Many couples long to become parents, but the female partner is unable to carry a pregnancy to term. Surrogacy enables couples who cannot conceive a way to create a child who is biologically related at least to one parent, and sometimes both. Surrogate mothers perform an amazing service to parents wanting a genetically related child. Whether the surrogate mother is inseminated with the male partner's sperm, or implanted with embryos created through in vitro fertilization of the mother's egg with the father's sperm, the surrogate's services create a new family and change lives.
The process of becoming a surrogate mother usually takes about three months before pregnancy. Many prospective surrogate mothers prefer an "open" program that allows them to choose among the couples who are seeking surrogates, not just taking the "next available" couple, but making agreements with the couples most likely to support her during the pregnancy and offering the greatest compatibility for lifelong relationships. It's very important, however, not to attempt to do matchmaking on your own. Any surrogate mother needs to know that all of her pregnancy expenses will be covered, and that her fee for surrogacy has been deposited into an escrow account so that she knows she will receive any agreed upon payments.
No surrogate mother should sign any contracts without having her own lawyer, who cannot be the lawyer for the parents. In the United States, payments of $20,000 to $40,000, depending on the number of embryos implanted and the number of fertilization attempts required, are typical, paid out through the course of the pregnancy. When both the egg and sperm have to be donated and the embryos created by in vitro fertilization (IVF), both the medical procedures and the legal relationship with the prospective parents become very complicated. In the United States, California is the only state that recognizes the rights of the parents and surrogate in such a relationship. And in considering relationships, surrogates and parents alike are sometimes shocked to learn that sharing a pregnancy does not make all parties concerned best friends forever.
It's best to have a clear understanding before pregnancy as to the long-term relationships between surrogate and parents and surrogate and child that are desired and allowed, and who decides. Any assisted reproduction clinic can tell you how to get started with an application to become a surrogate mother. Proceed carefully, and make sure your rights are spelled out, but know that you are helping create the greatest gift any couple can have.