FAQ

Below are commonly asked questions regarding surrogacy in Canada. If you have a question, feel free to contact us.

About SCO

About SCO

Is SCO a registered business?

Yes, SCO is a registered business classified as information, referral and support.

How long has SCO been in business?

SCO was non-profit from 2001-2010. In 2010, due to increasing demands, our program became a registered business with our first official clients/births in 2011.

Is SCO a surrogacy agency?

No, we are not an agency. SCO is run by surrogacy consultant Sally Rhoads-Heinrich and her team of support workers. Our program is dedicated to assisting all those involved with third party reproduction in Canada.

Where is SCO located?

We are a rural home office located in the municipality of Central Huron near Londesborough, in southwestern Ontario.

What services do you provide?

We provide information, referral and support to individuals involved with third party reproduction in Canada. Our program is in the business of helping families conceive children that they are unable to conceive on their own due to a wide variety of reasons. We emphasize the importance of confidentiality, sensitivity, good communication, ethics and support during the surrogacy process. All of our members are cared for with kindness and compassion. Additional information on our services can be found here.

How much does it cost for an initial consult?

Our consults are free of charge.

Do we have to have a consult before joining?

We recommend you do. We like to speak with every intended parent early in the decision making process to determine if surrogacy is the best option for you.

Can you refer us to a fertility clinic, lawyer and social worker/psychologist?

Yes we can. You can also refer yourself as fertility clinics, lawyers and social workers/psychologists accept self referrals.

Do we need a referral from our family doctor to get started with a fertility clinic?

You have the option to have your doctor (or SCO) send in a referral or you can refer yourself.

Are you exclusive with certain IVF clinics?

No, we are not exclusive (nor will we pressure you to be) with any particular IVF clinic in Canada. There are IVF clinics we highly recommend though due to their positive reviews and success rates. Intended Parents come to us across from Canada (and internationally) and often have their own IVF clinic. You may stay with your clinic as long as they can assist with a surrogacy arrangement (otherwise you’ll have to switch to a clinic that does).

How does matching work?

We create an online profile page for you sharing your story and pictures. At the same time we send you full profiles of surrogate mothers that you can contact directly. We do not “pair” or “match-make” for you as we feel it is best for matching to happen among the parties involved… similar to dating. Intended parents and surrogate mothers have full choice in who they would like to be matched with, without a middle person involved. We feel the way our program is designed is the reason why we have incredible matches!

Surrogate mothers in Canada are altruistic and are looking to match with intended parents that meet her criteria, ideals, personality and lifestyle. Matching is one of the most important steps in this process… you are going to spend a year together so it’s important that you have a great match!

What should we include in our profile story?

To help find an ideal match, it’s best to create a letter or profile about yourself (and partner). Describe yourself, your family and what you are looking for in a surrogacy relationship.

How long does it take to match with a surrogate mother?

If you have no specific requirements, most intended parents match within 1-3 months. If you are looking for a surrogate mother of a specific ethnicity, lifestyle, age or geographic location, it can take a little longer (1-24 months).

What is your success rate?

95-98% of intended parents in our program that have an embryo transfer with their surrogate mother bring home a baby.

Can we have twins?

About 20-30% of our intended parents have twins. It’s usually not encouraged to transfer more than 1 or 2 embryos at a time unless embryo quality is poor or there are other factors. A twin pregnancy is more difficult than a singleton pregnancy for a surrogate mother and the chances of complications are also higher (such as prematurity).

If we already have a surrogate mother can we still use your services?

Yes! We’d be happy to provide our support services to you and your surrogate mother and assist with your surrogacy arrangement.

What are the costs associated with surrogacy?

Please visit our “Cost of Surrogacy” page for more information. There are a lot of variables with surrogacy which can affect how much it will cost. Generally, if you do not have embryos frozen already, we recommend you have at least $60,000 budgeted to do gestational surrogacy in Canada.

Do you help international intended parents?

Yes!

Do you help same sex intended parents?

Yes!

Do you help single intended parents?

Yes!

How does our surrogate mother receive her reimbursements? Do you have escrow services?

We do not manage your funds for this process. Why? Surrogacy consultants/programs are unlicenced and unregulated in Canada. It is not recommend that you have any third party manage your funds to pay your clinic, legal counsel or other professionals… including your surrogate mother’s expenses. We also believe it is risky in Canada for intended parents to put their funds with any person or company … as there is always risk of fraud, bankruptcy, or mismanagement etc.

Intended parents in our program pay their clinic, lawyer, social worker and other parties involved directly. You know first-hand what your expenses are without a third party charging you to manage it for you. Your surrogate mother will send you her expenses for reimbursement directly. Reimbursements are typically paid for via cheque, paypal or email money transfer.

From time to time we have assisted international clients by paying various professionals (and their surrogate mother) on their behalf due to the difficulties involved with sending funds to Canada. You can contact us for additional information.

What kind of support do you provide before, during and after the surrogacy process?

The process of surrogacy is emotionally challenging. Because of our experience we know the feelings intended parents have and provide support in a professional and caring way. We have support groups so that you can talk to other intended parents and you can also contact us anytime via email/telephone.

What are the advantages of working with a surrogacy consultant/program?

Working with a surrogacy consultant can be beneficial to guiding you through your surrogacy journey. An independent approach can add to legal risk and anxiety to an already complex process. An experienced consultant can help you find the right surrogate mother, arrange proper legal representation and provide support from beginning to end.

How do you find prospective surrogate mothers?

Surrogate mothers typically come to us after researching surrogacy online or word of mouth.

Are the surrogate mothers in your program screened?

