The dedication to education and informed consent continues well after the applicant becomes a future surrogate with an ethical agency. As she moves through her legal phase she will be given private, individual, and free legal advice from independent lawyers who specialize in reproductive law. Everything is explained to her down to the word, with opportunities for questions or contract amendments at every step of the way.
When an ethical surrogacy agency matches a surrogate, she chooses her intended parents, she is never assigned to people that she feels no connection with. She is then allowed to meet and speak with the parents, and at the close of that meeting, again given the opportunity to walk away penalty free. Even after these women sign legally binding contracts and even after they complete medical procedures, they are always allowed to change their minds and walk away penalty free.
Ethical agencies stand by their surrogates during the pregnancy and childbirth experience, with many offering psychological support and regular check-ins during her process. Questions are always encouraged and answered. Even after the birth of the child, an ethical surrogacy agency will follow up with the surrogate to ensure that she is managing well physically and emotionally, and offer support if she is not.
Beyond all of these best practices, there is still a woman who desires to be a surrogate. She is not being exploited because she was given all of the education and opportunity to change her mind. She is not being exploited because her expectations are matching her reality. Ethical agencies never exploit or force a woman to do anything. They simply make it safer and easier for her to achieve the goal that she set for herself.
Finally, let’s talk about the compensation model. Surrogates working with an ethical agency will not be compensated until they are at least eight weeks pregnant. For some surrogates, that is a day that never comes. For others it’s a day arrived at only after months, sometimes years, of screening, medical appointments, medical procedures, and putting their lives on hold. This is not a get rich quick scheme, and these women are not doing it for the money. In fact, a typical surrogate earns only about $5 an hour for her compensation. Not many women would endure a nine-month pregnancy and childbirth for a third of what many jobs offer as minimum wage.
For the intended parents, compensation is a way to level the playing field. They see surrogates as selfless and feel forever in their debt for a gift that is priceless. The ability to compensate their surrogate gives intended parents the opportunity to level the playing field, and see her as a partner in this process. Many will come to see her as a friend. Some will consider each other family, staying involved in one another’s lives for years after the birth of the child.
Families helping families... that's what this is really all about. One woman who loves pregnancy and parenthood and desires to help others who otherwise would not be able to experience it, and another man or woman who desperately wants a family, and is unable to do it without help. Surrogacy is just a merging of hearts to work towards a single goal.