Surrogacy Blog

Surrogacy Contracts: 3 Helpful Tips Every Intended Parent Should Know

Surrogacy Contracts: 3 Helpful Tips Every Intended Parent Should Know

Intended parents can face a lot of confusion regarding the legal aspects of surrogacy, and one of the biggest sources of confusion in the surrogacy process is the surrogacy contract. The surrogacy contract refers to the legal agreement between the intended parents and the surrogate. The contract lists all legal provisions and agreements related to the process of surrogacy. Having a legal contract between a surrogate and the intended parents is very important to avoid any future legal conflicts. In the event of unforeseen circumstances, the surrogacy contract will act as a legal guide for both intended parents and the surrogate.

In order to get a better understanding of surrogacy contracts, here are 3 of the most important things every intended parent should know:

Tip 1. Surrogacy contracts differ from state to state.
Every state recognizes surrogacy as a reproductive option, but while some states have passed laws and statutes defining the surrogacy process, others do not have specific laws addressing surrogacy. In most states where surrogacy is recognized, there are laws and statutes that define the paternity of the child, the financial obligations and the rights of the intended parents and the surrogate. It is very important to know what the local laws and statutes are before getting into any legal contract with a surrogate. Reproductive specialty lawyers who specialize in surrogacy can help intended parents better understand all the different laws and statutes on surrogacy. Surrogate agencies will employ reproductive specialty lawyers for intended parents and surrogates in order to ensure that each party is legally protected.

Tip 2. The surrogacy contract is essential.
The surrogacy contract is very important to avoid any future legal conflicts that may arise during the process of surrogacy. A surrogacy contract is a binding and enforceable legal contract for the intended parents and surrogate. It pre-defines the paternity of the child and both the financial and behavioral responsibilities of each party. The surrogacy contract allows each party (meaning the intended parents and the surrogate) to state their own intentions and responsibilities to one another, and it establishes guidelines for what actions will be taken in the event of medical complications such as the number of embryos to be transferred at one time, if selective reduction is an acceptable option, and which type of delivery method will be used. All of these agreements and conditions are very important to avoid any legal conflicts that may arise during and after the surrogacy process. Surrogate agencies can provide helpful information on the different aspects included in a surrogacy contract.

Tip 3. The surrogacy contract should be reviewed by reproductive specialty lawyers representing each party.
Neither the intended parents nor the surrogate are required by law to use a reproductive specialty lawyer’s services for the surrogacy contract. However, it is highly advisable that the surrogacy contract be reviewed by a reproductive specialty lawyer in order to be certain that the child’s paternity is pre-established, and to properly identify the financial and medical obligations of each party. It is also recommended that both the surrogate and the intended parents have their own reproductive specialty lawyers review the surrogacy contract. Each reproductive specialty lawyer will review the surrogacy contract to ensure that the client’s responsibilities, rights, and paternity are properly identified. In most cases, surrogate agencies will provide both the intended parents and the surrogate with their own reproductive specialty lawyer.

The surrogate process can be confusing for intended parents, and reviewing and understanding the surrogacy contract is one of the best ways to clear up that confusion. The structure and clarity the surrogacy contract provides can help intended parents to feel comfortable and confident throughout the surrogate process.

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Should Pregnant Surrogates Eat Organic Foods?

Should Pregnant Surrogates Eat Organic Foods?

The goal shared by all intended parents and surrogate mothers is to produce a healthy baby. To ensure that the baby develops properly, it’s very important for the surrogate to eat healthily while she is pregnant. More and more, intended parents are going a step further by asking their surrogates to eat only organic foods. While some surrogates are reluctant to do this, others are entirely willing – after all, it may improve their own health.

As with any significant decision, though, there are pros and cons to be considered.

The downsides include that organic foods can be much more expensive than the same type of non-organically-produced foods. This is due to their higher cost of production. A surrogate may be more willing to eat organic foods if the intended parents offered to pay for the organic foods she eats.

