Janene Oleaga, Esq.
Being a Surrogate in Maine: What to Expect
Updated: Mar 24, 2021
What to expect before, during, and after your surrogacy journey.
Before you Begin your Surrogacy Journey...
Do some soul-searching. Decide if surrogacy is right for you.
Becoming a surrogate is truly a calling. You are deciding to play an integral part in a couple's (or individual's) family building process. An entire life is possible because of you. That deserves to be celebrated.
Being a surrogate is a life-changing experience. However, surrogacy is not without it's challenges. Surrogacy is physically demanding, and can be emotionally exhausting. You should know what to expect so you can best be prepared for each stage of your surrogacy journey.
During your "should I be a surrogate" decision-making process you should do both external research (speaking with other surrogates, meeting with surrogacy professionals, reading about surrogacy, etc.) and internal research (asking yourself why you want to be a surrogate). Access all available information about surrogacy in Maine. Take time to truly get in touch with how you feel about becoming a surrogate. You should consider a number of things, including:
Surrogacy Questions to Consider:
Do I enjoy being pregnant?
What do I hope to gain from my surrogacy journey?
Am I finished growing my own family or willing to put my own family building on hold to help another family?
Am I emotionally able to carry a baby for someone else?
Do I maintain a healthy lifestyle?
Am I ready to commit my body to a year or more of medical tests and procedures, fertility medications, and nine months of a pregnancy?
Am I physically ready for all the difficulties of pregnancy?
Who will my support system be during the pregnancy and after the birth?
Do I have health insurance? (Not having health insurance is not a deal-breaker; it just requires the intended parents to pay for your health insurance which may limit the number of intended parents financially able to work with you.)
What am I looking for in the intended parent(s) I hope to work with? *More on this below.
Am I ready to endure labor for someone else's child?
What kind of contact would I like to have with the child I give birth to, and the family I help grow via surrogacy? *More on this below.
Taking time to self-reflect before embarking on a surrogacy journey is the best way to ensure you are truly ready, and interested in surrogacy for the right reasons.
I want to be a surrogate! How do I get started?
Start by contacting surrogacy professionals and surrogacy agencies as explained below. While every surrogacy experience is different, much of the surrogacy process in Maine remains the same. Here is what to expect if you decide surrogacy is right for you:
Stage 1: Contact A Surrogacy Professional or Surrogacy Agency
If you decide you want to move forward with your surrogacy journey, your first step should be to reach out to a Maine surrogacy professional - better yet, multiple surrogacy professionals. A surrogacy professional can be a surrogacy attorney, surrogacy agency, or any professional working in the surrogacy industry. Speaking with surrogacy professionals can provide clarity around what to expect during your surrogacy journey.
For a list of surrogacy professionals in Maine and New England see:
RESOLVE New England.
Maine Surrogacy Agencies & Maine Surrogacy Attorneys
You can choose to work with a local Maine surrogacy agency or a surrogacy agency across the country. While it isn't a requirement to use a surrogacy agency, reputable surrogacy agencies have a wealth of knowledge regarding the surrogacy process. Some surrogacy agencies require a medical and psychological screening prior to matching with intended parents, some surrogacy professionals foster a match between the surrogate and the intended parent(s) prior to any screenings. Remember to always be forthcoming and honest during these screenings as they are designed just as much to protect your health and well-being as they are to protect the wished-for child's health and well-being. Ultimately, you should decide if you'd benefit from having a surrogacy agency serve as someone acting as overall guide and middleman during your surrogacy journey.
Do your research before choosing to move forward with a surrogacy agency in Maine or another state. Ask questions, including:
What services do you provide? Medical and psychological screenings? Matching with intended parents alone?
When will the physical and psychological screenings occur? Prior to matching with intended parents or after?
How will you match me as a surrogate with the intended parents? Will I get to choose from a number of intended parents or will you choose for me?
How quickly should I expect to match with the intended parent(s)?
How many surrogacy journeys do you handle each year? (TIP: Do you want to work with an organization that handles 100+ journeys each year, or would you prefer to work with a smaller boutique surrogacy agency/professional that only handles a handful of journeys each year? There is no wrong answer, this is simply a matter of preference.)
What counseling do you provide for your surrogates and intended parents?
What are your general terms for surrogacy contracts? What does your base surrogate compensation look like?
What post-birth support do you provide for your surrogates?
How will you ensure I am protected legally?
In addition to contacting multiple surrogacy agencies in Maine and other states, you should contact Maine-based surrogacy attorneys at the outset of your journey as they often have invaluable advice. Surrogacy attorneys work closely with many different surrogacy agencies and can provide insight into which agencies past surrogates have had good experiences with. Surrogacy attorneys may also have knowledge of intended parents who have contacted them hoping to find a surrogate and can direct you where to find them.