We pre-screen surrogate mothers that join our program which means they must meet the acceptance criteria of the IVF clinic as well as our own. Medical and psychological screening is done by your IVF clinic. Our surrogate mothers complete a very detailed profile which includes their views to various aspects of surrogacy. We pre-screen our surrogate mothers and deny acceptance to candidates that do not meet our physical, emotional and psychological wellness qualifications. We invest our resources and time to develop the best team of surrogate mothers.

What is your surrogate mother rejection rate?

We reject 95% of surrogate mother applicants.

Have the surrogate mothers registered in your program had a criminal background check?

We do not require criminal background checks but do recommend that all parties submit one to each other during the matching stage. Intended parents should provide one to their surrogate mother as well… as a sign of good faith.

Have you ever had a surrogate mother fail her medical/psychological screening?

Unfortunately since 2001 we’ve seen 2 surrogate mothers fail clinic screening due to being smokers (falsifying information on their applications) and 1 failed clinic screening after unfortunately finding out she had cancer of the ovaries. We’ve had over a thousand surrogate mothers go through our pre-screening so it’s very rare to have a surrogate rejected by your clinic (0.3% will fail clinic screening).

Is there health and/or life insurance available for our surrogate mother?

Surrogate mothers in Canada are covered medically under their provincial health plans for pregnancy/birth. Life insurance policies are recommended to be put in place prior to your surrogate mother becoming pregnant (we can provide information on insurance providers).

Do you receive any payments, bonuses, or kick-backs for referring us to other programs, providers, services, lawyers or clinics?

No

Has SCO ever been involved in litigation or a lawsuit?

No

Has SCO ever been investigated, audited or convicted of illegal activity?

No.

Do you have translation services in French or other languages?

We do not have French translation services but we do have German translation. We have assisted many international intended parents with different languages and generally have not had issues, even with using an online translation service such as google translate. Many of our surrogate mothers are fluent in French and have matched with French speaking clients. Basic knowledge of English is recommended to pursue surrogacy in Canada successfully.

Why choose SCO?

SCO is dedicated to helping intended parents achieve their dream of having a family. We have experience and expertise with surrogacy case management and are well versed in all aspects of surrogacy and third party reproduction. We provide the support and care that is needed during the surrogacy process. We care about our intended parents, surrogate mothers and egg donors and our goal is to help foster positive and independent relationships between intended parents and their surrogate mother/egg donor.

SCO is one of Canada’s most respected surrogacy programs. Our mission is not to enrich ourselves but to see quality arrangements producing healthy, happy and successful outcomes. We respect all parties wishes and their privacy. We are also strive to be fully compliant with the Assisted Human Reproduction Act of Canada and have strong ethics and morals with all aspects of third party reproduction.

Other consultants/programs in Canada may charge outrageous fees/unnecessary services and promote and attract surrogates with prizes, gifts and insignificant electronics. We attract surrogate mothers who are looking to help for the right reasons… to help build a family, give the gift of life and to make a change in someone’s life.

Discretion & Confidentiality
We offer discreet and confidential services in a one-on-one manner and genuinely take the time to get to know each of our intended/recipient parents, surrogate mothers and egg donors. We do not reveal your name, address, phone or other sensitive information about you to anyone not involved in your arrangement without your expressed permission to do so.

Courtesy, Respect & Compassion
At Surrogacy in Canada Online we are committed to treating you with courtesy, respect and compassion. We are here to provide you with information, referral and support throughout your entire journey.

Safety
We abide by Canadas Assisted Human Reproduction Act and help you to understand and abide by this Act as well by providing you with information and referral to surrogacy professionals.

Experience & Dependability
Since 2001 we have been helping intended/recipient parents realize their dream of parenthood via third party reproduction. We have not only helped Canadians with information, referral and support but have helped to ensure that everyone has a positive and rewarding experience.

Expertise
All your questions and concerns are answered by an experienced counsellor that has been through the gestational surrogacy process. Access to a counsellor can be very beneficial for good communication in your relationship with your intended/recipient parents.

Quality
We have high standards for all surrogate mothers and egg donors that apply to our program and certain criteria must be met in order to be accepted. Our program is small which means we know who you are when you call and can provide you with the individual attention you deserve.

Affordable
Compared to other programs, we have one of the lowest fees in Canada. We offer the choice of full support services or the option to purchase an instructional handbook on how to navigate an independent surrogacy for intended/recipient parents. We do offer payment arrangements and have helped low-income intended parents at no cost.

Availability
We are here to answer your questions and concerns 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Commitment
Our services are valid until three months post partum or for a period of up to 2 years for intended parents and for one year for egg donor recipients.

Surrogacy

Surrogacy

What is surrogacy?

Surrogacy refers to an arrangement whereby a woman agrees to become pregnant for the purpose of gestating and giving birth to a child for others to raise. She may be the child's genetic mother or not, depending on the type of arrangement agreed to.

What other terms are used to describe a surrogate mother?

There are 2 types of surrogate mothers, "gestational surrogates" and "traditional surrogates". Gestational surrogates are also referred to as "gestational carriers" or "host surrogates" and traditional surrogates are also referred to as "straight surrogates" or "classic surrogates".

How many types of surrogacy arrangements are there?

There are 2 types of surrogate mothers, "gestational surrogates" and "traditional surrogates". Gestational surrogates are also referred to as "gestational carriers" or "host surrogates" and traditional surrogates are also referred to as "straight surrogates" or "classic surrogates".

Gestational Surrogacy (GS):
When the intended mother is not be able to carry a baby to term (due to hysterectomy, diabetes, cancer, etc.) her egg and the intended father's sperm are used to create an embryo (via IVF) that is implanted into and carried by the surrogate mother. With this method, the child born is genetically related to its parents and the surrogate mother has no genetic relation.