A related issue to that is the fact that organic foods can also be harder to obtain; not every grocery store or supermarket has such a wide selection of organics. They’re a specialty item, after all, and surrogates with fewer options for food-shopping (in rural areas or small towns, for instance) may have trouble shopping for organic foods.

And of course, not every food is available organically. There’s a real possibility that a surrogate eating only organically may have to miss out on some of her favorite foods for the duration of her pregnancy.

There are convenience issues, too. Organics, due to their lack of preservatives, can spoil more easily – shorter shelf-lives, which require more regular shopping.

But there are a lot of good reasons that intended parents ask their surrogates to eat organic foods. Insecticides and additives are potentially harmful if they are passed though to the baby during pregnancy. Organic foods lack insecticides and additives – those things won’t be carried through into the baby.

Health concerns have, from time to time, been raised over genetically modified crops, or meat from animals that have been fed those crops. Organic food, by definition, is not genetically modified, which removes those concerns.

Research has shown, additionally, that organic foods contain more healthy vitamins and minerals, possibly due to the lack of preservatives involved.

And as a side-benefit, if you’re concerned about how animals are treated, organic food is a much better idea. Organic farming requires that animals be fed a natural diet, and are kept (unlike mass-produced ‘factory farm’ meat) in much more humane free-range conditions.

So while organic food can be inconvenient at times and more expensive, it also does provide a much healthier choice for the surrogate and the baby. It’s a big decision that should be weighed seriously from both sides, but there are solid reasons behind why a lot of intended parents do want their surrogate mothers to eat organically during their pregnancy.

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Intended Parents 101: Preparing for the Arrival of Your Baby

Intended Parents 101: Preparing for the Arrival of Your Baby

Fortunately, the nine months between your baby’s conception and arrival gives you plenty of time to prepare. Here are some important tips to help you get ready for the arrival of your new baby:

Learn about the birth process with your surrogate
Because the thought of birth can be very overwhelming (even to an experienced surrogate mother), it’s best to discuss the details with her.

Find a doctor for your surrogate and baby
The best time to find an obstretican is before the fertility treatment starts – during the treatment, things will be hectic. Start looking midway through the surrogate’s pregnancy, around the 4-5 month point. This may seem early, but you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to find a physician who’ll be a good fit for your family, who accepts your insurance, and who is taking new patients. Ask the people you know for references.

Get on the same page with your surrogate
An important aspect of planning is to inform your surrogate – she should be well informed about the different plans you and your partner have during and after the delivery of the child.

Talk to veteran moms about birth and baby care
Veteran moms have valuable knowledge you can use when your baby comes. They can provide great suggestions and tips on things you need to expect when your child arrives.

Prepare older siblings and pets (if any)
Many parents use a baby doll to help their child understand what’s coming. Older toddlers or pre-schoolers will enjoy the pretend play; when they see you diapering or feeding the new baby later, it will seem familiar. Pets also benefit from special pre-baby preparation. Local trainers may offer classes, or you can turn to books, articles, or videos for tips on teaching your pet and eventually your baby how to respect each other.

Decide who will attend the birth
This is a very personal decision. Some intended parents like a full room while others prefer as few people present as possible. Give some thought to what you want, so that there are no misunderstandings, unwelcome observers, or offended grandmothers. Make sure to also speak about this decision with your surrogate so she will not be surprised at the hospital.

Pack your bag
The last thing you’ll want to worry about when your surrogate goes into labor is whether you have everything packed. Ease your mind by getting your bag together a few weeks before your due date. Important things to bring should include all the legal documents, as well as any gift you may be presenting to your surrogate. Remember, a new baby requires an installed car seat, diapers, wipes, some clothing, and a safe place to sleep.

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Intended Parents 101

Intended Parents 101: Is Surrogacy Right for Us?

