Can I be successful in an Independent Arrangement vs. Agency Arrangement?
Yes. I have seen many family member/ friend arrangements result in a wonderful outcome. However, I have also seen difficulties arise in independent situations as well. There are exceptions to every rule. Not everyone is “out to get someone,” but there are certain guidelines you should use in order to avoid emerging conflict.
I do find it strange how most people would not purchase a home without reputable professionals to guide them through the process or might consult with multiple car dealerships or spend hours of online research before purchasing a car yet are willing to gamble with the life of their potential child by posting an add online without taking the time to fully research this process. When I have spoke to people who have chosen this route, they usually state that it was a matter of “saving costs”. It's this crucial mistake of avoiding working with a solid agency that may cost them thousands in the long run. In the many years I worked in the legal industry on fertility related matters, the only times that I experienced couples seeking legal advice or litigation against a surrogate has been in independent arrangements. Financially speaking, the money spent in attorney fees and litigation costs far surpassed their “savings” from avoiding the agency involvement. Now, I am not saying that an agency match is completely free of pitfalls, but from what I have seen, couples who choose to forego the services available to them by means of reputable professionals can become subject to a disastrous outcome.
What if I have my own Surrogate, can Coastal Surrogacy still provide me or my Surrogate with agency services?
Yes, absolutely! Coastal Surrogacy provides services that can be customized to you or your Surrogate's specific needs. There are many steps involved with the surrogate process which can become overwhelming to manage on your own. Your physician may want to ensure that you have everything necessary for this arrangement in place prior to commencing the cycle. This could be facilitating the background screening and psychological evaluations, insurance needs, assistance with a fee structure and/or the legal contract process. If your surrogate resides in California and you do not, we can help by providing support to your surrogate in your absence, attending medical procedures and appointments, helping to monitor the pregnancy, attendance at the birth etc. We can structure a plan that works for you without breaking the bank!
What are the basic criteria for a Surrogate candidate?
Every agency may vary on their requirements but below are the basic elements of a potential Surrogate candidate:
- Overall Good Physical Health including Reproductive Health
- Appropriate Age Range (22-40 years of age)
- Non-Smoking/Non Drug Using
- Must have had at least one child of her own
- No complications with her previous pregnancies
- Healthy Weight Range
- Financially Secure/Self Supporting
- Emotionally Stable
- Good Support System
What is Coastal Surrogacy's Screening Process for Surrogates?
Surrogates candidates initially apply with our company either on-line or contact us by phone to receive a surrogate application and program information. A series of basic questions are asked to ensure the surrogate candidate meets the general criteria (see above sample). Once this has been met they proceed to an extensive application and list of program requirements that they must complete and/or obtain in order to be considered for our program. An in-person interview is conducted with both the surrogate and her spouse/partner. We obtain the surrogate's previous birth records from her OBGYN and a current physical exam and/or pap smear are also required and/or will be performed either by the surrogate's own OBGYN or one of our choosing. A background investigation and psychological screening is completed (included in our agency fees) prior to the candidate's profile being made available to any recipient parent. This ensures the candidate you are considering is emotionally and psychologically suitable for this process. Once selected, your surrogate candidate will be sent to your reproductive physician for an in-depth physical exam, testing for both infectious disease screening (would also include her husband/partner), drug screening and any other testing deem necessary by your physician to determine your surrogate's suitability and ability to conceive. Any additional psychological or medical testing/screening can be performed at your request.
What happens if the surrogate we select is not medically cleared by our physician?
Because every fertility physician/clinic has their own specific guidelines and/or preferences for medically screening surrogate candidates we understand a clinic or physician may choose to decline your selected surrogate. Sometimes even unexpected things can arise during this type of screening that may not have been apparent by the surrogates own physician or obstetrician. If your surrogate is found to be medically unsuitable for surrogate pregnancy or the IVF process or is disqualified at any time during the process, you have the option for our company to re-match with a new surrogate or consult with another fertility clinic. If your Surrogate is found medically ineligible by the treating fertility specialist you will not be charged any additional agency fees to become re-matched. One way we attempt to avoid this from happening is by contacting your fertility clinic to obtain their general surrogate requirements/criteria. We will ensure that any surrogate profile presented to you first meets with your doctor's requirements/criteria. Upon final selection, we will send over your surrogate's profile and medical records to the fertility specialist for a preliminary review before the surrogate is actually scheduled for her physical exam.
Why does someone choose to become a Surrogate Mother?
