If you’ve decided to pursue surrogacy — either as a surrogate mother or intended parent — one of the most important decisions you can make is the selection of a surrogacy agency. Although agencies are governed by state regulations, they still tend to vary in terms of the type of services they offer, as well as the quality and care they provide. A quick online search reveals more options than you even have time to consider, so how can you narrow down your options and find a support team that will work closely with you throughout the process?
Many of our clients are surprised to learn that an agency’s geographic location doesn’t matter when it comes to the surrogacy process. In fact, location is actually one of the least important factors when it comes to choosing a surrogacy agency to work with.
If the location isn’t an important factor to consider, then how do you choose the right agency?
When it comes to knowing how to choose a surrogacy agency, the first thing to understand is that there is a difference between a fertility clinic and a surrogacy agency. A fertility clinic provides medical services, such as IVF. A surrogacy agency helps to facilitate the surrogacy process by connecting potential parents with potential surrogate mothers and guiding all of them throughout the process.
Here at the Western Fertility Institute (WFI), we provide both services under the WFI umbrella. However, this isn’t always the case, so it’s important that you know upfront how a surrogacy agency works and what other clinics or agencies will be involved in the surrogacy process.
An agency’s success rate is a numerical way of reporting the number of live births that resulted from the surrogacy process they have helped oversee. In other words, their surrogate success rate is a number that shows how many of their surrogates successfully became pregnant and delivered a healthy baby after undergoing IVF.
Every couple and every situation is different, but higher success rates speak to the agency’s staff’s success in identifying potential barriers to fertility and offering viable solutions that result in successful pregnancies. The most objective way to investigate an agency’s success rate is to explore data provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
The CDC collects data from fertility clinics around the country to provide information about their rates of pregnancy and live births. Top fertility clinics can also provide their own success statistics as well. If the surrogacy agency you’re considering uses an outside fertility clinic for IVF, ask for information about the clinic, so you can search the CDC database for their success statistics.
A surrogacy agency will also be able to share its own statistics regarding successful surrogate pregnancies and births.
No one should have to navigate the surrogacy journey on their own. Another important factor to consider when choosing a surrogacy agency is what type of support they offer to the intended parents. The decision to pursue surrogacy is a highly emotional one, and it’s filled with a lot of ups and downs along the way. Their medical experience is important, but it’s also important to look at the other services they offer.
A good agency will also provide legal services to help you navigate the surrogacy agreement and any other legal issues that might arise throughout the process. They will also provide counseling services to help you navigate the process from beginning to end.
Top Medical Professionals
Many surrogacy agencies partner with fertility clinics to perform IVF and oversee the medical side of surrogacy. You’ll want to select an agency who partners with experienced, skilled fertility specialists who specialize in IVF and have a lot of experience working with surrogates and intended families. It’s also a good idea to look into their reputation. The agency and their clinic should be able to provide you with references, but it’s also a good idea to go online and see what you can find about their professional career.
If you’re interested in becoming a surrogate mother, it’s also important to select the right agency — regardless of location. An agency’s job isn’t just to help the clients who will take the baby home. Their job is also to protect and assist their surrogates throughout the process of becoming pregnant and having a baby. Potential surrogates should still research an agency’s success rates, staff and support offerings. But there are a few other things you should look at before you begin the surrogacy process.
The first thing to look at is an agency’s requirements for surrogates. Surrogacy rules and regulations are governed by state law, which means they can vary from state to state. The regulations governing surrogacy in the state where you reside may not be the same as the regulations in the state where the agency is located.
In addition to state regulations, some agencies choose to establish even more strict policies than their states require, especially when it comes to the age of a potential surrogate. Make sure you know what the guidelines are in the state where the agency is located and research any additional requirements they have to make sure you meet them.
As a surrogate mother, your costs should be covered through your agreement with the intended parents. The staff at the surrogacy agency you choose to work with should clearly outline these expenses and help you negotiate an agreement on payment. When you’re negotiating this, remember to ask specifically about compensation for medical expenses, travel, lost work time and childcare if you have other children at home.
Surrogate mothers should always be involved in the process of being matched with intended parents. As a surrogate mother, you need to feel comfortable with the intended parents. You’ll be in frequent contact with them throughout the process, especially if they want to be involved in the pregnancy.
Some intended parents want to attend important doctors’ appointments and ultrasounds. They may want to visit you so they can “talk” to the baby or arrange to send voice recordings, so the baby becomes used to the sound of their voice.
To successfully choose a couple and navigate the surrogate-parent relationship, choose an agency that can help you navigate the matching process. This will ensure your expectations meet up with those of the intended parents and help you avoid tension and conflict later on.
Grow Your Family With WFI
At Western Fertility Institute, we’re committed to matching intended parents with a wonderful surrogate mother — regardless of location. We’re located in Los Angeles, CA, but our clients — both surrogates and intended parents — live all over the world. How do they receive the counsel and support they need throughout the process?
When possible, we can host surrogates and intended parents at our agency, but we also utilize technology. We video chat, talk on the phone and send emails throughout the process to stay connected with you every step of the way.
When it comes to selecting an agency to guide you through the surrogacy process, it’s important to choose one with a compassionate, experienced team of professionals. And, a high rate of surrogacy success doesn’t hurt either. At WFI, we have an 86 percent surrogacy success rate, which means the overwhelming majority of our surrogates successfully become pregnant and give birth.
Contact us today for information about becoming a surrogate mother or growing your family through surrogacy.