While the implications are much deeper, of course, searching for the right surrogate is like going on a bunch of blind dates. Some of the basic facts have already been figured out, but there is still a bit of a dance that needs to happen to assess whether or not this is really, “The One.”
And, just like a future romantic partner, the feelings need to be mutual. Both parties need to feel like this is a good fit for them. You should have the sense that this woman is the perfect candidate to carry your child and – in the case of a surrogate – that her medical history and genetic materials are a good match as well.
If you’re working with an agency, that agency needs to have a reputable track record and an adequate history of successful surrogate stories so you know you can trust them.
7 Questions to Help You Select a Trustworthy Surrogacy Agency
1. How long have you been in business? Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) is becoming increasingly popular as the result of improved infertility diagnosis, the number of women waiting to start their families, and the number of LGBTQ+ individuals and couples who want to start families. This has resulted in increased numbers of surrogacy agencies, some of whom get their start via a website and a couple of interested surrogates. Surprisingly, laws are fairly lenient when it comes to running a surrogacy agency. We recommend looking for agencies that have been around for at least 5 years or more. This is a good sign that they have established policies, procedures and legal protocols that have stood the test of time.
2. How many families (clients) has your agency assisted? Similarly, the more the merrier right? A surrogacy agency that has both been in business for roughly five years or more, and has helped a substantial number of clients, is probably doing a good job. These numbers may vary a bit but most successful and established agencies are working with roughly 40 to 50 couples or clients at a time.
3. What kind of screening is provided for your surrogates or gestational carriers? This is such an important process. Being a surrogate or gestational carrier is hard work – mentally, emotionally and – of course – physically. You want to make sure the woman carrying your baby has a clean bill of health and a strong mental health assessment. Your surrogate’s commitment to a healthy lifestyle is essential to the health of your baby. Some of the top surrogacy agencies also screen their surrogates for financial hardship and a criminal background history. This should be a labor of love on their part. While the money is nice, their primary reason for doing this work should be to help an individual or couple in need. If you’re working with a fertility center, odds are screening will happen on that end as well, for further reassurance.
4. Have you ever been sued? Of course, the emotional complexities surrounding surrogacy are many. So, having been sued is not a crime or even a huge red flag. Multiple law suits, however, should cause you to take note. You can also go a step further and inquire whether the surrogates and the families have ever been involved in legal disputes. Again, most of the best agencies will be able to answer, “no and no,” which indicates they have their act together.
5. Do your price quotes match what we’ll actually pay? You know how that goes: the “quote” says one thing and the final bill states another. Your surrogacy agency should provide clients with a very clear and itemized quote, including every single potential cost. The final price should match this – without any hidden fees or surprise charges.
6. Can we use our own lawyer? In most cases, our surrogacy agency, Shared Conception, recommends choosing a lawyer who has experience with the legal ins-and-outs of surrogacy and gestational carrying. This is a specialty niche for sure, and the laws vary from state to state. If you don’t have your own lawyer, the agency should be able to provide a list of referrals.
7. What insurance is used to cover the surrogate? In all cases, surrogates and gestational carriers should be provided with a specific health insurance policy that covers services for surrogacy. This is not always the case, so be wary of any agency who claims to use surrogates or gestational carriers who have health insurance through their own workplace. Not only do these policies rarely cover surrogates, employment is not a guarantee so a surrogate who is laid off, or whose company goes out of business mid-pregnancy, could wind up without health insurance.
Contact our surrogacy agency, Shared Conception, to learn more.