Before you choose to go with surrogacy, you and your spouse or partner need to ask yourselves some questions; it’s a life-changing decision that requires mutual agreement, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Some of the most important questions are:

“How will you handle a surrogate carrying your baby?”
The relationship between the surrogate and the intended parents can be as close or as limited as the parties agree upon, but it’s generally encouraged that the intended parents and surrogate communicate on a daily basis, attend all doctor appointments, and socialize on a regular basis. This allows the intended parents to feel that they are part of the pregnancy and are bonding with the baby.

“How can we be sure we have a compatible surrogate?”
The most critical step in the surrogacy process is selecting a surrogate that closely matches your and your spouse’s values, personality, and beliefs. This is accomplished through the agency that you and your spouse hire; each party will complete a profile that compiles personal information about you and your spouse and the surrogate and her spouse (if she is married). Once a potential match is located and properly screened, the agency will arrange a meeting of all parties.

“How much are we willing to financially invest in trying to have a baby?”
You and your spouse need to research the costs involved in using a surrogate to have a child – they’ll depend upon which medical procedures need to be performed, the agency fees, and the surrogate fees. The surrogacy agency will be able to provide you with an estimated breakdown to help you figure this out.

If you decide to choose surrogacy as a path to having a baby, it’s very important the relationship between both parties be protected. This is accomplished by selecting an agency that is not strictly a matching service – pick one that’s knowledgeable about surrogacy laws in your state, that carefully screens all surrogates, that is willing to act as a mediator between the surrogate and intended parents, ensures all legal and hospital matters are handled, and is available to walk all parties through each step of the process.

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Intended Parents 101

Intended Parents 101: Common Questions Answered

Understandably, intended parents tend to have a lot of questions. Here are three (and their answers!) to get you started:

Why do I need a legal surrogacy agreement?
A legal surrogacy agreement – your surrogacy contract, that is, drafted by a specialized surrogacy attorney – attempts to cover all the “what ifs” in the process, addressing every issue that may arise.

For example, what if the surrogate changes her mind and wants to keep the baby? What if the intended parents split up while the surrogate is pregnant? What if the surrogate is pregnant with multiple fetuses? A well-drafted surrogacy agreement will answer all these questions (and many more), and be clear as to each party’s intent. The agreement should not only cover the important details of the arrangement but also establish each party’s legal rights and address their responsibilities too.

Can I use a ready-made contract I found on the Internet, or create my own?
This is very heavily not-recommended. A surrogacy agreement or contract is more complicated than you may think. The costs you anticipate saving by preparing the agreement yourself do not begin to outweigh the risks or legal consequences for a poorly drafted agreement.

Most of the agreements found on the Internet are too general in nature. Not only do they lack case law as they pertain to your specific surrogacy journey, they almost never provide enough protection for all involved parties or detail the specifics of your surrogacy arrangement.

The best and most practical way to get a well drafted surrogacy contract would be to enlist the help of a reliable surrogate agency that has years of experience and can provide a solid reliable reproductive lawyer.

What is required to ensure I am my child’s legal parent?
So, you have an agreement drafted by a legal professional, you’ve had the transfer, your surrogate is pregnant and you’re a few months away from realizing your dreams! Now what? Besides the decorating, shopping, baby shower and all-around giddiness you feel every day knowing your baby is on the way, you must again return to the legal issues and obtain a judgment of parentage which declares the Intended parent(s) the parent(s) and gives them all legal rights and adjudges that the surrogate and her husband (if any) have no legal rights.

Typically, this judgment is obtained pre-birth. There are some situations where your attorney may suggest that one parent needs to “adopt” the child. When you meet with your attorney, they will advise you on which manner you must proceed. Legally, this is your final step.

Once the judgment is obtained, your attorney will forward a certified copy to the hospital your surrogate will be delivering at and it is always best to keep an additional copy in your hospital bag and then just wait for the glorious day of your child’s birth.

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Important Things You Need to Know After IVF

Important Things You Need to Know After IVF

After an embryo transfer, a lot of tension and anxiety can happen. For first-time surrogates and intended parents, questions begin to linger in their minds – “Should I be on bed rest for the first two or three days?”, “What foods should I eat?”, “How active can I be during the two-week wait, and “Will our surrogate get pregnant?”

