As a Surrogate, Should You Work With an Agency?
Every potential surrogate wonders whether it’s a good idea to work with a professional agency. The question is an important one, and it makes perfect sense to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of using an agency for help with such an important life experience.
It’s a fact that many entertain the idea of “going it alone,” and dealing with the complex legal questions and clinical arrangements themselves. And even though the “solo route” is a way to possibly save money, it’s fraught with potential pitfalls that an experienced agency can help surrogates avoid. This is especially true for those who are on their very first surrogacy journey.
The best way to make any decision to the first gather facts. So, if surrogacy is in your future, the following information can help. For instance, you’ve likely wondered what is the role of an agency, what kinds of services they provide, whether you have to use one at all, why women tend to choose smaller agencies, and what the general pros and cons are of opting for an agency’s help once you decide to become a surrogate.
What is a Surrogacy Agency?
You’ll likely hear lots of different names for what we call an agency for surrogacy solutions, or simply a “surrogacy agency.” Some organizations don’t use the term “agency,” but refer to themselves as a center, program, group, or just a “surrogacy company.” The vocabulary doesn’t really matter because they all aim to offer similar types of service, namely being a single-stop point of contact for surrogates and intended parents.
The professional, ethical, experienced agencies work to coordinate multiple services needed by all parties involved in the surrogacy process. For the vast majority of women and parents, agencies offer an organized, transparent, safe way for beginning and completing the process of surrogacy.
What Kinds of Services Should Surrogates Expect From Agencies?
As a surrogate, you are also a client (not just your Intended Parents). You should expect an agency to do the following, as a minimum:
- Screen: The agency will screen you to make sure that you are physically and emotionally ready to be a surrogate. Safety is so important. They will also screen intended parents’ backgrounds for you to ensure they are legally, financially and emotionally ready to start their journey.
- Match: Matching you with intended parents that share similar values and meet your other requirements.
- Refer: When you work with an agency, you’ll have access to clinic and legal referrals as needed.
- Coordinate: You’ll get all the support you need for coordinating travel, appointments, schedules, phone calls, meetings, and more.
- Counsel: Agencies offer counseling services to mothers who need it at any point. These same counselors can also help you handle the relationship you have with the intended parents.
It’s essential to ask direct questions and find out about specific services an agency offers. Not all websites list complete service menus, so always remember to get details from a representative when you’re exploring and evaluating various agencies.
Is There a Law That Says You Must Work With an Agency?
Of course, no law forces you to use an agency. However, the reality is that most women do, primarily for the overall convenience and safety. And, don’t underestimate the convenience factor. Why?
Because, as an independent surrogate, you will need to deal with lawyers, clinics, and other professional service providers by yourself. That means making lots of inquiries, coordinating treatment appointments, and much, much more.
At a bare minimum, when you go it alone, you’ll have to screen your intended parents, locate a competent lawyer that specializes in surrogacy in your state for your contract work, manage your treatment cycle, make financial arrangements with your intended parents, deal with many insurance issues, and try to get enough rest throughout the entire process. In short, independent surrogates face an overwhelming to-do list.
What Are the Positive and Negative Points of Working With Surrogacy Agencies?
The pluses far outweigh the minuses when it comes to working with a surrogacy agency. But, as is true with most decisions, there are pros and cons. Here are the ones to keep in mind as you begin to make up your mind about becoming a surrogate:
- Pro: Agencies do all the screening of intended parents to make sure they meet background requirements of both the agency and the surrogate mother.
- Pro: When you work with an agency, you get step-by-step assistance with each part of the process, including things like financial management, paperwork filing, health insurance questions, and more.
- Pro: Agency professionals have set legal professionals, fertility clinics and medical providers that they regularly work with and can refer you to.
- Pro: Agencies act as a one-stop-shop, or central point of coordination for all surrogacy-related tasks, like matching, contracts, insurance enrollment, scheduling doctor’s appointments, etc.
- Pro: The agency does the searching and matching, so surrogate mothers don’t have to spend any time locating intended parents that suit their needs.
- Pro: Match-mediation and expert counseling services are available from agencies.
- Pro: Insurance evaluation to make sure that your health care is covered and there are no surprise bills later on (that you would be responsible for).
- Con: Intended Parents pay for several thousand dollars in agency fees.
- Con: All parties must meet agency screening criteria, and a thorough screening can be time-consuming.
- Con: Surrogates have more control over who is selected as the intended parents when working independently, rather than with an agency.
Con: Larger agencies may not provide as much personal support throughout the process, surrogate may feel like she is not “seen” or “known.”
The “Big Picture” of Agency Surrogacy
The advantages of working with a reputable agency far outweigh the downsides. Working with a small/mid-size surrogacy agency is often the perfect balance of professionalism and attentive, personalized, service.
Becoming a surrogate is a major decision, those who want the best experience for themselves and their Intended Parents should certainly explore the idea of working with a professional surrogacy agency.