Finding A Surrogate or Gestational Carrier
Finding a Surrogate
There are a number of potential ways to find a surrogate and learning about each option will allow you to make the best choice for you and your surrogacy journey. None of these comments is meant to be an endorsement for any search method, but rather, information for consideration as you think about a surrogacy arrangement.
Ask friends and family
Asking a relative or friend to be the surrogate is perhaps a choice with which you feel the greatest degree of comfort. Maybe this option makes you feel less like you are involved in a business arrangement and perhaps you feel you can be more closely involved in the entire process.
However, there are also disadvantages when choosing a friend or family member to be the surrogate. Because the surrogate is known, and the arrangement is friendly, many times the parties are reluctant to insist on the usual safeguards and requirements, specifically, the psychological and legal consultation. Especially in situations where the surrogate and the intended parents are in a close familial or friend relationship, these steps are crucial to maintaining that relationship and defining the roles and expectations of all involved. Further, discussions with the mental health professional and the lawyer can illuminate the sensitive topics, such as future contact with the child, pregnancy termination, and other issues that may arise during the arrangement.
Search on your own
The internet is filled with sites, chat rooms and advertisements from surrogate candidates who are individually marketing themselves to intended parents. This can be an effective way of locating a surrogate: the internet significantly increases the number of potential candidates that parents may consider and expands the geographical scope of the search. There will be a range of experience as a surrogate, expected payment, and other variables.
However, finding a surrogate through a simple internet search can be risky, as the physical and mental health of these prospective surrogates is not established. In many cases, before this information can be determined, some type of compensation may be requested by the potential surrogate. Careful scrutiny of on-line candidates is paramount, and includes a background check by a qualified investigator, a mental health screening by an experienced mental health professional, a medical evaluation, an in-person meeting between the surrogate and the parents, and representation by an attorney for both the surrogate and the intended parents. Sometimes, a surrogate will present a contract that she may have gotten from the internet or perhaps used in a previous arrangement-this is highly suspect and should not be used in a new arrangement. Laws vary widely from stat-to-state and attempting to use such a document will inevitably cause problems.
Commercial Surrogacy Recruiting/Matching/Coordinating Program
The surrogates located through surrogacy companies may have been pre-screened and determined suitable for surrogacy by the program. Further, they have been recruited, usually, on a nation-wide basis, so there is a large number of candidates from which to choose. Before deciding on a surrogate, you should consult with your attorney to determine whether the state within which the surrogate lives and will deliver the baby will recognize the arrangement and allow for establishment of your legal parentage.
A disadvantage of using a surrogacy program is the significant recruitment fees that many charge for their services. Before agreeing to retain any matching/coordinating program, it is really important to thoroughly research the company, understand the fees and the refund policy, exactly what services are provided by the company, what type of screening has been done and by whom, how long it might take to locate a surrogate, when your fees are due and what support the company provides to the surrogate throughout the process.
Inquire with fertility centers
Some fertility centers have surrogacy assistance programs that will help you search through databases of potential surrogate candidates. This option has become less available, as commercial matching programs have proliferated, but if you are working with a fertility center that offers this service, be sure to ask the same questions you would of any other source.