Did you know that anyone – yes, literally, ANYONE! – can start a surrogacy agency? There are very few requirements, laws, or even experience required to start up a new surrogacy agency in the United States. For that reason alone, it is so important for surrogates to research agencies online, read reviews, speak to actual surrogates who have worked with the agency, and contact the agencies themselves to get a feel for the way they operate, communicate, and support their surrogates during the journey.
Finding the best agency match takes time and the first agency you talk to may not be the agency you choose to work with in the end. Surrogates may begin the process with a specific agency, but then later decide it is time to move on and find one that better suits their needs. That is totally normal and 100% fine. Always remember that this is YOUR journey too – you are more than just a “vessel” or “womb for rent”. Your body, emotions, and comfort are a top priority, and that should always be apparent in every step along the way.
Here are six major red flags to look out for as a potential gestational surrogate when researching and speaking with surrogacy agencies.
Red Flag #1: No online presence, sources, website, or updated social media.
Experienced surrogacy agencies will have a website that shares a lot of information about the process, their agency, and staff. They will be open to sharing testimonials and linking potential surrogates to previous surrogates who have used the agency for their journey. Online reviews through Google and Facebook should be positive, from both intended parents and gestational surrogates who have completed their journeys through the agency. Social media accounts should be updated regularly, and new content should be available weekly. All of this shows an active, well-staffed surrogacy agency that puts effort into their work and takes pride in what they do.
Red Flag #2: Does not feel welcoming or friendly.
When speaking with a surrogacy coordinator, you should feel at ease and welcomed to ask any questions you want including questions on the matching process, insurance, and compensation. If an agency will not release their compensation package to you, move on. The agency should be fully transparent in how they operate and the benefits they provide. Great agencies will be open and honest from the get go! You don’t need to be best friends with your agency staff and the surrogate coordinators, but you’ll want a good rapport and to leave any conversation feeling positive vibes and know that you have a strong agency team to support you.
Red Flag #3: Will not answer ALL of your questions about the surrogacy journey.
Don’t shy away from asking the tough questions. Ask about the level of communication, success rates, termination rates, the matching process, and compensation package. You need to feel comfortable and know what to expect when it comes to the process of the agency and how they navigate the surrogacy journey. If for any reason, the agency refuses to disclose any of this information or asks you to sign paperwork or a contract before releasing this information, RUN. Potential surrogates have the right to be fully informed on all of these facets before they even begin the process. You are dedicating your time, energy, and body to this journey – there is no reason for secrets or surprises along with way.
Red Flag #4: Cannot prove their experience.
Agency staff should be able to provide potential surrogates with accurate success rates and numbers, qualification criteria required by ASRM, steps involved in the surrogacy process, and personal experiences with surrogacy. Staff should be able to share the number of years in business, number of families they have served, knowledge on state laws, legal contracts, and medical protocols the fertility clinics require. The last thing a surrogate or intended parents want is to spend time and money starting the journey to find that they cannot proceed as planned down the road.
Red Flag #5: You feel like a number.
Age may be nothing but a number, but you as a surrogate? You’re SO much more than just a number. And you shouldn’t ever feel like you are a nameless, faceless womb for the taking. When you call the agency, do you always speak with a different person? Do you have to remind them about your unique circumstance or refresh their memory on who you are? Do you have to wait days for a return call or email? If the agency can’t make time for you now, rest assured that will not get any better as you move forward. Surrogacy isn’t a typical business transaction – it’s personal.
Red Flag #6: Pushes you into a match.
If you’ve gotten to the point in your journey where you are researching agencies, there is a good chance you’ve already thought through how your surrogacy journey would look. Or at least how it could look. The type of intended parent or parents you’d like to carry for. If they live in a city or state nearby, or if they live internationally. How the relationship would be between you and the parents or how often you’d communicate updates. So if you find yourself in a situation where you are “assigned” intended parents or feel as if you are being pushed into a match that doesn’t sit right with you for whatever reason – RUN!. And run fast. It’s normal for an agency to present you with a number of intended parents who may be a good fit for you. It’s also normal for a surrogacy coordinator to talk with you about your wishes, and talk through different scenarios to gauge your comfort level. A match should be a mutual decision between the surrogate and the intended parents – you are openly and enthusiastically choosing each other for this journey.
What are my next steps?
Women who consider giving the gift of parenthood to another family often think about it for years before they even reach out to an agency to start the process. They often say “it keeps coming back to my heart”. Taking a few more months to fully research and learn more about proven agencies often leads them to fulfill their dream of giving the gift of a child to a well-deserving family. Family inceptions has developed The Insider’s Guide to Becoming a Surrogate – a free download that offers in-depth information for any woman considering surrogacy. Click here to download your guide.
Resources and Advice for Gestational Surrogates
Discover what it takes to become a gestational surrogate and how to kick off your surrogacy journey with a series of articles written just for you! Click here to check out the full collection of posts all about becoming a surrogate. Or click below to check out some of our most popular articles: