How to find the right surrogate for you

There are many ways to find a surrogate to help build your family. Here are four options.

There are many reasons hopeful parents turn to surrogacy to help create their families.
Sometimes there are structural issues within a woman’s uterus, which makes carrying a pregnancy difficult, or she underwent a hysterectomy and therefore is unable to become pregnant.
Some women have health conditions that make pregnancy dangerous or conditions that require certain medications that are considered unsafe for pregnancy.

Additionally, gay men, same-sex couples and single dads-to-be will enlist the help of a surrogate to fulfill their dreams of parenthood.

Surrogacy brings hope to so many people for so many reasons, but how do you find the right surrogate for you? Here are the four ways that most intended parents go about finding a surrogate:

1. Through a surrogacy agency

Agencies exist throughout the country to help intended parents find a surrogate (also called a gestational carrier) and to coordinate the process once a match is found.

Agencies vet prospective surrogate candidates, and upon being accepted into an agency’s program, the surrogate will be available to be matched with intended parents to begin the process. Every agency has a different vetting process, but most agencies collect and review each surrogate’s medical records, conduct background checks and detailed interviews with the surrogate, facilitate psychological evaluations, and some even conduct home visits for their candidates.

Not all agencies are created equal, so it’s important to do your research to make sure you are working with a reputable program.

Additionally, an agency may not have an available surrogate that meets a client’s criteria, so it's common to encounter long wait lists before a match is found.

Be sure to ask your fertility doctor if they have recommendations of agencies they trust and respect. Chances are they will.

2. Through a surrogate search service

Finding the right agency can be challenging. When you do find an agency that makes you feel comfortable, the chances of that agency having an available surrogate who meets your criteria can be slim to none.

For intended parents looking to find an excellent surrogate but hoping to avoid lengthy wait lists, a search service like my firm, Family Match Consulting, can help to achieve that.

Services like Family Match work with many reputable and vetted agencies (our network consists of over 75 agencies) who give us access to their available surrogates so we can cast a large net and therefore be extremely selective in the candidates we are considering for our clients.

This is a nice option for intended parents who aren’t committed to the idea of working with any one particular surrogacy agency, and instead prioritize finding the very best possible surrogate through a large network of agencies.

3. Matching independently

Sometimes intended parents hope to find a surrogate who is not represented by an agency, oftentimes to reduce the overall cost of surrogacy by avoiding an agency fee.

There are various groups online and through social media where prospective parents and surrogates are able to directly connect in hopes of matching. While some independent matches work out beautifully for both parties, in the absence of a stringent vetting process and the knowledge and experience that agencies/search services have managing a surrogacy journey, independent matches can go awry.

If considering an independent match, it’s important to find a surrogacy attorney or professional who can give you tips or help to guide you through the vetting process of the surrogate, in addition to helping to ensure that no pertinent steps are missed throughout the journey.

4. A friend or family member

Sometimes a caring friend or family member might graciously offer to carry a pregnancy for a loved one. This can be a wonderful option for some, as there's a built in level of trust that exists in close relationships with someone you know, and it can save money if they are willing to forego the financial compensation that a surrogate through an agency would typically receive.

If considering this option, it’s important that both the intended parent(s) and the prospective surrogate each meet with a counselor who specializes in surrogacy, both independently and with each other as a group, to make sure all aspects of the arrangement are considered and that everyone is comfortable and on the same page about the process.

While there’s no right or wrong way to go about finding a surrogate, it’s important to make sure that certain steps -- like the vetting of the surrogate, enlisting the help of a reproductive attorney and working with a well-respected fertility clinic -- are not overlooked no matter what direction you choose.

Do your research to find the best path for you. There are many resources available online and so many parents who have walked this path before you. Many are happy to share their experience and any advice they learned along the way.

Regardless of the path you take, the destination of creating a family is the same. I wish everyone on this path a smooth and successful journey ahead.

Stephanie Levich is the founder of Family Match Consulting, a search and consulting firm that helps hopeful parents find outstanding egg donor and surrogate candidates and guides and advocates for clients through their whole family-building journey. Stephanie has been featured in various publications including ForbesWomen and the New York Post. She brings 18 years of professional experience along with her personal adoption story and success creating her own family through IVF to every client she assists.

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