These questions are all important to comprehend, and advice can vary from doctor to doctor. The really important thing to remember is that there’s no guarantee of pregnancy through IVF – there are a lot of factors involved in the process.

Some common suggestions recommended by doctors are:

1. No heavy lifting for the first 48 hours after IVF transfer.

2. No strenuous physical activities like running or aerobics.

3. No alcohol, drugs or smoking.

4. No intercourse until a fetal heartbeat is determined.

5. Bed rest for the first two days after the IVF transfer.

It’s very important to remember that these instructions do differ between doctors.

As intended parents, if you want to be more sure that these instructions are followed, it might be helpful to assist – or have someone assist – your surrogate during the first two days after the IVF transfer. Run the errands that the surrogate needs done, prepare meals for her and her family, help with laundry and so forth.
The surrogate is likely to really appreciate your help while she’s on bed-rest, while you yourself would have peace of mind that the surrogate is following her doctor’s instructions.

In most cases, the transfer’s success is known after ten days. On the tenth day after the transfer, the surrogate goes back to the IVF clinic to see if the embryo has implanted into the uterus.

On Day 12 after the embryo transfer, the fertility clinic checks to see if the HcG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) level has doubled – if it has, then the embryo is properly growing.

The In Vitro Fertilization procedure is not 100% successful; not every embryo transfer will result in a pregnancy. In the event that it doesn’t, it’s important not to make any rash decisions until the intended parents have had an opportunity to discuss the outcome with the doctor.

The doctor may have some insight about why the transfer was a failure – poor embryo quality, poor uterine lining or genetic problems are all possibilities.
Surrogacy is never a certain process, and the better you understand it, the better you’ll be able to plan your next steps. Proper medical advice will help the intended parents understand the best way to move forward.

There are a lot of important aspects of surrogacy that need to be properly understood. Knowing them will help intended parents better comprehend the process of surrogacy.

The issue of bed rest after an IVF transfer is still under debate; so far, nothing has been proven. Remember, it’s at the discretion of your doctor to give all the necessary instructions to your surrogate – first and foremost, pay attention to your doctor’s advice.

Your Next Step

To find the surrogate mother that’s right for you and your family, simply fill out our easy free online application and a Surrogacy Agency Texas caseworker will contact you within 24 hours (during the business week) to discuss your application, answer any questions you might have, and outline the next steps. And in the meantime, you can also download our free reports to get even more information on surrogacy and the surrogate experience.

6 Tips on Choosing the Best Surrogate Pregnancy Pillow

6 Tips on Choosing the Best Surrogate Pregnancy Pillow

Because it’s so essential to be comfortable during your surrogate pregnancy, a pregnancy pillow is an important prenatal accessory.

Healthcare professionals recommend that women sleep on their left side with knees bent slightly, but many surrogate mothers find this sleep position uncomfortable. While a head pillow can support certain parts of the body, one specifically designed to support the whole body can be more comfortable during your surrogate pregnancy.

Here are six helpful tips on choosing the best pregnancy pillow:

1. Pinpoint the areas that are most stressful to you. Every surrogate mother’s pregnancy is different, with different aches and discomforts. Pregnancy pillows are specifically designed to alleviate all different types of stress, from hip pressure to back support. Figure out exactly what stresses are most bothersome and find the pillow designed for your needs.

2. Know the different types of pregnancy pillows. Maternity body pillows are available in a variety of options: full body memory foam pillows that adjust to the contours of your body; smaller pillows made to soothe and prevent specific problems like back, hip and upper shoulder pain; simple wedges that slide under your growing belly; and bean-shaped pillows that wrap around your mid-section.

3. Research the best type of maternity pillow. Ask friends and relatives; it’s best to ask someone who has been recently pregnant and use their comments as a guide on your choice of maternity pillows. There are also websites and magazines with reviews on specific products. Remember that personal reviews are the most honest opinion and a great guide for helping you narrow down your search.

