Frequently Asked Questions for Surrogate Mothers

General FAQs

Can I be a Surrogate Mother if I don’t have health insurance?

Can I be a Surrogate Mother if I don’t have health insurance?

Yes, an insurance specialist will guide you through the process of procuring a policy that will cover surrogacy. The Intended Parents will pay for all expenses related to medical procedures, premiums, co-pays, deductibles and any other expenses related to your pregnancy.

Will my personal health insurance be used for surrogacy?

Will my personal health insurance be used for surrogacy?

BFI works with an insurance specialist who will guide you in reviewing your health insurance policy for surrogacy exclusions. If there are no such exclusions and if you agree, then your policy will be used to pay for pregnancy and delivery-related expenses. The intended parents will pay for all expenses related to medical procedures, premiums, co-pays, deductibles and any other expenses related to your pregnancy.

Can I still be a Surrogate Mother if my belief system does not allow for selective termination or abortion?

Can I still be a Surrogate Mother if my belief system does not allow for selective termination or abortion?

Yes, of course. BFI respects your choices and will match you with a Couple with the same belief system.

What are the requirements for becoming a Surrogate Mother?

What are the requirements for becoming a Surrogate Mother?

Here are some of the basic requirements:

  • Be a resident of California
  • Between the Ages of 21 and 40
  • Height and Weight Ratio Appropriate (max 200 lbs.)
  • Have previously given birth
  • Excellent Health
  • Non-smoker If you have any other questions, fill out our inquiry form and we’d be happy to answer all of your questions!
How can I get more information about becoming a Surrogate Mother with BFI?

How can I get more information about becoming a Surrogate Mother with BFI?

First of all, we would like to thank you for considering to do something so amazing and selfless!! Follow this link to complete our online inquiry form. Once we receive this, one of our recruiting agents will reach out to you.

Why is BMI so important?

Why is BMI so important?

BMI is a measure of your body fat based on your height and weight. The requirement is put in place for your safety and to also ensure that the pregnancy has the best chance of being successful. Each fertility clinic has their own BMI limit but most require the surrogate’s BMI to be 30 and under. Calculate your BMI: http://www.bmi-calculator.net

Do you have a network of support for the Surrogate Mother?

Do you have a network of support for the Surrogate Mother?

Besides the monthly support meetings with our Program Psychologist, Dr. Rad, BFI sponsors events throughout the year for the Surrogate Mother and her family. This gives you many opportunities to receive and give support to your fellow Surrogate Mothers.

Is there a limit of embryos that are transferred?

Is there a limit of embryos that are transferred?

Yes, here at BFI, we advocate single embryo transfers. In rare cases, it may be recommended to transfer 2 embryos.

Do you work with out-of-state and international Intended Parents?

Do you work with out-of-state and international Intended Parents?

Yes. BFI works with couples throughout the United States and globally.

Do you use my eggs for the pregnancy?

Do you use my eggs for the pregnancy?

No, at BFI we only offer Gestational Surrogacy. The Surrogate Mother is never the biological mother.

How are financial issues handled?

How are financial issues handled?

At BFI, we want to be sure you can relax and focus on having a stress-free pregnancy. One way to do that is to ensure that there are always substantial funds in the trust account to pay you and all of your expenses. The trust is held by a bonded and licensed entity which eliminates the risk of those funds being stolen and it also ensures that the financial obligations to you are met.

Are couples screened? If so, for what?

Are couples screened? If so, for what?

Yes. Medical and psychological screening is critical, but we go one step further and perform a background check on the Couples. We have an obligation to you and their child to ensure their home environment is safe.

Why should I work with BFI instead of going independent?

Why should I work with BFI instead of going independent?

Truthfully, the horror stories typically stem from either the independent arrangement or from a poorly managed agency. The key to success is to ensure you surround yourself with qualified professionals. These professionals take care of everything from ensuring your chosen Couple are appropriate, medically, psychologically and legally speaking, to ensure all of the funds involved are safe and will be used to pay you and all of your expenses through to your recovery after delivery.

Is there a wait to be matched with a Couple? Do I get to choose my Couple?

Is there a wait to be matched with a Couple? Do I get to choose my Couple?

Our priority is to make sure that you have the best experience possible. To that end, we work closely with you to ensure we present you with a profile of a Couple who shares your views and beliefs. We never try to match you with just the next couple on the list. There are always more Couples that need help than there are Surrogate Mothers, so typically there is no wait.

How long does the process take?

How long does the process take?

