FAQs

For more answers to your surrogacy and infertility related questions, please visit our Helpful Links page.

Why do women become Egg Donors? Am I a good candidate for becoming an Egg Donor?

The most common reason women become Egg Donors is they have a genuine altruistic wish to help infertile women/couples get pregnant. Like Surrogates, some Egg Donors report being inspired by empathy for a friend, co-worker or relative they have witnessed going through infertility or pregnancy loss. Other Egg Donors do not necessarily “know” anyone personally who has had reproductive issues, but still have a desire, once exposed to the concept of egg donation, to assist someone else in this remarkable way. Oftentimes, women who become Egg Donors have an internal personally characteristic—a particularly strong sense of compassion—that drives them to help others in general.

In addition to having a genuine desire to assist a couple or individual in family building, a woman considering egg donation should be healthy, of above average intelligence, and familiar with her family’s physical/mental health history (or be able to access this information). As far as physical appearance is concerned, there is more of a likelihood that an Egg Donor will be chosen if she is considered average looking or above; however, each potential Recipient Parent/s will have their own version of what constitutes physically attractiveness. In addition to physical description requirements, many Recipient Parents will choose Egg Donors based on their personality traits, hobbies, interests and/or intellect. Egg Donors usually receive compensation, and this is clearly an added incentive for them and their spouses/partners (when applicable); however, we at Family Source believe strongly that the financial aspect should definitely not be the #1 motivator.

In a nutshell, personal gratification and financial compensation are the primary benefits to egg donation for women who: do not view their eggs as their offspring from a maternal aspect (i.e., they recognize they are passing on their genetics, but do not consider themselves to be the “mother” to any resulting children from their egg donation); are healthy overall and have attractive mental and/or physical traits, are willing to follow a fairly intense medication protocol (which will likely include injections); and who have support from either a spouse/partner, friend or family member with whom they can share thoughts and feelings with as they go through their egg donation experience.

Why do women decide to become Surrogates? Am I a good candidate for becoming a Surrogate?

There are many potential “reasons” the idea to become a Surrogate is sparked; however, the main reason stated by Surrogates is they are sympathetic to those unable to have children on their own. Oftentimes, for instance, women are driven by their compassion for a friend, co-worker, or relative who they have watched go through infertility or pregnancy loss. A number of Surrogates report feeling empathy for gay/lesbian friends or family members who need the help of a third party to have children, and may have experienced prejudices from certain adoption agencies. Many times, even after the fore mentioned become parents, the seed has been planted, so to speak, and a woman contemplating surrogacy or egg donation feels compelled to find someone in a similar predicament to help.

Surrogates typically have a history of uncomplicated and pleasant pregnancies. They value the gift of parenthood and have a healthy and supportive relationship with their spouse or partner (when applicable). They are oftentimes women who have a desire to help others in general, and they may consider this to be an opportunity to help somebody else in one of the most important and meaningful ways possible. Surrogates usually receive compensation, which certainly is an added incentive for them and their spouses/partners (when applicable); however, we at Family Source believe strongly that the financial aspect should definitely not be the #1 motivator.

In a nutshell, personal gratification and financial compensation tend to be the primary benefits to Surrogacy for women who: enjoy being pregnant and are ready to deal with the physical and mental repercussions that accompany pregnancy/childbirth, are certain they will not form a “maternal” attachment to the baby/ies they are carrying; are willing to follow a fairly intense medication protocol (which will likely include injections); and who have a stable and supportive home environment.

Can I be a Surrogate or an Egg Donor if my tubes are tied?

Yes. With the IVF procedure, the embryos will be implanted directly into your uterus; therefore, having your tubes tied does not affect your ability to be a Surrogate.

What is Gestational Surrogacy?

A Gestational Surrogate has no genetic link to the child/ren she is carrying; rather, the egg is provided either by the Intended Mother or an Egg Donor. To learn more about Gestational Surrogacy, click HERE.

Are there side effects from the medications I would take as a Surrogate or an Egg Donor?

