Once Intended Parents have been advised to seek the assistance of a Gestational Surrogate (Carrier), one of the first decisions they face is whether to try to find a Gestational Surrogate on their own (commonly referred to as “Independent Surrogacy”) or find one through a Gestational Carrier Program (or Agency). Many Intended Parents are fortunate to have a friend or relative offer to be their Gestational Surrogate. However, many Intended Parents either do not have this option or feel that this is not the best option for them (e.g. they may not feel comfortable having the Gestational Surrogate so intimately involved in their lives). For these Intended Parents, a quick online search will show that there are many, many programs/agencies, providing various services. Additionally, there are many women who advertise their “services” as a Gestational Surrogate. For many Intended Parents, unless they have a friend or relative offering to be their Gestational Surrogate, finding an independent Gestational Surrogate online may be a way to reduce their costs, as there is no program/agency fee involved.
Although this option may reduce the Intended Parents’ costs, is this always the best option? Before pursuing an independent gestational surrogacy, there are several potential issues that you may want to consider before deciding if this path is right for you.
Motivation: Why is the Gestational Surrogate pursuing this on her own and not through a program or agency? At times, if a woman is rejected by a surrogacy program/agency for not meeting the program/agency’s criteria (typically this criteria is based upon the Guidelines issued by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine – ASRM), she may decide to try to find Intended Parents on her own. The difficulty with this is that, if she has been rejected previously, there is a very real likelihood that she will not be approved by the Intended Parents’ reproductive endocrinologist. Although some repeat Gestational Surrogates feel that, based upon their previous experience, they can do this on their own, the independent Gestational Surrogates who are first-time Surrogates have usually been denied by programs/agencies and/or fertility clinics. As a result, it is important to find out why they are pursuing this surrogacy journey on their own, without a program to guide the process.
Investigation: Many gestational surrogacy programs/agencies investigate the Gestational Surrogate in some manner. This may be through questionnaires, criminal background checks, and/or home visits. As many have discovered through online dating, when you “meet” someone online, they may not be who they purport to be. How will you verify her identity? How will you confirm that she has a safe living environment? How will you determine that her husband (if married) is supportive? How will you confirm that there are no arrest warrants pending for her or criminal convictions?
Intended Parents pursuing gestational surrogacy for the first time are faced with the fact that they “don’t know what they don’t know”. Many families will locate a Gestational Surrogate, spend time getting to know her, investing themselves emotionally and financially, only to find out that the Gestational Surrogate may not be able to be medically approved, psychologically approved, may not have insurance that can cover the maternity and delivery expenses, or may have other legal issues that cannot be overcome. For Intended Parents who want to pursue independent gestational surrogacy, the Law Offices of James Fletcher Thompson provides various services in order to help our clients determine whether or not an independent Gestational Surrogate will be a good match from them. From interviewing the Gestational Surrogate, to completing background checks and home visits (completed by a social worker), to coordinating her insurance policy review, the Law Offices of James Fletcher Thompson can customize a plan that is specific to our clients’ needs.
If you are considering using an independent gestational surrogate to build your family, please contact our office today to schedule a consultation with Jim Thompson.