Traditional Surrogacy (TS):
This involves artificially inseminating a surrogate mother with the intended father's sperm via IUI, IVF or home insemination. With this method, the child born is genetically related to its father and the surrogate mother.

Traditional Surrogacy & Donor Sperm (TS/DS):
This involves artificially inseminating a surrogate mother with donor sperm via IUI, IVF or home insemination. With this method, the child born is genetically related to sperm donor and the surrogate mother.

Gestational Surrogacy & Egg Donation (GS/ED):
If there is no intended mother or the intended mother is unable to produce eggs, the surrogate mother carries the embryo developed from a donor egg that has been fertilized by sperm from the intended father. With this method, the child born is genetically related to the intended father and the surrogate mother has no genetic relation.

Gestational Surrogacy & Donor Sperm (GS/DS):
If there is no intended father or the intended father is unable to produce sperm, the surrogate mother carries an embryo developed from the intended mother's egg (who is unable to carry a pregnancy herself) and donor sperm. With this method, the child born is genetically related to the intended mother and the surrogate mother has no genetic relation.

Gestational Surrogacy & Donor Embryo (GS/DE):
When the intended parents are unable to produce either sperm, egg, or embryo, the surrogate mother can carry a donated embryo (often from other couples who have completed IVF that have leftover embryo's). With this method, the child born is not genetically related to the intended parents and the surrogate mother also has no genetic relation.

Who needs surrogacy?

As many as 1 out of every 4 couples are infertile in North America. Below are the many conditions/factors that warrant the use of surrogacy as an alternative to family building.

  • Women that are born without a uterus (Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser Syndrome).
  • Women that no longer produce eggs (ovarian failure/polycystic ovaries, maternal age, ovarian cancer, etc.)
  • Women that have had their uterus removed (due to fibroids, cancer, or accidents).
  • Women that have had several failed IVF procedures.
  • Women that have been diagnosed with a uterine abnormality (DES exposure, congenital abnormalities, Asherman's Syndrome, myomas/fibroids, polyps, insufficient endometrial linings...)
  • Women that suffer from high blood pressure (hypertension/pre-eclampsia/eclampsia).
  • Women that suffer from diabetes.
  • Women that suffer from a serious heart condition.
  • Women that have had recurrent miscarriages, stillbirths, and/or pre-term deliveries
  • Women that are on strong medications that are dangerous to take while pregnant.
  • Women that suffer from immune disorders.
  • Women that suffered with severe morning sickness (Hyperemesis Gravidarum) with a previous pregnancy.
  • Women that have suffered from any type of complication that could endanger their life or the life of their unborn child.
  • Men that suffer with problems with ejaculation or disorders affecting sperm production.
  • Men who are infertile from the side effects of treatment of testicular cancer.
  • Men who have had testicular damage either from injury or infection (such as mumps).
  • Men who have a rare genetic or hormone deficiency which causes infertility.
  • Couples with unexplained infertility.
  • Same Sex Couples
  • Single Intended Parents
  • Age

What conditions do not warrant surrogacy??

Surrogacy for social reasons such as the inconvenience of carrying a child, fear of pregnancy/pregnancy side effects or interrupting a career are not accepted.

What are important considerations before matching/moving forward with surrogacy??

With every surrogacy arrangement, good communication is crucial. Both intended parents and the surrogate mother should agree on the following before proceeding together…

  • Time frame for beginning/completing surrogacy.
  • Number of cycles.
  • Number of embryos to be transferred.
  • Selective fetal reduction in the event of high order multiples (triplets+).
  • Prenatal testing for chromosomal abnormalities/neural tube defects.
  • Termination/continuation of pregnancy if there is an abnormality with the baby.
  • Life insurance policy for the surrogate mother.
  • Expenses
  • Desired amount of contact during the pregnancy and after the birth.
  • Breastmilk
  • Obstetrical care during pregnancy (Midwife/Obstetrician)
  • Hospital Birth/Home Birth

What is the difference between commercial surrogacy and altruistic surrogacy?

Commercial surrogacy refers to surrogate mothers who receive a fee, whereas altruistic surrogacy refers to surrogate mothers who do not receive any fees, only reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses. Commercial surrogacy is prohibited in Canada but common throughout the US.

How many Canadians are affected with infertility?

It is estimated that 650,000 Canadians of reproductive age (or 1 out of 6) are affected with some form of infertility.

How many surrogacy arrangements have there been in Canada?

There are no known statistics, but it is estimated that there are 100-400 arrangements per year.

Has a gestational surrogate mother in Canada ever changed her mind in relinquishing custody of the baby?

No

Has a traditional surrogate mother in Canada ever changed her mind in relinquishing custody of the baby?

Yes

Why would a woman want to carry a baby for someone else, only to give it away?

Most surrogate mothers enjoy being pregnant, have children of their own and genuinely want to help a couple experience the joys of parenthood. They don't view giving the child to his or her parents as "giving away" but more as "giving back" to its parents (since they were the ones that conceived the child either through IVF treatment or with their "intent".) This is why it’s common to hear a surrogate mother say "I'm a 9 month babysitter!"

How do intended parents truly bond with their child if they do not experience the pregnancy and birth themselves?

Just like a child that is adopted or fostered, children born through surrogacy are wanted and loved. They may not have "grown under their mother's hearts... but they grew in it". Children need to know that they are wanted and loved and in a nurturing environment, they thrive. Children born through surrogacy have many people taking part in their creation with not only their parents, but a surrogate mother and her family, doctors, nurses, lawyers, and sometimes egg or sperm donors. It does not get more special than that!

Why don't surrogate mothers get "attached" to the baby?

