Independent Surrogacy: A Comprehensive Checklist for More Affordable Surrogacy
Independent surrogacy, also known as private surrogacy or independent matching, is a surrogacy arrangement where intended parents (IPs) and gestational carriers (GCs) or traditional surrogates connect with each other directly without involving a surrogacy agency. In this approach, IPs take on the responsibility of finding and matching with a surrogate on their own, rather than relying on an agency to facilitate the process. Choosing to pursue an independent surrogacy journey can offer significant cost savings along with other benefits for both IPs and surrogates.
Here are some aspects to consider when exploring independent surrogacy:
Working without an agency means that IPs and surrogates have more control over negotiating the cost and financial arrangements directly. By directly discussing compensation terms, IPs and surrogates can reach an agreement that suits both parties’ needs and financial capabilities. Additionally, some IPs are able to give surrogates higher levels of compensation as they can budget for more funds when agencies aren’t taking a lion’s share of the available budget.
One of the primary cost-saving factors of independent surrogacy is the elimination of agency fees. Surrogacy agencies typically charge significant fees for their services, which can vary but often range from $20,000 to $40,000 or even $100,000+ or more. Additionally, surrogates won’t feel pressured to adhere to an agency’s standard price card and can choose the compensation and terms that work best for them and their own families.
Independent surrogacy allows IPs and surrogates to take an active role in finding and matching with each other. They can utilize various platforms and networks, such as SurrogacyPlace.com, or even personal connections, to connect with potentials. This direct approach eliminates the need to pay extraordinarily high agency fees for matching services. Surrogacy Place was specifically designed to eliminate the high costs surrogacy agencies charge for their matching services.
Legal and Administrative Costs:
When doing a journey independently or with an agency, IPs will need to handle hiring legal representation and funding legal representation for their matched surrogate. While legal fees are involved in both agency-assisted and independent surrogacy, IPs and surrogates may have more control over selecting attorneys when going independent. Agency-recommended attorneys also tend to charge more given their financial relationship with the referring agency.
Flexibility and Customization:
Independent surrogacy allows IPs and surrogates to customize their journey according to their specific needs and preferences. They have the freedom to tailor the process to suit their unique circumstances.
Embarking on a surrogacy journey can be an exciting and life-changing experience. If you’re doing an independent journey, you’ll need to work closely with your chosen attorney and fertility clinic as surrogacy requires careful planning, coordination, and attention to detail. To help you understand the process, we have compiled a comprehensive checklist that outlines the key steps involved from the initial stages of finding a surrogate to the joyous moment of bringing your baby home.
Creating and Selecting Embryos:
Gestational surrogacy all starts with an embryo! IPs will need to create embryos before proceeding with the exploration of surrogacy as a family-building option. Make an appointment with a qualified fertility specialist/Reproductive Endocrinologist. Discuss your medical history, including any previous fertility treatments or health conditions. Understand the available treatment options and their success rates, including embryo creation. Work closely with your fertility clinic to choose the most suitable In vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure for your specific situation. If using your own eggs/embryos, prepare for the embryo creation process by following your fertility specialist’s instructions. Undergo controlled ovarian stimulation (COS) to promote the development of multiple eggs. Regularly visit the clinic for monitoring, which involves blood tests and ultrasound scans. Your clinic will retrieve mature eggs through the egg retrieval procedure and combine viable eggs with Intended Father or donor sperm either through conventional IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) if male factor infertility is present. Then, the fertilized eggs will develop in a controlled environment for a few days. During this time, you can should discuss options like preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) to screen for genetic abnormalities if desired.
Prepare a list of IP or surrogate interview questions to gain insights into who they are, why they are turning to surrogacy, and how qualified they are in terms of their ability to support an independent surrogacy journey. Both IPs and surrogates will need to understand the general requirements for GCs and state-specific surrogacy regulations. Create a compelling match profile on SurrogacyPlace.com. Remember, an eye-catching photo and information about you and your family and your commitment to starting a journey can make a huge difference in grabbing attention. Conduct thorough interviews with potential IP or GC candidates. If you’re an IP, focus on your clinic’s requirements to facilitate efficient conversations. Don’t hesitate to seek guidance from clinic directly to address any questions or concerns about potential GCs.
Once You’re Matched:
- Make sure both sides have legal representation. Contracts will be finalized after medical clearance, however, it’s important to have preliminary conversations about terms before medical to make sure both sides agree on things like compensation, birth plan, lifestyle/prohibited activities during pregnancy, views on termination, and more.
- Notify the fertility clinic about your match. Arrange for the GC’s medical records to be sent to the fertility clinic and have the GC fill out the necessary medical release forms.
- Complete a comprehensive background check, such as Criminal Watchdog, to ensure the safety and well-being of all parties involved.
- Have the surrogate’s medical insurance evaluated by a company like ARTrisk. IPs will need to purchase insurance to cover anything not covered by a surrogate’s own health insurance. There are several considerations with respect to insurance, you’ll need to explore surrogacy insurance options based on your specific timeline and circumstances.
