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Surrogacy 101: Everything you need to know

From finding a surrogate to introducing world-class reproductive medical care, we at IMA ART Fertility are the best agency for luxury surrogacy solutions. We coordinate and manage the entire surrogacy process, walking you through every step of the way so you can focus on your journey to parenthood.


Pregnant surrogate mother and IMA ART Fertility logo


In the State of California, surrogacy is an option for LGBTQIA+, couples and singles looking to build their families. The laws in most countries around the world prohibit the LGBTQIA+ community and singles from creating happy families. IMA ART Fertility welcomes everyone to Beverly Hills to begin their journey to parenthood. We are here to help you conceive. We create heirs.

A “surrogate mother” is a woman who carries and delivers a child on behalf of intended parents. We specialize in gestational surrogacy, where a fertilized egg either from one or both of the intended parents — or sperm and egg donors — is implanted in the surrogate’s uterus and carried to delivery. Unlike traditional surrogacy, in gestational surrogacy the surrogate is not biologically related to the child.


We aim to find the best surrogates for your selection. Wait times for a match may be less than three months, thanks to our unique Luxury Surrogacy model. 

All women who are accepted into IMA ART's Fertility program, meet the following critical pre-screening requirements & steps.


Included are the deeply beautiful and almost magical steps to the birth of a gorgeous baby.


i. IMA ART Surrogate Questionnaire

Surrogates also adhere to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) guidelines:-


  • Resides in a state where surrogacy is legal, and where parental rights are protected — see our Surrogacy Law map

  • Has had at least one full-term uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery

  • Is raising her own child/children

  • Between the ages of 21 and 42 with a healthy BMI

  • Financially secure and is not on government assistance

  • Not being treated for/is not on medication for depression or anxiety

  • Is not a smoker

  • No current use or history of drug or alcohol abuse

  • Agrees to defer to the Parents’ decisions on the important pregnancy issues

  • No felony convictions

  • Have transportation to and from surrogacy appointments


IMA ART Fertility Luxury Surrogacy candidate questions goes into tremendous detail about a candidate’s life. We include questions related to their medical history, family, education, opinions and views on pregnancy and surrogacy.


IMA ART asks the candidate what she hopes for from the parents during the pregnancy, and how much she wants Parents involved. 


We ask difficult pregnancy questions, including terminating a pregnancy due to genetic abnormalities or selective reduction. The answer to all of these questions are an integral part of a successful matching process.



ii. IMA ART Surrogate’s Medical Records


For candidates who respond favorably to all the questions in pre-screening, the next critical step is submitting their detailed pregnancy and delivery records from her OBGYN. These records specify past complications or anything important to note in the candidate’s history, such as gestational diabetes managed without medications or an abnormal pap smear result. Her Obstetrician visit records also indicate whether she followed through with appointments and OBGYN recommendations during her own pregnancies or previous surrogate pregnancies. 


In addition to the past pregnancy records, we may ask the candidate’s OBGYN for their opinion on whether their patient may be a good fit to serve as a gestational carrier (surrogate). Previous attending OBGYNs are invited to talk about the candidate’s medical records as well as anything else the Doctor feels is pertinent. The written document is sent directly to IMA ART by the OBGYN.


All gestation carrier candidates will undergo a second medical screening by the attending IVF specialist, as well as a clinical psychological review by IMA ART's. This is done prior to the execution of the Surrogacy Agreement.



iii. Memorandum of Understanding


IMA ART asks the applicant (and her significant other if she has one) to electronically sign a Memorandum of Understanding, acknowledging that should she match with an IMA ART client, IMA ART will facilitate her surrogacy journey, although we are not her legal counsel. 

At this point, the surrogate candidate can also choose to opt into our IMA ART Fertility Exclusivity Program, meaning that she would forgo working with other surrogacy agencies and exist exclusively on our surrogate roster for your selection. 



iv. Surrogate Criminal Records Check


Criminal records check is completed for every gestational carrier candidate and for any adults living in her home.



v. Surrogate Reference Checks


Gestational Carrier candidates are required to provide contact details for a reference (Family, Friend or Co-Worker), who are willing to receive video calls from IMA ART. 