*** A Note on Independent Surrogacy Journeys ***
Some surrogates match with intended parents independently of an agency. This gives you, the surrogate, a great deal of control, but also a great deal of stress and responsibility. Without the help of a surrogacy professional you run the risk of missing important details throughout the surrogacy journey. If you do match with intended parents independently of an agency, you may still choose to work with an agency to guide you throughout the surrogacy process. Unless you fall into the very limited situations in which you intend to carry a baby for a friend or family member, working independently of an agency is better suited for experienced surrogates who know the surrogacy process and understand the risks involved.
Stage 2: Match with Intended Parents!
Matching with like-minded intended parents is necessary for the surrogacy arrangement to be successful. As the surrogate mother you are in total control of which intended parents you are willing to work with and the type of surrogacy relationship you want to have. Be sure to work with intended parents who are a good fit for your desires and beliefs. Before choosing which intended parents you'd like to work with, ask yourself the following questions:
What qualities am I looking for in the intended parents? Are there certain couples or individuals I would prefer not to work with?
What type of relationship would I like to have with the intended parents? Do I want them to live nearby? In Maine? In another country?
How involved with the pregnancy am I comfortable with the intended parents being? Am I comfortable with them attending appointments? Am I comfortable with them being in the delivery room?
How often do I expect to speak with the intended parents? Everyday? Once each week? Do I want to FaceTime? Text?
What type of relationship would I like to have with the baby I carry? Yearly photos? Monthly get-togethers?
Do I want to carry multiples? Do I understand the risks of carrying multiples?
How do I feel about selective reduction? Under what circumstances?
Do I have any religious or spiritual beliefs I should make known to the intended parents? Do their religious or spiritual beliefs comport with mine?
You should never have to compromise your beliefs in order to be a surrogate. You are entitled to have as many requirements as you desire, but understand the more requirements you have the longer and more difficult it will be to find a match.
Stage 3: Surrogate Screenings
Once you have matched with the intended parents best suited for you, you are ready to undergo physical and psychological screenings. These screenings ensure you are medically, physically, and psychologically prepared to be a surrogate. The screenings vary slightly by agency or clinic, but this is an integral part of the surrogacy journey in Maine. Some surrogacy agencies have you complete these screenings before matching with intended parents, while others delay these screenings until after you have matched with intended parents. Maine law also requires that intended parents receive medical and mental health evaluations. See Maine Parentage Act.
If you'd like to read more about what these evaluations entail, please see the blog post: Surrogacy: Medical and Psychological Screenings.
Stage 4: Retaining a Maine Surrogacy Attorney
Maine surrogacy law requires all parties involved in a surrogacy arrangement enter into a surrogacy contract, called a "Gestational Carrier Agreement," prior to any transfer of embryos. In Maine, each party must be represented by their own attorney specializing in assisted reproductive technology to ensure their individual legal interests are protected. The intended parents are responsible for paying your attorney's fees but you are entitled to hire the attorney of your choosing. Your agency may provide you a list of recommended attorneys, but no one has the right to choose an attorney for you. Despite the intended parents' responsibility to pay, your attorney owes you a duty of absolute loyalty. This means your attorney will represent and protect your interests alone and will not provide legal advice to the intended parents.
You will meet with your surrogacy attorney before the drafting and negotiation of the Gestational Carrier agreement to discuss the legal aspects of surrogacy contracts, what terms and conditions are most important to you, and address any questions you may have at this stage in the process.
Your "Gestational Carrier Agreement" will include a number of items and address many different scenarios, including but not limited to:
the number of embryo transfers you are willing to endure;
the number of embryos you are willing to transfer at a time;
your surrogate fee and total compensation;
allowances for travel, child care, and maternity clothing;
delivery state and hospital;
who will attend prenatal appointments with you;
who will be in the delivery room; and
whether or not you will provide breast milk after the baby is born.
The intended parents' attorney will draft the Gestational Carrier Agreement. Your attorney will review the agreement, negotiate terms that are important to you, and make the necessary changes. Once everyone agrees to the terms of the Gestational Carrier Agreement, all parties will sign and prepare for the medical stage of the surrogacy process. You will generally begin receiving compensation when this contract is executed.
Note: When negotiating the terms of the surrogacy agreement, do not be afraid to ask questions and speak up regarding what is important to you. Be honest with yourself and your attorney. These discussions are important to establishing an open and honest relationship with the intended parents and necessary for managing everyone's expectations.
Surrogacy involves complex legal agreements and surrogacy laws vary by state.
Do your research and hire an attorney that specializes in assisted reproductive technology
to ensure your legal interests are protected.
Stage 5: IVF Medications & Embryo Transfer
Fertility medications begin after the Gestational Carrier Agreement is signed and prior to the transfer of embryo(s). Fertility medications usually include daily fertility shots and frequent visits to the fertility doctor for monitoring. These medications are designed to make your body as fertile as possible for the embryo transfer. In Maine, the embryo transfer may not occur until after an agreement meeting all legal surrogacy requirements is signed.
