Top Reasons You Might Experience Delays in Your Surrogacy Journey

by | Sep 12, 2022 | Parenting

Blog title image:Silhouette of pregnant woman standing in front of a broken watch behind the title as a warning sign that says "Reasons You Might Experience Delays in Your Surrogacy Journey"

You are ready to jump into your surrogacy journey. You’ve read the literature, and you are excited for the adventure ahead. Of course, you know that surrogacy can be a lengthy process. In fact, even in an optimal timeline, a surrogacy journey can take upwards of 18 months and nine of those are consumed by the pregnancy. Therefore, you plan to minimize the potential for delays via thorough screening and coordination with an agency every step of the way. Even so, in surrogacy, we all learn to expect the unexpected.

Even though your surrogacy team hopes to have a solid plan and a firm timeline to follow, there are numerous events that can cause delays to the surrogacy journey.

At Family Choice Surrogacy (FCS), we know that you want to be as prepared as possible for your surrogacy experience. For this reason, we have put together a list of

Top Reasons You Might Experience Delays in Your Surrogacy Journey

 

Gestational Carrier Delays

Intake & Initial Screening

The intake and screening process for a gestational carrier (GC) can be lengthy. There are many steps involved and quite a few of them rely on outside sources to manage their responsibilities in a timely fashion. Some things that can delay the intake and screening process are:

Medical Records

The surrogacy team must request medical records for all previous pregnancies and deliveries from the GC’s medical provider for review. It can take weeks or even months to receive these records.  Sometimes, the agency and/or GC candidate ends up calling providers repeatedly, to get the exact information needed. They cannot move forward into the next stage of the journey until this is done. 

Abnormal PAP Results

GCs are required to have an up-to-date PAP before being cleared for surrogacy. If the new PAP results are abnormal, a colposcopy, repeat PAP, or further medical intervention may be required.

Physical Health Delays

Certain physical health criteria must be met before a candidate can be cleared as a surrogate. Sometimes, this means taking additional time to reduce BMI and get updated physical exams and vaccinations.

Life Events & Travel

Surrogates must plan their pregnancy or journey experience, circumventing major life-events or travel to the best of their ability due to the fluidity of a surrogacy timeline. If a surrogacy candidate has upcoming travel plans or major events, it may require them to wait until those events have passed before venturing onto the surrogacy path.

Life Events & Travel, view of bride from back looking down at bouquet, representation of flight path in the distance

Medical Screening

The surrogacy process relies heavily on the gestational carrier’s body working optimally toward the goal of successful pregnancy and delivery. Surrogates will encounter medical screenings at various stages of the journey to ensure that this process goes smoothly. Some events that can delay this process are:

 

Clinic Review & Schedule Delays

A GC’s records are reviewed by the intended parents’ IVF clinic, after she is matched. This review can take weeks or months to complete. Then, this same clinic will need to see the GC for a medical screening which must be scheduled based on her availability and her menstrual cycle. As a result, getting this arranged can take some additional time.

Abnormal Screening Results

Occasionally, something out of the ordinary, such as polyps or abnormal cells, is found during the clinic’s screening.  These findings can cause a delay in medical clearance and, consequently, a delay in your surrogacy journey.

Cycling/Embryo Transfer Delays

Sometimes, delays occur as a GC prepares for embryo transfer. Some of these delays result from:

 

Medication Protocol Changes

The IVF clinic issues a medication protocol to prepare the GC’s body for embryo transfer. The surrogate is monitored regularly during this time, to ensure her body is responding appropriately. Once in a while, the cycle may need to be paused and the protocol changed to increase the odds of a successful transfer.

Lining Issues

During the medications cycle, the GC’s endometrial lining is examined to ensure it is thickening suitably for embryo transfer. If issues are found, that particular cycle will be cancelled, delaying the process further.

Intended Parent (IP) Delays

Embryo Creation

Embryo development at various stages in a Petri dish. "Embryo Creation" FCS logo

There are several things that can hold up the embryo creation process for intended parents (IPs). Some reasons this stage of the journey might be delayed are:

 

Donor Search & Cycling Issues

Intended parents are tasked with making a series of decisions that influence how and when their embryos are created. They must confirm if they are using a donor. If so, they’ll need to take the time to find one who suits their needs. Additionally, egg retrieval may not be successful on the first attempt, whether a donor is used or not.

Inadequate Embryos

After a successful fertilization, an embryo divides and multiplies for 5-6 days in order to develop into a blastocyst. Unfortunately, not all embryos make it to this stage and in some cases, none develop at all.

Genetic Testing

A majority of IPs choose to have their embryos’ genetically tested via Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGT). This procedure is used to identify genetic abnormalities in embryos and allows the IPs an opportunity to choose genetically normal embryos, increasing their odds of success. Sadly, in some cases of PGT testing, IPs discover that none of their embryos are genetically viable. In this event, they could find themselves beginning the entire embryo creation process all over again.

Financial Delays

IVF and surrogacy are extremely costly and require careful financial planning. 

Financial Planning & Procuring Funds

For many IPs, it takes months or even years to finance the expense of surrogacy. The longer it takes to procure the necessary funds, the longer a journey is delayed. Here is some more information about the cost of surrogacy to help you plan for your future family.

Top: "How much does surrogacy cost?" Watercolor image of large glass jar that's full of coins. a label on the jar says "Baby Fund," bottom: "Understanding the expense of having your baby via surrogacy."

Rematching Delays

Regretfully, rare situations can occur which cause a particular match to fall through, even after IPs are matched to a surrogate. When this happens, the IPs have to go through a rematching process. This can happens when:

 

The GC is Denied Medical Clearance

Rarely, the matched GC does not receive medical clearance resulting in the inability for the IPs to move forward until a new match has been made.

Failed Transfer or Miscarriage

Of course, we always hope for a successful first embryo transfer and for a healthy pregnancy and delivery to follow. But, if this does not occur, the IPs and GC will have to plan for another cycle and embryo transfer. Some additional events that can cause further delay, alongside the resulting impedance of another cycle, are:

 

Making more embryos

Further testing for GC (ERA, mock cycle, etc.)

Moving clinics

Invasive procedures for GC (D&C, D&E)

Recycling 

Rematching

Personal Events

Life is unpredictable and everyone, on the surrogacy path, needs to be prepared for the unknown. Unexpected personal events can present major obstacles and delays.

Some of these include:

Death in the family 

Divorce or separation (GC or IP)

Employment changes (for GC or IP)

Unexpected pregnancy

Cycle timing based on IPs ability to travel for baby birth

Global pandemic or other major events

The surrogacy process comes with some inherent risks. However, preparing for unexpected events and delays is possible! You can help mitigate some of these issues and manage the expectations of all parties by gaining appropriate GC screening and agency guidance. So, though it’s true that the journey to surrogacy can be bumpy,  no matter the delay, it will be so very worth the wait. 

Sincerely, Family Choice Surrogacy