Most women would never entertain the idea of being a surrogate mother let alone acting as one. This is because surrogate mothers often feel they have a "calling" to carry a child for someone else and they know immediately that they can do it. From the beginning a surrogate mother sees the hopes and dreams of a family through the intended parents and a strong friendship is often formed.

Intended Parents are usually with the surrogate mother during the IVF process and when the embryos are transferred (an emotional moment for those involved) the surrogate mother can witness the intended parents already bonding and yearning for their hopeful baby via ultrasound. It is at this point (before actual implantation in the womb) that surrogate mothers physically see that they are carrying someone else's baby and bond with the new family that they are helping to create. The intended parents often take part in ultrasound/doctor appointments, have a baby shower with the surrogate mother and her family and some even create audio tapes for their surrogate mother to play for the baby while pregnant (so that the baby can begin bonding with their voices). Intended Parents are involved with the birth and start caring for their child immediately.

There are some ethicists that believe that surrogate mothers are cold and uncaring because they are unattached from the child they are carrying but this is a misconception. Surrogate mothers do attach and bond to the child they are carrying but in a different way.

Today, many surrogate mothers have an ongoing relationship with the children and families they help create and some are incorporated as an extension to the new family.

How come some individuals believe surrogacy is wrong?

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but in many circumstances, those against surrogacy are often uneducated and/or misinformed about the surrogacy process. It's important to note as well that people are often against things they do not understand or if they feel it has nothing to do with themselves. Many people today in our fast paced and on-demand society place little value on children and family.

Is there a stigma attached to surrogacy and third party reproduction in Canada?

Unfortunately... yes. Just like there are still stigmas attached to mental health, AIDS, etc... As long as people stay misinformed and/or uneducated about a topic, the longer the stigma will remain.

Why do couples use surrogacy when they could just adopt?

Many couples that turn to surrogacy have already tried, or have adopted, a child. They may have adopted and never knew surrogacy was an option until afterwards, and/or they want to add on to their family. Some couples have been hurt through the adoption process since many birth mothers decide to keep the baby after birth, even after the intended couple has already bonded with the child during the pregnancy. A failed adoption is usually devastating and heart wrenching for a couple to endure, some will go through it numerous times before they refuse to attempt again for fear of getting hurt once more.

Adoption is more difficult in Canada today than it was in the past. Today there are government programs to help women with unplanned/unwanted pregnancies and there is no longer a social stigma placed on being an unwed mother. Couples looking to adopt have to go through a lengthy process to even qualify for adoption with applications, background checks, references and home studies. Adoption is also an expensive process and wait times are often at least 5-10 years. There is also the issue of children available for adoption often coming from severe neglect, malnutrition, abuse, and they can have physical/mental handicaps or serious medical problems. Most adoptions are now open adoptions and many couples strongly fear bonding with a child only for them to lose custody if the birth parents change their minds.

Why do some ethicists believe the only reason women do surrogacy is for the money?

It is very stereotypical and ignorant to view a woman’s motivations for surrogacy in this manner. If money was the true motivator there would be more women volunteering to act as surrogate mothers. Most individuals have a negative opinion of surrogacy because they either do not understand how the process works and/or have only heard the negative stories (such as the Baby M case in New Jersey in the 1980's). More often than not, the media will portray the negative and not the successful, positive stories.

How important are contracts/agreements? What exactly do they define in the arrangement?

Contracts/agreements show the "intent of the parties" and help as a guideline to a surrogate mother and the intended parents on many issues that occur (or could occur) during the relationship. These contracts/agreements set out the rights, responsibilities and intent of all parties, in advance of the embryo transfer. Surrogacy contracts/agreements deal with important considerations/issues including confidentiality, custody/parental rights, pre-natal obligations on the party of the surrogate mother and reimbursement of expenses.

How enforceable is a surrogacy contract (either gestational or traditional) in Canada if the surrogate changed her mind?

A contract in a traditional surrogacy arrangement would be unenforceable if the surrogate changed her mind. She would have to be proven unfit for the child to be removed from her. However, since there is no precedent in Canada (no surrogacy arrangement has gone before the courts to our knowledge) it is difficult to speculate for sure as it would depend on the judge’s decision/circumstances. The intended father would most likely have legal rights to visitation if pursued since he would be the genetic father, but he could also be required to pay child support.

If a gestational surrogate mother changed her mind she would have all rights to the child at birth whether a contract was in place or not (since Canada does not have "pre-birth orders" like in California). The intended parents would have to pursue legally and hopefully the courts would recognize the contract intent and DNA tests proving genetic parentage. Since there are no precedent cases no one can answer with certainty if the intended parents would be able to claim full custody of their child.

Will provincial health plans cover surrogacy treatments, pregnancy and birth?

Except in Quebec, provincial health plans do not cover IVF but will cover a surrogate mother's pregnancy and birth. Canada's health care system is not the same as in the US. Our health care system is paid for through federal and provincial tax systems. However, any medical treatment needed before the pregnancy (such as fertility drug blood works/endometrial lining checks via ultrasound/physicals/gynaecological exams/doctor visits) may not be covered. They are considered third party medical because they are for fertility treatment.

*UPDATE OHIP will cover one cycle of IVF for residents of Ontario starting December 2015.

Why do I see terms online like "womb4you", "oven", "womb service" & "womb 4 rent" that are used to describe surrogate mothers?

These terms are somewhat degrading and derogatory towards surrogate mothers. Proper terminology in surrogacy is: surrogate mother, gestational surrogate and/or traditional/classic surrogate, fertility assistant, and host carrier. The other terms seem to imply some type of commercial service and are more commonly used by American surrogates where surrogacy is commercialized.

Why is surrogacy controversial in Canada?

