Written by Joseph D. Schulman, M.D.
Dr. Schulman was a member of the otherwise British team which first successfully developed human IVF. A graduate of Harvard Medical School, he was on the staff of the National Institutes of Health and a former medical professor before founding the Genetics & IVF Institute in 1984. Fairfax Surrogacy is the surrogacy service branch of that Institute.
Identifying the right gestational surrogate is important, but it need not be difficult. The most important rule is to concentrate on what really matters and ignore the things that don’t. Here are my recommendations on how to approach your surrogate selection.
Start by bearing in mind that a gestational surrogate does not contribute at all to the genetic characteristics of your child. Those are fully derived from the embryo itself. Thus many of the elements that might be considered in choosing egg or sperm donors are irrelevant for surrogates. The surrogate need not be beautiful, super-smart, talented, or have extensive advanced education. Her race does not matter nor if she is married, single, or divorced. Ignoring such irrelevancies frees you to focus on finding a surrogate with the qualities that do matter.
The most important characteristic of a good surrogate is good character. The job of your surrogate is to go through an entire pregnancy for you in a responsible manner. She is undertaking a task that involves commitment and effort for many months. You should feel comfortable with the personality and the trustworthiness of your surrogate. She should be someone you feel will treat your precious unborn child correctly throughout the pregnancy. This means someone who will follow medical advice, avoid drug or alcohol abuse, and otherwise behave responsibly during the entire gestation, delivery, and post-delivery period. There is no perfect way to assess good character, but trusting your own judgment on this important matter backed by the efforts of a responsible surrogate agency like Fairfax Surrogacy to offer you only surrogates believed to be suitable is very important.
Of additional importance, it is obviously desirable that your surrogate should have completed at least one pregnancy, perhaps several, without serious medical complications and be physically and mentally healthy. An experienced surrogate agency backed by medical expertise will screen carefully for these characteristics. While surrogates are typically less than 42 years of age and many agencies exclude surrogates who are substantially obese, I consider these limits of lesser importance. Many successful pregnancies have been managed by women well into their 40s and millions more by women who are overweight. If you were using a known donor like a sister, cousin, or personal friend you likely would not worry about these arbitrary limits and in my opinion they are relatively unimportant for agency-provided surrogates as well.
Highlighted above are the few really important things that matter in choosing a gestational surrogate. Concentrating on those and ignoring the many irrelevancies will make your selection easier and enhance the probability of satisfactorily adding to your family. I wish you great happiness and success in your effort!