“What’s the wait time in Canada for a surrogate?”
In my humble opinion, too much of the surrogacy language used in 2022 is simply wrong. People are NOT asking the right questions. They have expectations built on fabricated information. What if we completely flip the script and expose the truths in surrogacy? Would the truth shift the mindset of people choosing surrogacy in Canada? Do people really want to hear the truth, if it means they will have to reconsider their options? Almost always the first question Intended Parents (IPs) ask me is, “What is the wait time for finding a surrogate?” That’s the script we are going to flip first.
Traditionally, even though in Canada surrogacy is altruistic, agencies would tell IPs a general timeframe to find a surrogate. But what if that was a loaded question with no real answer? Creating a timeframe for someone to find a surrogate will set them up for an expectation that is out of their control. The problem lies within the question itself. But as an agency owner, I’ve always felt obliged to give an answer based on what we’ve historically seen in our own program. The problem is those numbers fluctuate depending on a dozen or more factors. After almost 7 years of running the surrogacy program, I’ve decided to take a different strategy on the answer to this infamous question.
The real answer is, “I don’t know.” I can’t guarantee anything in the surrogacy journey, except my commitment to always help support you and use all my resources to help you. But in Canada, surrogacy is altruistic, and that means a surrogate must choose you. How could I possibly know how long it would take for a surrogate to specifically choose a couple? I don’t even know how many surrogates I will have enroll in the program and pass initial qualifications each year. So, why do people continue to ask this question? Because agencies continue to give people a best guess answer. But all that does is create expectations in the minds of Intended Parents. If you tell someone the average wait time is 18 months, they now believe they will be meeting their special surrogate in 18 months or less. When that doesn’t happen, they are angry and disappointed, and they blame the agency for misleading them. And I don’t blame them. I’ve been guilty of this myself and I no longer will give people any kind of timeframe because I know the repercussions of doing so.
The other day someone asked me if I ever had couples who didn’t find a match. The answer was yes. I’ve had couples that I had to say goodbye to because their two-year contract was expired, and I knew I couldn’t help them any longer. Every agency has a scenario in which they just can’t seem to find a surrogate who wants to help a specific couple. It’s a fact that when surrogacy is altruistic and women choose based on a connection, and not monetary gain, they simply look for the couple that they most relate to or envision having the best relationship with. That’s what our program has been carved around – relationships that stand the test of time. Somehow people still come to me surprised that I don’t have a pool of surrogates in the wings just waiting for someone to ask about them.
Let’s get into some numbers that might shock many people. In Canada, there are roughly 38 million people. The 2019 stats show that 1 in 6 couples struggle with some form of infertility. The math gives us over 6 million people challenged every year with having a family. That would be equivalent to more people than the entire city of Toronto, Ontario needing some form of fertility assistance. These are tough numbers to swallow, but this is the truth. That also does not include any of the LGBTQ community who want to have children through surrogacy. That number is growing rapidly by the day. That also does not include any international couples coming to Canada to find a surrogate.
Based on those numbers alone, you can now begin to understand the difficulty of finding women in Canada to meet the needs of the growing number of people who will never be able to have children on their own. Even if half of those people did surrogacy, the numbers are still staggering. So, when people randomly call my office and ask about wait times for surrogacy, I want to give them this harsh truth.
There is no surrogate tree. In Canada we depend on empowered women who understand commitment and sacrifice for no other reason than to help someone. There are not 6 million of them in Canada today. While I am so proud to say we’ve had 44 babies born through our program and more on the way, that is a far cry from what the number of IPs that we could accept every year. We will never be able to keep up to the growing number of people who want to find a surrogate.
In Canada, there are a handful of reputable agencies. We are all doing our best to try and share the stories of couples in our program, maximize google ad word campaigns, advertise on social media, and network with like-minded women, but we will NEVER find surrogates for everyone. So, let’s stop asking about wait times for surrogacy and start having real dialogue about the reality of surrogacy in Canada. Let’s start flipping the script on what people think they know about surrogacy and get to the bottom of the barrel where you’ll find the muck nobody wants to drink. Surrogacy will work out for the select few who are willing to chance it against all odds and be patient. It could be 3 months. It could be 3 years. Those are actual wait times for people in our program.
You might be saying to yourself, “Wow, I wish someone had told me this harsh reality before I signed up for surrogacy.” You are right. This reality should be set in stone for anyone who walks that long path. Anybody who chooses adoption knows the first thing they tell you is there is no guarantee. Surrogacy is no different. So, would you still have chosen to do this? Some people have no other choice. But at least then you would have a clear idea of what you were getting yourself into. Opting out of adoption doesn’t mean that surrogacy is going to be easier somehow. On the contrary! There are even more expenses and more rotating factors in the entire process.
And with all this information, I am still willing to try. Perhaps you are too. But now we are both on the same page. I know what your chances are. That’s why I only accept 25-30 clients at any one time. Because I know that inevitably some of you might not find that match. But I continue to have hope that each year I will find a way to bring life to your home. That is why I keep doing what I’m doing. But I’m tired of the question, “What is the wait time for a surrogate?” You are asking the wrong question. Ask me, “How does your program help us maximize the chances to find someone amazing to grow our family?” That question I can answer.
I refuse to play into the myth that there is any determined wait time with agencies. If they say there is, they are lying to you. Wait times are a fallacy in Canada.