Canada is divided on its views in regard to surrogacy. Those in support feel that women and intended parents should have the right to choose what they will or will not do with their own bodies and have full control over their reproductive rights (I can have an abortion so I can carry a baby as a surrogate right?) Those against surrogacy feel that it is degrading towards woman and can be grouped with prostitution and child trafficking. They believe it is against true family values, turns children into commodities and children that are "products of surrogacy" will have lasting psychological and social damage.

The government surveyed Canadians in 1993 and found the country was divided, but that the majority of Canadians felt third party reproduction and cloning were unethical (the government put third party reproduction and cloning into the same bill).

What is considered illegal activity under the new legislation?

  • Pay, offer to pay, or advertise payment, to a surrogate mother.
  • Accept payment for arranging for the services of a surrogate, offer to make such an arrangement for payment, or advertise the arranging of such services.
  • Counsel, induce, or perform any medical procedures to assist a woman to become a surrogate if she is under 21.
  • Reimburse a surrogate for an expenditure incurred by her in relation to her surrogacy, except in accordance with regulations and a licence, and where a receipt is provided.
  • Reimburse a surrogate for loss of work-related income incurred during her pregnancy, unless a qualified medical practitioner certifies, in writing, that continuing to work may pose a risk to her health or that of the embryo/fetus; and the reimbursement is made in accordance with the regulations and a licence, with a receipt is provided.

Criminal penalty: A fine of up to $500,000 and up to 10 years in jail. Reimbursing a surrogate for her expenditures during gestation has became a controlled act and now requires a licence and compliance with regulations that are still pending.

Intended Parents / Recipients

Intended Parents / Recipients

What is our first step with this process?

Determine if surrogacy or egg donation is right for you, educate yourself, and seriously consider all issues prior to making a decision to go ahead with a surrogacy arrangement.

Will our names be put on the birth certificate?

Yes! (Although this process can vary from one province to another).

When and how do we get custody of our child?

The process of becoming a child’s legal parent following surrogacy varies according to provincial legislation. In Ontario for example, intended parents will seek a declaration of parentage and permission to have their name appear on their child’s birth registration. This process involves the assistance of your fertility lawyer which will include the consent of all parties, sworn affidavits, a DNA report and reference to your surrogacy agreement.

Do surrogate mothers/egg donors get paid a fee?

In Canada, surrogate mothers and egg donors can be reimbursed for their out-of-pocket expenses only (they cannot receive a “fee” or “compensation”). Surrogacy/pregnancy related expenses are allowed as acting as a surrogate mother can accumulate substantial expenses and place a financial burden on a surrogate mother's own family.

Can we give our surrogate mother/egg donor a gift?

Many intended parents wish to give small tokens of appreciation to their surrogate mother/egg donors. While it’s illegal to give a fee/payment to a surrogate mother/egg donor, personal gifts such as flowers, baked goods, restaurant gift cards, etc. are fine.

What is considered "out-of-pocket expenses"?

Out-of-pocket expenses typically include... clothing, food, prenatal vitamins, childcare, travel costs (mileage/parking/tolls/accommodations), lost wages, medications, medical bills, etc. (Consult your lawyer for more information on allowable expenses).

Is finding a surrogate mother/egg donor over the internet safe?

It can be but not always. Take note that many women online may have the best intentions but may not be fully committed, accountable or will meet the clinic requirements. Also, many women you’ll find online may have been rejected by our surrogacy program. Be sure to check that she meets all the requirements we have listed on our website.

When you search for a surrogate mother via surrogacy internet classifieds it's best to post your own ad describing a little about yourselves, your situation and what you are looking for in your surrogate mother (her health, location, family life, etc...). You can also reply directly to ads already posted as well, but it's more successful to place your own and let surrogate mothers contact you (since many will not make an ad for themselves as they match so quickly). You will most likely start talking to many women, all from different backgrounds and it may take some time to find the one that you feel is "right".

Once a connection is made (through pictures and information shared), most couples and surrogates begin talking on the phone and then meet in person. Do not send any money to potential surrogate mothers without verifying her information, either through references and/or copies of medical information. If you do send money at all to pay for prescriptions, doctor's appointments, etc, be sure that a contract is in place between all parties. Once a contract is in place, the surrogate mother will meet with the consulting RE (reproductive endocrinologist) and then be "approved" to act as your surrogate mother.

How many gestational surrogate mothers have changed their mind and wanted to keep the baby?

ZERO! There has never been a gestational surrogacy contested in court in Canada by a surrogate mother.

Where does the surrogate mother give birth?

Surrogate mothers give birth at their local hospital, birthing centre or may have a home birth. It is recommended a surrogate mother stays close to her family for support during pregnancy/birth/postpartum and she has free choice in having either an obstetrician or midwife (if pregnancy is low risk). Sometimes a surrogate mother will travel to be close to the intended parents’ location for birth (and they may care for her during this time).

Who takes custody of our child if both of us should die during the pregnancy?

In the event of death, the person you named as guardian of your child in your surrogacy agreement will take custody.

Surrogate Mothers

Surrogate Mothers

What are the requirements to be a surrogate mother?

For those considering being a surrogate mother... do you meet the requirements and is it right for you? If you are considering being a surrogate mother you often must meet certain requirements. There are exceptions in some cases, but below is what most intended parents, agencies, and clinics look for in a surrogate candidate.

