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Episode 88 Transcript

Ep 88 Transcript | What to Look for in a Surrogacy & Egg Donation Agency


Welcome to Fertility Cafe, the home for every conversation exploring alternative family building through IVF, surrogacy, egg, sperm, and embryo donation. Our host Eloise Drane alternates episodes between educational shows, covering specific topics and guest narratives for further insight. For a mastery understanding and confidence in all things, alternative family, subscribe to Fertility Cafe.


Hey there, welcome to Episode 88 of Fertility Cafe. I’m your host, Eloise Drane.


The rising popularity of surrogacy and egg donation shows a growing openness to explore new ways of starting a family. And fortunately, there are also more women today who want to become surrogates or egg donors. But once you’ve decided to take this path, whether a hopeful parent or a surrogate or egg donor, where do you even begin?


Embarking on the third-party reproduction process can be overwhelming. There’s a lot you need to consider. With so many options available. How do you make sure that the agency you choose has your best interests in mind? Choosing the right agency is not only a significant decision but can also play a critical role in defining the future of your overall experience.

If you start by doing a Google search, you’re presented with ads and organic results. But how can you distinguish an agency’s specialties qualifications and professional ethics? Unfortunately, there is no federal oversight or comprehensive set of standards agencies must adhere to, which means the quality can vary widely.

Since choosing an agency is an important decision you’ll make, it’s crucial you do your due diligence and ask all the right questions before making a choice. You’ll want to ensure that the agency you choose is trustworthy and tailored to your specific needs as you embark on this exciting journey.


So, let’s get into it.


Let’s begin by distinguishing between various types of agencies involved in third-party reproduction.

A surrogacy agency recruits matches and manages the surrogacy process only, while an egg donation agency recruits matches and manages egg donation only. Whereas a surrogacy and egg donation agency offer both services in house. Typically, agencies are not medical facilities and do not perform any medical functions. Be sure to conduct your due diligence regardless of the type of agency you choose.

There are 7 areas in which to vet an agency reputation, successful outcomes, agency size, communication style, their process, treatment of candidates and financials.

Let’s begin with vetting a potential agency’s reputation. One way to do so is by examining reviews from previous clients, not only are reviews and testimonials an invaluable sources of information, they also provide accurate and insightful details. Furthermore, according to Trustpilot, and consumer reviews, the general consensus serves as collective intelligence shaping the vast amount of information available.

If the agency review is positive, what was it that worked for the client? Was it customer service, clarity on the process, honest communication? If the review was negative, what went wrong? Was this a widespread complaint or just one person’s testimonial about what didn’t work for them?

If you’re an intended parent or a surrogate and you hope to establish a close bond, it’s really helpful to read about other people who found a great match and ended up having a positive experience.


Recommendations from trusted industry professionals can also be helpful when you’re vetting the agency’s reputation.


As you will be working with the team, thoroughly review the team has the experience and credentials to provide quality care. Additionally, research their history. If feasible, visiting the agency in person can provide you with a better understanding of their level of professionalism, and opportunity to meet their staff.

Are they welcoming and knowledgeable about third party reproduction services? Take into consideration their level of expertise and experience.

Are their offices comfortable and inviting?

What are the owner’s credentials? What was the impetus for founding the agency?

Are there professionals on staff such as legal experts, nurses, and social workers?

Is the business licensed and registered in the headquartered state?

Are they registered with the Better Business Bureau?

Do they have a social media presence?

You got to be a little bit of a private investigator and get all the facts. And as you engage in private investigator mode, consider researching whether the agency has been involved in any lawsuits, you may consider checking the county court website to see if any lawsuits have been filed against the agency. Remember, the more information you have at your disposal, the better equipped you will be to make the right choice.

