Do You Qualify to be a Surrogate?

Becoming a surrogate mother requires strict medical, emotional, and personal qualifications. Here is SENSIBLE’s 15-point list of the criteria that all surrogate mothers should meet.

Surrogate QualificationsSome surrogate requirements are set by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). Others represent good policies that have become commonplace. In most cases, surrogacy clinics and lawyers will not “clear” a surrogate candidate who does not meet all of the “Basic” surrogate requirements.

If you’re looking to be a surrogate but are missing one or two requirements, check with SENSIBLE’s surrogate coordinator. We may make allowances in individual cases.

If you meet these criteria, fill out the brief Become a Surrogate form. Our coordinator is ready to discuss how you can join SENSIBLE as surrogate for a loving family.

Basic Surrogate Requirements

The following requirements are absolute. All surrogates should meet these standards to begin working with a reputable agency or clinic.

Have at least one successful, uncomplicated pregnancy

The first requirement is the most obvious… all surrogate mother candidates must demonstrate they are fertile and capable of maintaining a healthy pregnancy by having their own successful pregnancy.

Be between 20-40 years old

Surrogates should be at least 21 years to have the emotional maturity to make such an important commitment. Women can often carry a pregnancy into their 40’s, but any candidates over 40 will be approved on a case-by-case basis.

Be a U.S. Citizen

All surrogates for the program in the United States need to be U.S. citizens and under the jurisdiction of the U.S. legal system. For SENSIBLE’s international programs, the surrogate should be a citizen of the country where the surrogacy agreement will be executed.

Be generally healthy and take good care of themselves

We all know that it’s important to eat healthy and exercise regularly, and even more so during a pregnancy. All surrogates must be able to demonstrate that they live a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and personal wellness habits.

No history of clinical mental illness

For obvious reasons, a woman must be in a state of good mental health, free from any of prolonged conditions which could have a negative effect upon her ability to care for a developing child.

Healthy body weight

Women who are overweight are at a greater risk of developing gestational diabetes, which can be a risk not only to the surrogate mother but also to the pregnancy. We require a body mass index (BMI) between 19 and 33. To calculate your own BMI number, visit the National Institute of Health website.

Be a non-smoker

Smoking during pregnancy can cause a wide variety of neonatal problems, including stillbirth, premature delivery, and low birth weight. For this reason we admit only non-smoking surrogates, but also that her home be smoke-free.

Absolutely no drugs (and limited alcohol)

A woman must live a stable lifestyle to qualify to become a surrogate mother. This means no drugs of any kind, whether it is street or prescription pills without a doctor’s prescription. While an occasional drink is normal and acceptable, heavy or regular use of alcohol is also a reason for exclusion. (In some cases, a surrogate may be asked to accept regular drug screenings throughout the pregnancy.)

No criminal history

All surrogate candidates go through an extensive criminal background check. We look for individuals with a demonstrable history of responsible and upstanding behavior.

Not currently on governmental financial support

Financial difficulties, can cause stress that leads to complications in a pregnancy. Financial issues also often result in instability and stress elsewhere in one’s life. While becoming a surrogate mother can be financially rewarding, we look for surrogate mothers who are not motivated solely by financial gain.

Subjective Surrogate Requirements

These surrogate requirements are harder to define. They usually represent what the surrogate manager feels are the characteristics of a good surrogate mother.

Live in a clean and healthy home environment

Surrogates must also live in a well-maintained home. That means a non-smoking, drug-free environment that is clean and well-cared for.

A stable relationship or support network

Being pregnant is often hard work, and most women will need some form of emotional or physical support during their pregnancy. A good surrogate should have a partner, family or friends who can provide the needed support.

Emotionally ready for a pregnancy

Every surrogate mother candidate must pass a psychological review to ensure she is emotionally capable of fulfilling the requirements of being a surrogate. A surrogate mother must be able to care for the growing baby responsibly throughout the pregnancy, and then she must relinquish her parental rights when the baby is delivered.

Positive outlook on life

We look for surrogate mothers who are generally positive and optimistic. This type of attitude is important as she goes through the pregnancy (which can sometimes include physically and emotionally challenging days.). A good attitude will help you stay focused on the important work that you’re doing, and the joy that you are bringing to a childless couple.

Be able to handle the logistics of the surrogacy process

This includes the ability to take time away from your employer and family for surrogacy appointments, bedrest, birth, and recovery. It also means you may have to travel to fertility clinics, lawyers, doctor’s/ultrasound appointments.

About the authors

  • Author: William Houghton

    Bill Houghton is the founder of Sensible Surrogacy, author of the Sensible Surrogacy Guide, 2x surrogacy dad, and a dedicated advocate for secure, legal and ethical Gestational Surrogacy. Read Bill's Biography