  • Canadian Citizen
  • Be between the ages of 21-45.
  • Have had a least 1 child and have custody of child(ren). (We do NOT accept women who have never been pregnant/given birth).
  • No history of serious pregnancy/delivery/post partum complications.
  • No history of premature birth. (For singleton, born by at least 38 weeks and for twins, born by at least 36 weeks).
  • Be in excellent physical and mental health.
  • Must not be on government assistance. (You should be financially secure).
  • No criminal history. (Must be willing to provide a criminal background check).
  • Must be willing (along with partner) to undergo psychological & medical assessments and to provide all medical history.
  • No tattoos and/or piercings within the last 6 months.
  • Must reside in a stable residence and not planning on leaving the country.
  • Married or in a stable relationship. (We do accept single mothers as long as you have a support system in place).
  • Have a good support system. (Partner, friends, family that are supportive of your surrogacy journey).
  • No history of depression or other psychiatric disorders. (Exceptions can be made for situational depression/mild Post Partum Depression).
  • Have a positive outlook on life, considerate of others, compassionate, good communicator and caring.
  • Willing to have repeated bloodwork.
  • Willing to take IVF medications (both oral and subcutaneous/intramuscular injections of hormones).
  • Willing to have invasive medical procedures such as sonohysterograms, hysterosalpingograms, endometrial biopsies, IVF transfers, amniocentesis etc).
  • Willing to travel to fertility clinics, lawyers, doctor's/ultrasound appointments.
  • Take time away from your employer and family for surrogacy (appointments, bedrest, birth, post-partum).
  • Confidence in fulfilling surrogacy agreement by knowing wholeheartedly that this is the right decision for you and you can confidently say that you would have no issues with relinquishing the child(ren) you have carried at birth.
  • No abuse of drugs/alcohol either currently or for at least 1-3 years.
  • Preferably height/weight proportionate. (We do not accept surrogate mothers that weigh over 250lbs).
  • Enjoy being pregnant!

What is the embryo transfer process like for a gestational surrogate?

While cycling with an IVF clinic, the surrogate and egg donor/intended mother are both started on birth control pills (or injectable Lupron - medications may vary) to coordinate their cycles. Once the surrogate mother begins her period she will then start an estrogen supplement in the form of injection, pills or patches. The estrogen helps to build a "triple pattern" uterine lining in preparation for the embryo transfer.

A few days prior to the embryo transfer, the surrogate mother will then start a progesterone supplement in the form of injections or vaginal creams/capsules. The progesterone helps the body to maintain a pregnancy if the transfer is successful until the surrogate mother's natural progesterone kicks in. (Because surrogate mothers are "suppressed" during cycling and do not ovulate, their body will not produce the progesterone needed to support a pregnancy). The actual embryo transfer procedure takes only a few minutes and is simple and painless. It is very much like a pelvic exam or pap smear. The reproductive endocrinologist will insert a speculum into the vagina and insert a thin catheter through the cervix and into the uterus. Usually under ultrasound guidance, the embryos are then transferred through the catheter into the uterus. Once the embryos have been placed the catheter is removed and given back to an embryologist to confirm that all embryos were transferred. Afterwards the speculum is removed and the surrogate mother will be asked to rest for approximately one hour before leaving the clinic. It is common for surrogate mothers to adhere to 24 hours of strict bedrest followed by 1-3 days of limited bedrest.

A pregnancy blood test is given 10-14 days after the embryo transfer and if the surrogate mother is pregnant, she will continue taking medications for another 10-14 weeks.

Do I have to have injections?

Most surrogate mothers will have to take injectable medication but it may depend on the IVF clinic and their protocol.

How many embryos will be transferred?

Usually 1-4 but there are many variables with how many. Ultimately, the decision is up to the surrogate mother how many she is willing to have transferred (with exceptions, under the guidance of the clinic physician). One train of thought is to only transfer what you are willing to carry whereas some transfer more and selectively reduce down the number they are willing to carry. Each embryo transfer cycle is demanding… financially, physically and emotionally so the decision is not always an easy one. It is very important that intended parents and their surrogate mother are on the same page in regards to how many are to be transferred.

Does my blood type affect whether I can help a couple through surrogacy?

It does not matter what your blood type is to be a surrogate.

Do I have to travel?

If you are not located close to an IVF clinic, yes. All expenses for your travel will be covered by your intended parents.

Can I bring my husband/partner/companion and/or children if I have to travel?

Intended parents may pay for travel expenses/accommodations incurred by you and your husband/partner/companion. Your child/children may travel with you but please note that typically children are not allowed at IVF clinics or during appointments.

Can I have a support person on the day of the embryo transfer?

Yes! Most surrogate mothers will have either their friend/partner or intended parent(s) with them on the day of their embryo transfer. If you do not have a support person or your intended parent(s) is/are unable to be there (such as the case often with international intended parents) SCO will be happy to assist you with providing one of our support workers to accompany you.

Can I be a surrogate if I’ve had a tubal ligation?

Yes! During the embryo transfer a tiny catheter is inserted through your cervix and the intended parents embryo(s) is/are transferred to your uterus.

How much contact will I have with the intended parents?

Every arrangement is different, but typically as much as you’d like and what was agreed upon during the matching stage.

Can I be a surrogate if I’ve never had a child?

Unfortunately you cannot be a surrogate if you have not experienced pregnancy/childbirth. It is very important that you have experienced pregnancy/childbirth so that your fertility history is proven.

Can I be a surrogate if my husband/partner is not supportive?

Unfortunately no. Your husband/partner must be supportive and willing to take part in the surrogacy process (including medical/psychological assessments and legal paperwork).

Can I be a surrogate if I’m single?

Yes!

I have had 2 caesarean sections, does this affect my ability to be a surrogate mother?

Most surrogate mothers undergo physical tests to determine whether they are a suitable candidate for surrogacy. One of these tests include an ultrasound or x-ray of the inside of the uterus to check for abnormalities. If you have had a caesarean previously and the tests show no scarring from the incision than it is of no concern. Some women have had 3 caesareans or more and have no scarring in their uterus and go on to carry as a surrogate mother.

