For 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.
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.
What services does the agency provide?
Every agency offers a different level of assistance throughout the surrogacy process. Many only assist with the screening and matching procedures while offering minimal assistance throughout the most critical parts of the program—pregnancy, delivery, legal proceedings and medical clinic recommendation. Whether you’re an intended parent or a hopeful surrogate, we take the entire journey with you. From the very beginning until months after you deliver, we make sure you have the resources and support you need every step of the way.
What economic protections does the agency provide for you?
The surrogacy process can be expensive, and your agency will be handling and distributing at least some of your money. Tens of thousands of dollars will flow, in some way, through your agency. You should ask what economic protections are in place to insure that your money is properly handled and managed. IARC uses a third-party escrow agent for all surrogate reimbursements, so the bulk of your money is placed with an agent over which IARC has no control. As to other payments and reimbursements, IARC has professional liability insurance coverage (to make sure you are reimbursed if IARC fails to perform its duties properly) and is also bonded (so that you are paid back if IARC misapplies or misappropriates your money). Escrow agents, liability insurance, and bonding are all steps taken to protect you, the client. You should make sure any agency you deal with has these protections in place for you!
How much does the agency cost?
If you want to do surrogacy cost-effectively in the United States, your agency needs to know how to control costs. A good agency will actively lobby doctors to understand the economic pressures on you and to find cost-effective programs. Clinic selection is HUGE, and we speak to doctors at every opportunity to find the right cost that is within the budget of all affected.
For international couples, some agencies charge a surcharge for “extra work.” We do not.
Some agencies make couples pay the entire fee up front. We do not.
The best agencies will closely examine the insurance policies and compatibility of all involved parties. The best agencies will be run by an attorney or have a very knowledgeable, deeply experienced attorney on-staff.
And if something happens along the way and your process needs to start over from point zero, you should never have to pay your agency another penny. With IARC, you don’t.
What traits would your ideal surrogacy agency offer? Have any questions about finding the perfect agency for you? Drop a comment below and let us know!