CHOOSING A SURROGACY AGENCY: Helpful guidance for potential surrogates.
If you’re among the special group of women who are interested in helping others build their families by serving as a gestational surrogate, you’ll want to make sure you choose the right surrogacy agency or program to partner with. You have a range of different agencies to choose from, just as intended parents do. To ensure the best possible journey for yourself, you need to be fully informed and choose wisely.
Of course, ARTparenting and Meryl B. Rosenberg feel we are the perfect fit based on our decades of success and experience, our wide range of expertise, and the high level of personal attention we give to our surrogates’ needs. We truly value and support the vital role our surrogates play in building a family for someone. Our goal is to make your experience as personal, smooth, rewarding, and yes, enjoyable as possible.
But no matter what surrogacy agency you choose to work with, we only want the best for you. Here are some important things to consider up front to help you make an informed choice.
Surrogacy is a Journey
While inevitably rewarding, surrogacy is a process and not one that you want to dive into lightly or without weighing the decision carefully. From initial screenings, interviews, medical testing, psychological evaluations, on through pregnancy and delivery, it's important to choose an agency that will be with you every step of the way and that will provide clear guidance.
The most common reason women give to us for becoming a surrogate is pure altruism — the genuine desire to help others have the child they could not otherwise have. Many surrogates point out that they truly love being pregnant and find that pregnancy is easy and enjoyable — they are excited about being pregnant again. For some, financial compensation is a part of the equation too; although, in truth, money is not and should not be the sole driving factor. In any case, you need to be honest with yourself and others as you begin the process so that you can articulate your motivations. At ARTparenting, we’ll help you to do that through discussion if you are not sure. We want to get to know you and what motivates you right from the beginning. Our blog post, “Becoming a Surrogate Mother: Is it Right for Me” addresses many of the big decisions you are facing.
Consider the Requirements.
Always make sure the specific requirements are clearly explained to you from the start. There are age-related, medical, financial, lifestyle, and other requirements to consider before you can become a gestational surrogate. The experts at ARTparenting will walk you through these requirements, explaining the reasons for, and the thinking behind each of them, so you’ll fully understand the responsibilities, the demands and the obligations of becoming a surrogate for someone. With ARTparenting, and certainly with anyone you work with, you should find that there are no surprises. We understand how important this decision is, both for you, of course, and for the parents-to-be. Our primary goal at ARTparenting is to assist in making the process as clear as possible from day one, and as enjoyable as possible throughout. We believe 100% transparency is critical from start to finish.
What About Support?
At ARTparenting, you’ll never be alone. That’s a commitment we take very seriously. You’ll also never be passed from person to person as some larger agencies do. You’ll work with a single, caring coordinator whom you’ll get to know as an adviser – someone who is tuned into your personal needs and is responsive in a timely fashion. They will be consistently available, including, quite frequently, outside of regular office hours. With such a personal approach, we can assist in facilitating discussions with treating physicians — working through any medical bumps in the road that might arise — and with anyone else involved in the process along the way.
Your match with an intended parent or parents is critical. You are embarking on a new partnership. You want to feel good about this relationship from the very first meeting. So how the match is made, how the first meeting is organized, and what will happen day to day is what matters most. What makes our program so successful is the extreme care we take in achieving good matches and involving each party in deciding what is the best match for them. We cannot stress enough the importance of you asking any agency or program you are working with how they make a match for you — do you have any say in the choice? Is it made for you? You do not want to find yourself in a situation that makes you uncomfortable or does not meet your expectations.
For some, a key factor in deciding to go with a particular surrogacy agency is the compensation for your time and effort, as well as reimbursement for your expenses. It cannot be stressed enough to make sure you fully understand what is being offered by the particular agency. Be aware as you review different agencies that it can be confusing to compare “compensation” levels. Some agencies include expenses in their “compensation” amount, which can make it sound higher than it actually is. Compensation and reimbursement for expenses are not, in fact, the same and should be viewed separately. At ARTparenting we keep your expenses separate from the “fees” so you know precisely what the compensation and the expense reimbursements are that you will receive.
While there are no standardized fees for surrogacy, ARTparenting “compensates” gestational surrogates at a level that meets or exceeds current standards of practice. In addition, we reimburse you for all your general expenses throughout the journey. Read this page for general information on payments and expenses.
Whose responsibility is medical insurance?
How will I know if I have the right coverage? Make sure the surrogacy agency or program reviews your insurance needs — it is not your responsibility to do so. Furthermore, it should never be your responsibility to find the best insurance plan, if you need one. The matching program should guide you and the intended parents through the insurance minefield — and it is a minefield — changing every year. Only experts who know and understand health insurance and how it intersects with surrogacy will be able to determine whether a particular policy has an applicable surrogacy exclusion or not, and only such an expert can identify the best plan and when to apply for it. Your agency or matching program should lead you through the whole process in the best and most logical way. It should never be the surrogate’s or intended parents’ responsibility.
You’ll Have Questions
When comparing agencies, be certain you get answers to these critical questions, and more:
Who will I be matched with and how are my own preferences handled? Is my voice heard as part of the matching process? If not, perhaps this is not the right place for you.
What “expenses” are included? Are my expenses fully covered? What are the other “fees”?
What would be my compensation if I were carrying twins or have complications from pregnancy?
What is the schedule for disbursing compensation?
Are the funds that will be due to me held in an independent escrow account, protecting all parties involved?
Who will be my adviser? Will I have continued contact during the process?
In other words, be sure the surrogacy agency or program you select is experienced in every aspect of the process, in every detail, and there’s no question or concern you’ll have that they won’t be able to address in a timely fashion.
Are you protected legally?
When you work with a surrogacy program or agency, confirm that you will have independent legal representation in your state of residence, and that you are free to choose whom that attorney will be. The cost should be paid for by the intended parents.
Check Their Credentials
Just as when choosing to work with any service provider, the number of years in business and their standing in the industry are all questions you should ask about any surrogacy agency. Find out if the agency is actively involved in assisted reproductive technology (ART) associations, such as the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and associations for attorneys such as the American Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAAA) and the American Bar Association (ABA). Our founder, Meryl B. Rosenberg, holds leadership roles in these and other organizations and has been recognized for working to achieve high standards and the ethical practice of surrogacy for years.
At ARTparenting, we always stress the importance of choosing a top-notch agency — whether you elect to work with us or one of our colleagues — to ensure the smoothest, most enjoyable journey possible for all involved. In the meantime, remember that we are always here to answer your questions.