We at Family Source are not medical professionals; however, we are familiar with most of the typically used medications for IVF protocols. In addition to reading through the general protocol in our sections on this website addressing the Surrogate process and the Egg Donor process please review this list of the most commonly used medications for IVF protocols.

It is important to note, women respond differently to these medications: In most cases, very few side effects, if any, are experienced, but it is possible that more adverse reactions may occur among some patients. Some potential side effects are: mild bruising and/or soreness from shots, headaches, mood swings, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, functional cysts (approx. 15% of IVF patients will develop), and in extreme cases, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, a condition which, fortunately, is pretty rare. It is most important to work with a reputable infertility clinic that 1) has a good track record of avoiding ovarian hyperstimulation among its patients and 2) has the expertise needed to treat the syndrome if it should occur. Your reproductive endocrinologist will answer any additional questions you have in regards medications and their possible side effects.

Why do people need Surrogates and/or Egg Donors?

There are basically two groups of people who need Surrogates and/or Egg Donors to help in their family building endeavors (in the event they choose not to adopt). The first group (discussed below) includes infertile women or couples. The second group includes gay or single males. For obvious reasons, gay or single men who are interested in becoming fathers, but who choose not to pursue adoption, will need to find a woman to carry a baby/ies for them. In this case, they will need to determine whether they are interested in pursuing Traditional Surrogacy or Gestational Surrogacy with an Egg Donor. Since, as mentioned above, it is clear why gay or single males who want to be fathers need to turn to surrogacy, below we will concentrate on addressing some of the reasons infertile women (or heterosexual couples) may need the services of a Surrogate and/or an Egg Donor.

There are many potential reasons a woman may not be able to carry a baby (creating the need for a Surrogate), and a variety of conditions that could prohibit a woman from using her own eggs to conceive (creating the need for an Egg Donor). It’s also fairly commonplace, in terms of assisted reproduction, to need both the services of a Surrogate and an Egg Donor—thus, a Gestational Surrogate would carry the baby/ies created by an Egg Donor’s eggs and the Intended Father’s (or Sperm Donor’s) sperm. This is a subject that can be discussed in great length; however, we would just like to touch on a few of the most typical reasons a couple/individual may need to turn to Surrogacy and/or Egg Donation to create or add to their family.

The need for a Surrogate may exist when a woman does not have a uterus, due to a gynecological cancer for example, or when she has a syndrome known as MRKH (Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser Syndrome), in which she is born without a uterus (or with an under-developed uterus), and in many instances, without a vagina (or with an under-developed vagina). A large percentage of women with MRKH have perfectly functioning ovaries; therefore, Surrogacy has provided a wonderful solution in allowing them to use their own eggs and pass on their genetics to their future child/ren.

Even when a woman’s uterus and all of her other gynecologic organs are in tact, there are still many potential conditions that could prevent her from getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy. Some factors that may cause infertility are fibroids (benign tumors of the uterus), endometriosis (when endometrial cells form outside the uterus), blockage or scarring of the fallopian tubes, and cervical incompetence. About 10% of infertile women have unexplained infertility, in which a cause is really never determined, and another portion of the infertile community suffers from the devastating loss of recurrent miscarriage, defined as three or more consecutive miscarriages before twenty weeks gestation.

Finally, even when a woman is be able to carry a pregnancy, from a physical standpoint, there are many possible health reasons (for example, heart conditions, lupus, other autoimmune diseases, etc.) that make it inadvisable for her to become pregnant, because it could be potentially harmful to herself or the baby she would be carrying.

The reasons for needing an Egg Donor are different, on many levels, than those pertaining to the need for a Surrogate. In the case where the Recipient Mother is carrying the baby, the issue may be directly related to her egg quality or a problem with her genetics (for example, a chromosomal abnormality that she could pass on to her children). She may have had her ovaries removed (or had a full hysterectomy) due to cancer or another serious gynecologic problem. Other reasons to need the assistance of an Egg Donor are premature menopause, under-developed or malfunctioning ovaries, or poor egg quality in general due to age or other various causes. Recipient Mothers can achieve pregnancy and carry a baby successfully, but they need another woman’s eggs (genetic material) to make this a possibility.

