Orientation to Surrogacy
This overview will help answer many of your questions about what is involved in a surrogacy cycle. There are many details involved in any surrogacy arrangement and it can take time to understand all of them. Working with a surrogate to build your family may be anxiety producing for some but, if you choose carefully, it can be a positive and enriching experience.
Choosing a surrogate
Choosing a surrogate requires a huge commitment of trust. My best advice: trust your instincts but make sure your surrogate has been well screened both psychologically and physically and that you both have a clear understanding of all the legalities up front.
- If you don’t already have one, find a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) and set an appointment. You need an RE in order to work with a surrogate
- Choose a woman who has a close, happy family with children living at home with her
- Make sure your surrogate has had easy pregnancies
- Make surey our surrogate is financially stable
- Make sure your surrogate is between ages 23 and 42. Younger isn’t necessarily better
- Make sure your surrogate and her partner have had full psychological screening
- Make sure that if your surrogate is 40 or over, her youngest child is under age four, preferably closer to two
- Choose a surrogate with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or less (though a BMI of up to 32 is fine if everything else is good)
- Be sure your surrogate has a supportive community
- Have regular contact with your surrogate. Talk weekly; whenever you can go to appointments with her; take her to lunch
- Remember, surrogates don’t always get pregnant on the first transfer. It may take three transfers to achieve pregnancy
- Set aside more money than you think you will need
- Try to micromanage your surrogate’s life. Remember that she has been pregnant before and is a responsible adult
- Choose a surrogate who has had gestational diabetes, premature deliveries, serious health issues, or more than three C-sections
- Choose a surrogate with a BMI over 32. She will be more susceptible to gestational diabetes and other complications
- Choose a surrogate who has never had a child
- Choose a surrogate who has had a child but does not have custody of that child
- Choose a surrogate who has a history of drug or alcohol abuse
- Discuss finances with your surrogate. All financial issues should be addressed in the contract with your surrogate and handled by the surrogacy agency
- Invite your surrogate to live with you. There is such a thing as too much togetherness
- Work with a surrogate who is on public assistance. She may need the money but this could be seen as coercion. Be sure that your surrogate is financially stable and not choosing surrogacy as the family’s financial salvation
Choosing a surrogacy agency
Very few clinics have internal surrogacy programs. If the clinic you work with does have a program, it is likely to have already medically evaluated the surrogates and the surrogates are probably strong candidates. But it is also likely that you will need to wait to be matched with a surrogate because good surrogates are not plentiful and most clinics don’t have full-time staff dedicated to searching for and screening surrogate candidates. Therefore, you may be better off working with a surrogacy agency. Donor Concierge has chosen a select group of some of the best surrogacy agencies that have proven to be extremely supportive and that won’t push you off to a waiting list.
Agency surrogacy programs focus on finding women who are interested in being surrogates. Therefore, they tend to find more candidates than clinics do. Agencies cannot medically screen surrogate candidates because they are not medical facilities. Their screening process should include an initial phone interview with the surrogate candidate, followed by a personal interview in the candidate’s home, then a psychological evaluation.
The surrogacy cycle is long and complex. You need an agency that is supportive from the first call to the birth of your child and after. Do your homework and get recommendations. Not all surrogacy agencies are created equal. Some just match you with a surrogate and expect you and the surrogate to be self-sufficient once you are matched. Most agencies have waiting lists because they have more couples looking than they have surrogates who are ready to be matched. Don’t be discouraged when one agency tells you the waiting time for a surrogate is 3–6 months. There are surrogates waiting to be matched if you know where to look. Donor Concierge has working relationships with at least 30 surrogacy programs that have proven to be very accommodating.
- Choose an agency that can act as a liaison between you and the surrogate and smooth out any disputes that may arise.
- Choose an agency that will be supportive of both you and the surrogate
- Choose an agency that will keep you informed regarding cycle progress
- Choose an agency that will recommend attorneys
- Request a monthly statement of the accounting from the escrow company handling the funds for your surrogate
- Choose an agency that will handle all financial issues between you and the surrogate
- Choose an agency that helps you with insurance arrangements for the surrogate
- Choose an agency that will respond to your queries within 24 hours. Even if they don’t have the answer when they respond, you need to know you’ve been heard and that they are working on the issue
- Make the mistake of thinking only one agency or one surrogate can help you. There are many options for you if you know were to look and Donor Concierge can help you with that
- Wait for 3–6 months to be matched with a surrogate. Some surrogacy agencies will put you on a waiting list to be matched. If the wait is a month or less that’s great but, if it’s predicted to take longer than that, you should know that there are surrogates available with other agencies that Donor Concierge can help you to find
- Keep a surrogate waiting for over 6 months before moving forward with a transfer. If you must ask her to wait due to medical reasons, you should compensate her. Remember, not only is your life on hold in a situation like this but hers is as well.