IMA ART may make video contact with the reference and asks a number of questions concerning the candidate. IMA ART asks about her support system, her home environment, and her reasons for pursuing this opportunity. We also reach out to a professional reference, who can share more about the surrogate candidate’s responsibility, trustworthiness and stability



vi. Curated Surrogate Profile


A surrogate profile is created by IMA ART. We also ask for an initial green light from the designated IVF clinic. (Please note this is not a guarantee she will pass medical screening, but it is an initial approval to move forward, based on the fact that there are no disqualifying medical flags in her application or medical history.) 

Parents may decide if they would like to move forward with the surrogate candidate, and meet with the surrogate candidate via a video call.



vii. The Introduction on IMA ART's exclusive app


Parents are introduced to their pre-selected surrogate candidate via our exclusive IMA ART app. Read more about this first meeting in Surrogacy First Meeting: Essential Dos and Don'ts.

If one of the parties is not comfortable with the other party, IMA ART will endeavor to understand why and match Parents with a surrogate candidate that better aligns with their wants and needs.

Assuming both parties are interested in moving forward, the surrogate candidate will undergo Psychological Assessment and then Medical Screening (refer to section viii & ix. below) and parents will speak with our clinical psychologist, PhD. 

 

The entire process from the introductory video call to embryo transfer is approximately 4-6 months. If there are already viable embryos, the process can be as short as 3 months. 


viii. Surrogate Psychological Assessment


IMA ART Fertility’s dedicated clinical psychologist interviews the surrogate and administers either the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI) or the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) assessment. The Inventory (PAI or MMPI) is the most widely employed and researched clinical assessment tool used by mental health professionals to diagnose mental health disorders. This scored personality index and the interview are used to understand the surrogate candidate’s personality. 

Depending on where the surrogate resides, interviews and PAI or MMPI may be done in person or through a HIPAA compliant telectronic platform. 

Evaluations in line with ASRM (American Society for Reproductive Medicine), SEEDS (Society for Ethics in Egg Donation and Surrogacy) and APA (American Psychological Association) guidelines in terms of administration, scope and content typically take a couple of hours. The clinical psychologist will spend a few hours reviewing notes and analysing the assessment. 

At the conclusion of the interview and PAI or MMPI, the clinical psychologist will make a final recommendation on whether Parents and their preferred surrogate should move forward together.


ix. Surrogate Medical Screening


Following the psychological assessment, the surrogate candidate undergoes medical screening at the selected IVF Clinic. This screening will check the surrogate’s uterus to ensure she can carry the baby. The surrogate candidate will also undergo bloodwork to ensure good health in the lead-up to the embryo transfer. IMA ART will coordinate between the parties, keeping each side fully informed of the progress.


x. Parent Psychological Preparation


Parents undergo psychological preparation for the journey. This is usually done through a video meeting with IMA ART Fertility’s clinical psychologist. Areas of discussion include the relationship with your gestational carrier and your expectations during the pregnancy. 

Our Fertility Governance protocol also includes a one-hour professional joint consultation between you and your surrogate, conducted by our experienced clinical psychologist. This joint consultation talks about important psychological issues involved in forging this new and unique relationship. It endeavors to put together the various pieces of this complex puzzle and to ensure that everyone is on the same page. 


xi. Insurance Plan Overview


For protection of our parents, the surrogate and the newborn, IMA ART Fertility requires 6 different types of insurance; to cover the surrogate's embryo transfer, surrogate’s pregnancy and delivery, surrogate’s accidental death insurance and insurance to cover the new-born baby. IMA ART Fertility’s insurance expert will review the policies with Parents and any necessary details will be added into the Surrogacy Agreement. 


xii. Surrogate Home Visit


A critical last pre-approval step. This may be performed by IMA ART or licensed and experienced social workers.

 

The home visit includes looking at the physical conditions inside and outside the home and meeting the people living with the surrogate candidate to understand whether she has a strong support network to help her throughout the pregnancy. 

