People who decide to start a family through traditional childbirth have certain choices “locked in” that they can’t really do anything about. The gender of the baby and whatever hereditary conditions the child may inherit are all part of a genetic “roll of the dice” that parents must accept. In exchange, however, traditional pregnancies are comparatively “cheap and easy,” in that normal sexual intercourse doesn’t cost any money, and neither does the actual fertilization of the egg and the subsequent pregnancy.
However, for people who cannot conceive naturally, there are several barriers to entry that require a lot of commitment, effort, and financial investment. Surrogate pregnancy is the alternative to adoption if a hopeful family is prioritizing having a newborn of their very own. However, a successful surrogate pregnancy is much more likely when using a surrogacy agency, but how do hopeful families pick on that will meet their goals?
Finding the right surrogacy agency is primarily about aligning services with needs. Some hopeful families will need more out of an agency, and some will need less. What a couple is looking for in terms of support will play a large role in whether an agency is right for them or not.
On one extreme, a couple that wants little or no interference from anyone should probably not use an agency at all. If they would like to search for a potential surrogate mother themselves, conduct interviews, schedule and manage a medical exam to confirm suitability, and then micro-manage every aspect of the pregnancy personally. They are unlikely to require an agency, provided they are willing to put in this time and effort themselves.
On the other hand, many couples would like to undertake a surrogate pregnancy as soon as possible, which means selecting viable candidates already available. This is the “foundation function” of any surrogacy agency. It’s not easy finding a suitable surrogate mother. A surrogate mother will, of course, be in good health and medically evaluated as fit for safely getting pregnant. However, on top of this, an ideal surrogate mother will have already had at least one childbirth so that there are little or no medical or psychological unknowns to face for both herself and the hopeful couple.
Agencies do a good job of finding potential candidates that meet all the baseline requirements for a successful surrogacy. For a fee, this eliminates all the time a hopeful couple would have to spend looking up candidates on their own, contacting them, interviewing, and then verifying whether they are even viable surrogate mothers.
However, in some cases, the basic function of the surrogate agency may not be sufficient. If a couple wants to do more than just find a surrogate mother and undertake additional complex medical procedures, they may want guidance—or even contacts—with appropriate facilities and services.
In Vitro Fertilization, or IVF, is a common additional need for some hopeful families. If a hopeful couple wants a “traditional baby” in the sense that the genetic makeup of the infant is a mix of the hopeful father and mother or some other specific genetic configuration, then IVF is required for this. It means extracting sperm and egg samples, fertilizing them in a lab, then implanting in the surrogate mother. Some agencies have experience with IVF surrogacy, meaning that they have established contacts and protocols with hospitals and IVF labs so that hopeful families don’t have to go searching and verifying these facilities on their own.
Another thing that may affect the surrogacy agency you want to use is whether or not the type of services you desire is unavailable in your country. In Canada, for example, while surrogacy is legal everywhere except Quebec, only altruistic surrogacy—that is, voluntary, covering only living and medical expenses—is permitted. Couples that want more choice and are willing to spend more money may want to use a compensated surrogacy, where the surrogate mother receives financial recognition for the role she plays. Countries that have legalized compensated surrogacies usually offer even more choice, with a consistently high level of health and quality for viable surrogate mother candidates.
If you live in a country where surrogacy agencies can’t legally offer compensated surrogacy, then other countries, such as the city of Tbilisi in Georgia, may be alternatives that provide these services. Traveling abroad to engage the services of these agencies may make more sense for your needs. In some cases, the associated costs may even be lower due to differences in currencies and exchange rates. Americans, for example, will always find equivalent surrogate services offered in Tbilisi to be less expensive than the American equivalent.
As always, however, the final choice in which agency is right for a hopeful family rests on your specific needs for this experience. Make sure to confirm that agencies you consider offer the services you need.