Questions to Ask an Agency (and Our Answers)

Trust is the cornerstone of a successful surrogacy process and it starts with selecting the right agency. We believe that our best client is an educated client and that’s why we encourage you to do your homework and compare agencies. We’re confident that when you do, our agency will stand out as the best choice.

Couple with new baby at home

How long has your agency been in business?
At this time, laws are lenient and anyone that wants to can set up shop and have an agency. But not everyone can competently run a company that involves legal contracts, detailed coordination, diverse personalities, large escrow accounts and the disbursement of funds. So how can a Surrogate or an Intended Parent know if they are dealing with a reputable agency? The truth is, time will tell, and with time comes experience in dealing with those unforeseen things that can come up during a surrogacy. Ideally, you want your surrogacy agency to have at least been in business long enough to assure that they’ve had experience with many different surrogacy scenarios. Make sure to ask any agency how long they’ve been in business, how they handle problems should they arise and don’t be afraid to ask for references. Our agency is one of the most trusted and respected agencies in the business and we have been helping people build their families through gestational surrogacy since 2004. We are incorporated and have all the necessary business documentation, plus we are more than happy to provide personal references.
How many clients has your agency assisted?
Our agency handles approximately 40 to 55 surrogacy cases at any given time – which puts us in the Goldilocks category – not too big and not too small. We have purposefully chosen to grow our company slowly so that we can maintain healthy case loads for each of our case managers and so that both Kathryn and Lauri can oversee all of the cases. This way, you receive the personal attention and hand holding that as an Intended Parent, or Surrogate you want and deserve.
How often do the surrogates fail medical or psychological evaluation?
Some agencies will claim that their GSs are already medically cleared (prior to you even signing with their agency) – but the truth is, until your own RE has screened your specific surrogate she is not cleared. An RE associated with the agency within the last 6 months may have examined her, but each doctor has their own criteria, and uterine issues can come and go between evaluations. We don’t want to waste your time and money telling you we have ‘pre-screened’ surrogates… we believe that is false advertising. So, instead, once we have a surrogate in mind for you, we forward the surrogate’s medical records to your own RE for him/her to review prior to matching you. That way, your RE can approve the surrogate ‘on paper.’ Once you are officially matched, your RE will do a full evaluation of the surrogate in person. We cannot guarantee that your surrogate will pass the physical evaluation since we cannot see inside her uterus, nor do have her most current blood work results. But we’re good at what we do… to date, we’ve only had one surrogate in 8 years be eliminated for an issue that came up in her blood work, and typically if there is a uterine issue like a polyp or cyst, it can be removed and the surrogate can go on (and has gone on) to have a successful pregnancy and delivery. As for psychological screening, we have NEVER had a surrogate fail a psych evaluation – and this is because of the time and care we put into educating potential surrogates about this process, and because of our own screening regimen. What this means is that we reject a large portion of the wonderful women who apply to our agency – since many of them do not fully understand what it really takes to be a surrogate when they contact us. But that leaves us with the cream of the crop (so to speak) when matching you.
Has your agency been sued by clients or surrogates?
Our agency prides itself on our reputation. We believe in doing everything within the boundaries of the law. We do not cut important corners to save a buck at the risk of putting Intended Parents, Surrogates or ourselves in any legally murky situations. Our agency has never been sued by a client or surrogate, and we have never had clients and surrogates involved in legal disputes. We take the legal aspects of our business practices very seriously and are proud to provide the highest level of professional service to our clients and surrogates.
Are the prices you quote what your clients actually pay?
