What to look for in an agency

IARC agency staffFor couples and prospective parents in need, an agency is a crucial guide through the surrogacy and egg donor process and will be your advocate through any legal pitfalls and medical uncertainties. For surrogates, an agency with years of experience and a laundry list of services is a key protector in this profound, life-changing experience.

Hopeful parents and prospective surrogates alike should ask questions of their agency, but it can be difficult to know what questions need asking. When you’re searching for an agency, there are things to look for that can demonstrate that agency’s knowledge, experience and dedication to you.

How long has the agency been around?

Anyone can start a surrogacy agency—there are no federal regulations that determine how and by whom an agency can be run. Your agency needs to demonstrate awareness of the guidelines published by mental health, medical and legal professionals that are in place to make this process safe and secure. IARC does not just follow these guidelines—we strive to lead the way in creating new regulations that benefit the industry as a whole.

You should also expect your agency to have years of diverse experience serving surrogates and couples alike. Our agency has facilitated over 1,000 programs over the past—not a single one has been the same as another. As each unique program is completed, we learn more about how this field works, what surrogates need throughout their program to feel valued and secure and what intended parents need to find success.  With over 20 years of experience, we truly are one of the most experienced egg donor and surrogacy agencies in the country.

Surrogate evaluation

A good agency will fully screen surrogates before they are matched with intended parents. If an agency says that the matching process can be sped up by not paying the prescreening costs out-of-pocket, they’re doing it wrong. Screening takes the same amount of time, whether it is done prior to being matched or after. IARC recognizes how much time, energy and emotion intended parents and surrogates put into the matching process. We want all parties to understand what the issues are and make sure that everyone is being treated respectfully.

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Becoming a surrogate mother: How I decided my compensation amount

Becoming a surrogate mother is a big decision, and many considering this decision want to know what it is like to be a surrogate. In this blog series we hope to shed some light on the surrogacy process through the experiences of our past and current surrogates, Charity, Jaime and Nicole. To read previous post from Charity, click here.

Charity Photo

Compensation. Or, as my husband calls it, “the big pink elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about”.

Let’s face it. Most surrogates don’t become a surrogate for the compensation. Surrogates become surrogates for a lot of other reasons: We love being pregnant, we want to help or simply because we feel called to it. However, the compensation does help. It helps our family. Maybe it will help with a down payment on a house, pay off a stack of bills or simply help us take our families on that once-in-a-lifetime vacation.

But how does a surrogate decide what her compensation should be? If you’re anything like me, as you think about the compensation amount you start to feel bad. Here are these parents whose only desire is to have a child. You likely know that they are spending a lot of money for this journey and now you have to decide how much they will compensate you.

While money never drives us, it is a factor and that factor often looks better, bigger. So if someone is willing to pay you $25,000 why should you tell them no? Picking a compensation amount is challenging, but for me it boiled down to what felt right. I had to look deep down in my heart of hearts and I had to pick a number I knew I could live with.

What you don’t know about me is I have very thin skin. By that I mean that if I feel I have wronged someone it eats at me, to the point that I will make myself sick. Even if it wasn’t “really” wrong, if I feel it’s wrong, it’s wrong. I’m the one who has to live with it.

I have been doing surrogacy for nearly 13 years. The very first child I ever had turned 11 this summer (now I’m just aging myself for all of you!). When I was told to pick my compensation the very first time I had no idea what I should do. I was given a range of numbers, you know, what people typically charge. I remember feeling floored that someone wanted to give me that much money to carry a baby. Hmm…..that much money to do something that is so simple for me. At first, I felt like I was taking advantage of someone. Then my mind started running full speed ahead. WOW!! The list of what my family could do with that money was endless. After I was able to slow down a bit I started to put everything in perspective: What the parents have been through already, the money they are spending on everything from medical procedures, traveling, doctors and my compensation.

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Becoming a surrogate mother: My decision to work with an HIV positive couple

Becoming a surrogate mother is a big decision, and many considering this decision want to know what it is like to be a surrogate. In this blog series we hope to shed some light on the surrogacy process through the experiences of our past and current surrogates, Charity, Nicole and Jaime. This is the first post from Jaime. 

Surrogate Mom - Jamie

When I signed up to be a surrogate, I was signing up to help someone in need. I knew I was willing to help any couple in need without discriminating. The agency that I worked with was amazing from start to finish. I felt they were always looking out for me and I had faith that the process would be a smooth one. From the caseworkers to the doctors, I always felt they had my needs met and that they were very appreciative for what I was doing. These families start out as complete strangers and end being life-long friends. I can honestly say that surrogacy has been the most rewarding experience in my life.

After my first successful journey, the agency called me to see if I’d be willing to meet another family and carry for them. Originally, I had planned to carry just the one time, but being that it was such an amazing experience, I agreed to meet another family. Why not? Pregnancy didn’t slow my life down at all, and my son was old enough to understand what I was doing, so we moved forward.

When they chose the next couple for me, they explained to me that one of the parents was HIV positive and explained to me in full detail the process that sperm goes through to be washed before the embryo is created (to learn more about sperm washing, click here). I had a phone consultation with the doctor I’d be working with, and, again, I felt watched out for. I actually felt the risk of infection, for anything, was lower than a non-HIV carrier because of all the extra testing administered.

Maybe I’m too trusting in people, but in my mind, I really felt that the agency, as well as the doctors, would not put me at risk by taking on this couple, so I felt safe to move forward. I realize that a woman who qualifies to be a surrogate and agrees to be one is hard to come by. The agency knows that if I have another successful journey, I would be likely to be a surrogate for another family. If I was hurt or infected in any way, I would not qualify for another round, which helped with my justification of not discriminating against this couple that had a little extra obstacle in their profile.

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