- Schedule a medical exam appointment at the fertility clinic once the surrogate’s medical records are approved.
- Arrange for psychological evaluations for both the IPs and the GC, as required by law. Make sure you’re working with an experienced surrogacy-focused attorney for proper guidance. The IPs are responsible for covering the costs of these evaluations regardless of which side they occur.
- Ensure that the GC completes the necessary lab testing as required by the fertility clinic.
- Determine the preferred delivery hospital and OB (Obstetrician) for the surrogacy journey. This location is usually specified in the surrogacy agreement, as well as travel restrictions based on how far along a surrogacy pregnancy is.
Legal and Medical Clearances:
- Upon approval of the GC by the fertility clinic, both the IPs and the GC undergo FDA testing to screen for infectious diseases that could be passed to the carrier. This testing involves questionnaires, physical examinations, and blood tests.
- In nearly all cases, an ART attorney licensed in the state where the birth will occur is used for legal guidance throughout the surrogacy process. IPs and GC each must have their own independent legal representation and they both must be licensed in that state. You can request suggestions from the fertility clinic regarding reputable attorneys or use SurrogacyPlace.com’s attorney directory.
- Establish and fund an escrow account through a company like SeedTrust to manage financial transactions during the surrogacy journey.
- Finalize all legal documents related to the surrogacy arrangement. Both parties (IPs and GC) must notarize these documents once final terms have been agreed upon.
- Send a letter of legal clearance to the fertility clinic (if required).
Transfer and Beyond:
- Around 3-4 months after matching, consider the possibility of a mock cycle to ensure optimal conditions for the embryo transfer. Consult your fertility clinic for more information.
- Surrogates will follow a medication protocol as prescribed by the fertility clinic to prepare for the embryo transfer.
- Schedule an embryo transfer date. During the embryo transfer procedure, the embryo(s) will be transferred to the GC’s uterus. A blood test to determine the success of the embryo implantation.
- With luck on your side, celebrate the joyous moment of hearing the baby’s heartbeat through a 7-8 week ultrasound!
- Once the GC reaches 10 weeks of pregnancy, she will be released to her own OB-GYN for continued prenatal care. She will follow routine pregnancy checkups as she did with her prior pregnancies/own children.
- Intended Parents that are able can attend the 20-week ultrasound to monitor the baby’s development and see how the pregnancy is progressing.
- Intended Parents will need their attorney to complete the necessary legal procedures, such as obtaining a parentage/pre-birth order (in states where applicable), to establish legal parentage of the child.
- Intended Parents will need to complete the necessary paperwork to obtain the baby’s birth certificate and social security card.
The surrogacy journey is a remarkable and complex process, but with guidance from qualified legal and medical professionals and careful planning, you can navigate your journey with confidence.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) – Independent Surrogacy Checklist / More Affordable Surrogacy
What is independent surrogacy, and how does it differ from agency-assisted surrogacy?
Independent surrogacy, also known as private surrogacy or independent matching, is a surrogacy arrangement where intended parents (IPs) and gestational carriers (GCs) or traditional surrogates connect with each other directly without involving a surrogacy agency. In this approach, IPs and surrogates take on the responsibility of finding and matching on their own, rather than relying on an agency to facilitate the process. The key difference is that independent surrogacy eliminates the need for agency involvement, providing IPs and surrogates with more control over the process while reducing costs and providing more potential matches to choose from. Many experienced surrogates in particular prefer to do independent surrogacy journeys.
What are the potential benefits associated with independent surrogacy?
One of the primary cost-saving factors of independent surrogacy is the elimination of agency fees. Surrogacy agencies typically charge significant fees for their services, which can range from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. By pursuing independent surrogacy, IPs can negotiate compensation and financial arrangements directly with the surrogate, potentially resulting in better terms for both parties involved. Surrogates that go independent also like to choose their own compensation levels and not feel pressured to adhere to a surrogacy agency’s price card.
How can IPs and surrogates find and match via independent surrogacy?
In independent surrogacy, IPs and surrogates have the freedom to find and match with each other directly. They can utilize various platforms and networks, such as SurrogacyPlace.com, or rely on personal connections to connect with potential surrogates. This direct approach eliminates the need to pay high agency fees for matching services. SurrogacyPlace.com is designed to connect IPs and surrogates without the high costs and hidden profiles associated with surrogacy agencies.
How long does the entire independent surrogacy process typically take?
The timeline for independent surrogacy can vary depending on several factors, including the time it takes to find a suitable match, legal and medical clearances, and the individual circumstances of the IPs and surrogates. It’s important to understand that surrogacy journeys can take several months or even longer. Working closely with your chosen legal and medical professionals will help ensure a well-planned and timely process.
How can IPs establish legal parentage of the child born via surrogacy?
To establish legal parentage of the child born via surrogacy, IPs will need to work with their attorney to complete the necessary legal procedures, such as obtaining a parentage or pre-birth order, depending on the applicable laws in their state.
Remember, the above FAQ provides general information, and it’s important to consult with qualified legal and medical professionals who specialize in surrogacy to receive personalized guidance based on your specific circumstances and location.