Deciding to embark on a surrogacy journey is a major commitment both financially and emotionally. You will be going through a very complex and life altering experience with someone you have only just met. The surrogate will be going through the physically and emotionally taxing experience of giving birth with the additional stress of undergoing this pregnancy and birth for another family, and having to separate from the baby after she has carried it for nine months. In addition, the surrogate will likely have to submit to medical testing and procedures that she probably did not have to undergo when she was pregnant with her own children.
With an IVF pregnancy and gestational surrogacy, the process is more complex than a “natural” pregnancy. There is the additional burden of hormone injections, monitoring, the risk of disappointment over failed cycles, and if the Intended Mother is of advanced reproductive age, it is likely that the surrogate will have to undergo additional invasive testing and procedures such as chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or amniocentesis, which she did not have to endure when carrying her own children. Add to this the fact that the embryo belongs to the IP’s, but medical procedures have to be performed on the surrogate, and you have a very complex relationship.
There are two ways to go about finding a surrogate:
1) using a surrogacy agency or
2) finding a surrogate on your own.
Finding a surrogate on your own, obviously, saves you the cost of the agency fee. While working with a reputable agency takes much of the worry out of a very stressful process by providing a team of professionals who specialize in assisted reproductive technology (ART) and surrogacy. In either case either you or the agency should be sure to enlist the services of legal, psychological, health insurance and medical professionals to help guide all parties through the process. Using an agency can save you a tremendous amount of time and effort and expedite the process of finding and screening a surrogate. Any reputable agency will do detailed financial and criminal background checks on the surrogate and any adult living in her home.
Some agencies will perform home studies of the Surrogate’s household. Agencies can also help with referrals to reputable attorneys experienced in the practice of ART law, psychological professionals with experience with third party reproduction, insurance analyst and providers who can provide specialized surrogacy health insurance, and if needed, recommendations of IVF clinics that routinely work with Surrogates and Egg Donors. A reputable agency will also set up an escrow account and set reimbursement and expense guidelines.
The relationship between IP’s and a Surrogate has the potential to be very stressful, and if the match of the IP’s and the Surrogate is not good, there is the potential for a very antagonistic relationship with the person who is carrying your baby. Once you have chosen a surrogate, and she becomes pregnant, it is a relationship that you must sustain until the baby is born.
From the surrogate’s perspective, many surrogates choose to work only through an agency as they feel more secure that a reasonable 3rd party will collect the surrogacy fees and expenses, manage the escrow account, and be able to act as a buffer between the IP’s and the surrogate, if needed, to facilitate an equitable resolution to any issues that arise. The conversations you should be having with your surrogate should be about feeling the baby’s first kick, and not about mailing her monthly payments, insurance co-pays and expenses.