4. Try and test your choices. A maternity pillow may feel differently when held snug against your body than it feels when you push it in with your hand. Most home and maternity stores allow you to touch, caress and even try their products. This will be one of the most important purchases you’ll make during your pregnancy, so it is best to take your time, try a few different options and decide which one is right for you.

5. Try a new sleeping position. If you’re used to sleeping on your back or front, then you’ll probably have a difficult time adjusting to the lump forming on your stomach, but you can get used to it. You can start by trying to fall asleep on your side in the early weeks and months of your pregnancy to give yourself a leg up in the adjustment phase. You should also start to use your maternity pillow before you feel like you need it, as your body will need some time to get used to this new product.

6. Don’t be cheap when comfort is concerned. Body pillows can be relatively expensive, especially when you get to the types that provide pinpoint relief to very specific problem areas. Remember that a durable pillow can be used again and many maternity pillows can be used post-pregnancy for nursing and cradling your new baby.

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Common Mistakes in Buying Maternity Clothes

Common Mistakes in Buying Maternity Clothes

When it comes to shopping for maternity clothes during your surrogate pregnancy, you need to consider comfort, practicality and affordability – after all, you don’t want to spend a fortune on something you’ll only wear for a few months.

Even if you’re only planning to buy a few items, you should be aware of the common mistakes many surrogate mothers make when buying maternity clothes. Here are a few of them:

Mistake One: Not Considering the Fabric.

When pregnant, your overall body shape and size will change; that’s what makes it so important to choose the right type of fabric for your clothes. Consider breathability, stretchniess, durability and softness – look for natural fabrics like cotton, modal and bamboo. Avoid clothing made from synthetic materials such as polyester; they retain heat, which can be uncomfortable when pregnant.

Also avoid clothes listed as wrinkle-free or permanent press; studies show that these materials are treated with chemicals like formaldehyde, which can be dangerous to pregnant women and their growing babies.

Mistake Two: Focusing on Price.

Maternity clothing can be expensive, but they’re an area where you definitely get what you pay for. Some pregnant women don’t consider this a problem – after all, they’ll only be wearing the clothes for at most nine months, right?

Unfortunately, most cheap maternity clothing doesn’t even last that long. They begin to tear and unravel after the first or second wash, and certainly won’t carry you through the entire pregnancy.

One way to save money is to only buy a few essential items, but make sure those items are good. Also consider second-hand items at resale shops, rummage sales or on eBay; while they may have been worn before, they’re still likely to have a lot of life for their low price.

Mistake Three: Not Planning Ahead

Most pregnant women don’t plan ahead – they don’t consider that during pregnancy, their body shape and size will gradually change. Buying everything in a single spree is usually a bad idea – think ahead and invest in quality pieces that’ll work for the duration of your pregnancy.

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Other Skin Conditions During Pregnancy

Other Skin Conditions During Pregnancy

While the most common skin conditions a surrogate mother might encounter during pregnancy are pregnancy glow, stretch marks, acne and chloasma, there are other ones that a surrogate should be aware of. Most aren’t permanent – they usually go away after childbirth.

Some of them are:

1. Red palms and soles. As early as the second month of pregnancy, the insides of your hands, and the bottoms of your feet may itch and take on a reddish hue, called palmar erythema. This increased color is no more than a curiosity of pregnancy, which usually ends with childbirth.

2. Spider veins. Those much-discussed pregnancy hormones, along with increased blood volume, cause the tiny, squiggly red or purple capillaries just below the surface of the skin to branch out and become more visible during pregnancy. It’s also common for spider veins to pop out on the face or on the sclera or white part of the eyeballs during delivery; intense, red-in-the-face pushing can break tiny blood vessels. Known as nevi, these burst vessels can be camouflaged by the appropriate use of make-up. Nevi takes longer to disappear than many of the other skin problems of pregnancy; some spider veins on the legs or torso may not go away on their own. A dermatologist can remove these spider veins using injections if you feel that’s necessary.

