The decision to become a surrogate means entering into a unique partnership with the intended parents. Think about it: you’re taking on an incredibly powerful responsibility, and it’s often for someone you’ve never met. One of the most important decisions you’ll make during your surrogacy journey is the people you’ll enter into this partnership with. What should you consider when being matched with intended parents? From working with a surrogacy agency to communication and beyond, we’ll explore how to make the very most of your match.
There are several ways to go about a surrogacy arrangement. Some choose to work with an intended parent they already know, in what is often referred to as compassionate or altruistic surrogacy. These arrangements involve little if any compensation, and are also without the benefit of the many safeguards provided by an agency. Some women choose to go this route because it is the most accessible option where they live; in Australia and Canada, for example, only altruistic surrogacy is permitted. Others choose it for the sake of familiarity with the intended parents. It’s important to remember, however, that there is a greater risk of strain on the relationship. Surrogacy is full of ups and downs, and while these can all be managed, it is immensely helpful to have the guidance of an experienced agency. Working with an agency to match with intended parents means protective measures to mitigate risks are put into place for all parties involved - something that just can’t be said of independent surrogacy.
While working with a surrogacy agency is certainly the safest option, it can also be overwhelming with so many options to research. We’ve broken it down into a few categories to consider when choosing a surrogacy agency. It will set the course for the rest of your surrogacy journey, so it’s crucial to ask questions and make an informed choice.
Reputation. What do other surrogates, intended parents and clinics have to say about them? Do they adhere to the surrogacy guidelines set by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine? Due to the large number of agencies across the United States, filtering out poor performing ones will help narrow your search.
Experience of staff. Experience counts in a process like surrogacy, which requires a unique and precise level of understanding. What can the staff offer from a business, mental health and legal perspective? Consider, too, how many years the agency has been in business. Longevity is another good sign that the agency is well-equipped to deal with any challenge.
Resources and support. A solid agency will have the experience to provide a variety of resources, anything from insurance to a surrogacy escrowto postpartum support. Consider who, if anyone, will be your go-to from the agency over the course of your surrogacy journey. Will you have a designated support person? Communication is key during this process, from you and from the agency. (More on that later!)
Once you’ve settled on an agency, you’ll have plenty of support as you determine your best intended parent match. As you’ll quickly learn, the right match is crucial to a successful surrogate experience. In fact, outside of immediate family, there are few relationships more important than that of a surrogate and intended parent. And regardless of what kind of relationship you plan to have with one another, it’s important to be on the same page. A few points to consider:
Do you prefer to connect via email, phone or text? Some surrogates and intended parents remain in regular contact during the pregnancy, whether it’s through phone calls or photos and texts. Some prefer to keep a more professional relationship, and that’s fine too. The types of communication vary, and these are points to discuss prior to your match so that our team can find intended parents with similar preferences.
Will the attended parents be attending appointments? If the intended parents are local, they may or may not want to attend appointments with your medical practitioner. If they can’t be there in person, do they want to Skype or FaceTime? Would they just like an update afterward? And if the intended parents live far away, will they attend the 20-week appointment and anatomy scan? What about a birth plan? It’s important to discuss these details in advance, which is something your designated match manager will help you navigate.
What does future contact look like? While it can be tough to know exactly how your relationship with the intended parents will look after the baby is born, consider whether you would like to remain in contact with them. For some, a photo may be exchanged here and there, but the relationship was primarily for the duration of the pregnancy. Again, this is just fine and may even be your preference. The agency will discuss these possibilities with you prior to your match, and will likely encourage this conversation during your match meeting.
While you’re probably excited to get started, it’s understandable that you’ve also got plenty of questions! That’s where communication is key; from start to finish, communication and support from your team makes all the difference in a positive surrogacy experience. Like we mentioned previously, connecting with your agency is imperative. You should be in regular communication with someone from the agency who can answer questions and provide general support as needed.
This may look a little different with your intended parents. Part of our surrogacy process takes into account your comfort level with contact. So regardless of whether you prefer limited communication or regular texts, our team considers this when making a match. Support looks different for everyone, and our goal is to respect and honor the needs of everyone involved.
Matching is one of the very first, incredibly crucial steps in a surrogacy journey. And there’s no app for that; a surrogate match requires precision and attention to the most minute details.
“Our process provides a 97% success rate on the first meeting. We create matches that work across all dimensions of the surrogacy journey – from lifestyle, to health, to communication style,” explains Nazca Fontes, Founder and CEO of ConceiveAbilities. “Our attention to detail and experience makes all the difference.”
At ConceiveAbilities, our matching methodology is designed to account for the most vital factors of this journey, including intensive medical and psychological screening to thoroughly vet compatibility. Taking all of these things into account, plus conversations with you and with the intended parents, our team is able to make the best possible match. And, of course, you’ll get to make the final call. After a match meeting with the intended parents, both parties must agree whether or not to move forward.
Finally, it’s important to consider surrogate reviews and testimonials. You can’t get any better insight than from someone who has been there; ask the agency to connect you with a previous gestational carrier. She can answer questions and share wisdom like no one else can.
“This experience has been one that has changed me as a person, mother, friend and wife,” explains previous surrogate Tisha.
Andrea, another previous surrogate, found the mutual support of other surrogates to be especially important. “The support we are able to give and receive is such a beautiful thing,” she says.
If you’re ready to explore the unique gift of surrogacy, we are ready to guide you every step of the way. Contact our team for answers to all your questions and to get started with your surrogacy match.
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.