Unless you are considering being a surrogate for a friend or family member, the advantages of working with a surrogacy agency often far outweigh the disadvantages. If you choose not to work with an agency, that’s considered an independent surrogacy journey.
Screening & Eligibility
Surrogates working with a surrogacy agency do have to be carefully screened before they’re approved to be matched (read about the details of that process here: Surrogacy Process – New York Surrogacy Center (nysurrogacycenter.com)). Although the surrogate screening process may seem like a lot of work, it’s a very important part of the overall process. The agency is making sure that there’s nothing in your history or circumstances that will disqualify you from acting as a surrogate or make it unlikely you would have a successful embryo transfer and pregnancy. If you’re participating in an independent surrogacy journey, many of these steps are often skipped so you aren’t disqualified until father along in the process. This results in a waste of everyone’s time and money and can also be very disappointing for all involved.
Support & Information
One of the big things your surrogacy agency will do for you is explain the surrogacy process and provide support throughout your surrogacy journey. There is a lot of information available on the internet about surrogacy but some of it is plain wrong and much of it may not apply to you. How your journey will unfold will depend upon many things, including where you live and where your intended parents live. Your surrogacy agency will be able to go through all of the requirements specific to your journey with you. If you’re pursuing an independent surrogacy journey, your intended parents may be relying on that incorrect or nonspecific information on the internet. That can result in problems as you move forward with the medical and legal procedures that are part of your surrogacy journey.
Although we hope every surrogacy match is perfect and there are no issues along the way, we know that’s not realistic. All of the people involved are human and have their own emotions and personalities. As a result, there will be friction or conflict in some matches. If that happens to you, your surrogacy agency will be there to step in and help smooth things out before it becomes a bigger issue. Your surrogacy agency can also provide referrals for counseling or mediation if necessary. If you’re an independent surrogate, you don’t have anyone to turn to for that type of help.
Your surrogacy agency will get to know you and the intended parents very well and carefully match you based upon various different criteria that will be important throughout the surrogacy journey. When surrogacy matches are made independently, it’s often based primarily on getting along well and liking each other. Most prospective surrogates and intended parents don’t know enough about the process at that point to drill down to the same level before deciding to move forward with the match. This can cause problems as you continue on with your surrogacy journey.
Surrogate compensation is typically set by the surrogacy agency and not subject to negotiation (more details can be found here: Compensation – New York Surrogacy Center (nysurrogacycenter.com)). Many independent journeys involve lower compensation for the surrogate. This is often because the intended parents are pursuing an independent due to issues financing their surrogacy journey. In my experience representing surrogates over the years, some of them are happy to receive a lower amount of compensation (or be completely uncompensated) and that’s absolutely fine but it is something to be aware of when deciding whether to go with an agency or independent. This is also not an absolute rule – we have certainly seen independent surrogates who have received higher compensation than is offered by surrogacy agencies.