When you first considered becoming a surrogate, you might have thought about skipping an agency. But as you learn more about the complexities of the process, you’ll likely find that having an experienced professional by your side through it all will be invaluable, especially if this is your first time being a surrogate.
So, should you use a surrogacy agency to become a surrogate? To help you answer that question, let’s ask a few more questions first:
What are Surrogacy Agencies?
Agencies are also sometimes called surrogacy groups, centers, surrogacy programs or companies, but they all perform the same function — they act as a kind of “one-stop shop” for surrogates and intended parents. They coordinate all the services that both parties will need throughout the surrogacy process, so most people find that working with this type of professional is the safest and least stressful way to complete a surrogacy journey.
What Services Do Surrogacy Agencies Provide?
Every agency will offer different services, but most offer:
- Matching services, so you can find intended parents you’re excited about
- Screening services, so you know all the intended parents are safe and ready for surrogacy and parenthood
- Counseling services, usually available at every stage of the process, so you’re supported through ups and downs, have someone to help mediate your relationship with the parents and more
- Referrals to necessary professionals like attorneys and clinics
- Coordination with those professionals, so you don’t have to keep track of everything yourself
- And more
When you’re looking at a potential agency, be sure to review what services they provide for surrogates in detail. If you don’t think they cover the essentials, keep looking.
You’ll usually need to reach out to an agency directly for a full list of their individual services.
Do I Have to Work with an Agency to Be a Surrogate?
No. But it’s generally considered safer and more convenient to take advantage of the services that agencies provide.
You can absolutely complete the surrogacy process without an agency. This is called “independent surrogacy,” and many women go on to have very positive experiences as independent surrogates. However, you’ll still need to work with a fertility clinic and an attorney, at a minimum. There are just some things you can’t D.I.Y.!
Being an independent surrogate is only recommended if you’re confident about navigating the surrogacy process on your own. Independent surrogates are responsible for:
- Finding and screening potential intended parents to verify they’re safe to work with
- Finding a surrogacy attorney and negotiating your contract
- Finding a fertility clinic
- Coordinating with those professionals, as well as the hospital when the due date approaches
- Managing the relationship with the intended parents, including talking about and handling finances
- Handling health insurance
- And more
Surrogacy is a legally, emotionally and physically complex process. First-time surrogates usually prefer the help of an agency, as independent surrogacy can be tricky.
Where Can I Find a Surrogacy Agency?
Choosing the right agency is an important decision. That choice will primarily be influenced by your personal preferences and what you want out of your experience. For example, do you want to partner with intended parents who live in another country, who live near you, or who live in another state? Like any professional, different agencies will have different specialties and philosophies — choose the one that aligns best with what you’re looking for.
Not quite sure what you want yet? That’s ok, too. Start by calling up respected agencies and asking some questions. We recommend:
For at least the next year or so, you’ll be committed to changing someone else’s life. You deserve to have a professional that’s committed to you, too, and that’s there for you during that time.
Remember that selecting an agency is a uniquely personal choice, because your goals and needs will be different from another surrogate’s. This professional will be the one to guide you through the process, so take your time and choose someone that makes you feel confident about the journey ahead.
Are There Traditional Surrogacy Agencies?
No. You’ve probably noticed that U.S. surrogacy agencies today only work with gestational surrogates. That’s because there are increased legal and emotional risks for traditional surrogacy.
Traditional surrogates use their own eggs to create the embryo used, making a carrier the biological mother of the baby, unlike in the gestational surrogacy process. Giving the intended parents her biological child is legally complex, but it’s also very emotionally complex. The process, in some ways, is not unlike adoption.
For these reasons, agencies won’t complete traditional surrogacies. If your heart is set on becoming a traditional surrogate, you’ll probably need to complete an independent surrogacy.
To review what we covered, here are the basic pros and cons of working with a surrogacy agency:
- They walk you through every step of the process, like how to sort out health insurance, file paperwork, manage surrogacy finances, schedule IVF appointments and more.
- They’ll find intended parents for you, or they may have families who are already waiting for a surrogate that match what you’re looking for in a surrogacy partner.
- They screen all intended parents (background checks, requirements and more).
- They can refer you to reputable attorneys and clinics to complete the medical and legal steps.
- They coordinate with the outside professionals so that you only need one primary point of contact.
- They offer counseling services for both surrogates and parents, as well as match mediation.
- Agencies will usually be more expensive for the intended parents than working with attorneys and clinics alone.
- You and the intended parents will need to meet the requirements of that agency.
- Completing agency screening processes can take some time.
- You’ll have less personal control over the selection and screening of the parents.
Ultimately, it’s your choice whether or not you want to go through an agency for your journey as a surrogate, but we do commonly recommend using these types of professionals because the benefits usually outweigh the drawbacks.
If you’d like to speak to a surrogacy agency for more information about becoming a surrogate, fill out this form now.