3. Itching. Many women enjoy a good “scratch down” at the end of the day. Some areas of your skin may itch because they are dry and flaky; others can itch due to a prickly rash. Many women find the itching to be most bothersome in the skin that stretches – mainly over the abdomen, but also on hips and thighs. To help you avoid itching, try applying baby powder to the troubled areas.

4. Skin tags. Some pregnant women develop tiny polyps, called skin tags, in areas where skin rubs against clothing or other skin. Commonly found under the arms, between neck folds, or under bra lines on the chest, skin tags are caused by hyperactive growth of a superficial layer of skin. They disappear a few months following delivery, but can be easily excised if they bother you.

5. Heat rash. You may think that only babies get prickly heat rash, but pregnant women also can. Caused by the combination of an already overheated pregnant body, dampness from excessive perspiration and the friction of skin rubbing against itself or against clothing, prickly heat rash is pimply and slightly irritating. It’s most common in the crease between and beneath the breasts, in the crease where the bulge of the lower abdomen rubs against the top of the pubic area, and on the inner thighs. To help prevent heat rash, try keeping yourself cool by taking regular baths or showers.

Most of these skin conditions usually vanish after childbirth. Although they’re quite normal, they can easily be aggravated at times. The best way to prevent them is to keep yourself fresh, cool and clean at all times.

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Skin Care Tips During Pregnancy

Skin Care Tips During Pregnancy

Pregnancy has a clear effect on a surrogate mother’s appearance – alongside the gradual weight gain, there are hormonal changes that affect the skin. To help prevent some of the most common skin problems associated with pregnancy, here are some skin care tips:

1. Moisturize and use sun protection
The single most important addition you should make to your skin-care routine during your pregnancy is a moisturizer with at least SPF 15. Studies show that, during pregnancy, elevated hormone levels trigger the multiplication of pigment cells, which can cause facial blotchiness or ‘the mask of pregnancy.’

Using sunscreen daily is the best way to avoid this discoloration. If you know you’re going to be out in the midday sun or at the beach, it’s best to protect yourself with a sunblock of SPF 30 or higher. Try to look for lotions and creams that list Parsol 1789 or Avobenzone as ingredients.

2. Cleansing
It’s best to start your day with a good shower and a gentle facial cleanser. Use a non-residue or glycerin-based one. If your skin is ultra-dry, then it’s best to wash with a soapless rinse-off cleanser that’s mild and moisturizing. It’s a good idea to wash your face no more than twice a day, to prevent over-drying of the skin.

3. Acne protection
A pregnant woman’s skin can become oily during the first trimester of pregnancy, leading to acne breakouts. The safest way to treat these breakouts is with a product that contains glycolic acid, alpha hydroxy acid, topical erythromycin (which is prescription-only), or witch hazel.

Most dermatologists and skin experts recommend against the use of topical retinoids like Retin-A or Differin and salicylic acid. Although these ingredients haven’t been linked to birth defects and there’s no conclusive evidence of negative side-effects, it’s still best to be cautious during pregnancy.

4. Easy makeup
When it comes to wearing makeup during pregnancy, use the ‘less is more’ philosophy – it’s faster and easier. All you really need is a few multipurpose products:

A foundation stick that doubles as concealer is great for covering under-eye circles and blemishes, and for evening out skin tone. Chubby pencils are foolproof for smudging on eyes, lips and cheeks, and won’t take much space in your bag. If you’re the kind of person who won’t leave the house without lipstick, make sure it’s moisturizing and contains sun protection. For a polished look, finish up with a coat of washable, waterproof mascara and you’re ready for the day.

During your surrogate pregnancy, it’s best to avoid heavy makeup that may contain harsh and toxic chemicals. Remember, the natural pregnancy glow can make a woman look most ravishing during pregnancy without any makeup whatsoever.

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