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Do you want to become a surrogate mother but don't know where or how to apply? Here are the basics you need to know to apply to become a surrogate.

1. Fair compensation. Let's be upfront about this. Carrying another couple's child will completely take over your life - for at least nine months. You deserve fair compensation. How much you will receive varies from agency to agency and from state to state. Some states, such as Florida, do not permit any compensation at all, and others, such as Michigan, even label surrogacy as "against public policy," making getting paid for carrying a child a quasi-criminal act. Using your own attorney (whose bills should be paid for by the couple intending to be parents), make sure you get clear, legally binding commitments regarding your support, and make sure your payments are placed in escrow in the bank before the pregnancy.

2. Decide the kind of relationship, if any, you want to have with your child. In some states, such as Michigan, the law will presume you have complete parental rights to any child to whom you give birth. In other states, such as Illinois, the law will presume that you have no parental rights to the child to whom you gave birth. Be aware that even if your feelings change, you may not be able to overcome legal agreements you make with the intended parents.

3. If you decide to do an independent surrogacy, be aware that parents who are willing to make private arrangements with you may have "issues" with legitimate fertility clinics. Your risk of not receiving the support you need during pregnancy and not receiving payment for your services after pregnancy are higher, as well as the likelihood of legal complications down the road. In some cases, you could become responsible for the costs of raising the child for whom you served as surrogate. You also need to have excellent medical insurance with funds to keep premiums paid not just while you are pregnant but also after the birth of the child. Many fertility centers seek healthy women aged 21 to 30 to serve as surrogate mothers. Be sure you have final say over whether you will work with a particular couple, and be sure you only sign any papers after they are reviewed by an attorney who works only for you, and not the intended parents.

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