This is a question that is asked often. I believe the most common misconception for someone choosing to become a Surrogate Mother is simply the financial draw or benefit. But we know this is not the case. It takes a great deal of sacrifice on behalf of the Surrogate and her family. The reasons why someone chooses to become a Surrogate Mother may vary by individual, but most often these women feel compelled to give back to their community or society in this special way because they feel grateful and blessed to have easily conceived their children and they want others to experience all the joys of having a family of their own. This is truly the most unselfish and amazing acts of kindness that anyone could offer. Financial draw aside, Surrogate Motherhood is not for everyone but the women who feel especially called to do this for someone are heroes in our eyes.
Why Does Someone Choose Surrogate Parenting?
The reason one chooses to use a surrogate mother can vary amongst individuals and couples alike. It's unfortunate that some public opinion still views using a surrogate mother based off the myth that the “Recipient Mother” is being inconvenienced by pregnancy or does not want to lose her “figure” by a pregnancy, this is after all California, the land of Hollywood and Celebrities! And sometimes for personal reasons, there may not be a fertility issue, yet their desire for a child is still the same. But, more often the truth is far worse, the devastating stories I have heard throughout the years will never stop breaking my heart. Every future parent I have come in contact with has longed to be a parent and although some may not have gone through the same trials or losses as other parents they still have overcome obstacles to get here. These are wonderful people whose only wish is to have a child but are unable to do so without the assistance of a Surrogate Mother. Everyone's journey to this point might be a little different but all have at some point, undergone frustration, devastation and sometimes scrutiny or lack of support from family or friends who may not fully understand their decision. It's certainly a grieving process that still leaves many fearful and guarded of being hurt again. Thanks to some of these Celebrities and high profile people for having the courage to come forward and share their wonderful surrogacy stories and/or how they have overcome infertility in their own lives. It's because of these brave people bringing surrogacy and infertility to the forefront that gives others going through this hope and inspiration.
How long does it generally take to become matched?
We always strive to have many surrogate candidates available at all times to provide everyone with equal opportunity for a well-suited match. This may be as short as a few days or as long as several months. We will help guide you to candidates based off of similar beliefs, interests, preference of relationship between you and the surrogate, and overall compatibility. While you are never placed on a waiting list, surrogate selection should not be based off of availability or convenience.
Can you explain the matching process?
Following an in depth consultation, we will be able to better access your needs and expectations. The matching process is based off of finding you the right person who you feel one hundred percent confident in traveling this journey with. This is a huge step in your life and I always say whether it is searching for an egg donor or surrogate mother, this is not like shopping for a car. You can't return it if you realize you have made a mistake once deep into the process. Taking the time to review surrogate profiles carefully, meeting with the surrogate(s) and her family, possibly even meet with the surrogate and a therapist or psychologist in a joint therapeutic session can help to discover what each person is hopeful for achieving and learn more about how each person deals with stressful situations. Although every situation is different, finding a common ground between parent and surrogate is of the upmost importance to us. A strong connection with your carrier based on mutual trust, respect and understanding is crucial to a successful journey.
What are the next steps following the matching process?
The next steps summarized are as follows:
- Medical Evaluation of the Parents and their Surrogate
- Psychological Consult for the Parents
- Review of Health Insurance for Surrogate, Child & Parents
- Agency Match Agreement between Parents and Surrogate
- Establish the Escrow Account
- Legal Contract Process
- Commencement of the IVF Cycle
- Judgment of Parentage Process (pre-birth order)
- Preparation for your Child's Birth
- Preparation for the Child's departure home (International Clients)
What level of involvement will be required of the Parent(s) during the Surrogacy Arrangement?
We feel it is very important to determine upfront what your desired level involvement and/or ability to be involved will be and what the surrogate expects from you. We understand not everyone lives near their surrogate or has the ability to attend appointments or actively participate. But regardless, this does not mean that you cannot have on-going communication or establish a relationship with your Surrogate. We encourage our parents to have open communication with their surrogate and allow the relationship and/or friendship to develop during the course of this process. You will feel more connected to the pregnancy and your child the more you are able to communicate and share relevant information about the process and pregnancy. Chances are, your surrogate will probably not need you to attend every medical appointment or visit her on the weekends but she does want to know that she has made a difference in your life and that she is appreciated for her efforts. Although every relationship may be different, we work hard to ensure that everyone feels that we have accomplished the right match for them.
Is California a Surrogacy friendly state?
Yes, this means that California is an appropriate jurisdiction to handle surrogacy matters, generally does not have residency requirements for the intended parents and will provide for a California birth certificate of the child(ren) to be issued in the intended parents' names. We only work with surrogates from California to ensure all births take place in California.
How do we ensure our names are put on the birth certificate?
