Finding your surrogate is a bit different from finding your DNA donors. First of all, there are not nearly as many surrogates, as egg donors or sperm donors out there. Secondly, you will not have to review scads of surrogates through a database. The available surrogates may be presented to you in a conversation with someone from one of the agencies providing surrogates.
You will definitely be going through an agency, so you want to do your Google search once again! Ain’t Google grand? Simply type in surrogate and a number of agencies looking for intended parents like yourself will pop up. They are searching for you. They are the middle man between you and your surrogate. Use them as a resource. Lord knows you will be paying for their service. Agency fees can run you $13K to $23K. This is a fee you pay before you pay your surrogate for carrying your baby and delivering your baby.
Listen carefully to the agency liaison. They are there to guide and direct you. They a valuable asset. They are the ones who have the most knowledge about the surrogates. They may even have interviewed each of them. They may know them from going on retreats or gatherings with the surrogates. Some of the agencies work ongoingly with their surrogates, before, during and after conception. They gather together, creating a family of sorts, so the surrogates feel a comraderie with one another and never feel isolated. This is in the best interest of your surrogate. Guess who defrays all those costs? You, of course. If memory serves, I paid the agency a total of $3K for sponsoring and running retreats and luncheons and such that my surrogate participated in.
The agency liaison is able to survey the landscape of the surrogates that their agency has available. They may only have a few currently. Some will be new to the agency. Some will be pregnant and unavailable, others waiting to be cleared by the doctor for another round of surrogacy. The IVF doctors require that the surrogates take a bit of a rest in between pregnancies, protecting the health of the surrogate and increasing the chance that they will get pregnant and hold onto the next baby they attempt to carry. Listen carefully to the liaison about who she thinks you should select and why.
Another hint about the agency liaison. If you don’t feel jiggy with him or her, go on and select another agency. This is a deeply personal relationship. This has to be someone your gut tells you you can trust. If not, don’t hesitate to skip town! There are several agencies to choose from.
Next is the telephone interview phase. You will want to create a list of questions that you want answers to. Some of those questions will be amongst what follows. How many pregnancies have you had? How did they go? Were there any complications? Can you tell me a little bit about those births? Did you ever have gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia? Were your births normal term? Do you have any venereal diseases? If so, which ones? Did you have morning sickness? Did you have to go on bedrest? If yes for how long?
More questions for the surrogate include the following. How does your husband or partner feel about you being a surrogate? If you don’t have a partner, who will support you or help you while you are pregnant? How do you intend to explain this to your children? Have you been a surrogate before? What was the process like for you? What was it like surrendering the baby to the intended parent(s)? Do you have any regrets? How do you feel about carrying multiples? What is your personal view on selective reduction?
As you approach the interview remember that this surrogacy arrangement will yield a very personal relationship between you and the surrogate. You will literally be indebted to her for the rest of your life. Approach her with interest and compassion. Again, as in the case of the egg donor, she is interviewing you too. She is not going to carry just anybody’s baby. Approach her as someone you are courting. Be polite and kind as you ask your questions. You may even take the time to apologize for asking certain questions. This will be meaningful to her. Make sure to ask her if she has any questions she would like to ask you. Answer her questions thoughtfully.
Be sure to discuss your intentions about multiple births and selective reduction with the potential surrogate. Likewise, find out what the surrogate’s position is as well. Trust me you don’t want to run into any last minute problems, when a simple conversation upfront can set the record straight. For example, in the event of triplets, if you would want to carry them to term, but the surrogate you are talking to is not prepared to do so, you would not be a good match for one another. Imagine the emotional anguish you would experience had you not discussed this discrepancy initially.
Just for rigor let’s examine another scenario related to differing expections and how that might play out. If your surrogate is against abortion of any kind and you are generally against abortion, except in the case of something being terribly wrong with the fetus, you could have a potential problem. More specifically, if the surrogate is against any type of abortion, and the fetus has trisomy 21, which is not what you had in mind, your only recourse may be to adopt out your child at birth. Being negligent about discussing these issues before becoming involved is fairly unpaletable ethically. Such errors give surrogacy a bad name. Be sure to think through worst case scenarios and discuss them with your surrogate before signing on the dotted line. You really want to be sure that you are on the same page here.
Once the telephone interview is complete and you have processed your thoughts and feelings, make sure to jot down any remaining questions you may have. Most of these you can save for the face to face interview.
If the potential surrogate passes the telephone interview, and wants to work with you, you will want to have a face to face interview. Consider traveling to her, since she will likely have children and it may be a big inconvenience to her to travel to you. Moreover, you might like to get the chance to see where she lives and meet her family. Afterall, this is the very environment and these are the very people your gestating fetus will be around. You might ask if you could come over for a family meal. This is your chance to view the gestational situation up close and personal.
Once you have selected your surrogate, she will then have to be tested by the doctor. I had one surrogate who failed her doctor’s appointment twice, without even calling with an excuse! The doctor said, “If she fails twice at this point, I don’t think she’s sufficiently motivated to be your surrogate.” And that was the end of her, because I listened to his advice!
Documents will also have to be drawn up by legal counsel for you and your surrogate by two different legal offices. To be sure, you will be paying for both sets of documents and for legal counsel for yourself and your surrogate. Remember everyone gets paid and you are always the one who pays!
Those who pass the doctor’s test and sign the legal documents are ready to be your surrogate! Bravo and well done! You have yourself a surrogate mother to carry and deliver your baby, or babies as the case may be!
Lisa J Lafave, PhD, MBA, ACC
The Surrogacy Coach from Surrogacy Rocks
CEO & Founder of Coaching Rocks, LLC
A Single Mom By Choice Raising Surrogacy Twin boys
Written in My Little Brick in University Heights, Ohio