What Does a Surrogate Do Exactly? The Basics Explained

Kim Kardashian, Tyra Banks, Jimmy Fallon, Lucy Liu—these celebrities and many others have had children thanks to surrogacy.

While we hear plenty about famous surrogate parents, we tend to hear less about the surrogates themselves. That’s understandable, given that those surrogates didn’t agree to carry a baby for fame and fortune.

But it has left plenty of people curious: what is a surrogate? And what does a surrogate do? Read on to learn more.

Surrogates Show They’re The Right Choice

Do you want to become a surrogate? Then you’re taking on a big responsibility. That’s why surrogacy agencies carefully screen both surrogates and intended parents before moving forward.

Parents must show they can provide a safe pregnancy for the surrogate mother and a stable home environment for the child. Surrogates must show they can carry a healthy pregnancy and understand the implications of surrogacy.

Some parents ask friends or family to become a surrogate. Even in those cases, surrogates should still meet certain requirements.

Most professionals recommend that surrogates already have a child. Experienced mothers have a better understanding of whether they’re emotionally prepared for the role.

Surrogates Get to Know the Parents

Plenty of people find surrogates through agencies. But even in that case, surrogacy is not an anonymous transaction. Both surrogates and parents tend to find the process easier and more fulfilling as they grow to know and trust each other.

Surrogates Receive One or Both Parents’ Genetic Material

In gestational surrogacy, the surrogate has no genetic connection to the baby. Both sperm and egg could come from both parents, or one could come from a donor. In “traditional” surrogacy, however, the surrogate’s egg merges with a parent’s sperm.

As fertility medicine has improved, traditional surrogacy has become less common. But some couples still use traditional surrogacy. A same-sex couple with sperm but no eggs, for example, may opt to use a trusted surrogate’s eggs over an egg donor.

Surrogates Commit to Healthy Pregnancy Habits

Surrogates often sign agreements to protect the baby during the pregnancy. Those agreements forbid drugs, drinking, or smoking. They also include STD screenings and prenatal checkups.

Most experts recommend that surrogates get their own OBGYN separate from the parents’ family doctors. However, the parents still cover all medical costs associated with checkups and birth itself.

Surrogates Sign Legal Agreements

Laws around surrogacy can be vague.

In most situations, that doesn’t matter. The surrogate is happy to help the parents, and the parents are happy to support the surrogate. In a worst-case scenario, however, parents and surrogates can get into a legal battle over custody of the child.

All parties should sign a pre-birth order establishing the child’s legal guardianship. A lawyer who specializes in reproductive law can help surrogates and parents navigate complex situations.

Surrogates Sometimes Collect Payment

You’re probably wondering: how much does a surrogate make?

For most women, the best reasons to be a surrogate all revolve around helping families and giving the gift of children. A friend or family member may do this enormous task for free. Agency surrogates, however, usually receive a fee of $25,000 or much more.

Educate Yourself: What Does a Surrogate Do?

What does a surrogate do? One of the most important things someone can do: help another person create a family.

Entering a surrogacy arrangement should never be taken lightly. That’s why it’s essential to educate yourself about surrogacy if you’re considering using or becoming a surrogate.

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