Consider an agency’s track record of successful outcomes, including the number of matched intended parents with surrogates or egg donors, and the number of families built. This can provide confidence in the process and indicate that the agency has the essential experience and expertise in matching intended parents to surrogates or egg donors, while ensuring a healthy pregnancy and birth. A strong track record is indicative of future success. Agencies that demonstrate a successful history are more likely to maintain a high success rate for future clients because they often refine their process over time and better understand what makes a strong match between intended parents and surrogates or egg donors.

Better support resources are often available with established agencies as well. They may have a larger network to choose from and protocols that are more effective in managing the process from start to finish.

It will also give you a peace-of-mind, knowing that you’re working with a reputable agency that has a history of success, alleviating the stress and anxiety synonymous with the surrogacy or egg donation process.


The size of an agency may be important to you as it can impact the quality of care you’ll receive. Smaller boutique style agencies typically provide personalized attention to detail, but their resources may be limited. Larger agencies on the other hand, often have more comprehensive resources but may lack individualized care. Carefully evaluating your unique needs and preferences will help you make a well-informed decision.

What kind of a support team is there? Regardless of the size of the agency, you’ll want to know if there’s going to be someone available to help you and provide personal attention throughout your journey. An ideal agency should provide a comprehensive support system and resources.

Consider and be mindful of the agency’s communication style. For effective communication, transparency and consistent updates are necessary. Each party involved should receive frequent updates to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Throughout the journey, the agency should continue to provide informative updates about the entire process.

An agency’s accessibility is vital. You should know whom to contact to receive information or express concerns. It’s important to consider the agency’s 7-day availability and the team’s response time in emergency situations.

When additional professionals are needed during the journey, the agency must have the ability to provide adequate communication channels. It’s a critical component in ensuring a successful cycle. The agency should guarantee that the involved parties are informed promptly of any problems or issues that may impact the success of the journey.

Does the agency encourage open and honest communication at all times? Do they have clear channels of communication and provide regular updates throughout the process?

Also take into consideration how is the agency handling confidentiality and privacy. You want someone that has strict confidentiality guidelines and privacy policies to protect your information.

Egg Donation and surrogacy are not without their complexities or potential risks. Therefore realistic, honest communication about any issues that may arise should be expected. The agency should be proactive about reaching out to each party regularly. To ensure everything is running smoothly towards the desired outcome. You want to be crystal clear on how communication is handled, how often you can expect status updates, and how communicating with other professionals on your behalf is handled.

When vetting an agency, you’ll want to have a clearer picture of their process. It’s important to understand their process and procedures. They should be transparent about what’s involved and should encourage communication throughout.


If you’re a recipient parents seeking egg donation services, inquire on how are their egg donors prescreened?

What are their egg donor criteria?

What kind of vetting and screening is conducted?

How many egg donors does the agency allow into their program? A high number of donors in a database isn’t necessarily a good thing. At the end of the day when it comes to egg donors, quality is far more important than quantity.

Is there a requirement to pay before you can access the agency database? Before paying an agency, you want to ensure that they have the right donor for you. There are many agencies that will allow you to access their database to search for the donor you need without requiring you to pay any upfront fees.

It’s also important to know if the agency is responsible for all aspects of the third-party process or just some, for example, do they coordinate with the fertility clinic or the attorneys?

For egg donors, having clarity around the timeline of the matching process is another important consideration.

What is the matching process like?

Does the agency help cultivate a relationship between donors and intended parents?

Does the agency encourage open or anonymous donations? With genetic screening such as 23andme and, there really is no such thing as donor anonymity anymore.


Check out Episode 66. To hear more about donor anonymity. This should be a consideration when seeking an egg donation agency.


You want to clearly understand your role and responsibilities as an egg donor.

Each agency has their own unique criteria selection, some are more in depth than others.

Take into consideration your donation options; you can donate through an agency, a clinic, or an egg bank. Each will offer you a different process.

Who will be your point of contact?

What is the time commitment required?

You also want to know how will your data be protected; who can access the agency database and how?


Similarly, when it comes to choosing a surrogacy agency, you’ll want to assess whether they are transparent about what the surrogacy process entails.

