Finding the right surrogate is one of the most important steps and biggest decisions intended parents will make in the entire surrogacy process. Some intended parents choose to work with a surrogate they already know, such as a close friend or family member. For others, the task of finding a surrogate takes considerable time and effort.
As intended parents in the beginning stages of the surrogacy process, you may be overwhelmed at the thought of finding a surrogate who fits your plans and wants to carry a pregnancy for you.
The first step in finding a surrogate is to decide whether you want to do it on your own or with the help of an agency. Below, learn more about how to find a surrogate mother with an agency and without an agency, as well as the pros and cons of pursuing agency vs. independent surrogacy.
Finding a Surrogate with an Agency
If you do not already know a surrogate mother, a surrogacy agency can help you find women who have been screened and approved to carry surrogate pregnancies. A surrogacy specialist will work with you to discuss your goals and find a surrogate who fits into your plans.
Building Your Surrogacy Plan
Your professional will guide you through the surrogacy planning process. During this time, you will determine your hopes and goals for your surrogacy experience, as well as your preferences for the surrogate you work with.
Your agency will identify possible surrogate candidates based on your budget, your desire for contact and involvement throughout the process, her experience, and more. You will also complete an intended parent profile that will further explain who you are and what your future goals are. This profile will be presented to potential matches to help them get to know you.
Before you can officially begin the wait to be matched, you will also need to complete your agency’s screening requirements, including an in-home assessment. Throughout this process, you will receive additional information about surrogacy and ensure you are ready for the exciting steps ahead.
Finding a Match
Once you have completed your surrogacy plan and satisfied all of your agency’s requirements, you will be able to view prospective surrogate profiles. Your agency will also present your intended parent profile to surrogate candidates whose goals fit yours. If you and a surrogate reciprocate interest in one another, you will have an opportunity to get to know each other better and discuss the surrogacy in more detail.
When both parties are ready to move forward, an official match will be made, and the intended parents and surrogate can begin the process of drafting legal contracts.
The time between going active with a surrogacy agency and matching with a prospective surrogate is known as your wait time. Your wait time will vary based on a number of factors. However, there are some things you can do to help minimize your surrogacy wait time:
- Be open-minded when viewing surrogate profiles and selecting prospective surrogates
- Be as flexible as possible in your surrogacy planning and budget so you will have a wider pool of prospective matches to choose from
- Carefully prepare your intended parent profile to make a good first impression on prospective surrogates
Many surrogacy agencies also list current available surrogacy situations on their websites. Intended parents who have completed the necessary screening process and meet an agency’s requirements have the opportunity to be matched immediately to these available situations. Click the following to learn more about available surrogate situations.
Benefits of Finding Surrogates with an Agency
Surrogacy agencies are often experts in surrogacy planning and matching, and intended parents who choose to work with an agency throughout the process enjoy many benefits. Here are some common reasons hopeful parents might choose to work with an agency to find a surrogate mother:
- Most agencies maintain advanced databases that can match intended parents with surrogacy opportunities based on each party’s criteria, surrogacy goals and more
- Agencies extensively screen prospective surrogates to protect everyone in the surrogacy process
- In addition to matching services, agencies offer most or all of the surrogacy services, education and support intended parents and surrogate mothers need throughout the process
Challenges of Finding Surrogates with an Agency
For many intended parents, working with an agency is a convenient and effective way to quickly be matched with a compatible surrogate. However, there are also some challenges to consider:
- The cost of an agency’s matching services might increase your overall surrogacy budget
- The surrogacy agency screens prospective surrogates and mediates contact between potential matches, potentially making the process less “hands-on” than it is in independent surrogacy
- Not all agencies are created equal, and it is important to do careful research before selecting a surrogacy agency to work with
Finding a Surrogate Without an Agency
Many couples and individuals choose to work with an identified surrogate in an independent surrogacy arrangement. These women are often close friends or family members of the intended parents.
However, if you are pursuing surrogacy without an agency and still need to find a surrogate, there are some things to keep in mind throughout the matching process.
Building Your Surrogacy Plan
If you choose to pursue surrogacy without the assistance of an agency, you will be responsible for many steps of the matching and planning process that would otherwise be handled by the agency. The steps you have to take and the sequence in which you take them can vary, but generally, you will need to accomplish the following:
- Find a prospective surrogate
- Screen the surrogate and ensure you are a good match
- Find an attorney to complete the necessary legal work
- Coordinate with a fertility clinic to perform the necessary medical procedures
- Find counseling and support
You will need to consider all of these steps as you build your surrogacy plan.
Finding a Match
Intended parents who are not using an agency’s matching and screening services will need to locate a prospective surrogate on their own.
This process can look different depending on each family’s situation. However, if intended parents do not already personally know a surrogate they would like to work with, they may be able to find a surrogate using methods such as:
- Personal connections
- Social networks
- Surrogate finder websites
- “Surrogate wanted” print ads
- Attorney referrals
Benefits of Finding a Surrogate without an Agency
Depending on your circumstances and surrogacy goals, it may be beneficial to pursue surrogacy without an agency for a number of reasons:
- In some instances, the overall cost of the surrogacy may be lower because you will not be responsible for agency fees
- You will have more opportunity to contact the surrogate without the presence of a surrogacy professional; for some families, this independent matching process feels more personal and hands-on
- Legal and medical professionals may be the only professionals you need to complete the surrogacy process
Challenges of Finding a Surrogate without an Agency
While independent surrogacy is a viable option for some intended parents, there are also some challenges to consider before finding a surrogate on your own. Here are some of the complications that could arise when independently searching for a surrogate:
- Because individual advertising and networking methods are generally not as effective as established agencies’ matching services, you may experience significantly longer wait times and pay more in advertising fees
- There is no screening requirement for surrogates in independent surrogacy, which can leave you more open to situations you aren’t comfortable with and more susceptible to fraud
- In addition to matching and screening, many surrogacy services are more difficult to find and coordinate in independent surrogacy
- Without counseling, education and contact mediation services, you and your surrogate may not get the emotional support and information you need throughout the process
- It is difficult to keep your identifying information private when looking for surrogates on your own
- You will need to be willing to answer responses to any advertisements that you place, screen surrogates on your own and independently determine whether to move forward with a prospective surrogacy opportunity
Whether you choose to work independently or with an agency, finding a prospective surrogate can be challenging at times. An experienced surrogacy professional may be able to help you overcome those challenges and provide the matching services you need, reducing your wait time and ensuring you are matched only to surrogacy opportunities with which you are comfortable.
However, it is also possible to find a surrogate and complete the surrogacy process without an agency. Intended parents should be prepared for all of the challenges of the surrogate matching process before deciding whether to find a surrogate mother independently.
Are you interested in learning more about surrogacy or starting the process? Do you need help searching for a gestational surrogate? Complete our form to request free surrogacy information now.