Why Tinder-Like Matching Apps are Bad for Surrogacy

Not too long ago, agencies or surrogacy classified boards were about the only options surrogates and intended parents had for finding one another. But the Internet and mobile data have changed the way we live. Today people are able to shop for homes, book travel, order dinner, and pay their bills all without even leaving the couch. And, of course, there are the dating apps. They make it very easy to browse people allowing you to, “swipe right” when someone catches your eye. The swiping process has even branched into the world of assisted reproduction. There is surface-level appeal, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right way to go about your surrogacy journey.

Third party reproduction apps work by allowing a variety of users to sign up for a free account and then create profiles about themselves, not unlike dating apps. These profiles are then made available to hopeful parents, egg donors, sperm donors, and surrogates to browse. Then, if you’re interested, you reach out and open a line of communication.

We completely understand why apps and programs like this would appeal to potential surrogates. It’s quick and easy to sign up, and in a matter of hours, you can go from considering surrogacy to staring at hundreds of faces of hopeful parents all vying for your help in creating their family. This approach is fast, simple, non-intrusive, and offers pretty immediate positive reinforcement. Before you’ve given any thought at all to if your wants and needs align, you’re already speaking over chat and falling in love with one another. And once that ball gets rolling, it can be emotionally difficult to stop the forward momentum.

The very ease of access that makes these apps appealing is the exact reason we don’t advocate using them. When you become a surrogate with a respected agency, you have to go through a strenuous application and screening process. While we acknowledge that this procedure is time intensive and can feel overwhelming by comparison, the outcome is that we only advance surrogates who are ideal both medically and psychologically. This safeguards everyone involved.

Additionally, when using an agency, the intended parents that you’ll match with are not just “window shopping.” They’ve talked with lawyers, psychologists, and doctors before they talk to you. They’ve got their funding in order and they’re ready to move forward. When you find your match through an agency there is less wasted time, even if it takes a bit longer to get started.

Surrogacy involves a series of medical appointments. All of these appointments have costs associated with them, and while surrogate pregnancy is no more dangerous than biological pregnancy, complications can happen. When venturing into a non-assisted match, you’re sacrificing the expert guidance of seasoned professionals.

While we are not saying that you can not do these things without the assistance of an agency, to do so opens you up to the potential of increased complications. If you need continued medical follow-up, will the individuals you meet through a social app be there for you? Who pays your medical bills? What happens if you encounter a problem and have no mediator to help facilitate a resolution?

When you work with an agency, you are represented by professionals who have seen it all, done it all, and helped to create thousands of families already. You benefit from their experience and commitment to comply with ethical standards established by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). You’re also working with lawyers who are well trained in reproductive law. These laws vary by state and are often in flux. Working with a lawyer hand-picked by an agency means you’re getting the best reproductive law minds out there.

Becoming a surrogate is a big decision. It deserves careful consideration and a team of professionals to ensure that the experience is a positive one. If you’re ready to seriously consider surrogacy, our team of knowledgeable, dedicated admissions specialists are ready to talk with you.

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for intended parents, surrogates and donors. She is the co-owner of Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national Emeritus board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman’s is the author of the book, Your Future Family: The Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Conari Press 2019) as well as the children's book You Began as a Wish (Independent Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. She has two adult daughters.