Are they straightforward about the requirements and timeline of the process? A reputable agency will have transparent processes and will ensure the surrogacy journey is well guided and supported.


For an intended parent determine the agency’s flexibility in handling your different needs.

What requirements do they have for the intended parents? For surrogacy, many agencies have particular requirements that intended parents must satisfy to work with them. Typically, they must present a medical needs such as infertility being a same sex male couple or a single male for instance, often surrogates seek to help those who are unable to carry a pregnancy on their own.

Additionally, intended parents must be in good financial standing.

Perhaps quality of your embryos may be a factor.

Age requirements may also apply to some agencies, which may not work with intended parents above a certain age.

Some agencies mandate maintaining a relationship with your surrogate throughout the surrogacy process, while others don’t.


One of the more critical processes for surrogacy is screening.

What kind of vetting is done for surrogates prior to a match; What are the criteria? Every agency is different in their criteria.

Are there criminal psychological and medical background checks done?

How stringent is the screening? This person is about to have one of the most important roles in your child’s life. Don’t just settle because you’re in a rush to be matched. Take your time and ensure your potential surrogate is vetted properly.

As with egg donors, you want to check on how many surrogate applicants the agency allows into their program. If they’re vetting the candidates properly, it will be a very low number. For instance, Family Inceptions only accepts 2% of applicants that apply through the program.

It’s also important to investigate the extent to which the agency handles all aspects of third-party reproduction. Do they coordinate with fertility clinics, attorneys and other professionals involved in the surrogacy process? An ideal agency would have ample experience and working with a trusted network of professionals to support and facilitate a seamless surrogacy journey.

The matching process the agency uses to connect surrogates with intended parents should be evaluated as well. How are you matched with the candidate? Do you select your candidate and vice versa? Are you able to speak to her prior to starting the process? How was the matching process designed to handle unexpected circumstances that may arise? Ask for a timeline that outlines each stage of the surrogacy journey to ensure you understand the detail, and timeline involved.


Another element of the process is understanding whether the surrogacy agency encourages and cultivates relationships with its surrogates. An agency that values building strong relationships with surrogates humanizes the experience for the surrogate and can help foster a strong bond between the surrogate and the intended parents.


For LGBTQ+ individuals and couples, while the surrogacy process remains the same for all intended parents. Certain areas are relevant specifically to this community and need to be taken into account. An experience agency may offer dedicated resources and support services, catering specifically to the members of the LGBTQ+ community. These types of resources and services can be extremely beneficial and making the best decisions during your family growing journey.


Other areas of expertise include working with international intended parents. If you fall into that category, you’ll want to know that the agency can accommodate your needs. There are a lot of states where international intended parents can safely pursue the surrogacy process and ensure that not only are the parents rights protected, but the surrogates as well.

Should you be considering becoming a surrogate? Take your time in finding the right fit for you. Before committing to working with an agency, make sure to ask detailed questions that allows you to fully understand their process. It’s critical that you feel supported and informed.

What is their process for onboarding for screening and matching? This should include what medical, psychological, and legal assessments are required.

What is the matching process with intended parents and what support will be provided throughout the surrogacy journey? Make sure the answers you receive provide a clearer picture of what you can expect.

Read through the contract. Take the time to thoroughly review the agency’s contract, understanding all the terms and conditions, fees, responsibilities, and timeline. Ask for clarification if you’re confused.

Ask for a timeline. A comprehensive timeline outlining each stage of the surrogacy process can help you understand the time commitment involved. Make sure you understand all the stages and

Ask the agency what expenses, if any, do you need to cover upfront. Some agencies don’t expect you to cover any upfront expenses, such as travel, while others do.

When choosing an agency, an additional consideration is how the egg donors and surrogates are treated. Choosing an agency that places value on the well-being of their egg donors and surrogates will ensure you have happy and healthy individuals, thus increasing the probability for positive outcomes.


These women are the key to your journey to parenthood. Therefore, ease of communication, quality of care and good relationships cannot be overemphasized.