Your selected attorney will prepare the Judgment of Parentage (pre-birth court order) at approximately 24-28 weeks of the pregnancy which shall to be issued by the court of appropriate county jurisdiction and obtained before the birth of the child. This will then be provided to the hospital with instructions to put the intended parent's names on the birth certificate.
Where does the Surrogate Mother give birth?
All our Surrogate mothers reside in Southern California. Your Surrogate Mother will deliver your child(ren) at a hospital that is local to her area/residence. We prefer for her to utilize the same hospital and obstetrician she worked with for the pregnancies/births of her own children. If this cannot be accommodated, (her physician is no longer practicing/hospital does not have a high level Neo Natal Care Unit) then we will assist her with locating another obstetrician, specialist and/or hospital closest to her home.
What if our Surrogate won't give us the baby following the birth?
This is a common fear for many new prospective parents just embarking on this journey. But, this is something that rarely happens. Chances are, any legal cases documented or news media following such occurrence are related to Traditional Surrogacy (the surrogate uses her own eggs and there is a biological relationship with the child) or cases that are outside the State of California where surrogacy laws or the validity of a surrogacy contract may not be as clear. Legally, California is one of the best forums for both surrogacy and contract law. The Surrogate is entering into a valid and enforceable contract under the laws of the State of California with the intent that the child she will be carrying is that of the Intended Parent(s) with legal and physical custody going to the Intended Parents. Aside from this, our surrogates are all gestational carriers (no genetic/biological relationship with the child) and all are pre- screened to determine their emotional and mental suitability which dramatically reduces the risk for any psychological stressors related to an “un-healthy” attachment to the child. With this being said, women who want to become a surrogate are not looking to fill a void in their own life by having this child. She feels very blessed and fortunate to have her own children and her desire is about helping another person/couple experience this same joy. Most of our surrogate applicants have completed their family and have no desire to have another child of their own.
What is the anticipated compensation a Surrogate would receive?
Varying slightly between agencies, a Surrogate's average compensation package can range from $24,000 up to $40,000 and sometimes beyond depending if someone has previous surrogate experience. This may or may not include additional fees for procedures, expense reimbursements or lost wages. Many agencies are controlled by what is industry standard in their immediate area and in order to stay reasonably competitive, they offer the same fee structures as what other agencies provide. Some agencies provide their surrogates with much less even though their agency fees to the parent(s) are on the higher range. So do your research on this topic too.
Surrogate's, are wonderful women who in our opinion, have the most difficult job in the over all process. It's not just a matter of carrying a child for someone. A Surrogate must undergo far more physical changes and risks than she might encounter in any of her own pregnancies. With the medications involved, injections, the IVF procedures, a greater chance for conceiving and carrying multiples, hormonal changes, over all stress, wear and tear on her body, commitment of time, and sacrifices made by both the Surrogate and her family are just a few things she will endure.
A good rule of thumb is if you broke down the Surrogate's compensation to the number of hours in day multiplied by an eleven to twelve month commitment it works out to very little money. I had a surrogate once tell me “I could earn more money working for McDonald's full time” and she was right. The point of this comment was not to insult the amount she was provided but rather share that her desire to help a loving couple have a family of their own was her motivation and her greatest reward, it was not financial. I always tell any new surrogate applicant that if you are looking to earn “easy money” than you will be sorely disappointed. The primary benefit in being a surrogate is to help someone by giving something so special that only few people in this world are willing to do or should I say willing to sacrifice for, what greater honor and accomplishment can be made? And, what more valuable lesson to teach their children then by helping someone create a family.
How is our Surrogate Mother paid during this arrangement?
All compensation installments and/or expense reimbursements will be paid by the escrow holding company. The Surrogate will be required to complete an expense/compensation payment form each month which will first be reviewed by our office. A copy of this form will also be provided to you to review as well. The escrow company requires two signatures, ours and yours, before they will issue payment. All items authorized for payment must be in accordance with the specific terms outlined in your match agreement and legal contract. If any fees are submitted which are considered “out of contract” such fees will be reviewed by the attorneys representing you and your Surrogate.
What are our chances for conceiving a successful pregnancy with Coastal Surrogacy?
Our overall client surrogate pregnancy success rate is currently at 88% with 65% of those pregnancies being achieved on the first transfer attempt. While everyone's fertility journey may differ, the majority of our clients successfully achieve a healthy pregnancy and take home a baby.
Why should I choose Coastal Surrogacy?
If you are looking for that “family feel” from an agency who will also provide invaluable professional and emotional support, then we are the right company for you. We maintain the highest level of personal attention which is customized to your needs and goals, without being overbearing or intrusive. We work hard to foster a good relationship between you and your surrogate to achieve a wonderful experience for everyone involved.