Sam Everingham from www.familiesthrusurrogacy.com tackles some commonly asked questions when making decisions about surrogacy
What are the risks of overseas surrogacy?
As I write this, a man and his infertile wife engaging in surrogacy offshore have just learned their surrogate has fake ID documents and signed a contract after embryo transfer. Their citizenship applications have been rejected until identity and informed consent can be established.
A single man using US surrogacy finds his costs spiraling way beyond his budget – exacerbated by errors in billing not picked up for months.
A new parent presents to their embassy saying their surrogate is Nepalese, not understanding Nepali’s aren’t able to work as surrogates in Nepal. The surrogate was Indian.
How do I judge if a provider is reputable before engaging?
Talk to parents who have used that provider. Meet them. Word of mouth recommendation is key to building trust. Look for parents who rate their surrogacy providers (these may be lawyers, clinics, surrogate or donor agencies) as transparent. Look for evidence they will meet your financial constraints and communication expectations.
How can I prevent things going wrong?
Short answer. You can’t. Surrogacy, like all IVF, has no guarantees.
But you can reduce the chances of failure hugely by getting involved in the detail of your journey from the start. Second, it’s not the destination that is key, but those you work with. Engage with surrogacy professionals with high quality standards, checks and balances in place.
There is no single expert who can assist with all aspects of surrogacy. Instead relying on consumer feedback, experienced attorneys, psychologists, agencies, reproductive medicine experts and (when going international) ‘exit’ specialists is key to a smooth journey.
Sadly some newer US and international agents and clinics have little experience of surrogacy, let alone support systems and quality control to minimize problems. Some take on too many clients or outsource important aspects without sufficient oversight. Others poorly screen surrogates or fail to properly explain contracts to them.
Overseas or US surrogacy?
For some parents, the risks of international arrangements mean they’ll stretch themselves further financially to engage with a reliable provider at home. Some will source a US surrogate independently to save on costs. For many others, US surrogacy remains out of reach financially, so confidence in a trustworthy overseas provider is paramount.
How can consumer networks assist me?
Families Through Surrogacy (FTS) was formed three years ago by volunteer consumers committed to helping others on their surrogacy journeys. The idea was a forum where parents could support & learn from each other, ask the tough questions, avoid dud agencies and understand which are the most reliable, in whichever country they were engaging.
These conferences and closed facebook communities have become a safe haven where intended parents can learn, support and gain confidence to make the right decisions on what can be a complicated journey.
Why do hopeful parents and surrogates attend conferences?
Simply speaking, they want to hear from trustworthy experts and others on the same journey. Some FTS events attract over 200 intended parents and surrogates each year, many returning again and again. The reason for this popularity is not just consumers wanting empowerment over the decisions they make, but the opportunity for both social connection and strengthening support networks.
What sort of professionals speak?
Families Through Surrogacy tries hard to only include professionals with terrific client satisfaction ratings. This does mean there are clinics we now refuse to work with. A clinic that is achieving good results and high client satisfaction may, with staff, process or location changes, rapidly decline within a year or two.
How can I provide feedback on my own experience?
Click here to rate a surrogacy professional anonymously. Aggregated scores are made available to intended parents to assist their decision-making. You can even volunteer as a panelist for an upcoming event.
When is the next US Consumer Conference?
If you are after the latest advice and options, as well as hearing from older children via surrogacy, register for FTS upcoming San Francisco Consumer conference on Sept 26-27.