If home visit is performed by IMA ART, we ask many of the same questions we previously asked, and cross-check the answers for consistency. ​

At the conclusion of the home visit a report is written and pictures are taken.


xiii. Surrogacy Agreement Drafting & Final Execution


The Surrogacy Agreement is drafted by lawyers specializing in Reproductive Law. If Parents don’t already have a lawyer, IMA ART can refer Parents to our network of carefully curated lawyers working at the forefront of reproductive law. This lawyer represents the Parents is critical to ensuring a smooth journey and understanding of the roles and responsibilities between parent and surrogate.

 

This Surrogacy Agreement states that the parents shall be considered the legal parents for all purposes and that the surrogate is not the parent of the child and does not have any legal claim to or financial responsibility for the child. 

Parents are advised to consider any requests they might have throughout the pregnancy and delivery in advance, as these requests will be included into the Surrogacy Agreement. 

The Surrogacy Agreement is extremely detailed and articulates in clear terms each of the party’s roles and responsibilities before and during the pregnancy, as well as at birth. 

IMA ART Fertility will coordinate closely with Parents and their lawyer during drafting, questions and execution. 

Upon completing the draft Surrogacy Agreement, Parents' lawyer will send a copy to the lawyer representing the surrogate.​


xiv. Embryo Transfer and Preparation


Prior to the embryo transfer, your surrogate will consult with your selected fertility specialist. These consultations include blood tests and ultrasounds. Your surrogate will start taking prescribed medications to prepare her uterus to receive the embryo. The fertility specialist will transfer the embryo at the moment the uterus wall has reached the correct thickness and blood test results are optimal. ​


xv. Pregnancy


Your surrogate usually consults her personal OBGYN during pregnancy. If mutually agreed and entered into the Surrogacy Agreement, other arrangements may be made. 

The Surrogacy Agreement may include terms governing your right to attend certain OBGYN visits — such as ultrasounds — and to be kept fully informed on the development of the pregnancy. 

In cases where the single embryo splits into 2 embryos, a second medical doctor will be added to the team. This second doctor is a specialist in high risk pregnancies, including in the case of twins. 

When there is a confirmed pregnancy, IMA ART Fertility coordinates with the insurance company to underwrite the newborn policy. 


xvi. Perinatologist


Our luxury surrogacy program takes care of surrogates in high risk pregnancies. Perinatologist is an obstetrician who specializes in prenatal care of women who are at high risk of having a complicated pregnancy.


According to the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM), “A Maternal-Fetal Medicine (MFM) specialist is an OBGYN physician who has completed an additional two to three years of education and training. MFM specialists are high-risk pregnancy experts. For pregnant women with chronic health problems, MFM specialists work to keep the woman as healthy as possible while her body changes and her baby grows.



xvii. Pre-Birth Order


The legal process commences during the second trimester of your surrogate’s pregnancy. This is when we begin implementing the legal parentage strategy. The objective is to ensure you are declared the sole legal parents of your child. 

This protects your surrogate as well, because she wants you to have all of the legal responsibilities for your child. The Surrogacy Agreement will specifically relieve her of any putative responsibilities. 



xviii. Pre-Birth Preparation


Prior to the surrogate giving birth to the newborn baby, IMA ART Fertility will contact the hospital staff and introduce the parties and procedures for the delivery and hospital stay. As part of our luxury fertility offerings, this preparation is to ensure the hospital medical and administrative staff understand the parents are legally recognized as the legal parents. With this legal recognition, parents have the rights to make medical decisions for their baby.



xix. Birth


Congratulations on the birth of the child and among the last steps of the luxury surrogacy journey. In the days and weeks ahead IMA ART Fertility will assist parents to apply for the Birth Certificate and Passport.




Réserve to speak with us about your Luxury Fertility journey.


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Ready to become parents - let IMA ART help you

Get in touch with our luxury fertility concierge team today.

Interested in becoming a surrogate?

Get in touch with our luxury fertility concierge team today

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