Typically, the process takes 12 to 15 months. The first 3 months include the medical clearance and preparing for the embryo transfer. The pregnancy is 9 months and then add a couple of months of recovery.

Where are you located?

Where are you located?

Our main office is located in Lake Forest, CA. We also have an office in Madrid, Spain. In addition, we have staff members who live throughout Southern California.

Why is the psychological screening necessary?

Why is the psychological screening necessary?

The psychological screening gives us a lot of information about you in a short amount of time. The test results indicate your strengths and weaknesses and what your tendencies are. This helps us to determine how best to support you during the process and also aids us in finding the right match for you.

Does BFI help same-sex couples?

Does BFI help same-sex couples?

Yes, we helped our first gay couple in 1994.
We believe that every Couple wanting to experience parenthood deserve that opportunity.

Am I able to reach someone 24/7?

Am I able to reach someone 24/7?

A member of BFI’s staff is always available, literally. We anticipate the midnight calls as we know that this is a common time for the onset of labor or when there is a medical emergency. When you have to go to the hospital, we go too!

Why should I choose BFI over other agencies?

Why should I choose BFI over other agencies?

BFI is one of the pioneers in the industry having started in 1991. We have witnessed the changes in technology and the law. We have formed long-term relationships with leaders in fertility care and reproductive law to ensure everyone’s rights are honored and protected.

How long has BFI been in business?

How long has BFI been in business?

Carol Weathers, Director of Building Families, Inc., began her first surrogacy case in November 1991.

What is gestational surrogacy?

What is gestational surrogacy?

Gestational Surrogacy is when the pregnant woman has absolutely no genetic link to the baby (babies) she is carrying. The intended mother or egg donor provides the egg and the intended father or sperm donor provides the sperm. The gestational surrogate is strictly the carrier and, again, has no biological connection to the child.

Legal FAQs

What Should I Do If I Want To Become a Surrogate Mother?

What Should I Do If I Want To Become a Surrogate Mother?

I can tell you what you don’t want to do. You don’t want to do it yourself. You don’t want to go on-line thinking you are going to provide a benefit for the couple, seeking them out and thinking you can handle it all yourself. This is a brave new word, it’s a neat world but its a brave new world.

You need the experience expertise the education the knowledge and the know how to make it happen folks, people who are totally professional in the process. First seek out an agency who will help you and represent you in the process in becoming a Surrogate and make sure you are dealing with top-line professionals people like us to assist you in the process.
Kevin Mahan, Attorney at Law, Mahan & Mahan

Does the Surrogate Mother Gain Any Rights if the Intended Parents’ Marriage Ends During the Pregnancy?

Does the Surrogate Mother Gain Any Rights if the Intended Parents’ Marriage Ends During the Pregnancy?

No, your rights [as a Surrogate Mother] are really clearly defined in the contract. What you will do is specified and what they will do is specified. Even given the contingency of their marriage breakup. What is expected of them is still specified. They will take that child into their individual homes and raise is as their own and it will be of no further concern to you.
Kevin Mahan, Attorney at Law, Mahan & Mahan

Why Should I Have Separate Legal Representation?

Why Should I Have Separate Legal Representation?

Just as I said its important to have a contract, so you need to have someone explain what all the terms and all the conditions really mean. Even though the contract is ours is so well written, there will still be some terms and maybe some expressions that you don’t fully understand what the implication to that is and you need to have an attorney explain it to you.

The nice thing again about having the contract is that although there may be nuances between relationship between the intended parents and the surrogate, those relationships obligations and responsibilities need to be clearly defined so there can be no misunderstanding about what is to take place, when its to take place and the setting to which it will take place.
Kevin Mahan, Attorney at Law, Mahan & Mahan

If The Intended Parents Don’t Want The Baby, Will I Be Left With Him?

If the Intended Parents don’t want the baby, will I be left with him?

Absolutely not. The whole reason we have contracts which basically defines the relationships with parties is to make sure that in fact doesn’t happen. If they were to say we don’t want the child, you could potentially sue them to enforce the contract. However, from a practical standpoint, that could be time consuming and rather costly.

But there is a provisional family code, 76.10, that you could avail yourself of, which basically would say this, if they don’t’ want the child, pursuant to that agreement, that’s OK, you as a birth mother would be presumed to be the mother at law and you could then place the children for adoption which would be facilitated in a very quick fashion.
Kevin Mahan, Attorney at Law, Mahan & Mahan

If I’m Interested in being a Surrogate Mother or Intended Parent, what should I look for?

If I’m Interested in being an SM or IP, what should I look for?

