Starting (or growing) a family is an amazing experience – though it may come with more difficulty for some than others. Surrogacy is a method of assisted reproduction where another person, known as a surrogate, carries a pregnancy created with the intended parents’ own biological material or with the help of a donor egg and/or sperm.
While the surrogacy process results in the incredible joy of bringing home your baby, getting there can be quite a journey. It’s important that you’re surrounded with the right surrogacy professionals to make your experience as smooth as possible. This is where surrogacy agencies come in.
Surrogacy agencies are an important link in a chain of providers that will assist you as intended parent(s) in realizing your dream of parenthood.
In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about surrogacy agencies, how they work, and the variances in services offered by them.
A surrogacy agency provides a broad range of services for both intended parents and prospective surrogates. Agencies aim to make the surrogacy experience as straightforward and stress-free as possible so intended parents can focus on the journey itself and prepare for their little bundle of joy. They also ensure that the whole process is completed safely and in line with all legal requirements.
Services offered by surrogacy agencies vary from agency to agency. Some are a one-stop-shop for everything surrogacy-related while others offer partial services. If you choose the latter, you will need to work with other surrogacy professionals in tandem. When choosing a surrogacy agency, it’s important that you’re aware of what the agency offers and which elements of the process you’ll have to take care of yourself. Doing your research in advance will help ensure that the level of service offered will meet your needs.
Generally, though, surrogacy agencies:
One other note to keep in mind; most surrogacy agencies today are ‘gestational carrier’ agencies. This means they only facilitate surrogacies where the surrogate is not genetically related to the child. ‘Traditional surrogacy’, where the carrier is biologically related to the child, involves added intricacies which agencies generally steer away from.
There are two main types of surrogacy agencies: full service and partial service. Let’s look at the differences between them…
Full-service surrogacy agencies greatly simplify the surrogacy process. They handle all aspects of the journey related to matching, screening, coordination and support as outlined above, plus many other important details including:
Basically, a full-service agency serves as your case manager throughout the entire surrogacy process.
On the other hand, partial-service surrogacy agencies assist intended parents to an extent but do not provide all of the services needed to complete the process.
To start, they usually provide everything required for intended parents and surrogates to find their match. Aside from that; for all the other services that they may not have in-house, many agencies offer referrals to other trusted professionals. Common referrals include legal teams and mental health professionals.
Partial service agencies are a good fit for intended parents who already know a great surrogacy attorney, for instance, or who have their own trusted professionals when it comes to receiving emotional support throughout their journey.
Finally, some intended parents prefer to do everything on their own and at their own pace. This is called independent surrogacy.
While this article covers everything you need to know about agencies, we should also mention that some intended parents do opt to not use one at all – so it makes sense to cover what that choice looks like. Also known as private surrogacy, independent surrogacy is when intended parents and a surrogate undertake the whole process on their own, without the help of an agency.
This kind of surrogacy is more common among intended parents who already know their surrogate. With this major piece covered, they hire a surrogacy attorney and any other surrogacy professionals on a need-basis.
There are plenty of amazing stories (and even more cute babies!) as a result of independent surrogacy. That said, there are also risks related to taking the private surrogacy route.
Surrogacy in itself can be quite a complicated process. Without the necessary support, what should be a beautiful time for all could become more difficult. Apart from this, surrogacy agencies are experts in the field, ready to assist every step of the way. An agency should significantly lower stress levels as it tackles all the technical aspects of the process, as well as offers support: when the going gets tough, you can always rely on experienced staff to see you through.
There is no licensing regimen for surrogacy agencies (yet). This is mainly because surrogacy and assisted reproduction in general are still new and the legal framework is continuously evolving. Without predefined standards, it may be difficult to pinpoint if an agency will really meet your needs.
However, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has standards Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) professionals should comply with. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), too, has published recommendations for OBGYNs to follow in surrogacy cases. Psychological counselors employed by the surrogacy agency should be licensed and certified. So, while there’s no licensing regimen for agencies, there are regulations that professionals working within the agency have to comply with.
There are other elements you can cross check to ensure an agency is serious about the service it offers. How long the company has been in business is an indication of its commitment and success record. Checking prior clients’ ratings and reviews will give you a good indication of quality of services and if patients feel well taken care of. Finally, full cost disclosure upfront is another element that adds to the agency’s professionalism.
Apart from this, it helps to have a set of questions ready to ask surrogacy agencies as you conduct your search. Our article, How to Choose a Surrogacy Agency is a great resource if you’re just starting to think about your list of questions.
In the end, deciding which agency is best for you will depend on the information you gather from research and interviews. GoStork facilitates this process by providing comprehensive information about top surrogacy agencies, with each profile containing clear cost breakdowns, prior customers’ ratings and reviews, a list of the services they offer, and additional background information. Our platform allows filtering by personal preferences, and a unique comparison tool makes it easy to compare favorites side-by-side and point-by-point.
I’ve been through the surrogacy journey myself and am so grateful for my daughter Ariel – who just turned two! That said, after experiencing how difficult and time consuming the research and decision-making process was, I realized these were exactly the tools I wished I had from the start.
While each and every situation is unique, we believe one common thread is that support during the surrogacy journey is important.
The process requires substantial legal, medical, and even emotional support. Outsourcing each individual aspect separately could mean a great deal of coordination and effort by the intended parents if they choose not to use an agency.
With that said, each surrogacy process is a personal one. It is up to you to decide what support you require from surrogacy professionals as you embark on your own journey.
As you get started, we hope you’ll take advantage of our free platform where you can find top agencies from across the US, already researched and vetted for you with profiles including all of the important criteria you need to know about. Find your ideal surrogacy agency, here.