“Do you have any surrogates waiting right now?”
I’ll ruffle some feathers with this one, but this question has been eating at me for a long time. It never fails that every month we get phone calls or emails asking us how many surrogates we have available. Where did the misconception come from, that in Canada we have a surplus of surrogates waiting in the wings for someone who might need them? This has never been the case and it never will be. As per the last blog, when I wrote about surrogate wait times, the ratios of surrogates to couples needing a surrogate are hugely skewed. Nothing about these two sides will ever be balanced.
This misdirected question stems from people not doing their research or reading our website about the process of screening surrogates. Intended Parents aren’t ordering up a surrogate like a burger and fries. That feeling of quick and cheap expectations chip away at the concept that a surrogate is a woman wanting to grow a relationship with a couple to help them build a family. You don’t just call an agency you search on google and begin by asking, “Do you have any surrogates for me?” Do the work! Go read about the laws around surrogacy in Canada. Go to websites and learn about what steps are involved and the financial implications if surrogacy is your family building option. Prepare yourself before you email or call wanting to ask questions, because although we are always happy to answer questions you may have, we hope that you will do some of your own investigating before you come to us inquiring about things that don’t make sense.
So, let’s talk about what surrogate screening looks like. Qualifying to become a surrogate takes months usually. They start with an application, then a zoom consultation to discuss the particulars. If they have a husband or partner, we like to also speak with them. Once we have the initial meet and greet and they decide they want to move forward, we ask them to see their family doctor to discuss the choice to become a surrogate and get medically cleared by running the essential bloodwork, update pap results, and get a letter of medical clearance with height, weight, and blood pressure. This can take a month. We do criminal background checks and discuss in detail their family supports for all steps of surrogacy including the ups and downs.
Once they are medically screened, (sonohysterogram, or sono for short, will come after a match) then we build them a profile and allow them access to read all the Intended Parent profiles we have in our program. We ask them to choose their top 3-5 parent profiles and then we discuss her choices in detail. We go through expectations and important factors in choosing someone to be pregnant for. Many conversations may happen with our team and the surrogate as we prepare to send out her profile to those 3-5 couples.
From application to dating Intended Parents, we can see a timeframe of a few months. It can happen earlier if the surrogate is eager and is efficient at getting all her screening done. In the same manner, it can take longer. This past six months we’ve seen at least 15-20 women fill out applications and do consultations, but not commit to surrogacy. It seems to be a trend lately that after the initial information, they decide they are not ready to move forward or sometimes they simply disappear. We spend countless hours in the screening phase of surrogacy. We brainstorm monthly how to tap into new marketing or advertising to bring awareness to surrogacy. There is never a dull moment in the office where we aren’t busy following up with past applications or finding new ways to spark an interest in moms who love pregnancy.
I spend a good deal of time worrying on behalf of every Intended Parent I work with. This is my business, but this is also my service to others. I want the same outcome you do! I didn’t create this company to get rich (as so many people believe of agency owners). I created this company to fuel a passion I had to help others. I could only be a surrogate myself so many times because my uterus isn’t stainless steel. I had to think outside the box and learn how to offer something unique and personal to others. I thrive when you thrive. Every person who walks away without their dream of family is a failure to me. I’ve gone home to vent to my husband countless times about how the complexities of infertility and the strain it takes on everyone involved. I’ve stopped working with clinics, lawyers, and counsellors, who I felt didn’t have your best interest at heart. This hurts my overall business, but I believe in an ethic approach and a personalized service that makes you feel like a human being. I will not compromise your journey for the sake of making money.
So please understand my frustration when someone calls and the first question out of their mouth is, “Do you have any surrogates for me today?” It feels cold and impersonal and makes my hair stand up on end. Please do some reading about surrogacy in Canada before picking up the phone and calling an agency office. It is really appreciated when someone tells me they’ve read my blog or explored our website. It tells me that you are willing to go the extra mile on your own before seeking the help of our program. This resiliency will benefit you in the uphill climb you are about to take.