To ensure that the egg donors and surrogates are well cared for, I am reemphasizing the importance of a rigorous screening process that includes health and psychological evaluations to find individuals who are emotionally, mentally, and physically fit to be egg donors or surrogates.


Another critical factor when it comes to vetting an agency is financial.

Transparency in this arena is a must as you choose which agency is right for you. Seek out an agency with a clear and detailed fee structure that itemizes all expenses related to your unique situation. These can sometimes include but are not limited to legal fees, compensation, and insurance coverage. A reliable agency will be clear and straightforward about all costs, and payment details will be evident in the contract.


In terms of what’s expected of intended parents, you must have a handle on when payments are due, and escrow funding needs to occur. This information will offer a clarity on timelines for the entire process.


To aid financial planning, look for agencies that offer financing that can bring you closer to achieving your goals and a manageable manner that works for your family. Going in, you should understand all costs and requirements involved in the process so there is no surprises.

For surrogates and egg donors, you want a clear understanding of your compensation, and when and how do you get compensated.

There are many excellent reputable agencies, but you should be aware of the fact that in any business there are also some with questionable credibility. Therefore, it’s crucial that you perform your due diligence to prevent any issues. Wasting time with an unreliable agency can have a negative consequences on your family-building objectives. And time is a valuable resource that we cannot afford to waste.

The surrogacy industry is currently experiencing a boom and as a result, various new agencies have emerged to cater to the growing demand. Exercise caution when screening potential agencies. As an agency founder and a former egg donor and surrogate myself, I understand the needs of all parties involved and how important it is to do your homework.

According to market research consultancy Global Market Insights, the global commercial surrogacy industry was worth an estimated 14 billion, in 2022, and the Forecasts suggest that the figure will rise to 129 billion by 2032. This increase in value is due to the rising issues of infertility, and the growing number of same sex couples and single people looking for options to grow their families. However, such high stakes invite the participation of those who don’t always maintain the highest ethical standards. Some make false claims, present misleading or distorted facts and take advantage of people by telling them what they want to hear. It’s immensely important to work with trustworthy and reputable service providers who are transparent, informative and have your best interests in mind.


These are some of the red flags that should alert you that you may NOT be dealing with a reputable company.

Lack of professionalism. Assess how the staff conducts themselves, how they handle other staff members, clients, as well as egg donors and surrogates. On this one, it’s important to not only do the research, but also trust your instincts.

The second red flag to avoid is bargains. A CNBC article points out that surrogacy process is physically and psychologically demanding, and while most agencies require prospective candidates to undergo mental and physical health checks, before entering into an arrangement, a lack of regulation leaves scope for the mistreatment of surrogates and egg donors.

Financially and socially vulnerable women can be targets for surrogacy and egg donation recruitment. Attracted by the sums of money offered, so while you need to protect your own interests, the onus is on intended parents to do their research and ensure that surrogates and egg donors are also treated ethically and properly compensated.

As I touched on earlier, there is no federal oversight or comprehensive set of standards surrogacy agencies must adhere to. Experts generally agree that the guidelines developed by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine for the ethical practice of surrogacy are the most comprehensive. So, at a minimum, make sure your agency lives up to those.

Bringing a child into the world is a beautiful thing. But before you get involved in any kind of arrangement with any agency, be as thorough as you can in ensuring that their ethics and practices live up to the highest standard. The more research you do, the better equipped you will be to compare one agency with another to evaluate their qualifications. When it comes to building your family thoroughly researching an agency’s processes, communication style, matching approach, coordination of fertility clinics and professionals, and ethical treatments of surrogates and egg donors is essential in making an informed choice.


Thank you so much for listening. If you found this episode helpful, please rate Fertility Cafe on your favorite listening platform and share this episode with anyone you think could benefit from hearing it.


Tune in next week for another amazing episode on Fertility Cafe.

Until then, remember, “love has no limits – neither should parenthood.”