That is an interesting and well founded question. What you really need to think about is what your objective is. Your objective if you’re the couple, is to have a child bouncing on your knee at Christmas time. If your objective is to be a surrogate, it’s to provide a gift to someone that they cannot otherwise provide themselves. In the process of doing that, if you don’t go about it the right way, it is an area rocked with traps. What you need to be using if you’re going to do it, first of all you need to have people who have their heads together as far as what they’re going to do and how they are going to do it. The way you get that is dealing with the Psychologist in the process to make sure they are dealing with a surrogate that understand what her responsibilities and obligations are. A couple who understands what their objective is and what entails to get there. You also need to be dealing with a well done, experienced, knowledgeable agency. Trying to do this on your own is rot with conflicts of interest and rot with pitfalls for the steaks. If you’re dealing with a good agency, they can make sure all these things come to play. In the process of doing it, you also need to deal with an experienced lawyer in the area of reproductive law. A lot of lawyers go out and buy a contract and say, I know how to do surrogacy, but if you really aren’t involved in it and don’t understand the conflicts associated with it, don’t understand where the law has been and where it’s going, you can’t adequately service your clients. In the process of doing it, also, you want to make sure you have lawyers on both sides of the party so that the surrogate is well informed as well as the intended parents. In essence what you must have is experienced, well knowledgeable professionals to effect this process for your enjoyment and benefit.
Kevin Mahan, Attorney at Law, Mahan & Mahan

How Important is a Contract, Really?

How Important is a Contract, Really?

A contract is really important, not only from the standpoint of having everybody understand what their rights, their responsibilities, and their obligations are. It’s also important that it’s a well written contract to give you some idea of what the whole situation is about. A well written contract, like ours, is basically a road map in the whole surrogacy process. It gives you an idea of how you’re going to get from point A to point B, what is your responsibility in the process, not only for the surrogate but also the intended couple, the lawyers involved in the process, as well as the agency who is bringing it all about. A well written contract informed of all the things as it relates to surrogacy laws is an extremely important thing and quite honestly you would not want to engage into a surrogacy relationship without one.
Kevin Mahan, Attorney at Law, Mahan & Mahan

What Happens if the Intended Parents Marriage Ends During the Pregnancy?

What Happens if the Intended Parents Marriage Ends During the Pregnancy?

The agreement in question that we use, deals with that specific instance. In fact the most famous case in the area Surrogacy is Buzzanca v. Buzzanca who our are clients and they signed our agreement. They were required under case law, to basically be the parents of that child whether the father wanted to be or not because the obligations are very strict and very clear. You will bring that child in your home and raise it as your own and if you in fact you do not, then the other party, in this case the wife, can force a performance of the husband to raise that child as its own, its own legal child because that is the obligation created by the willful execution of that agreement and the surrogate does not have to worry about that process.
Kevin Mahan, Attorney at Law, Mahan & Mahan

Why Should the Surrogate Mother and Intended Parents have Separate Legal Representation?

Why Should the Surrogate Mother and Intended Parents have Separate Legal Representation?

In law, we are always concerned about conflicts of interest or avoiding the mere appearance of conflict
of interest. In the area of drafting an agreement where both parties are involved in the process of
creating a real life, we want to make sure that everybody is fully and totally informed of their rights,
their responsibilities and the obligations to bring about that objective. In the process we need to make
sure that each has had independent legal counsel to make sure they are aware of those obligations,
those right and those responsibilities.
Kevin Mahan, Attorney at Law, Mahan & Mahan

Why Should I do my Surrogacy in California?

Why Should I do my Surrogacy in California?

California is the best state in the Country, in fact the best location in the world to do surrogacy. The
reason being is that we have has several cases that have come down over the last 15 or 20 years which
define surrogacy, define the responsibilities of the parties and also to find what the objectives are of the
parties trying to accomplish in a surrogacy proceeding. Besides the contractual setting and legal settings,
we also have judges, clerks and vital statistic clerks who are familiar with the process and therefore the
whole situation runs much more smoothly when in fact it’s accomplished in California.
Kevin Mahan, Attorney at Law, Mahan & Mahan

Psychological FAQs

Why do you Evaluate Couples? Can you tell who can be Good Parents?

Why do you Evaluate Couples? Can you tell who can be Good Parents?