Does Family Source accept Intended Parents who are unmarried?

Absolutely. We do not discriminate against any person based on marital status.

What if I’m not affiliated with a specialist (reproductive endocrinologist)?

Family Source can recommend many highly qualified reproductive endocrinologists to you.

How many embryos are usually transferred? *

This can vary on all different aspects. The reproductive endocrinologist will guide you in making a well-informed decision, based on several factors, one of which is embryo quality. Typically, if the embryos are considered to be of very good or excellent quality, the reproductive endocrinologist will recommend that two embryos are transferred. Some reproductive endocrinologists will suggest transferring three or more embryos, especially if the quality is considered poor or below average. The Intended Parents and Surrogate will need to agree (and this will be in the contract) how many babies the Surrogate is willing to carry. If she is not willing to carry more than two, for example, and the Intended Parents and Surrogate are unwilling to reduce, the reproductive endocrinologist will likely advise that no more than two are transferred.

* We are not medical professionals and do not claim to have the medical knowledge you need to make the important decisions you will make throughout the process. When working with our agency, you will be referred to a reputable infertility clinic (reproductive endocrinologist) that will provide you with professional medical advice.

How much contact will I have with my Intended Parents or Surrogate throughout the process and beyond?

This is a decision you will need to make depending on your own level of comfort ability. Some Intended Parents prefer a lot of contact throughout the pregnancy; i.e., regular updates via e-mail and/or phone, and the expectation to attend most (if not all) of the doctor appointments (RE and OB) with their Surrogate. It is highly important to them to be “included” in the pregnancy. Similarly, some Surrogates also like the prospect of a close relationship with their Intended Parents—they may be disappointed if the Intended Parent/s did not maintain regular contact with them throughout the pregnancy and beyond. Many Surrogates and Intended Parents hope to have a life-long friendship—even after the birth of the baby/ies—and in many cases, this is a completely realistic notion.

A percentage of Intended Parents and Surrogates commit to a fairly low level of contact—perhaps occasional updates or phone calls—but do not necessarily want a close relationship throughout the pregnancy and after. This may be viewed by some as a “business relationship” of sorts. The Intended Parent/s may not be able to (or may choose not to) attend doctor appointments and may not see the Surrogate very often (or at all) throughout the pregnancy. A lot of Surrogates may also prefer this type of relationship because, although they are fulfilled in helping someone else have children, it isn’t crucial to them that they develop a strong relationship with their Intended Parent/s. Of course there are many degrees of what constitutes a “close” relationship, and there are many scenarios that are somewhere in between the different ends of the spectrum mentioned above. We at Family Source find it most important that, regardless of the expectations you have of your Intended Parent-Surrogate relationship, you are on the same page when entering into an contract together and make every effort to follow through with your agreements.

What if the Surrogate or Egg Donor backs out?

If you match with a Surrogate or Egg Donor and she decides not to go forward before the egg retrieval or transfer has taken place (although, due to our intense pre-screening process it’s unlikely this will occur)—or if, during medical or psychological screening it is determined there is a problem that disqualifies her from becoming a Surrogate or Egg Donor— will match you with another Surrogate or Egg Donor at no additional charge.

What are the laws regarding surrogacy in the United States and around the world? *

Family Source will only work with Surrogates who reside in the United States. There currently is no nationwide law regarding surrogacy in the United States; rather, each state has its’ own surrogacy laws. Fortunately, our agency is located in Illinois—one of the MOST surrogacy-friendly states in the United States. Keep in mind, even if you live somewhere where surrogacy or “paid surrogacy” is considered illegal (or the laws are undefined) this does not mean you cannot pursue surrogacy to build your family. It simply means that you will want to work with a Surrogate who is willing to deliver in a “surrogacy-friendly” state. A state is considered surrogacy-friendly when there are no residency requirements for the Intended Parents and a birth certificate (pre-birth order) can be issued without court proceedings. Surrogacy laws in the United States and around the world are ever-changing; thus, we advise that you verify the most current laws in your state with an attorney who specializes in this area.

