November 7, 2022
Written by
Caroline Shannon Karasik

You Asked: What Disqualifies You From Being A Surrogate?

Chances are likely that if you’re here, you already know surrogacy is a one-of-a-kind experience that looks different for every surrogate and their intended parent(s). Whether you’re working with an agency or going the independent route, or you’ve matched with a family who traveled this road before (or maybe it’s their very first time), you’ll find there are many different surrogacy journeys. 

But what about the qualifications to be a surrogate in the first place? And what disqualifies you from being a surrogate? You asked, so we’re giving you the answers. Keep reading to discover the top five reasons surrogate applicants are disqualified from the process. 

What are the surrogate qualifications?

Before we dig into some of the reasons you might not qualify to be a surrogate, let’s start with the basics: What are the qualifications to be a surrogate? 

To become a surrogate, you must meet the following criteria: 

  • You are 21 to 43 years old.
  • You have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of less than 32.
  • You live in a surrogacy-friendly state.
  • You’ve experienced at least one successful pregnancy with no complications.
  • You’re currently parenting at least one of those children.
  • You do not smoke or use drugs.
  • You have a reliable personal support system.
  • You do not financially rely on government assistance (e.g., cash assistance, welfare, or public housing).
  • You can travel to appointments independently.

The above set of qualifications—created by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM)—is in place for a reason. Age, for instance, is in place to protect a surrogate and the baby she is carrying. Research has shown that women over 35 are considered “advanced maternal age,” which can lead to an increased risk of preterm birth, stillbirth, miscarriage, and low birth weight, among other serious issues. 

Related: How to Become a Surrogate: 8 Things to Consider Before You Apply

So, what disqualifies you from being a surrogate?

We want to talk next about these qualifications for a surrogate, but let us first remind you that no matter if you become a surrogate or not, you’ve already checked a major box—being a deeply caring person who wants to give back. That makes you, well, kind of a rockstar human. 

That said, there are some reasons you might not qualify to be a surrogate. In fact, there are five major ones we often run into when we are chatting with potential surrogates. Keep reading to learn more.

1. You receive government assistance.

Some applicants are surprised to find they are incorporating government assistance into their everyday lives, and that’s because the definition of what is considered assistance isn’t always straightforward. 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are two major public assistance programs—social welfare programs and social insurance programs. Some of these federal, state, and local programs include:

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
  • Welfare or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), including Pass through Child Support
  • Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • Social security (self and on behalf of a dependent child)
  • Department of Veterans Affairs benefits (except veteran's pension)
  • Unemployment insurance compensation
  • Workers' compensation
  • Survivor benefits
  • General Assistance (GA)

If you or your dependents receive any of the above, you will not qualify as a surrogate. 

2. You are not yet done having biological children.

This one is pretty cut and dry. If you still want to have your own children, you won’t qualify as a surrogate. Because of the myriad issues that can occur during any pregnancy, this one is in place to protect what you still might want in the future. If you are still building your family and want to become pregnant, we don’t want surrogacy to keep you from doing that.

Related: My Surrogacy Journey as a Surrogate

3. You’ve had previous pregnancy complications.

If you’ve had a past pregnancy complication, you’ll find that surrogacy is not an option for you. These complications include:

  1. Preeclampsia: A severe high-blood pressure disorder that occurs during pregnancy or immediately following birth. 
  2. Pre-term labor: Labor that occurs before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
  3. Gestational diabetes: A form of diabetes that develops during pregnancy.
  4. Late-term miscarriage: A miscarriage that occurs between weeks 12 weeks and 24 of pregnancy.

4. You are taking medication for a psychiatric condition.

Your mental health is of the utmost importance, whether you’re considering becoming a surrogate or not. Sometimes mental health support takes the form of antidepressants, mood stabilizers, or other prescription medications that help you to better navigate your day-to-day. (Brief pause to say we fully support that and believe everyone should have access to mental health resources of all types.) If you are someone who is taking medication for depression, anxiety, or another psychiatric condition, you will not be qualified to become a surrogate. 

5. Your BMI is above 32.

Like age, the qualification that your BMI is less than 32 is in place to protect you and the baby. In a 2021 study published in Cureus, researchers noted that “maternal obesity is considered one of the most commonly occurring risk factors seen in obstetric practice.”

Most notably, the study says overweight pregnant women have a 25 to 37 percent higher risk of miscarriage and pregnancy loss. They also face a higher chance of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, postpartum hemorrhage, and deep vein thrombosis (DVT), amongst other serious conditions. Babies, on the other hand, have an increased risk of prematurity, neonatal death, stillbirth, and congenital anomalies and are more likely to develop obesity and metabolic disorders in childhood, according to the study. 

The bottom line.

Your heart of gold is just one aspect that qualifies you to become a surrogate. But to continue with the journey of becoming a surrogate, you must meet the basic requirements we’ve outlined above. These measures are put in place to protect you, the baby, and the intended parents, each of whom is vital to this process.