I get asked that question frequently and there is absolutely no measure to actually evaluate who can be a good parent or not. And that is not why I am performing the psychological evaluation. There is data to indicate, however, and research, we know this in psychology, that previous behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. So if I knew the history of their parenting, then I might be able to say this is what they are going to be like. But that is not what we do. The reason I evaluate our couples is because they are entering a roller coaster ride that could be exhilarating at times, and at times it might feel like that low point, and scary. The journey is not always perfect. I always say it’s not a perfect science, so we want to make sure that we are doing our due diligence and that our couple is stable, emotionally, to start the journey with Building Families.
Dr. Vesna Radojevic

What is Discussed in the Surrogate Support Group Meetings?

What is Discussed in the Surrogate Support Group Meetings?

Well, we have our meetings, they are mandated once a month for the surrogates, and they all have to show up. Because it is important for them to have a vehicle where they can discuss, not only the surrogacy itself and what is going on with them in the surrogacy. I make sure that every single surrogate gets a turn to talk about her surrogacy every month because it’s important for us to understand where they are in the process, it’s important for us to understand where they are in their life. While we focus on the surrogacy, there is real life that happens, and they may be having issues with their child, for example, or other incidents in their lives and we want them to have a place that is safe, that they can come to and talk to us about it. So we may discuss a number of different areas and topics, in addition to their surrogacy and how they’re doing and how their couple is doing. Sometimes it’s a completely joyful group, for example, if we’ve had a birth story. If someone successfully delivered a baby for a couple, and that is ultimately very, very joyful. And other times we are dealing with things like it make take another transfer to conceive for a couple.
Dr. Vesna Radojevic

What are the Possible Recommendations of the Psychological Evaluation?

What are the Possible Recommendations of the Psychological Evaluation?

There are a number of different possibilities after a couple has undergone a psychological evaluation with me. One of them is that, most of the time what we see is that they are “cleared” psychologically. There is no real “pass/fail”, if you would, in the psychological evaluation. Although, I think that most of our couples come into the psych. eval feeling like I am going to “fail” them or that is what I am there for, and I really am not.

I am there to protect them, and to protect the surrogate, and the agency, and everybody involved with the process. So I would not typically reject people right out unless there were some major flags both in the clinical component as well as the psychological test that says to me, “this is not going to work well for this couple”. However, most of the time they are “cleared” psychologically. Other times, they may have to wait several months, maybe 3 months, maybe 6 months, and come for a re-evaluation to start the program.

Sometimes couples will score on the test in a way that, after my clinical component with them, I feel that they have misunderstood the questions, so I may actually go back and call them to go through items, if you would, to see if they actually meant what they endorsed. Sometimes they misunderstand the question, so that is testing the limits, if you would, and in that case it would clarify for me, “yes they are ok to start the program” or “they need to wait longer”, either way.
Dr. Vesna Radojevic

What are the Benefits to Evaluating the Intended Parents?

What are the Benefits to Evaluating the Intended Parents?

Frequently I say it is really critical that we actually do no harm to anyone, especially our couples. They have suffered through many things. Some of them have had tremendous losses. They have lost a baby, in the third trimester that is tragic in itself. Having not dealt with that, they are really not prepared to go forward.

We want to make sure they have dealt with it fully and that they are ready to go forward with the program. They have to deal with the loss and the grief that is inherent in this process before we start. We don’t want to open up old wounds for them, and hurt them in any way. I think that is really important. Some of them have just discovered that they cannot go forward again to carry their own child. So that has to be dealt with, before we begin the program. These are tragedies indeed.

I closely examine their relationship and their current mental status. Are they oriented to reality? Are they prepared to go forward? Do they have any emotional or mental issues, as a result of their infertility history that needs to still be worked through? Do they have the coping skills to deal with a surrogacy arrangement effectively?

We in the program, Building Families and myself, maintain constant contact with the Couples and their Surrogate Mothers, that is true, and the support is ongoing. We must be prepared, ahead of time, before on this journey and that is my job which I take very seriously.
Dr. Vesna Radojevic

Do All Agencies Require Psychological Evaluations of the Couples and the Surrogate Mothers?

Do All Agencies Require Psychological Evaluations of the Couples and the Surrogate Mothers?

Actually, they don’t, that I know of. We are the first surrogate program, Building Families, that actually developed the psychological component. I spent 12 years developing this state of the art, psychological evaluation that is effective and promotes excellent care for intended parents and the surrogate as well.

Actually, I don’t think other agencies do it, maybe they do it at this point, but there is absolutely no mandate to do it. At Building Families, it is mandatory.

No one gets into the program until they have been psychologically evaluated, and we understand that they are ready to start the process.
Dr. Vesna Radojevic