Prospective parents and surrogates alike often ask, “How do I choose a surrogacy agency?” The best way to decide if a surrogacy agency is right for you is to ask plenty of questions.
Before you talk to a prospective agency or program, come up with a list of questions you want to ask based on your individual needs and goals. While there are a lot of questions to ask a surrogacy agency, here are 13 of the most important questions to ask a surrogacy agency to get you started when you’re thinking about beginning your surrogacy journey:
1. How long has your agency existed, and how many surrogacies have you successfully completed?
They should have been in business for at least several years (the longer the better, typically) and be able to describe their history and prove their success with happy families and surrogates. It’s a good sign if they provide you with concrete numbers and if you can read testimonials from people they’ve worked with in the past. Positive words from parents and former surrogates will be helpful for you.
2. What services do you offer your surrogates and intended parents?
Look for agencies that offer the “full package” of surrogacy services. There are a lot of moving parts in the surrogacy process, and a good surrogacy agency will be able to coordinate all of those elements on your behalf.
3. Do you offer after-hours support services and communications?
The number of staff members that a surrogacy agency employs will affect their ability to offer after-hours support to their surrogates and intended parents. This can be an important service if a surrogate goes into labor in the middle of the night — babies rarely adhere to a nine-to-five schedule! It can also reflect how invested your agency is in you.
4. What requirements do prospective parents and surrogates need to meet in order to work with you?
Look for an agency that has careful requirements for both parties. Safety should be an absolute priority for everyone involved, which is why agencies and programs have such strict requirements and screening processes in the first place.
Ask where there’s flexibility in the requirements, and how much flexibility. Make sure that the requirements for things like background checks (for both parties) are inflexible, but remember that it’s ok to have some flexibility for criteria like a surrogate’s BMI range.
5. What’s the average cost for intended parents? What’s the average surrogate compensation amount?
It’s important that you never choose a surrogacy agency based solely on cost or payout. Not all surrogacy programs offer the same services, protection, or quality. If you choose a surrogacy agency because they’re the most cost-effective, you’ll have a lower-quality experience and could be put at risk.
That said — it’s important that surrogacy agencies review a detailed breakdown of their fees with prospective parents and surrogates. You should know where each dollar is going. A good agency will be upfront and transparent about all possible fees from the beginning, and will discuss best-case and worst-case financial scenarios, as well as the variables that could contribute to total cost for intended parents.
They should also be able to give intended parents advice on how to budget and best afford their surrogacy journey, and ensure that surrogates receive the agreed-upon compensation on time.
6. How are finances handled for surrogates and intended parents?
A good surrogacy agency will be able to give you a detailed walkthrough of how they help surrogates and intended parents manage the financial aspect of their surrogacy journey. They should be able to tell you when payments are made to surrogates, if the money is held in an escrow account, how money is distributed, what expenses are covered by who, how insurance factors into the process and more.
7. How are your surrogates and intended parents legally protected?
Surrogates and intended parents will each need their own surrogacy attorney. The best surrogacy agencies will be able to refer you to experienced attorneys they partner with regularly. It’s a good sign if an agency has a positive relationship with outside surrogacy attorneys, because it means they’ve successfully (and legally) completed the surrogacy process consistently in the past. It also shows that they want to make sure their clients are legally protected by the best.
Your surrogacy agency should insist on a thorough surrogacy contract for your protection, as well as the safety of your surrogacy partner and the baby at the heart of your journey.
If an agency doesn’t require you to work with an attorney, or they ask you to find your own attorney, you should look elsewhere.
8. What other professionals will I need to work with?
Surrogates and intended parents will need to work with a fertility clinic and attorneys outside of their surrogacy agency. A good surrogacy agency will be able to refer you to both of those professionals, and will help you coordinate and communicate with them for the smoothest possible experience.
9. Do you match surrogates and intended parents together? If so, what’s that matching process like?
Good surrogacy agencies should be able to tell you what their average wait time is for a match, how they pair surrogates and intended parents and a detailed description of the matching process. The best surrogacy agencies will also offer profile and marketing services that help you find the ideal surrogacy partner faster and more.
10. How involved are you in the relationship between surrogates and intended parents?
A good surrogacy agency should be involved in the surrogacy partner relationship, even if the surrogate and intended parent already know each other. If they don’t already know one another, the surrogacy agency should help facilitate communication at first. Throughout the surrogacy journey, the agency should encourage a strong and supportive partnership between the two parties, and offer to help resolve any conflicts or miscommunications that may arise.
11. Do you offer post-surrogacy support?
The answer should always be “yes,” regardless of whether or not either party ever takes advantage of these services. Post-surrogacy support usually involves readily-available counseling for both parties, access to information and educational resources on parenting children born via surrogacy, managing surrogacy relationships and more. Surrogacy is a very emotional process for everyone involved, and access to professional counseling before, during and after is the sign of a good surrogacy agency.
If an agency or program does not offer support services for surrogates and intended parents, you should look for a new (more ethical) professional.
12. How do you protect surrogates and parents in the event of unforeseen circumstances or complications?
Pregnancies rarely proceed precisely by the book. Every surrogacy and pregnancy is going to be unique, and surprises aren’t unusual. Sometimes complications or unexpected developments happen, and it’s a sign of a good surrogacy agency if they acknowledge and have preparations for this. Your surrogacy agency should be able to outline what would happen in the event of a range of potential scenarios.
If your agency tries to assure you that everything will always go according to plan, this should be a red flag.
13. Why should we choose this surrogacy agency?
An agency should be able to tell you why you’d be a good fit for one another. Understanding an agency’s general philosophy and attitude can go a long way toward helping you make your decision. Keep an ear out for things that are important to you, whether that’s a short matching wait time, an emphasis on emotional support for surrogates and intended parents or a personalized interest in you and your journey.
These are just a few of many important questions to ask a surrogacy agency that you’re considering partnering with for your surrogacy journey. You can never ask too many questions! To choose a surrogacy agency is one of the first, and possibly most important, steps you’ll take on your journey, so it requires careful consideration. Take your time and ask as many questions as you need to feel confident in your decision.
Want to ask American Surrogacy some questions? We’re happy to answer! Contact us now at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) for more information or to begin your surrogacy journey today.