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The decision to become a surrogate mother for a friend is one of the most selfless acts imaginable. Giving a woman the gift of motherhood is a feeling like no other. There are many women who aren’t able to conceive, and the thought of never having a child can create a strong feeling of unfulfillment.

Although the joys of being a surrogate for a friend are infinite, any woman considering doing this should take plenty of time to consider the pros and cons.

Prior to applying to become a surrogate it’s important to seek the advice of a counselor, psychologist or surrogacy specialist. This step is necessary in order to determine whether you are emotionally ready to become a surrogate. Ultimately, carrying a child for a friend may prove to be too much of a commitment and emotional rollercoaster for some women. A surrogate mother needs to be fully aware and accepting of the fact that the child she is carrying isn’t her own and that she won’t be making any decisions regarding its upbringing. Speaking to a professional can be helpful to get answers to any questions you have and ensuring you are ready to take the first steps.

Since some states don’t allow surrogacy, you should also look into applicable state laws. If the state law does forbid surrogate parenting arrangements, it might be good to get legal advice and explore alternatives. For example, you might live in a state where surrogacy hasn’t been legalized, but you could still become a surrogate and deliver the baby in a surrogate friendly state. It’s important you fully understand your rights as a surrogate mother.

Moving forward you should make a decision on which surrogacy agency in California to work with. This step requires doing research and finding out which agency would be the best match for you. The best possible solution is to choose an agency that has an extensive track record. Asking for references, reading reviews and finding out about experiences of other women is a great way to find a trustworthy agency.

You and your friend both need to set up an agreement with regards to responsibilities for each party throughout the surrogacy. The contract will discuss your compensation, obligations and what steps will be taken in case of different scenarios (eg. unsuccessful transfers, multiples, cesarean). Usually the surrogacy agency will support you in finding legal representation who will help you draw up a legal contract.

Before you can carry a child for your friend you need to do some physical testing at a fertility center. The usual tests include a pap smear, a hysteroscopy and various tests for infectious diseases. The hysteroscopy shows whether there are any blockages in the fallopian tubes.

Once you are emotionally and physically ready you need to prepare for fertilization or implantation. Gestational surrogates are usually injected with a drug called Lupron. This drug stops the surrogate from producing her body’s normal production of hormones. Basically, Lupron synchronizes the cycle of the surrogate and the egg donor. After a while, the egg donor’s eggs are harvested and then fertilized with sperm. Once the embryos reach the implantation stage, one or more of them are inserted into a catheter and then injected into the surrogate.

In the end, any woman that’s considering being a surrogate mother for a friend needs to take time to consider all the potential challenges. If you make the decision to be a surrogate mother for a family member or friend, then it’s a good thing to seek the assistance of a surrogacy agency to guide everyone through the process.