The Mother Project

Readers of the UK’s Times newspaper have been following the fertility journey of Sophie Beresiner, who writes The Mother Project. I won’t spoil it by revealing the outcome of Sophie’s journey, but suffice to say, she and her husband have been through more ups and downs than many. Sophie has been documenting their journey of egg donation and surrogacy in the US since June 2018, after cancer treatment at the age of 31 left her unable to use her own eggs or carry a pregnancy.

As I read through all of the setbacks they encountered, I couldn’t help but wish that Sophie and her husband had started their journey by chatting with Donor Concierge. Her story is indicative of a phrase Gail coined and we use a lot with our clients: “You don’t know what you don’t know.

We chose the US for the biggest chance of success. The UK may have seemed the most logical, but the laws make it difficult and disconcerting for people like us, who don’t have friends or relatives that are able to be surrogates, people that we can put our full faith in.

In hindsight it was the worst decision we could have made. Actually, no. There is a reason the US has a reputation for a gold-standard surrogacy experience. The legal system is largely geared up to regulate the process, the commercial opportunity means there is a choice of respected clinics and dedicated surrogacy agencies, and the statistical results are encouraging. Unfortunately, the cost and compensation for every step and hump on the road at the agency we finally chose was enormous. We ended up spending much more than the £80,000 we anticipated when we signed up. - The Mother Project, November 9, 2019

Their roadblocks were everything from unsucessful donor egg cycles in Russia and having to find a new donor in the US, to being matched with a surrogate candidate who already had 6 children (a candidate who would never have been presented to a Donor Concierge client). These were just some of the issues Sophie and ‘Mr. B’ experienced, leaving them with a huge financial deficit, and a general distaste for the fertility industry here in the US.

The Mother Project highlights some of the worst, and best, aspects of the current state of US fertility. Costs are definitely much higher - egg donors and gestational carriers are compensated for their part in the journey, there are attorney fees, medical fees, drug costs, travel, not to mention the highly likely cost of purchasing a separate insurance policy to cover the surrogate pregnancy.

And while the US may have earned a reputation for being the ‘wild west’ of fertility, there are many many of us in the field who are dedicated to following ethical guidelines with full transparency.

Donor Concierge follows ASRM guidelines, fertility clinics follow ASRM and FDA regulations, and more and more agencies are choosing to be part of the self-regulatory organization SEEDS(the Society for Ethics in Egg Donation and Surrogacy - our founder, Gail Sexton Anderson is the current Executive Director). There are a growing team of specialist fertility attorneys advocating for all parties involved, and mental health therapist, who help to ensure that the process is transparent and that donors, surrogates and intended parents understand the implications of these procedures, and the impact on their future children.

We know it’s not perfect.

We know there are huge costs involved, often beyond what most fertility patients can afford. The compensated model of gamete donation and gestational surrogacy has harsh critics and often gets a bad reputation by misleading articles inferring that everyone is in it for the money. While there may be a nugget of truth in some of this reporting, there is a common thread that we see amongst everyone working in this field - the desire to help others to have a child.

From the donor who provides the eggs, the embryologist who performs her magic in the lab, the agency owners who recruit surrogates, to the consultants like Donor Concierge - we are driven by a passion to see our clients experience the joy of being a parent. We want to help you find the select a surrogate, find the best surrogacy agency and help you to understand the average cost for surrogacy.

Donor Concierge was founded on the principle of helping intended parents navigate this winding road and avoid the pitfalls that can occur when you are dealing with so many players, so much money and so much hope.