From the very beginning, we are completely honest in providing any potential Intended Parents with a very detailed estimate of costs and we try to anticipate all of the costs that will be incurred (not just the ones directly associated with paying the Surrogate). However, it is just that – an estimate, there is no way to know upfront exactly how a surrogacy will go. There is no way to foretell how many IVF cycles it will take to get pregnant, whether or not the surrogate will get pregnant with multiples, whether there will be any bed rest or lost wages, etc. We prefer to estimate on the high side, that way you can budget appropriately for your journey, and not have any big surprises. We tell people to plan for the worst but hope for the best. We encourage you to compare our estimates with those of any agency to see if they are actually quoting all of the expenses related to the surrogacy process. While some agencies may quote lower costs, our experience has shown that almost everyone spends within 10-20% of the same amount. Often agencies will quote lower overall amounts because they have not included all of the other expenses that are not directly related to the surrogate – for instance, the IVF costs, medications, legal fees, etc. Our overall estimate includes all fees associated with the entire surrogacy process (even though you will be paying each vendor directly). So don’t be fooled by lower ‘overall’ costs quoted by other agencies. Do the math yourself and you will see that it adds up. And what we’ve seen, if an agency tells you differently, they are not being completely honest with you.
Has your agency ever had parental judgments denied or delayed?
Some agencies work in states where surrogacy is not legal, or the climate for surrogacy is uncertain. This has caused cases where Intended Parents have had difficulty obtaining parental rights for their children, or the surrogacy has been contested. Agency for Surrogacy Solutions, Inc. only works in states where we have a proven track record of obtaining parental judgments and only works with highly experienced third party reproductive lawyers to ensure the easiest of legal paths for you and your GS. We have never had a case where the Intended Parents have not been named as the sole parents of the child in a timely and efficient manner, and we only work with the country’s top third party reproductive lawyers.
What services do you provide?
We have found that many agencies simply don’t have the staff or expertise to provide Intended Parents with anything more than an introduction to a surrogate and referrals to a clinic or attorney. Our company provides comprehensive screening of surrogates, on-going case management and supervision of the Intended Parents’ trust or escrow account throughout each phase of the surrogacy process until months after your child is delivered safely and legally into your arms. The surrogacy process is complex and requires knowledge and expertise throughout the entire process (even six months after your baby is born), not just at the beginning.
Can I choose my own lawyer or do you pick one for me?
There are some surrogacy agencies that will limit your options in regards to your legal representation, in fact, in some cases, they will tell you the lawyer you are ‘allowed’ to work with. We disagree with that way of thinking. Our agency is open to having you work with any experienced third party reproductive lawyer. That said, we have a list of our preferred attorneys, ones we have worked with for many years – who are skilled, experienced and who have proven to be excellent and accessible communicators. We have found that it is very important to have an attorney who is available to talk with you – so that you will feel secure in this process and with your decisions. Due to our long-standing relationships with the top reproductive attorneys in the country, we can offer you one, two, or even up to 10 names to choose from.
Will I have a surrogacy contract and an attorney to represent me?
Whether you are an Intended Parent or a Surrogate, you will have your own attorney who represents you through the surrogacy contract phase. The contract outlines all of the rights and responsibilities of both parties and is designed as a blueprint for how your surrogacy process will work. It includes the compensation and benefits package for the surrogate. Your attorney will personally discuss the specific aspects of the contract with you and you will not sign the surrogacy contract until you are completely comfortable with it.
What states do the surrogates you work with live in?
Each state in the US has their own specific laws that outline the guidelines for conducting a surrogacy there. In some states it is illegal and they will not recognize the contract and your name will not go on the birth certificate. For obvious reasons we do not work with surrogates giving birth in those states. Other states support the process but only if one or both of the Intended Parents have a biological tie to the child. Some states only will allow heterosexual, legally married Intended Parents’ names to go on the birth certificate, others will have both names of a same-sex couples or just a single parents name on the birth certificate. States also differ as to when the parental rights of the surrogate are terminated – sometimes prior to the delivery and sometimes immediately after the delivery. Prior to matching, we will discuss the laws in the state where your particular surrogate lives. For us, as long as the surrogate lives in a surro-friendly state where your names will go directly on the birth certificate, a match is more about finding the right person than about finding the right ‘location.’ Still, if you have a specific state in mind, we will do our best to meet your needs. But remember, no matter which state your GS will give birth in, our agency will work hand-in-hand with you and your lawyer to make sure you understand the process and that things run smoothly.