So you have decided to pursue surrogacy and your next step is to find a surrogate.
But where do all the stable, healthy, extremely trustworthy, and open-minded women hang out these days? That is to say- how do you find a surrogate mother? Obviously, you can always reach out to a reputable agency, such as ConceiveAbilities, and have our staff match you with one of our thoroughly-vetted and highly qualified surrogates. Or you can try your luck with the “DIY” approach to finding a surrogate.
There seem to be four avenues from which to find a surrogate.
Family: You can ask an age-appropriate relative (i.e. a sister or a cousin) whether she is interested in the gig.
Friends: You can hope that your friend really meant it when she said she would “do anything for you” and ask her for a big favor. (Pro tip: make certain you are indeed actual friends before even hinting at this subject, otherwise you risk sounding very creepy.)
Ads: You can put out an ad in a publication, announcing your interest in finding a suitable stranger.
Forums: You can join closed Facebook groups or other internet forums in search of a "diamond in the rough".
Certainly, all four of the above independent starting points have resulted in some number of happy matches and healthy babies, but each has their own pitfalls worthy of special considerations and most are significantly more risky than finding a surrogate via an agency.
Perhaps you are one of the lucky people who have a family member or a close friend who is willing and excited to assist you. This is, of course, a very fortunate position to be in, but before getting too excited, it is worth making certain that your relative or friend satisfies the recommendations set by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine for gestational carriers. If she does not meet these qualifications, your clinic will likely not accept her as a viable surrogate.
It is also worth taking a long and hard look at the realities of this hypothetical endeavor. Reflect on your relationship with this person. Do you have a history of any sort of drama with them? Have you successfully weathered stressful situations together? Do you and their spouse or partner get along well? How about your spouse or partner? A surrogacy arrangement affects and involves all four parties, so their dispositions are absolutely with considering. Ask yourself whether you are able to openly and comfortably talk about medical, emotional and financial matters with this person.
Many people may assume that working with a friend or family member will limit the need for legal involvement, but nothing could be further from the truth. Independent matches, especially those involving known parties, demand the intimate and near immediate involvement of an experienced and licensed family law attorney as well as a mental health professional.
Of course, everyone knows that you have to exercise caution when dealing with unknown parties on the internet. When you place an ad or join an online community, it is important that you are not only cautious of others, but that you are also mindful of yourself.
It is easy for your own eagerness, excitement and determination to blind you to “red flags”. Keep in mind that you are looking for someone to fulfill a very specialized role and it is important to be both picky and thorough while giving potential “red flags” their due attention.
Along the same lines, your natural desire to have a candidate like you may result in your skipping over the tough questions you should be asking. Your desire to be chosen by a candidate may also inadvertently encourage you to present your situation in a slightly altered manner. Such accommodations, however well meaning, can be the source of mistrust, miscommunications, awkwardness, and needless drama.
Agencies offer protections to both the IPs and GCs, so it is worth considering and asking a candidate directly why she is pursuing an independent journey. Certainly, it is possible that she may know someone who had an inspiring independent journey, but it is also possible that she simply did not qualify for a reputable agency’s program and that is why she is going the independent route. Take the time to ask this and other potentially uncomfortable questions.
Finding a surrogate on your own may appear at first glance to be a less expensive or more immediate route to having a baby but unless you are in the field of third party reproduction and working closely with an experienced attorney, finding a surrogate on your own can present a number of costly and time consuming risks.
There are nuanced aspects to surrogacy - specifically to the screening and selection of surrogates - that persons unfamiliar with the industry would never even know to consider. The best and safest way to find a surrogate? Contact ConceiveAbilities. We are your people.
All Things Conceivable is a blog dedicated to sharing the knowledge and expert opinions of the dedicated team at ConceiveAbilities, a Chicago-based egg donation and surrogacy agency.