* We at Family Source can help you find out what the surrogacy laws are in your particular state; however, because we are not attorneys, we cannot advise you legally. When working with our agency, you will be referred to a reputable collaborative reproduction attorney who can provide you with professional legal counsel.

What are the benefits to surrogacy vs. adoption?

Adoption and surrogacy are both wonderful ways to create or add to families—and we are not necessarily promoting one or the other or stating that either option is “better.” However, as a surrogacy agency, we feel it is our responsibility to provide you with some of the reasons people may choose surrogacy vs. adoption. We hope this information will help you determine the route that is best for you.

One of the major benefits to surrogacy, is that in most cases, at least one of the parents has the opportunity to be biologically related to their future child/ren. With Gestational Surrogacy, much of the time, the Intended Mother is using her own eggs and the Intended Father is using his sperm—thus, the baby/ies created are the genetic offspring of both parents. Even when, for example, an Egg Donor or a Sperm Donor is used, again, at least one of the parents will pass on his/her genetics to the child/ren conceived. Either way, even if both an Egg Donor and a Sperm Donor are used—or even with Traditional Surrogacy, in which the Surrogate is providing her own egg and is thus the “genetic mother” to the baby/ies she is carrying—the advantage to the Intended Parents (as opposed to adoption) is they at least can CHOOSE the genetic material they are passing along to their potential children. With adoption, there is no choice. This is not necessarily a bad thing—and again, we do not mean to come across as biased—this is simply a fact. For many Intended Parents, it is desirable to have a genetic link if at all possible, and surrogacy provides them with this opportunity.

 

Children conceived via surrogacy are done so with intent. Women who choose to become Surrogates are fertile—they have their own children and can have more if they so choose. They have made a conscious and well thought out decision to become Surrogates. They have endured doctor appointments, medications, poking and prodding, and probably some personal inconveniences because they want to help someone else achieve their family building dream. On the other hand, it is not all that unusual, in terms of adoption, for the birth mother to change her mind—even when she has already agreed to give up her baby to the adoptive parents. It’s perfectly understandable that a birth mother would change her mind, especially after giving birth, but again, we just want to point out the different perspectives.

Finally, if Intended Parents and their Surrogate choose to have a close (or “somewhat close”) relationship throughout the pregnancy—the Intended Parents have the opportunity to be completely involved in the pregnancy and birth experience. Of course, what matters most of all is the child not the pregnancy; however, for some women, especially those who have had their fertility taken away from them, or for some men, who truly are interested in “going through a pregnancy” from beginning to end, this is certainly an added bonus.

Again, we acknowledge that adoption is an absolutely beautiful way to create a family, and we are not trying to sway potential Intended Parents to make any decisions in regards to what feels right to them. There are certainly risks with all of the options, and pros and cons from many angles. However, we are just so grateful that we live in a world today where we have so many choices. Domestic adoption, international adoption, surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation, embryo donation, embryo adoption—we are thankful that all of these alternatives exist. We at Family Source simply encourage you to explore all of your options to determine the one with which you are most comfortable.

What are the different types of Surrogacy?

The Intended Parents, along with their doctor/reproductive endocrinologist, will determine the surrogacy option that will increase their chances of success. When an Egg Donor is needed, the process is very similar to that involved when the Intended Mother uses her own eggs – at least in terms of the cycle (egg retrieval and transfer). In addition to reviewing the below definitions, please view our page outlining the different types of egg donation.

Gestational Surrogacy – In this case, there is no biological connection between the Surrogate and the baby/ies she is carrying. A Gestational Surrogate becomes pregnant via the IVF procedure, in which the eggs of the Intended Mother (or Egg Donor) and the sperm of the Intended Father (or a Sperm Donor) create embryos. A Gestational Surrogate is considered the “birth mother” of the child/ren; however, she is not the genetic mother. If the Intended Mother can provide her own eggs, there is a strong likelihood that Gestational Surrogacy will be the preferred option. The appeal, as mentioned above, is that both parents will have the opportunity to share their genetics with their future child/ren.

