Everything You Need To Know To Find Out If Surrogacy Is The Right Choice For You
By Vicki Salemi
As a survivor of cervical cancer, Tony Award winning actress and Dancing With the Stars alum Marisa Jaret Winokur and her husband opted for the surrogate route and are the proud parents of a healthy baby boy named Zev Isaac.
According to Rayven Perkins (www.information-on-surrogacy.com) who has been a gestational surrogate mother twice, having delivered a set of twins and one boy, it’s important to note that each surrogacy journey is completely different. “From compensation amounts to medications for the transfer to items to include in a contract, no two arrangements are alike.”
From a surrogate’s point of view there could be a variety of reasons to become a surrogate. For Perkins and her family, it was a way to give back to the world. “We're not wealthy people; we'll never be able to afford to donate a wing to a hospital or something. But with surrogacy, we are able to change another family’s life forever. We are able to give them something they cannot achieve on their own.”
MINDING THE DETAILS
There are a few requirements of surrogacy: in order to become a surrogate mother, a woman must have had at least one pregnancy resulting in a live birth prior to carrying for someone else. “There are no exceptions to this rule,” says Perkins. “I have two children of my own; an 8 year-old son and a 7 year-old daughter.”
As couples search for women like Perkins and surrogates search for couples, there are a variety of options. Some find each other independently through word of mouth or online message boards. For others like Perkins who works with international couples, there are agencies. In addition to making the match, of course, there are legal aspects to explore.
Surrogate mothers need to find an attorney who has experience with surrogate arrangements. Plus, the attorney must be able to practice law in the surrogate’s state. A lawyer with experience in adoption may not fully comprehend a variety of nuances with surrogacy. The intended parents typically cover the costs of the surrogate mother’s attorney.
In addition to the legal fees, another aspect of payment is health insurance. Perkins explains, “A surrogate mother's personal health insurance will usually (90% of the time) cover the pregnancy. If surrogacy is an exclusion on her policy, or she does not have a policy at all, it is the intended parent's responsibility to pay for a policy or pay for all of the bills out of pocket. Any co-pays, deductibles or other fees related to the pregnancy that her insurance will not cover is the intended parent's responsibility.”
According to Perkins, a typical surrogate mother will be compensated $18,000-$25,000 for a successful pregnancy. “She could get $2,500-5,000 more per fetus for twins or triplets. An experienced surrogate would receive $7,000-10,000 more than that. These are only the average amounts, that most surrogates receive.” Some people get compensated significantly less and others may get a little bit more. Keep in mind couples pay for all expenses related to the surrogacy including clinic fees, traveling to the clinic, childcare for the surrogate’s children when needed, etc.
THE LEGAL FACTORS
While it may seem the main question is, “What if the surrogate wants to keep the baby?”, there are countless others which need to be specified in a contract. For instance, Perkins notes that questions should be raised regarding twins and triplets, thoughts on selective reduction, where the birth will occur, compensation issues, etc.
“Each surrogacy is completely different. Some contracts will have contact specifications, such as “parents are required to send pictures to surrogate at birthdays and Christmas” and some do not. I did not feel that that should be a contingency in my arrangements, so I did not have any mention of contact. I feel that a forced relationship is no relationship at all.”
THE GIFT OF LIFE
Above all, the surrogate is giving the gift of life. Perkins adds, “Having said that, our families have formed a very intimate bond, more with the intended parents than with the babies, and we intend to visit over the years. The mother has even mentioned sponsoring my son for a summer when he is a teen. So yes, though not contractually obligated to do so, I fully expect to see the babies again. Just not for a few years.”