What is a typical reimbursement amount?

In Canada, surrogate mothers cannot receive a fee or compensation, only reimbursement for out of pocket expenses. Typically, this will be between $10-33,000 over the course of 10 months (including pre-pregnancy and post partum expenses). The amount you receive depends on the expenses you have.

Do I have to submit receipts?

Yes. You must collect and submit receipts for your intended parents before you are reimbursed. Anticipated known expenses such as prescriptions, accommodations, legal bills etc. can be paid for in advance or directly by your intended parents. If you cannot get a receipt for certain expenses you can either take a picture with your cellphone, use a receipt book to create one (such as for babysitting) or submit a spreadsheet detailing your expenses

Will I have to report my out-of-pocket expenses when I file my income tax?

No. But you should report it if you are receiving any type of subsidy or assistance from the government (child subsidy, EI, etc...)

If I’m an experienced surrogate can I receive more?

No. It does not matter in Canada if you are a first time surrogate or experienced. Expenses are related to the expenses you have, not how many times you’ve been a surrogate.

Will I receive a higher reimbursement if I carry twins or triplets?

Typically yes as your expenses may be higher. Complications such as bedrest and/or caesarean section may also cause you to have increased expenses.

Are there risks to the health of surrogate mothers?

Yes. Surrogate mothers risk all complications that can come from pregnancy and childbirth.

What are the benefits to being a surrogate mother?

Surrogate mothers provide an amazing gift for couples and individuals experiencing infertility and/or dreaming of a family. It takes a very special woman to become a surrogate mother and we want to see you remember this experience as one of the best times of your life. Surrogate mothers give the gift of life!

What if the intended parents divorce/separate, change their mind(s) or die?

These issues will all be addressed in your surrogacy agreement. Intended parents must name a guardian for their child(ren) in the event of a dispute/death.

Has there ever been a case in Canada where a surrogate mother has been abandoned by her intended parent(s)?

Unfortunately yes. There have been at least 5 cases of surrogate mothers in Canada being left with the children they have carried. None of these arrangements have been with Surrogacy in Canada Online.

Where does the surrogate mother give birth?

Surrogate mothers give birth at their local hospital, birthing centre or may have a home birth. It is recommended a surrogate mother stays close to her family for support during pregnancy/birth/postpartum and she has free choice in having either an obstetrician or midwife (if pregnancy is low risk). Sometimes a surrogate mother will travel to be close to the intended parents location for birth and they may care for her during this time.

Do I get to choose the intended parents I match with?

Yes!

What happens once I have matched?

Once you have matched, your intended parents or SCO will send in a referral form with your contact information to the IVF clinic, fertility lawyer and social worker/psychologist to make appointments for your medical/psychological screening. Next, a surrogacy agreement/contract will be drafted and reviewed by all parties. Once everyone has agreed to the term of the agreement/contract, it will be signed and you will be begin the process to become pregnant.

How long will it take to match with intended parents?

Most surrogate mothers match within 1-6 weeks of joining our program. This depends on the type of relationship you are interested in and whether you share the same values as the intended parents you are considering.

Will I stay in contact with the baby and intended parents after birth?

Most of our surrogate mothers go on to have lasting friendships with their intended parents.

Can I be registered with more than one surrogacy consultant/program/agency at once?

When you first join our program you may be registered with others but you need to inform us immediately if you’ve matched through another program. It’s important that we know your availability/status as intended parents will be considering your profile. Once you have matched we require that you are not affiliated with outside consultants/programs/agencies to maintain the confidentiality of the members of our program.

Can I not find a couple to help on my own without your program?

Absolutely! This is called "independent matching"; where a surrogate mother finds intended parents to help on her own, usually via surrogacy classified websites/newspapers, etc. We fully support independent surrogacy arrangements and encourage surrogate mothers to go with their own preferences for their journeys. Be aware however that with independent matching there can be issues such as: finding intended parents who are... not fully educated on the process, unable to fully afford surrogacy (putting you at risk with unpaid expenses) or not thoroughly counselled prior to engaging in surrogacy. There is also the lack of having an experienced system of support around you and mediators who can assist in the event of any issues during your arrangement.

Why choose SCO?

Our commitment to you:

  • Quality service and respect in every aspect of your journey.
  • Full autonomy with the choice of intended parents you match with and expense requirements.
  • SCO support worker available full time to support you with your arrangement.
  • Referral to qualified legal counsel.
  • Online Support with SCO team members as well as peer support (optional).
  • Special events (dinners, retreats, BBQ, family day) for you and your family to attend (optional).
  • Mailed care packages (pre-transfer and post partum).

Egg Donors

Egg Donors

What are the requirements to be an egg donor?

For those considering being an egg donor... do you meet the requirements and is it right for you? If you are considering being an egg donor you must meet certain requirements. There are exceptions in some cases, but below is what most intended parents/recipients, agencies, and clinics look for in a donor candidate.

  • Be between the ages of 21-34.
  • Be in excellent physical and mental health.
  • No abuse of drugs/alcohol either currently or for at least 1-3 years.
  • Non-smoker.
  • Height/weight proportionate.
  • Must not be on government assistance. (You should be financially secure).
  • No criminal history. (Must be willing to provide a criminal background check).
  • Must be willing (along with partner) to undergo psychological & medical assessments and willing to provide all medical history.
  • No tattoo's and/or piercings within the last 6 months.
  • Have a good support system. (Partner, friends, family that are supportive of decision and/or can help you with injectables and/or appointments).
  • No history of depression or other psychiatric disorders.
  • Have a positive outlook on life, considerate of others, compassionate, good communicator and caring.
  • Willing to have repeated bloodwork and ultrasounds.
  • Willing to take IVF medications (both oral and subcutaneous/intramuscular injections of hormones).
  • Willing to have invasive medical procedures (gynecological exams, egg retrieval procedure).
  • Willing to travel to fertility clinics, lawyers, doctor's/ultrasound appointments.
  • Take time away from your employer and family appointments and egg retrieval procedure.
  • Confidence in fulfilling egg donation agreement by knowing wholeheartedly that this is the right decision for you.
  • Must not have had more than 5 previous egg retrieval cycles.

