First, congratulations on taking the first step in choosing to work with an agency! When you have the support of a qualified and experienced agency, their insight can make your surrogacy journey smoother. You have a built-in advocate on your side to help find a match (whether it’s a surrogate or an intended parent), they can advise you on what matters need to be handled from medical to legal and should unexpected questions or issues arise, they can do the legwork to get you the answers you need.
Shadina Blunt, Co-Owner and Director of Surrogacy Services at Surrogacy Miracles Consulting (SMC), when asked what is the benefit of working with an agency, answered, “Completely reduce the complexity of the surrogacy process. There are so many avenues that need to be addressed for a surrogacy journey and your surrogacy agency will ensure that no stone is left unturned. Working alone you risk missing important legal and medical logistics that could slow your process down and delay bringing your bundle of joy home. Like SMC, we go from start to finish and we stay by your side till delivery day.”
The next big step is choosing the right agency for you! Not all agencies are the same, and it’s essential you know what your needs and wants are when trying to find one. Do you want a lot of hand-holding? Constant communication? Once a month, check-ins? Do you want one your clinic knows? Is there any unique circumstance you would want them to be aware of? Knowing your “nice to have” versus “need to have” ahead of time can help.
Eloise Drane, the Founder and CEO, from Family Inceptions, advises, “When choosing an agency, you need to do your due diligence. There are hundreds of agencies and every single one is different. From how they screen candidates, to the kind of services they provide, to how long they are assisting you in the process Just because an agency is more expensive doesn’t mean they’re better. Just because an agency is cheaper, doesn’t mean you are getting a great deal. Do your due diligence. Speak to several agencies and then make a final decision after your ability to compare apples to apples. And if it sounds too good to be true, it is!”
Reputation and History: Many surrogacy agencies come and go, and you don’t want to trust a process like this to just anyone. Make sure your agency has been in business for an acceptable amount of time and can offer proof of a large number of successful surrogacy arrangements. Also, make sure the agency is financially viable.
Screening Process: Agencies must perform medical and psychological screening on surrogates before introducing them to an intended parent. Make sure the agency has met the surrogate in person; otherwise, you are at risk of being matched with someone who is not ideal. Ask your agency to perform financial and criminal checks on potential candidates. Also, find out what percentage of applicants are accepted to get an idea of how selective the agency is.
Legal Issues: Ask the agency if it is involved in any lawsuits or has ever had clients and surrogates engaged in any legal disputes. This information can help you evaluate the agency’s professionalism and ability to navigate the matching process.
Costs and Fees: Ask for a detailed estimate of all of the expenses associated with the process, and compare them to other agencies. Also, examine the level of service you will get within each price range. Admissions, case management, and trust administration services may or may not be included. Slightly higher prices may be necessary for an educated and well-trained staff. Agencies usually charge approximately $15,000 for their services, but the entire surrogacy process is much more expensive. Total costs may include the surrogate’s fee and possible expenses, lawyers’ fees, fertility specialists’ fees, and fees connected with an adoption if that is required. Costs for gestational surrogacy may range between $75,000 and $100,000.
Insurance: Most standard health insurance plans exclude coverage for surrogacy. If you believe that your policy will cover surrogacy, request in writing from the insurance company that they will include your surrogate by name.
In addition to or in place of standard insurance, specialty insurance agencies provide insurance coverage for assisted reproduction, including surrogacy, egg donation and egg cryopreservation. This may add some costs to your process, but it will ensure coverage and peace of mind. Insurance is a necessary cost that can be one factor in a healthy pregnancy and delivery for your carrier.
Some agencies work directly with insurance carriers; others can help you identify insurance agencies that provide coverage for surrogacy.
State Laws: Make sure your agency operates in a state where surrogacy is legal. Some states prohibit surrogacy or don’t recognize surrogacy agreements.
On the subject of surrogacy costs, which is a common question, Nazca Fontes, CEO of ConceiveAbilities advises, “One way to view surrogacy is to view the process as a positive treatment for a condition or desired outcome. When viewed through this lens, it’s easy to see the moving target for medical procedures, insurance costs, and even potential repeat payments to a gestational carrier. Surrogacy is not always a ‘one and done’ proposition- it can take several attempts to achieve a viable pregnancy all the way to live birth. Those subsequent attempts, which involve additional costs and fees, present a moving target, especially if complications set in.”
Take your time when choosing an agency, and make sure you gather enough data to make an informed decision. Ask questions, and make comparisons. This is a big decision for you and your family, and GoStork wants to help you make the choice that’s right for you.