When your body is ready, the number of agreed upon embryo(s) will be transferred. This embryo transfer will occur at the fertility clinic provided in the Gestational Carrier Agreement. The procedure to transfer the embryo(s) is quick and without much discomfort, although you should be prepared to remain at the fertility clinic for a few hours after the transfer.
Once you leave the fertility clinic you will be instructed to rest for a few days. In a few weeks you will return to the fertility clinic, or another monitoring fertility clinic, to confirm the pregnancy with a pregnancy test. If you are indeed pregnant you will need to visit the fertility clinic or another monitoring clinic for multiple blood tests and ultrasounds in the following few weeks. Once a heartbeart is found you will begin receiving payments for enduring the pregnancy pursuant to the terms of your Gestational Carrier Agreement.
Sometimes it is the case that it takes several embryo transfer attempts to achieve pregnancy. If for some reason the initial implantation is unsuccessful it is normal to feel disappointed. You may proceed with a series of embryo transfers until pregnancy is achieved or until you have reached the maximum number agreed upon in your Gestational Carrier Agreement.
Stage 6: Pregnancy
Once a heartbeat is found you may attend your regularly scheduled prenatal checkups with the obstetrician of your choice. As the surrogate mother you retain control over which medical professionals you choose to work with, though you will allow the intended parents access to the medical records related to the pregnancy. The intended parents will accompany you to these prenatal appointments as much or as little as you mutually agreed upon and included in your contract.
Throughout the pregnancy you should focus on your nutrition, exercise, and overall health as much as possible. You should always avoid the use of alcohol, tobacco, nicotine, illegal substances, and other substances as provided in your Gestational Carrier Agreement. The goal is to have a healthy pregnancy for both the surrogate and the baby.
Throughout the pregnancy you will continue to be paid according to the terms of your Gestational Carrier Agreement. Be sure to keep a signed copy of your Agreement so you may refer to it as often as needed. Disputes are uncommon, but when they arise you will want to be sure you fully understand the terms of the Agreement and what you are legally entitled to.
Parentage Petition: At some point during the second trimester, your attorney will work with you to file a parentage petition with the court. For more information about parentage petitions, see this related blog post.
Stage 7: Birth!
The most exciting part of surrogacy: the birth of the baby! Congratulations! This is a life-changing event for everyone! Soak it all in.
Prior to delivery your surrogacy agency should serve as your hospital liaison to ensure all appropriate plans are in place. Hopefully the baby will be delivered without incident and the intended parents will be afforded the opportunity to be present at the birth, whether in the delivery room or in the recovery room. It is important to be clear about your expectations regarding the birth, who may attend, and what you are comfortable with, during the contracting stage of the surrogacy process. This manages everyones expectations.
Post-Birth Contact: You and the new family will forever be connected as a new life was entirely possible because of you! You all may wish to maintain a relationship throughout the child’s life. The amount of contact between the parties after birth is unique to each surrogacy arrangement. If you choose to remain in contact, the surrogacy agency you work with should be able to facilitate this relationship.
Stage 8: Postpartum
After the baby is born and you are discharged from the hospital, everyone can return home; the parents with their new baby and you with the satisfaction of giving the selfless gift of parenthood and new life.
Returning home from the hospital after giving birth can be emotional. You have to hold the joy at playing at integral role in helping a family grow along with the emotions involved with the absence of a baby that was part of your body for nine months. It is normal to feel a wide range of emotions. If any of your emotions feel out of control or beyond what you expected, do not hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional.
If you are working with a surrogacy agency they should ensure you are properly cared for and recovering well during this postpartum period. Be sure to rest and care for yourself physically and emotionally. Reach out to your surrogacy agency and support network if you need help in any way.
There are few life experiences that measure up to the immeasurable joy of a new baby and a growing family. Helping an individual or a couple build their family by acting as a surrogate can be an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling experience.
COVID-19 and Surrogacy
We don't have the answers about COVID-19, how long it will stay, and the lasting effects of the virus. We do know that families pursuing surrogacy have often waited for a baby for a very long time. Surrogates and intended parents in Maine have been matching and moving forward with their surrogacy journeys while respecting all Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Maine State, and Federal guidelines regarding COVID-19.
Remember you are in control as to when to start your surrogacy journey. If you choose to match with intended parents during the current pandemic, you can be clear about your expectations regarding when you will begin the medical stage of the surrogacy process. If you choose to wait until the COVID-19 pandemic is more manageable, you can still prepare to become a surrogate by undergoing the necessary screenings and completing the required documents.
Travel during COVID-19 is a major concern. Many intended parents are choosing to match with surrogates regionally so as not to be affected by the COVID-19 travel restrictions imposed throughout the country. If you are considering becoming a surrogate, there is no better time to begin.
You can read more about the surrogacy process in
Maine or New York by clicking the state name.
If you are ready to become a surrogate but have some questions,
give us a call and let us explain your options.
Consults are always free of charge.
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This article contains general information about Oleaga Law LLC and surrogacy in Maine.
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