What types of medications are used and how are they taken?

The most common medications used are birth control pills, Lupron (to suppress your ovaries to keep from ovulating) and FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) to stimulate the growth of more follicles/eggs. These are taken via subcutaneous injection, which is a small needle that is injected into fatty tissue (usually your thigh, buttocks or stomach). The IVF clinic nurses will instruct you how to perform injections and acts as your support should have you have questions through your cycle.

Will I experience side effects?

Most donors experience minimal side effects with the medications used during the process. The most common side effects mirror PMS systems, such as bloating, pelvic discomfort, water weight gain or minor mood swings. Less common side effects include headaches, severe cramping and feeling overly tired.

Are there risks to the health of egg donors?

Recovery time can vary from person to person, but generally varies from mild to moderate discomfort, similar to mild or moderate menstrual cramps for several days. About 20 percent of donors experience more discomfort, requiring them to limit their activities for several days.

Although extremely rare, more serious complications can occur (in less than 1% of women who have an egg retrieval with IVF), and hospitalization for a number of days may be necessary.

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) can occur and can either be mild or severe. The mild form occurs in 10 to 20 percent of cycles and results in some discomfort but almost always resolves without complications. The severe form occurs approximately 1 percent of the time. The chance of OHSS is increased in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome and in conception cycles. When severe, it can result in blood clots, kidney damage, ovarian twisting (torsion) and chest and abdominal fluid collections. In severe cases, hospitalization is required for monitoring but the condition is transient, usually lasting only a week or two. Occasionally, drawing fluid out of the chest or abdominal cavity decreases symptoms. The best prevention is to withhold hCG administration and prevent ovulation when ultrasound or hormone testing indicates a high risk for severe OHSS. The use of ultrasounds and/or serum estradiol levels will enable your physician to predict your risk.

How many eggs are typically retrieved?

Average cycles result in a retrieval of between 9-20 eggs, although in some instances we’ve seen donors with less than 10 and more than 20 eggs retrieved.

How long does the process take?

Most egg donor cycles take 6-12weeks.

How soon will my body return to normal after I’ve had the egg retrieval?

Most donors will see their bodies go back to normal within a couple days after retrieval. In some cases, donors may feel bloated and experienced slight discomfort until their next period which is approximately 8-10 days after retrieval.

Will egg donation affect my future fertility?

Thankfully, current research suggests that egg donation does not have any long-term effects on fertility.

Do I have to travel?

If you are not located close to an IVF clinic, yes. All expenses for your travel will be covered by your intended parents.

Can I bring my husband/partner/companion and/or children if I have to travel?

Intended parents pay for any travel expenses/accommodations incurred by you and your husband/partner/companion. Your child/children may travel with you but please note that typically children are not allowed at IVF clinics or during appointments.

Can I be an egg donor if I’ve had a tubal ligation?

Yes!

How much contact will I have with the intended parents/recipients?

This would depend on whether you do an open or anonymous donor cycle. As a donor you first need to decide whether you prefer to be in an open/known arrangement or a closed/anonymous arrangement (or you can be flexible and leave the preference up to the recipient parents). Most donors offer to be of assistance to the recipient if a child results from the donation and there is a medical emergency that requires consultation with the donor in the future.

Open/Known Donation – A donation in which egg donors and prospective parents exchange personal contact information, photographs, and possibly meet. The level of contact is up to the donor and prospective parent(s). Donors may or may not receive statistics regarding the outcome of the donation.

Closed/Anonymous Donation – A donation in which no personal contact information will be exchanged. Donors will not receive photos, updates or contact from the prospective parents. Donors may or may not receive statistics regarding the outcome of the donation.

What is a typical reimbursement amount?

In Canada, egg donors cannot receive a fee or compensation, only reimbursement for out of pocket expenses. Typically, this will be between $1-10,000 but the amount you receive depends on the expenses you have.

Do I have to submit receipts?

Yes. You must collect and submit receipts for your intended parents/recipients before you are reimbursed. Anticipated known expenses such as prescriptions, accommodations, legal bills etc. can be paid for in advance or directly by your intended parents. If you cannot get a receipt for certain expenses you can either take a picture with your cellphone, use a receipt book to create one (such as for babysitting) or submit a spreadsheet detailing your expenses.

Will I have to report my out-of-pocket expenses when I file my income tax?

No. But you should report it if you are receiving any type of subsidy or assistance from the government (child subsidy, EI, etc...)

If I’m an experienced donor can I receive more?

No. It does not matter in Canada if you are a first time donor or experienced. Expenses are related to the expenses you have, not how many times you’ve been a donor.

Do I have a choice in which recipients I help?

Yes!

What happens once I have matched?

Once you have matched, your intended parents/recipients or SCO will send in a referral form with your contact information to the IVF clinic, fertility lawyer and social worker to make appointments for your medical/psychological screening. Next, a donor agreement/contract will be drafted and reviewed by all parties. Once everyone has agreed to the term of the agreement/contract, it will be signed and you will be begin the process to have your egg retrieved.

How long will it take to match with a recipient?

You will be contacted if a recipient selects your profile.

Will I stay in contact with the baby and recipient(s) afterwards?

Not always, but many of our donors go on to have lasting friendships with their recipient(s).