Surrogacy is a concept that has been gaining popularity in recent years, as many people who struggle with infertility turn to gestational carriers to help them start a family. It’s a beautiful journey that requires a selfless woman to carry a child for nine months and give the ultimate gift of parenthood.
Here, we’ll take a closer look into the world of surrogacy as we share an inside perspective on what it’s like to be a gestational carrier. From the process of finding a couple to work with to the ups and downs of pregnancy, we’ll explore every aspect of this incredible journey when you work with an agency like ours, the Surrogacy Center of Philadelphia.
April is a single mom of an almost five-year-old son, a school behavioral analyst for children with special needs, and a first-
time surrogate. We sat down with April to hear from her what her experience has been like choosing to serve as a gestational carrier and partner with us, The Surrogacy Center of Philadelphia.
“What was the spark that led you to want to explore becoming a surrogate?”
“The idea of surrogacy started as a joke. A friend of mine was pregnant with her second, and I told her, “I’m so jealous, I would love to be pregnant again but don’t want the baby to come home with me…. I don’t want that side-effect.”
Her friend mentioned she had friends that were intended parents looking for a surrogate. While they were not the couple she ultimately matched with, it sparked her genuine interest in becoming a surrogate. So, she began researching.
At first, she didn’t realize that surrogacy has a compensation component in the US, let alone Pennsylvania and the United States. She just wanted to be pregnant again; the compensation was an added bonus. No pun intended.
“What led you to our agency?”
When asked this question, April said with a smile, “I literally Googled “Surrogacy in Philadelphia and only looked at two agencies based in Philly,” She contacted both agencies and was happy to report she was able to speak to the owners of both agencies. During these conversations, she learned the other agency focused more on international intended parents and gestational surrogates.
April knew that if she was going to move forward with serving as a surrogate, she wanted to be matched with intended parents that were local. Our agency’s Philly-focused approach and the time we spent making sure she felt she could make an educated decision (even if that decision wasn’t our agency or even to pursue surrogacy) ultimately led April to apply to become a surrogate and begin her surrogacy journey.
What is it like to become a surrogate?
The Matching Process
Once you are approved to become a surrogate, you complete a matching profile. Think of an extensive dating profile but with less swiping and ick. This matching profile is used to, you guessed it, match intended parents with their ideal surrogate. April describes her experience of the matching process, “It was like dating. Hah! We went on one date and fell in love. It was really quick and fun in some ways. It felt like an arranged marriage. You have a profile, and it lists all your preferences, your health history, etc. The agency plays matchmaker, and we
“dated” for about a year.” This is the time it took between when they were first matched and the embryo transfer date.
The Gestational Carrier Agreement Process
Many of us think of contracts in the prohibitive sense. Often, they’re full of confusing words and clauses. Often, one party walks away not completely satisfied with the contract’s terms. As April reflected on the overall Gestational Carrier Agreement process, she said, “It was not as scary as I thought it would be!”
Our goal is to make the Gestational Carrier Agreement collaborative, not confusing. These agreements are vital and are designed to be easy to understand, memorialize every little detail of the surrogacy journey, and put protections in place for both the intended parents and the surrogate.
The intended parent’s lawyer drew up the contract and sent it to April’s lawyer. During the review, her attorney went over the contract extensively and answered all of her legal questions. Any medical questions she had that her attorney couldn’t answer were directed to the agency. We ensured she had all the information she needed and felt confident the agreement had the right protections in place for her, her body, and her family. Once a few revisions were requested and agreed upon, the agreement was signed, and the next phase began.
Fertility Treatments and Embryo Transfer
This was the only part of her process that didn’t go picture-perfectly for April. Having traditionally conceived and given birth to a child of her own, she wasn’t aware of how closely you’re monitored during IVF. Clinicians are looking at your hormones, uterine lining, etc., with the goal of getting you into the “ideal” state for a successful embryo transfer.
She wanted so badly to be pregnant, and the compensation component was meaningful for her as a single parent. So, there was a real fear that when her body didn’t respond to the hormones at the level the doctors wanted to see, she was fearful that the surrogacy journey would come to an end before it really got started.
She credits the men in her life (the intended parents as well as her partner) for the strong emotional support. Through the IVF process, she grew much closer to the intended parents, and April became pregnant on the first try.
“What has pregnancy been like for you as a surrogate?”
April smiles as she talks about her pregnancy thus far, “It’s been more fun because you get extra checks with IVF, and you get to see the baby more…. with more ultrasounds and just general checks. It’s been really nice just to know everything is good, good, good, and the baby is okay. As a surrogate, it’s been fun just to enjoy the process. I get the glow, the pregnancy hair, and in the end, just recover without a baby crying at me at 3 AM. I’m excited to eat my lactation muffins, sit on the couch, and rest.”
What has it been like to work with the Surrogacy Center of Philadelphia throughout your surrogacy journey?
During her search and throughout her journey, April states, “All my questions were answered quickly, thoroughly, and repeatedly. We have someone who’s responsive within a couple of hours (even though they’re in a different timezone), even when she and the intended parents
ask questions that probably aren’t in their case manager’s job duties. Questions like, “Do we need to bring the swaddle to the hospital?”
She states that an added benefit she has been pleasantly surprised with is her health coach, local New Jersey mom Christy Malloy. They’ve coached her on pre-pregnancy health to get her body into its ideal state to accept an embryo transfer, as well as pregnancy nutrition and fitness. Her coach has been an unexpected but amazing free benefit of working with the Surrogacy
Center of Philadelphia.
What has been the most rewarding part of your surrogacy journey thus far?
April states the relationship she’s built with the intended parents. “If we hadn’t met through this whole process, we would’ve been friends
anyway. Our matching was done very well.” She goes on to say that throughout this emotional journey, they haven’t had any issues or disagreed. Everything laid out in their contracts was helpful before they got pregnant.
Even though the intended parents are living in New York now, they still spend much time together. They come to a lot of appointments, and they FaceTime and text multiple times a day. Most of the time, it’s not even about the baby anymore. They’ve even done the birth classes
What advice would you give someone considering becoming a surrogate? “Don’t think too hard about it. Go with your gut instinct. Trust the process. If you love being pregnant but don’t want the baby to come home with you, and you would like to give the gift of parenthood to others, all the other details you are worried about will work out because everyone involved is protected. The agency and doctors have the surrogate, baby, and parents’ best interests in mind.”
The Baby’s Birthday
We love April, and it’s clear her intended parents do too! At the time of publishing, April gave birth to a bouncing baby boy, and the intended parents are over the moon. She states, “I can’t believe I got to do this! So so so happy, can’t wait for the NEXT one!”
Why our agency may make sense
Her experience with our agency is not the exception; it’s the rule. At the Surrogacy Center of Philadelphia, you’re not just a womb, you’re a part of our family. For many, the choice to become a surrogate can feel like a calling. It’s a profoundly personal decision, and we consider
it a privilege to inform, partner, and protect you every step of the way.