Gestational Surrogacy with Egg Donation – Even when the Intended Mother cannot provide her own eggs, for many Intended Parents, the choice will still be Gestational Surrogacy and Egg Donation. In this case, the embryo is created with an Egg Donor’s eggs and the Intended Father’s (or a Sperm Donor’s sperm) and the transfer into the Surrogate is carried out in the same way it would be if both of the Intended Parent’s genetics created the embryos. Thus, the Surrogate has no biological connection to the child she is carrying, just as she wouldn’t if the Intended Mother’s eggs had been provided.

What are the different types of Egg Donation?

Whether you are an Egg Donor or Recipient Parents, we know that determining the type of egg donation with which you are comfortable is an important and personal decision. Our staff has first-hand knowledge of the pros and cons surrounding the different types of egg donation relationships, and we are happy to discuss our own personal experiences with you.

Anonymous Donation – The Recipient Parent/s will typically choose an Egg Donor who has similar physical and personal characteristics or perhaps particular traits that are appealing for various reasons. The Donor’s identity will be kept confidential; any information identifying her will not be given to the Recipient/s. The Recipient/s will, however, be able to view all pertinent information including medical and genetic history, physical description, photographs of the potential Donor, and photographs of her child/ren if she’s willing to share them. In an anonymous donation, the Recipient(s) will have important information about you, but you will never meet or know each other’s names. Many Recipient Parents and Egg Donors choose the anonymous route because they are most comfortable with this type of arrangement for many valid reasons.

Semi-Open Donation – This is an alternative that offers somewhat of a middle-ground solution in choosing anonymous vs. open egg donation. Oftentimes, Recipient Parents do not feel comfortable with anonymous donation because they would prefer to have the option of contacting the woman who shared her genetics with their child/ren. Additionally, many Recipient Parents would not feel comfortable with a totally open donation. With a semi-open relationship, the Recipient Parent/s have been given the Donor’s profile information, but do not necessarily know her last name, address and other detailed information. Similarly, the Egg Donor will be given basic information about the Recipient Parents, but will not necessarily know more specific information as she would in an open donation situation. The Recipient/s and the Egg Donor may decide to chat via telephone or e-mail, for example, but there will not necessarily be a commitment to stay in touch after the egg donation has occurred. The benefit to semi-known vs. anonymous, however, is that enough general information is exchanged so that the Recipient Parent/s know their Egg Donor (and vice versa) on a basic level, and can contact her if they have any questions and such. With a semi-open donation, the Egg Donor will most likely be informed about the results of the egg retrieval and whether or not a pregnancy occurs.

Open Donation – In an open donation arrangement, all parties have agreed to completely disclose information about each other, including last names, addresses, occupations, etc. The Recipient Parents and the Egg Donor, in this case, will sometimes decide to meet in person before the egg retrieval takes place, and if not possible due to logistics (location or scheduling conflicts) there will at least be conversations via email and/or telephone. In this type of arrangement, everyone is mutually interested in maintaining contact—potentially throughout the life of the child/ren born via the donation. An open donation may also occur because the Recipient Parents have a friend, a sister, or another relative who has offered to help them. Regardless of whether the Egg Donor is known previously, or whether she is someone the Recipient Parents have been matched with via Family Source, it is most important that all parties have discussed their long-term expectations of the relationship. For example, the Donor and Recipient Parent/s should discuss who they plan to tell and when. Additionally, and even more importantly, everyone must be on the same page in regards to what the Donor’s future relationship will be with the child/ren. There are certainly many issues to consider when going the open donation route, but open (or open/known) egg donation can be a wonderfully positive experience for the Recipient Parent/s, the Egg Donor, and any future children that may result.

How many times can I be an Egg Donor?

Usually the reproductive endocrinologist will not recommend more than six (6) donations in a life-time.