return home?
A: The paternity establishment or pre-birth judgment is filed with the court in the State of California when your surrogate is about 28 weeks pregnant so you will be named the legal parent on your child’s birth certificate. After your baby is born you will receive your child’s birth certificate approximately 7 to 10 days after the birth. Once you receive the birth certificate and your baby has been released from the hospital you can apply for a passport for your child. The passport process takes approximately 2 to 7 days. We recommend that all new parents prepare to remain in the USA for a minimum of 3 weeks after the birth of their child or children, in order to ensure these important documents are completed. In order to provide new parents with added assistance, SAI offers a concierge service to help you during the post birth process. Understandably, we are familiar with and qualified to practice laws present in the United States and specifically in the State of California, therefore we cannot offer advice or assistance in regards to policies and procedures practiced in other countries. Additionally, we highly recommend that you contact a family law attorney in your country in order to ensure you are properly informed of the requirements in your own country once you return home. You may need to establish citizenship in your own country in order for your child to receive your country’s benefits.
Q: We successfully worked with Surrogate Alternatives in the past and would like to work with the you and the same surrogate again in the hopes to have a sibling. What do we do?
A: First we will contact your surrogate to confirm she is willing to carry another child for you. Once we speak with her and she has agreed, we will email you a discounted retainer agreement for a sibling arrangement. We will speak with your surrogate and negotiate her fees prior to you signing the retainer agreement. NOTE: Since she is now a “proven” surrogate she may increase some of her fees. Remember, you do not have to communicate with your surrogate regarding the financial portion of the process; this is one reason your relationship worked so well the first time. We are very fair and will make sure we give our honest opinion on fee increases. We want you to have as good of an experience as your last! Many times clients have attempted to work independently with their previous surrogate and not involve the agency. This is risky and could potentially cause irreparable damage to a wonderful friendship that you have established. Having someone who can intervene and offer assistance to both of you should a situation occur is priceless. You care enough about your surrogate to work with her again. Is it worth the risk to discuss money issues and have the lack of support from other surrogates that is available to her through our agency?
The best way to ensure your future journey together will be as enjoyable and memorable as your last is to make sure to include all the same professionals. One of the many reasons why your past surrogacy experience was so enjoyable was due to the treatment and management of your agency. Surrogate Alternatives treats all clients, surrogates and egg donors equally. However, if for any reason your previous surrogate mother is unable to carry for you again; Surrogate Alternatives, is dedicated to helping you expand your family and are also pleased to offer a discounted agency fee to all returning clients for a sibling arrangement.
Q: Can the intended mother induce lactation to provide breast milk to her baby after the surrogate gives birth?
A: Yes, it is possible for the intended mother to induce lactation and provide breast milk to her baby. We have been supplied suggestions and instructions from our previous clients who have been able to share this bonding and nurturing experience with their baby born through surrogacy.
Q: Is there something that an intended parent can do to ensure the life/health of the child they create through surrogacy?
A: Surrogate Alternatives highly suggests all clients consider cord blood banking. Storing the plasma from your baby’s umbilical cord directly after birth, can be used later to not only cure diseases, but also save his or her life. We have information for you should you request it, however, this must be done in advance so please let us know if you are interested once your surrogate becomes pregnant.
Q: Why do the Intended Parents have to get the legal contract notarized?
A: In January 2013, the State of California’s Family Code regarding surrogate arrangements, was re-written to include the requirement of a notarized legal contract between the parties. Therefore, the intended parent, intended parents, surrogate mother and surrogate mother’s husband must sign and notarize the signature page of their legal agreement. A notary public; is a person legally empowered to witness and certify the validity of documents and personal identity. In this case, the notary public will not be certifying your entire legal agreement with your surrogate mother, but will be certifying you are in fact the individuals signing the signature page of the legal agreement. A valid picture identification card or passport will be required of all parties during the notary process, in order for your identity to be proven and your signatures properly witnessed. The State of California implemented this change in order to ensure legal and parental rights to the child were provided to the proper individuals.
Q: What is the benefit of the Pregnancy Wellness Program that SAI offers?
A: Surrogate Alternatives believes in the promotion of wellness and health during the surrogacy process. Your surrogate will receive dietary and nutritional counseling, acupuncture and massage for relaxation and stress reduction, as well as high quality prenatal vitamins. Research shows that women who regularly receive these services during an IVF cycle and throughout pregnancy, have fewer pregnancy related complications and are more likely to experience a healthy full-term pregnancy.