Three steps to simplifying your surrogacy process (and enjoying the journey!)

Becoming a parent through gestational surrogacy doesn’t have to be difficult, but it can feel that way as you sort through all the information the internet has to offer. If you love simplicity, this list is for you.

 

Here are the 3 things every prospective parent should know before having a baby via surrogate.

 

  1. Create a budget: The costs for gestational surrogacy can be broken down into two main categories: mandatory and optional. Mandatory costs are mainly legal fees, psychological evaluation and monitoring, surrogate compensation and expenses, medical costs, insurance coverage and agency fees. Optional expenses may include elective genetic testing on the embryos, having twins, or working with an experienced surrogate. Some optional selections might feel mandatory to you. Maybe you are also considering doing multiple surrogacy processes. No matter your goals, we are here to help create a budget tailored to you.

 

At Growing Generations, one of the first things we help clients do is establish their priorities. By identifying what is most important to you in the surrogacy process, two great things happen. First, before even starting the process, you can isolate the costs that best match your priorities, giving you a much clearer idea of your potential surrogacy costs. Second, as you go through the process, you might find things don’t always go according to plan. If you have already established priorities, it’s easier to make decisions, especially when it comes to saving money. And it’s a main part of the services we offer at Growing Generations.

 

For example one of our families, a multi-racial same-sex couple, one African-American and the other white European, decided they wanted to have twins, one boy and one girl. And although they wanted their children to look similar to both parents, they had decided having twins was their top priority. To get started, they needed both a surrogate and an egg donor, and they would each contribute sperm. However, if one father didn’t produce any embryos, and the other father produced both male and female embryos, then those were the embryos they would transfer. In other words, it was more important to them to have boy/girl twins then it was for both fathers to each have a biological child and, in turn, spend more money on cycling an egg donor again.

 

If you are not sure how to establish your priorities, or what pitfalls to look out for, we can help. One of our Growing Generations finance team experts will be happy to work with you to create a tailor-made budget that fits your desires for the surrogacy process and help you assess the risks. Click here to contact us and schedule a time to talk.

 

  1. Have a timeline: Once you create a budget, now it is time to plan when to begin your surrogacy journey. Some intended parents can complete the process in as little as 13 months. In fact, we just had a case that got it all done in 11 months! However, the average surrogacy case ranges between 13 and 18 months. You might notice surrogacy agencies advertising that they have the quickest overall process time. This can be misleading since each case is individual and has its own factors that determine how fast or slow things move. The factors involved in timing are usually:

 

  • Pregnancy success: Some cases get pregnant on the first attempt, others take three or more tries. In general, the success rate has mostly to do with the age of the egg when harvested. For instance, our experience has shown that intended parents using eggs 30 years or younger get pregnant on the first attempt most of the time, whereas eggs 38 years or older usually take multiple attempts to achieve pregnancy. Each additional pregnancy attempt usually adds 2-3 months to your timeline.

 

  • Having embryos ready: If you have embryos already frozen and ready for implantation, this will speed things along once you are matched with a surrogate. If you do not have embryos ready when you start the surrogacy process, don’t worry. You will almost always encounter a wait for your surrogate. And while you are waiting for your surrogate match, this is a great time to create embryos.

 

We recently spoke with five different IVF physicians all over the United States to find out whether there is a difference in pregnancy success when using fresh vs. frozen embryos. All five doctors said there was no difference at all. The only exception to this is if you are creating embryos from a frozen egg—then they noticed lowered rates of success. Also, if you are doing genetic testing on the embryos, most IVF physicians will biopsy the embryos and then freeze them while awaiting the genetic testing results.

 

At Growing Generations, we have found that “banking” embryos not only helps to reduce the overall time of the surrogacy process, but it helps to eliminate certain risks and reduce costs.

 

  • Surrogate wait time: If you have been researching gestational surrogacy, then you have likely seen surrogacy agencies advertising things like “instant surrogate match,” “surrogates ready to go,” or “no wait for a surrogate.” These are all very alluring claims because once you are ready to start the process, you can hardly wait for that baby. Let’s start by dispelling a few myths about surrogate matching and, in particular, surrogate candidates, so that you know what to watch out for.

