Surrogate mothers offer many couples their only opportunity at having biological children. A surrogate mother carries a baby to term for another couple, and is often rewarded financially for doing so. Laws concerning the legality of surrogacy differ from state to state. Any woman considering surrogacy must be in good health, and preferably has had at least one successful pregnancy. Becoming a surrogate mother can be physically and emotionally challenging, but the rewards can be great. A surrogate mother must decide if she prefers to work with an agency, or as an independent surrogate.
Consider the additional challenges of independent surrogacy. According to Surrogate Mothers Inc., independent surrogates are responsible for finding a couple, arranging legal documents with a surrogacy lawyer, scheduling their own appointments and every other part of the surrogacy process.
Find a knowledgeable and experienced surrogacy or adoption lawyer. Missouri has no specific law on surrogacy agreements. But the Human Rights Campaign says an agreement might run afoul of the state's child-trafficking laws.
Use the many websites and print publications devoted to connecting surrogate mothers with couples. Clearly state your desired compensation and preferences in pregnancy and childbirth. Look for ads from couples in Missouri that fit your needs.
Meet all couples who respond to your ad. Surrogate Mothers Online recommends being upfront with your expectations during the meeting, and choosing a couple you can get along with for nine months or longer.
Arrange a meeting with your surrogacy lawyer to finalize and sign a contract. Include in the contract any additional agreements, such as which party is responsible for purchasing prenatal vitamins or making doctor appointments.
Joining a Surrogacy Agency
Contact surrogacy agencies in your area of Missouri and ask for specific requirements to become a surrogate. According to the Center for Surrogate Parenting, each agency will have different requirements of age, previous pregnancies and general health.
Schedule an appointment with the agency's preferred doctor for a physical and mental exam. The agency will only accept women who have proven to be physically and emotionally capable of undergoing the surrogacy process.
Sign any contracts and agreements the agency requires. Surrogate Mothers Online cautions new surrogates to carefully examine the contracts, and to fully understand all legal agreements before entering them. The contracts should specify important details such as the exact amount of compensation, and what will happen if a miscarriage occurs.
Choose a couple. The agency will work to connect each surrogate mother with the best possible match. Despite having signed a contract with the agency, each mother should retain the right to choose the couple she wishes to work with.
Attend all therapy sessions and doctor appointments as required by the agency. According to the Center for Surrogate Parenting, refusing to attend these appointments can violate the contract.
- Most women are advised to work with a surrogacy agency for at least their first surrogate pregnancy. Agencies provide legal and emotional support that independent surrogates lack.
- If you are acting as a surrogate for a friend or family member, be sure to sign a legal contract even if no money is involved. The couple may not be able to legally adopt the child without the right agreement.
- Do not begin a surrogate pregnancy without having a full contract signed with the couple. Without a contract, the child will be considered your responsibility if the couple backs out of the agreement.