As an Intended Parent, it’s important that you fully understand the surrogacy process. There’s a lot to know, but don’t panic! We’re here to guide you through the whole journey.
Initial Consultation and Agency Agreement
The first step in your journey is choosing an agency and arranging a consultation. At a reputable agency, your consultation is totally free of charge and can be provided in multiple languages, including French, German, Japanese, Chinese, or Spanish. Often, a face-to-face meeting isn’t possible, so they should offer in-person and video conference consultations.
In your consultation, you’ll learn more about the process and what to expect at each step. If you decide to move forward with an agency, their team will help you collate all relevant documentation to complete your file.
You won’t pay anything until you sign their agency agreement.
Matching with Your Surrogate
The matching process usually takes between six and eighteen months depending upon the agency you choose and your criteria. The most important part of this is making sure that you and your surrogate are right for each other, which is why agencies need to know exactly who and what you’re hoping for. You should be very clear on your expectations and criteria.
In your intended parent questionnaire, you’ll answer questions that will help your agency get to know you better and match you with the right surrogate.
At a minimum, any agency questionnaire will cover:
- Your relationship with your partner (if applicable)
- Your family (children, siblings, parents)
- Your hobbies and interests
- Your plan for becoming a mom or dad
- Why you’ve chosen surrogacy
Potential surrogates will be basing their choice on this profile, so it’s crucial that you are as detailed and forthcoming as possible.
Once you’ve accepted a match with a surrogate, you’ll be provided with a referral to an escrow fund manager who is an impartial third-party agent to hold your funds and disperses them to the appropriate parties throughout the journey.
Surrogate Medical Clearance
All prospective surrogates must first undergo a strict pre-screening process before they are ready to match. This involves an in-depth application, personal interviews, and written consent from the surrogate’s obstetrician. One of our two staff nurses will then review the surrogate’s complete medical history, including her previous pregnancies and delivery records.
After matching, the surrogate will undergo additional medical screening to be sure her body is prepared for pregnancy. This exam may include infectious disease testing, a physical exam, a saline sonogram, a hysteroscopy, a pap smear, and more.
The Legal Process
The legal process gets the green light when your surrogate’s medical clearance is received. This is also when we can start to set realistic expectations for the remainder of your journey.
All surrogates should be protected by a contract that states she has a right to make decisions about her own body and the birth experience. As Intended Parents, you have rights, too.
You’ll get a referral to experienced legal counsel who is qualified in reproductive law for Intended Parents and surrogates. Legal counsel is crucial: they protect your rights as IPs and expertly guide you through the legal process. They’ll be on hand throughout the journey, from drafting the contract to completing the pre-birth and parentage orders. The legal process is very tricky, especially as it varies from state to state, so their guidance is essential!
Embryo Transfer / Pregnancy
If you haven’t already created embryos, now’s the time!
Some IPs will use their own eggs, and some will use an egg donor. In either case, when the eggs are retrieved, they will be fertilized with sperm from the Intended Father (or a sperm donor) to create embryos. The embryos will ultimately be transferred to the surrogate’s uterus via IVF.
Welcoming your little miracle
After months of legalities, medical procedures, and waiting, waiting, waiting… the best part finally happens. Your little miracle arrives!
You will have decided on a ‘delivery plan’ in advance, which will clarify things like whether you’ll be there for the birth and who the baby will be handed to first. You’ll also need to think about whether you want to cut the umbilical cord or any other specific details. The delivery room is quite an emotional place, so your plan will have to be understood by both the surrogate and the hospital itself.
It’s important that you and your surrogate are both comfortable with each other’s wishes and that they comply with the hospital’s policies.
Depending on your location, your agency can help arrange for a local birth certificate and the baby’s birth registration. If you are an international IP, you will also need to apply for a passport and citizenship papers. Don’t worry! Reputable agencies have case managers that have done this many times and are happy to guide you through the process.
After that, it’s time to take your little one home!