Becoming a surrogate is an amazing thing and probably one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make in your life. It is something that not only involves you and your family but also that of a stranger’s family that you will help build. It’s a big responsibility to take on considering a couple’s hopes and dreams will be on your shoulders – inside your belly for that matter.
I remember my first journey, though it was successful, there were challenges I had to face because of the lack of knowledge and preparation on my part and that of the surrogacy agency I was working with.
Looking back and based on my experiences as a surrogate in California and on helping other moms become surrogates, here are 10 things to ask an agency before signing up with them.
What are the surrogacy requirements?
Surrogacy requirements vary from agency to agency because many of them serve certain types of clientele that also have requirements of their own. It is possible that you may not qualify for one agency but are qualified for the others.
This is why it’s important to send out applications to multiple agencies so you can find the best fit.
Not qualifying for one agency does not necessarily mean you are not qualified to become a surrogate at all.
Did you know that Surrogacy Is takes away the burden of sending out applications and keeping track of communication with multiple surrogacy agencies? With us you simply fill out a quiz to see if you qualify and we look for an agency on your behalf… at no cost to you.
What tests are required to become a surrogate?
A thorough medical examination is required in order to ensure that you are fit to carry a pregnancy to term. On top of that, the agency or fertility clinic may require ultrasound to examine your uterus and other tests depending on your pregnancy history.
A psychological exam will be required for both you and your spouse in order to ensure that you are mentally and emotionally prepared for the process. Surrogacy agencies also have to ensure that your partner is supporting you 100% as your partner will have to consent to undergo a criminal background check and basic labs to test for drugs and communicable diseases and STD’s.
Make sure to ask what tests you and your partner will have to undergo so you can get yourself ready.
How long does the process usually take?
Carrying a pregnancy takes about 9 months, but unlike a personal pregnancy there are a lot of other factors involved in surrogacy so you have to take that into account when planning your timeline.
These items include the pre-screening, medical evaluation, and legal process that happen before beginning the IVF process. In general, it takes about a year and a half but, unexpected things can happen along the way that might extend the timeline, such as additional testing needed for medical clearance, contract negotiations, and unsuccessful IVF cycles can occur before a pregnancy is achieved. .
Ask about the timeline and agencies processes and options when unexpected things happen so you can plan ahead.
How does the matching work?
If you didn’t know this already, surrogates get to choose who they want to help! You will be shown profiles of hopeful couples that will include some background about their infertility journey that brought them to surrogacy, their professional life, interests, hobbies and details about their fertility, the clinic and the number and quality of embryos they have ready.
Based on what you see and how you feel about each profile, you will be able to schedule a match call with the couple or individual you are interested in. Once you meet, you’ll know if there is a connection between yourself and the intended parents, you’ll have better understanding of each other’s expectations and communication styles, and if both sides give the green light, it’s a match!
It is important to ask the surrogacy agency about their screening process when it comes to intended parents because you also want to make sure that they will be vetted and well-prepared for the journey of surrogacy and parenthood in general!
Intended parents also have to meet certain requirements and their profiles are only shown to qualified surrogates.
Does your agency include support from a Mental Health Professional during the pregnancy and postpartum?
Support from a qualified and experienced psychologist, counselor, or other mental health professional is important for intended parents and surrogates because establishing trust and expectations for communication in such a unique relationship can be challenging.
Mental health professionals who are experienced in surrogacy arrangements can help to navigate the complex emotions and anxieties of all parties and maintain healthy communication.. Being able to rely on their guidance allows you to go through the process with fewer challenges.
This is important to know because some agencies will provide counseling during the journey but not after, and some agencies don’t provide it at all beyond the initial pyschological evaluation in screening. Based on experience, a good surrogacy agency should provide counseling before, during, and after the surrogacy journey.
How about coordination?
Communicating with Doctors, Lawyers, and even the Parents can be overwhelming. Imagine going through surrogacy and having to think about meeting with your lawyer, keeping appointment schedules with different Doctors, etc… That could add stress to you so a good surrogacy agency keeps track of all of these and does the communication with other parties involved and will only call on you when absolutely necessary.
Ask them about how they coordinate everything and what your level of involvement will be in these processes.
What are their procedures when the unexpected happens?
This is very important. We want every surrogacy journey to be seamless and stress free but things happen so you have to make sure that every possibility is taken into account and there is an action plan for each of them.
If you miscarry, this is the action plan…
If the embryo transfer is unsuccessful, this is the action plan…
If a problem arises between the surrogate and intended parents, this is the action plan…
This will give you an added sense of security knowing that the surrogacy agency has procedures in place no matter what happens.
How are you protected legally?
A surrogacy agreement is a legal contract between the surrogate and the intended parents. Just like any contract, it is best that everything is put in writing in order to protect the rights of both the surrogate and intended parents.
A good surrogacy agency should be able to refer you to a knowledgeable attorney that meets the criteria of the Academy of Adoption & Assisted Reproduction Attorneys.
The legalities are not the responsibility of the agency but they should be knowledgeable enough to let you know what your legal obligations are and how they will coordinate everything with your attorney.
Also, the agency should ensure that the surrogate and the intended parents have different attorneys for fair representation.
How long have they been in business?
Experience is important because coordinating a surrogacy journey is not easy. A lot of things could go wrong and an experienced surrogacy agency will know what to do during those situations.
How many team members do they have?
There will be a lot of questions in your mind on your first journey so it is important that the agency is fully staffed and can answer questions and assist you in a timely manner. It is also a big plus if the staff are surrogates as well so they have first hand experience and know exactly what you are going through.
There is no question that working with a surrogacy agency is the best way to start your journey into becoming a surrogate. They have the experience, the knowledge, they take care of you, and they pay really really well. However, due diligence is still necessary because not all surrogacy agencies are created equal.
If you want to know if you are qualified to become a surrogate. Click on the link below and take our short quiz.