“What are the costs involved?”
I have included a general estimate in my website under the ‘Intended Parents’ tab, but it’s very subjective based on individual needs, which clinic you choose, how many IVF procedures are needed, if you need an egg donor, etc. Under the ‘Consulting Fees’ tab all of my costs are outlined. A surrogate’s expenses can add up to $26,000 on top of all the set fees for lawyers, clinics, counsellors, etc. A general rule is that you should have the ability to access at least $50,000.
“How are IPs matched?”
Canadian Law says that as an agency I cannot charge a fee for ‘matching’ anyone. Nor would I want to assume that I know best in regards to who would click with someone. With that in mind, what I can do is be hired as a consultant to properly screen women and create a safe and confidential place for you to come together and chat. So I build a profile for both surrogate and Intended Parent that displays who you are and what has brought you to surrogacy. What happens from that point on is similar to ‘online dating’. You email, arrange skype calls, visits, phone calls, etc on your own as to get to know each other. However, just because I have a surrogate profile doesn’t mean she is going to automatically be sent to you. There are major issues such as termination choices, location, expenses, etc that may rule out a profile immediately. Everything is about what you desire best for your journey and which surrogate will respect your needs and wishes along that journey.
“How are surrogates screened?”
It is very important to me for the Intended Parents to feel confident when they get a profile that they can assume the woman has already passed through a screening process which ensures they are prepared to go forward. I discuss at great length with the potential surrogate the considerable commitment it requires to be a surrogate. That’s the first and always the most important issue. I don’t want someone ever being pressured into a journey they aren’t fully prepared for. I have an application process that checks off significant factors like health problems, history of pregnancy and birth, psychological factors and termination views. Then we discuss at length what their desires are regarding their journey. I skype with all surrogates and their partners to ensure they both have a good understanding of the process and are comfortable with moving ahead. If they are local, I usually try and meet in person.
“Why an agency, or more importantly, why Canadian Surrogacy Community?”
Many couples look at the agency fees as excessive. For the most part, agencies have traditionally been known for helping couples find a surrogate and nothing else. I would then concur that the fees are excessive to do just that, except that’s not the limit of what I provide. I have a program designed to mediate, facilitate, refer, and support. The reason I decided to offer this is because I truly believe that a successful journey starts on Day 1 of speaking with an agency. You should feel comfortable with whom you speak with. You should Never feel pressured to sign anything ever until you have done your research. You should feel your agency has relevant and recent experience in the surrogacy field and has built a network of reliable professionals to help during every step. You should have confidence in how the agency screens surrogates and the reasons why they accept them into the program. Most importantly, you should feel that your agency is trustworthy and has your best interests at heart. They should feel less of a business and more like a friend, because this isn’t a ‘shoe-store- type’ business. Heart and soul pours from me into each new IP, egg donor, and surrogate and my intention is to always help everyone match and move on into a positive journey. Going ‘Indy’ as it’s referred to in the surrogate world (surrogates who don’t enlist an agency to help them) carries risks that IPs should be aware of. I know many amazing surrogates who found their couples on their own and I say ‘Fabulous’ and power to you. I also have seen many mishaps and disasters because surrogates were not properly screened and huge issues were overlooked because IPs have a ‘blind spot’ in their rush to find someone. They also are on their own and if they have never done surrogacy before, it can be a scary prospect to navigate clinics, doctors, laws, regulations, expectations, contracts, etc. But it’s the support system I provide that really makes it all worth while – for both the IPs and the surrogate. The time and money I invest to screen everyone involved, build profiles, make trips to clinics, emails and referrals to all professionals, coordinate everyone together, and then support the entire way is huge. And I have to find surrogates and Intended Parents who are searching for help, and that takes advertising and awareness and it’s costly too. I am conscious about everyone’s needs and feelings and I understand that the costs of surrogacy are beyond what some people can afford. I wish it wasn’t so expensive, but the reality is that everyone plays a part and everyone’s part is important. An agency has a vital role to play – at least my agency does!
“Why are contracts needed?”
Lawyers are necessary to document everyone’s wishes and needs during the journey in case something is ever questioned. Ultimately, trust is always what you want between people, but having a legal back up system is to protect all parties. Intended Parents will have their lawyer draw up a contract and the surrogate or egg donor will have their own lawyer to give them advice and make any necessary changes. The process should not be about each party getting the most from the other – it should be about compromise and mutual goal of a smooth journey. An experienced fertility lawyer is the best way to go! From start to finish they ensure everyone is comfortable with moving forward. When the time comes to stamp the paperwork that declares the IPs as the legal parents, it needs to be stress-free.
“Do surrogates ever want to keep the baby?”
The short answer is no. Surrogates and I discuss the essence of language surrounding their journey. It’s important for not only their mindset, but the mindset of their family, children, social circle, etc. that they use proper terminology. I always told my kids that I was growing a baby for Frank and Norm and “giving it BACK”, as opposed to the term many use – “giving it AWAY”. Even those small intentions with wording make a big difference. Ultimately, surrogates gain a kind of euphoria around being a part of a miracle in a new way. The goal of holding their baby in their own birth is morphed into a joy of watching you hold your baby for the first time. One replaces the other quite easily. The most powerful emotion I remember after my surrogate births was a feeling of missing my IPs. We had built such a close bond and spent so much time getting to know each other, that it wasn’t the baby I missed, but the feeling I had that I was wanted and needed by my IPs. It’s an easy transition out of that emotion when IPs are considerate of this factor and include their surrogate by sending pictures, announcements, and simply keeping in contact with her. It allows the relationship to foster a healthy afterglow. It should be a place of peace and contentment for everyone.