Whether you’re an intended parent or a prospective surrogate or egg donor, make sure you’re in good hands when you’re choosing an agency. Keep in mind that, while the decision can be daunting, a few key factors can help you make an informed choice. One of the most important parts of the process for choosing an egg donation or surrogacy agency is research. Researching multiple agencies is important for understanding the different offerings of each agency and helps to decide which company can offer you the most of what you’re looking for. The trouble is, how do you know what that is? We’ve outlined 5 things to consider when choosing an egg donation or surrogacy agency.
Remember, your final decision will affect you throughout your experience. So don’t be afraid to take some time when doing your initial research. Here are 5 important factors to help guide you in your search:
1. Agency experience and success rates.
A surrogacy and egg donation agency’s history is one of the more important factors to consider. As more and more intended parents have turned to gestational surrogacy to create their families, new surrogate parenting agencies have appeared all over the world. Make sure your agency has a track record of successful journeys (and third-party data and validation to back it up!).
We have a success rate of 99.3% of intended parents bringing home a baby from their first two transfers or completing at least three transfers. Circle Surrogacy is confident in its success in helping parents achieve their dreams of parenthood, and we’ve had our success rates audited by a reputable tax and audit firm.
In addition, finding an agency with staff members who have personal connections to surrogacy and/or egg donation can provide a sense of comfort as they can identify with every step of the journey and help guide you through the process.
Circle is led by a team of people who have had their own firsthand experiences with surrogacy, from parents through surrogacy to former surrogates and egg donors to licensed social workers and case managers. We set out to educate, lead, and guide you through your journey, working tirelessly to help you achieve success and fulfill your dream.
2. A legal team on staff.
Along with knowledgeable staff members, you’ll need legal representation. In the United States, surrogacy is controlled at the state level, and the requirements for a given set of intended parents vary widely based on their state or country of residence. Making a proper match between intended parents and a surrogate and/or egg donor requires a thorough understanding of intersecting laws and policy. Make sure that your agency has a legal team on staff (this streamlines communication between your program coordinator and your legal representatives) that can guide you appropriately through the legal process.
Our legal team is highly experienced in Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) law. Working with Circle gives you peace of mind when it comes to contract drafting and negotiation, making sure you’re abiding by the correct laws and procedures of the states and/or specific countries involved, ensuring that you can bring your child(ren) home without issues and that your parental rights are secure.
3. Emphasis on communication.
Often agencies with a larger staff can devote more attention to individual intended parents, surrogates, and egg donors. Regardless of the size of the agency, continuous communication is an important part of a successful experience. As you search for your agency, be sure that they place emphasis on communication between you and your surrogate and/or egg donor.
Open communication early—and throughout the journey—can help ease the questions or concerns intended parents often ask around “How do I know if my surrogate is eating healthy, or not doing X, Y or Z.” If your relationship is built on trust, you can have an open dialogue. A strong parent-surrogate relationship is the building block for a smoother journey overall.
There are a lot of variables involved in the surrogacy process making every surrogacy and egg donation experience different. It’s important that the agency you’re considering has the flexibility to address your individual needs whether you are a surrogate, egg donor, an intended parent from the United States or abroad, whether you are gay or heterosexual. Working with an agency that has experience with a wide array of clients is important for any unexpected obstacles that may occur during your journey.
5. Focus on relationships.
Finally, see how the agency views a surrogacy arrangement and the importance they place on building a relationship with your surrogate. Some agencies—such as Circle Surrogacy—are relationship-based agencies, meaning, they put a heavy emphasis on at least weekly contact between intended parents and their surrogates to help deepen their relationship.
We have found that greater levels of contact and closer relationships between intended parents and their surrogates and/or egg donors make for a smoother process and help them build trust versus a more transactional relationship.
So many of Circle’s surrogates and intended parents have created life-long bonds that go beyond the surrogacy journey, including Mandi and Nicola featured in the Instagram video below.
BONUS: 5 Questions To Ask Your Surrogacy Agency
Now that you know what to look for when choosing an agency for surrogacy and/or egg donation, it’s time to gather more information. Here are 5 questions to help guide your search.
1. How do you find surrogates? What are the requirements?
Agencies find surrogates in a variety of ways—advertising and personal referrals are two methods of how an agency might find a woman interested in surrogacy. Women who wish to apply must meet a list of surrogate requirements in order to be considered. These qualifications—alongside psychological and medical screenings—are put in place to ensure that a woman is physically, mentally, and emotionally ready for a surrogacy journey. Surrogacy agencies consider guidelines put forth by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and fertility clinics when screening surrogate applicants.
2. How many matches does your agency officiate monthly?
The number of matches an agency does can indicate the size of the agency and the volume of surrogacy journeys (and experience) they have overall. If an agency does 5 to 10 matches in a month, and there are many IPs waiting to be matched, the wait time can be longer and less predictable, although that may not always be transparently communicated. More monthly matches mean more data behind future predictions.
As an intended parent, you will be asked to share what you are looking for in a surrogate match. These criteria can vary from her location or her marital status to what level of communication she’s hoping for and so on. The agency will use this information to help find you the best match. If you have narrow criteria—perhaps finding a surrogate from a specific state or a surrogate who works in a certain profession—this can affect how quickly you are matched. The more open and flexible you are, the easier (and faster!) it will be to find you a match.
3. How much does surrogacy cost?
The cost for gestational surrogacy, including all agency fees, attorneys’ fees, screening fees, surrogate fees, and medical and insurance costs, ranges from $125,000 to $200,000, depending on the program chosen. To get a complete understanding of our program’s costs, please visit our Costs page.
However, there are many ways to help reduce the out-of-pocket costs for surrogacy. There are grants and sponsorship, and some intended parents may have the opportunity to qualify for financing for their journey. Please speak with our Parent Intake Team or Consultation Team or fill out this form.
4. How does your agency protect me financially and legally in ‘what if’ scenarios, such as complex deliveries or losses?
Surrogacies, like traditional pregnancies, sometimes encounter bumps in the road. No agency can guarantee you won’t encounter a hurdle, but some agencies offer programs that have built-in safety nets, such as financial protections and in-house trained social workers for additional levels of emotional support. Surrogacy journeys can be complex; therefore it is important to identify an agency that is transparent with you about the possible scenarios they can help you address.
5. How do I begin the process?
Some intended parents come to surrogacy already having created embryos at a fertility clinic or have been working with a reproductive endocrinologist at a clinic as they tried to get pregnant on their own. Other intended parents come to a surrogacy agency as a first stop, looking for direction on where to go next.
At Circle Surrogacy, everyone begins their surrogacy journey with a free two- to three-hour consultation. We offer consultations via Zoom, in our Boston office, New York office, Burlingame office, or in one of the many major cities on our travel schedule. We also offer informational webinars for intended parents.
In these consultations, you’ll hear from an experienced attorney as well as a social worker or licensed therapist. We’ll tell you about our program offerings and agency protocols. The consultation team addresses the surrogacy process of matching with an egg donor and/or a surrogate, legal implications, insurance, surrogacy costs, and financing (where applicable). We give plenty of time at the end of the consultation to answer questions or review any areas that may still be unclear to you.