 

Each year tens of thousands of women apply to become a surrogate. In fact, at Growing Generations, we receive over 20,000 applicants annually. Growing Generations takes less than 1% of women who apply to become surrogates. If you look at the professional surrogacy industry as a whole, reputable and established surrogacy agencies are taking, at most, 5% of surrogate applicants. What does this all mean for you?

 

With the acceptance rate for surrogate applicants so low and the demand for surrogacy growing every year, intended parents experience a waiting period to receive a surrogate match. But this waiting period is all for your benefit. Oftentimes agencies that advertise “no wait” for a surrogate have accepted previously declined surrogate applicants from more reputable agencies. These surrogate applicants now know how to change their answers on their new applications in order to qualify as a surrogate. And with over 150 different surrogacy and egg donation agencies in the United States, many do not have the resources to properly admit surrogates, and thus the surrogate is only minimally vetted before being presented to you. That surrogate then goes through medical and psychological screenings and what she lied about on her application is revealed. You now have no surrogate and owe between $5,000 and $10,000 in surrogate screening expenses that you, not the surrogacy agency, must pay!

 

At Growing Generations, we have one of the most rigorous surrogate screening protocols in the entire surrogacy industry. In fact, if your surrogate doesn’t pass screening, we will pay her screening expenses—something we believe no other agency offers. Read more about our screening process and guarantee here . If your surrogacy agency isn’t using these same standards to screen your surrogate before you receive her profile, be very careful. But let’s say you hired a reputable agency with an excellent surrogate admissions process, here are ways to reduce your surrogate wait time and shave off time from the overall surrogacy process.

 

 

  1. Be open: The more restrictions you place on your potential surrogate, the fewer surrogate candidates from which you will have to choose. For instance, if you only wish to work with a gestational surrogate who lives in California, you reduce the pool of surrogates available to you by 60-70%. Some people want a married surrogate. With the U.S. divorce rate hovering around 50%, you can expect about half of all surrogates to be single moms. Other intended parents require that their surrogate have a college education, and our experience indicates that the majority of surrogates do not have a higher education.

 

When working with your surrogacy agency, it is important to express what is a requirement and what is a preference for your ideal surrogate match, then elaborate on both. For instance, we had a client who required an experienced surrogate who was married and college-educated. At Growing Generations, we like to dig a little deeper to see if what you think you need will really get you what you want. In this case, the intended parents wanted an experienced surrogate because she knew what to do; married because she would have support at home; and college-educated so they could relate to her better. The reasoning is valid, just not necessarily accurate.

 

Experienced surrogates are great, and we have a lot of them. But all Growing Generations’ surrogates are moms who have had successful pregnancies. Nothing in our data shows that experienced surrogates perform better than non-experienced surrogates. This should really be a preference, not a requirement, if your ultimate goal is to reduce time. Married surrogates might very well have the support of a spouse at home, or that spouse might be another person the surrogate is caring for. A requirement of all Growing Generations’ surrogates is that they must have a support network nearby them. Lastly, relating to your surrogate on a variety of levels can be very helpful, but a college education isn’t what provides that. Part of the Growing Generations process is to match you with a surrogate based on preferences, shared expectations and personality. About 99% of our clients confirm their surrogate match the first time. The most common thing we hear from intended parents after a match meeting is, “I can’t believe she is so normal!” This process will surprise you in many great ways. So lean into it and be open to suggestions.

 

If this has gotten you interested in digging deeper into the process, we are happy to schedule a free consult in-person at one of our offices or virtually via video conference. Or maybe you have some basic questions you would like to get out of the way first. Either way, click here to contact us, and we will get back to you shortly.

Dr. Kim Bergman

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 22 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for the last 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 Fertility Counseling Services and Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, the American Fertility Association, 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 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 created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 28 years and their two teenage daughters.