You might be considering surrogacy options to make your dreams of growing your family come true. Or maybe you’re thinking about helping someone else’s dream come true by becoming a surrogate mother yourself. Either way, it’s wise of you to seek out all of the information you can about the process to discover what works best for you, because even though using a surrogacy agency is the most common way to go about a surrogacy journey, you want to be sure you choose the right one.
So, if you’re in the early stages of your family planning process and you want to learn more about family building through surrogacy, then hopefully this blog of common questions helps inform you so you can make the best decision for you, your family and your future.
What are surrogacy agencies?
The most common way to go about your surrogacy journey is through a surrogacy agency. Why surrogacy agencies? Because they have teams that are professionally trained and experienced in providing just about every service you need during the surrogacy process.
Some surrogacy agencies are full-service, meaning they have enough professionals on staff (legal teams, program coordinators, egg donation coordinators, surrogate coordinators, accountants, and more) to help you manage every technical, physical and emotional aspect of your journey.
Other surrogacy agencies are partial-service. A partial-service surrogacy agency may support the services required by intended parents, but unlike full-service agencies, they don’t have the resources in place to support surrogacy journeys from the very beginning through to the very end.
Are there a lot of surrogacy agencies in the United States?
There isn’t an overwhelming number of surrogacy agencies in the US, but there are some agencies that have multiple locations and can provide surrogacy services to people from all over the country and the world. Although surrogacy laws differ in just about every state, the United States is considered to be the best country for surrogacy services, and 46 of the 50 US states do permit commercial surrogacy. This means the US isn’t just a wonderful place for Americans to grow their families, but for international families, too.
Are there different kinds of surrogacy agencies?
Yes, there are. Surrogacy agencies may differ in size and offerings, as some are partial-service agencies while others are full-service surrogacy agencies.
Full-service agencies offer support and guidance throughout the entire surrogacy experience, from first consultation and matching to all the fine print of legal details and beyond. Partial-service agencies might help match intended parents and surrogates together, but they won’t have their own in-house legal and social worker teams to truly guide and support people through the process. Oftentimes, IPs working with partial-service surrogate agencies have to come prepared with their own legal counsel and handle much of the process on their own, which can become time-consuming, stressful and costly.
What is a full-service surrogacy agency?
A full-service surrogacy agency guides and supports you throughout each and every step of your surrogacy journey — from the very first consultation, screening and matching process through to the delivery of your child and return-to-home plans.
Though surrogacy experiences with these agencies tend to cost a bit more, it’s typically worth it because you receive personal, step-by-step service from experienced teams of social workers and lawyers, intake associates and accountants, and program managers and coordinators. This removes much of the stress and worry associated with the surrogacy process because with the guidance and support of a full-service agency, you’re able to focus on what matters most, and that’s either growing your family as an intended parent or helping a family grow as a surrogate.
What services does a full-service surrogacy agency provide?
The breadth of services provided by full-service surrogacy agencies varies depending on the particular agency, its offerings and the size of its staff. Generally speaking, however, the services provided by surrogacy agencies make the complicated surrogacy process significantly easier for intended parents and surrogates. A full-service agency handles all aspects of the screening process, the matching process, legal questions & contracts, clinic coordination, emotional journey support, facilitating communication between intended parents and surrogates, and much more.
To get more specific, here are some of the services that may be provided by a full-service surrogacy agency:
- Thorough application process to ensure all intended parents and surrogates are serious, committed and able.
- In-depth screening services to ensure all intended parents and surrogates are in a healthy state of mind, are emotionally stable and meet the physical requirements for surrogacy.
- One-to-one consultation to help you pick the proper surrogacy journey or program for you.
- Personal matching services that allow intended parents and surrogates to match with each other for the ideal surrogacy experience.
- Coordination of information and communication between clinics, attorneys, accountants, social workers and anyone else who may be involved in the various steps of your surrogacy process.
- Support and counseling services to help you handle the emotional journey of becoming a parent or being a surrogate.
- Post-journey communication and guidance to ensure babies and surrogate mothers are healthy and doing well after delivery and returning home.
- Post-birth return-to-home travel prep for parents. This involves getting their travel plans in order, as well as obtaining passports for their baby if necessary.
Do full-service surrogacy agencies have egg donation services and egg donor programs?
Technically, a surrogacy agency doesn’t need to have egg donation services to be considered “full-service”, although some full-service agencies do have their own programs for egg donors and egg donor databases for intended parents.
One of the advantages of having an egg donation program and database within a full-service surrogacy agency is providing the opportunity for both intended parents and egg donors to agree on their compatibility, making the entire process more special and personal from the very beginning. This way, egg donors have the autonomy to choose to work whoever they’d prefer to, and if the agency provides services to intended parents of all types, this means egg donors can work with single or coupled heterosexual or same sex intended parents from the US or abroad.
Furthermore, having one agency that handles all aspects of egg donation and surrogacy helps create a more seamless journey for intended parents, providing the type of familiarity that makes the parenting journey truly special.
What is a partial-service surrogacy agency?
A partial-service surrogacy agency is very much what it sounds like: An agency that provides some, but not all, of the services that are typically provided by a full-service surrogacy agency. The biggest difference between partial-service versus full-service is the depth of guidance and help at each step of the journey.
Partial-service surrogacy agencies often have the resources to help intended parents find a surrogate match, but they don’t have their own in-house legal, accounting or coordination teams to handle the bulk of the day-to-day planning, communications and support work. Partial-service agencies may have one, or two, of these service offerings, but they won’t have them all. Because of this, partial-service surrogacy agencies may be a good fit for intended parents who need to find a surrogate match, but already know a prominent surrogacy lawyer and are willing to miss out on the additional financial and emotional support of a full-service agency.
For intended parents who have a surrogate, surrogacy lawyer, and other journey roles and resources accounted for, something called independent surrogacy, or private surrogacy, may be their go-to choice.
What is independent surrogacy?
Independent surrogacy (also known as private surrogacy) occurs when intended parents and surrogates forgo the guidance and expertise of a surrogacy agency and carry the family building process out on their own. Because matching intended parents with a surrogate is an extremely nuanced process, independent surrogacy is often stressful and can become complicated for all involved.
That’s why most instances of independent surrogacies are carried out by intended parents who already know their surrogate mother. So, when that’s the case, they don’t need the screening and matching services of a surrogacy agency. They can hire a surrogacy attorney to handle the legal proceedings and outsource the rest of the services as they see fit.
Independent surrogacy is indeed possible, and there are numerous success stories that have come from it. With that being said, the parties involved in independent surrogacy lose out on a lot of the benefits that come from working with a surrogacy agency, such as:
- Having an always-on support system that can field questions and help you through surrogacy challenges.
- Enjoying peace of mind knowing all technical (financial, legal and clinical) aspects of the surrogacy journey are being handled by professionals who do this on a daily basis.
- Interacting with men and women on agency staffs who’ve gone through the surrogacy process themselves.
- Using the matching process to discover the perfect combination of intended parents and surrogate mothers.
What family planning process is right for you?
Figuring out which way to proceed with your family planning is difficult, so we hope this article has helped you understand some of the different routes you can take to make your family dreams come true. If you have any questions and would like to speak to a surrogacy expert on the Circle Surrogacy staff, please reach out to us today! We’re happy to chat with you about what we’re most passionate about, and that’s making parenthood possible!