If you are interested in becoming a gestational carrier, my suggestion is to first see if you meet the basic requirements set out below. If you do and your husband is supportive (if you are married your husband will need to be a party to the Gestational Surrogacy Agreement which is entered into between the parties) then I would encourage you to research the surrogacy process and the compensation structure as all of these things will impact you and your family once you are a gestational carrier. If you would like to apply to be a gestational carrier or have other questions please contact Katrina Cassidy, P.C. or another reputable surrogacy agency and either submit an application or speak to someone regarding any questions you may have regarding becoming a carrier.
What are the Surrogate Carrier Requirements?
In Texas, there are only three legal requirements to become a gestational carrier:
- You must have carried a child to a live birth delivery at least once.
- You cannot use your own eggs in the surrogacy process. And
- You must be of age to contract — i.e. a minimum of 18 years in Texas.
There are other industry standards, however, which are set forth by the medical industry and by other industry practices. For example, most IVF physicians require the following:
- The carrier must be between age 18 and 38 (up to age 40 if in excellent health)
- No more than 2-4 c-sections (this is largely determined by the specific IVF physician)
- Drug free and non-smoker
- No major complications in prior pregnancies
- The carrier candidate must be height weight proportionate, preferably with a BMI between 24 and 30.
Other industry standards which have evolved from the surrogacy agency and surrogacy legal industry in general are as follows:
- The carrier’s husband, if she is married, must be supportive of the surrogacy as he will be a party to the contract.
- It is preferable if the carrier has health insurance with no surrogacy exclusion as it is difficult and expensive to purchase health insurance on the open market unless through a group health plan.
- If the legal proceedings are to be in Texas, the carrier and her husband should be from Texas and plan to remain in Texas for the duration of the pregnancy.
The Screening Process to Become a Gestational Surrogate
At Katrina Cassidy P.C. the screening process is done in three stages:
During the legal stage, you will be speak to Katrina Cassidy about the process and the requirements to become a gestational carrier and whether you meet those requirements. Of course, any and all questions you may have about the process will be answered as well. You will be asked to completed a gestational carrier questionaire, provide some photos and also provide a copy of your health insurance policy for review if you are insured. A criminal background check of you and your husband (or significant other if residing with you) will also be done.
Once you have met the parents and there is a mutual decision to move forward, you will be referred to a psychologist for a psych evaluation. This generally includes a one-time consultation of about 45 minutes to an hour. Often, the MMPI, a multiple choice personality test is also administered. This may take an additional 2 hours of time. Often your husband, if you are married, is asked to come in as well after your initial consult for a joint consult. This is also a one-time consult. This could all be done on the same day or on two separate visits, depending on everyone’s schedule. The Intended Parents pay for this evaluation.
Finally, once the psych evaluation is done and the carrier approved, the carrier will go for a medical screening. This screening generally consists of two appointments. The first appointment is usually set around Day 1 of the Gestational Carrier’s menstrual cycle and is primarily to do a blood draw. Here the clinic will check hormone levels and for STD’s as well among other things. They will also take a history and review medical records of the Gestational Carrier. Next the clinic will set another appointment for the Gestational Carrier to come in and consult with the IVF Physician and do either a Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) or sonohysterogram (non-invasive non-surgical medical procedure to view a female’s internal reproductive system). In some cases if warranted by the Gestational Carrier’s previous medical history, a more invasive hysteroscopy may be ordered. Once all of these screenings are completed and the Gestational Carrier is approved by the Intended Parents attorney, psychologist and IVF Physician, the parties are ready to begin legal documentation.
What is My Role as a Gestational Surrogate and How do I fit into the Whole Puzzle?
The Gestational Carrier of course has a tremendous role in the surrogacy. The Gestational Carrier is an important and critical member of a team which consists of multiple professionals and the Intended Parents all working together towards a common goal — a healthy baby. All the parties involved have a role in that process and all parties deserve respect and consideration as they participate in that process. When all parties are mutually considerate of each other and respect each other, all members of the team work the best and most harmoniously.
What are the Legal Requirements?
In Texas, the parties (Gestational Carrier and her husband if married, and the Intended Parents or Parent) must enter into a Gestational Surrogacy Agreement a minimum of 14 days before any embryo transfer. This Agreement is usually drafted by the Intended Parents counsel and contains all the details about the surrogacy arrangement such as parentage, who makes all decisions about the baby and the pregnancy, the compensation structure, etc. At this point the Gestational Carrier and her husband will have their attorney review the Agreement on their behalf and negotiate the agreement if they wish, on their behalf.
Once the Agreement is completed and signed by all parties, it is sent to the IVF clinic and the parties may proceed with the embryo transfer. Either prior to pregnancy or immediately following pregnancy, the Gestational Surrogacy Agreement is filed with the Court for validation and to request a Pre-Birth Order of Parentage so as to establish the child’s legal parentage with the Intended Parents.
Months prior to the birth of the child, the Gestational Surrogacy Agreement must be validated by a Texas judge and a pre-birth order of parentage adjudicating the Intended Parents sole legal parentage of the child will be signed.
Texas law does not require validation or a pre-birth order to be issued, however if the parents do not have the agreement validated and a pre-birth order of parentage issued, the Gestational Surrogacy Agreement will be held to be unenforceable and the gestational carrier may then seek petition for rights to the child if she chooses. Therefore, it is imperative that the Intended Parents must have the Gestational Surrogacy Agreement validated and a pre-birth order of parentage issued declaring the Intended Parents parentage. This is not only for the parents’ benefit but the Gestational Carrier as well.
Many Gestational Carrier’s are concerned as to whether the parents may divorce or not want to keep the child following the pregnancy. Many Gestational Carriers also prefer assurance that parentage of the child has been clearly and legally established with the Intended Parents.
What are My Next Steps if I want to be a Surrogate?
If you are interested in being a gestational carrier, meet the basic requirements, have done some research into the process and have looked at the compensation structure, just call or email Katrina Cassidy, P.C. and request an application or a consultation. We would love to speak with you about becoming a gestational carrier in our program. We always have wonderful parents waiting to be matched! All of our Intended Parents work with doctors in Houston so there is never any need for the Gestational Carrier to travel unless she lives outside of Houston. There will not be any travel to another state.