How to Find a Surrogate
Prospective surrogates come from many places and can be found through various avenues. While an incredibly important step in any intended parent’s surrogacy journey, finding the right surrogate or even knowing where to start can be challenging.
Some choose to have someone they already know, such as a close friend or family member, act as their surrogate. Others will turn to classified ad sites like Craigslist, and others still, will work with surrogacy agencies.
This article will cover several ways to find a surrogate mother and explore each method’s key pros and cons. After exploring all the options carefully, there should be no more questions about how to find a surrogate.
Finding a Surrogate with a Surrogacy Agency
A surrogacy agency is a professional organization that handles all or most aspects of the surrogacy process. Because of their specialization, working with an agency is the safest, most common, and most surefire way to find the perfect surrogate. This is especially true if you don’t already have someone specific, like a family member, in mind.
A surrogacy agency usually works diligently to pre-screen to ensure only the highest quality gestational surrogates enter their program and handles many other logistical and legal aspects of the surrogacy journey.
The first step of finding a surrogate when working with a surrogate agency like Surrogate Steps is to have a consultation where the agency will learn about all your goals, preferences and more for your surrogacy and surrogacy journey.
After learning about your surrogacy preferences, we will find a surrogate that makes a great match from our pool of highly qualified pre-screened surrogates who meet all the strict requirements of being a surrogate.
Once a potential match is found, we will present the surrogate’s profile to the intended parents. If the intended parent agrees the match looks good, a match meeting will be arranged.
Assuming the intended parent and surrogate all get along and continue to want to work together, the surrogate and intended parent will officially be matched.
When working with a surrogacy agency, finding a surrogate is as simple as that.
Pros of Finding a Surrogate with an Agency
Agencies are experts in surrogacy screening, planning, matching, and the overall management of the surrogacy process. Intended parents who work with an agency enjoy many benefits, including but not limited to the following:
- Fast time to match: Surrogate agencies often have a pool of surrogates ready to work with. Even if they don’t have the perfect surrogate at the moment, surrogate agencies have the channels and resources to find a suitable surrogate in a timely fashion. Unless you already have a surrogate in mind, finding a qualified one alone can be incredibly challenging and time-consuming, leading to many dead ends and wasted time.
- High-Quality Surrogates: Surrogate agencies know what it takes to make a good surrogate and is highly skilled in identifying and screening quality potential surrogates. Furthermore, most high-quality surrogates want to work with an agency for the additional support, protection, and guidance agencies offer their surrogates. This is another reason finding a surrogate on your own can be challenging.
- Legal Guidance: Surrogacy is a highly complex legal matter, and many agencies have internal counsel or connections with trusted third-party reproductive attorneys. At surrogate steps, our founder and director, Yifat Shaltiel, is a highly respected reproductive attorney who acts as the legal director and guides our surrogates and intended parents. To provide the best and most ethical service and protect both the interest of the intended parents and the surrogates we work with, Yifta and the team at surrogate steps refer out the representation of both the IP and surrogate to trusted professional colleges while offering herself as a trusted guide to both.
- Logistics: Agencies work diligently with the intended parent’s clinic and surrogate to coordinate all of the medical appointments and procedures to establish and maintain the pregnancy, delivery the baby, coordinate parentage, and more.
- Support: Surrogacy agencies act as a vital and trusted source of truth, education, communication, and support for intended parents through the process.
Cons of Finding a Surrogate with an Agency
For most intended parents, working with an agency is an efficient and trusted way to find a high-quality surrogate. That said, there are some potential cons to be aware of:
- Cost: Finding a surrogate mother with an agency will most likely cost more. Agency fees range from $15,000-50,000 in the United States. Of course, it’s important to consider the time savings working with an agency, the quality of agencies’ surrogates, and more. So, while a surrogate agency will cost more upfront, it may save you money in the long run by working with a competent surrogate and saving you from unnecessary extra embryo transfers, miscellaneous expenses to qualify your surrogate properly, and legal troubles down the road.
- Deciding What Surrogate Agency can be Tough: Choosing the right agency to work with can be difficult. Do your research and speak to a few agencies before deciding which one to work with.
- Experience: If you’re a highly independent person and self-starter who enjoys getting your hands messy, you may like attempting surrogacy on your own.
How to Find a Surrogate without an Agency
Depending on the circumstances, pursuing surrogacy without an agency could be doable or reserved only for the truly brave.
Here are some common ways people find a surrogate when they’re not working with an agency
- Family or friends
- Through a fertility clinic
- Through a reproductive attorney
- Through an online surrogacy support group
Let’s explore each of the above in a bit more detail.
Finding a Surrogate through a Reproductive Attorney
While most surrogacy attorneys work with a third-party surrogacy agency, some surrogacy attorneys maintain a small pool of prospective surrogates.
However, it would not be recommended to go out there and call every surrogacy attorney to see if they have a surrogate. Recruiting, qualifying, and maintaining a pool of active and ready surrogates is time-consuming, and most attorneys do not have the resources or desire to focus on these services.
For this reason, working with a reproductive attorney to try and find a surrogate is similar to finding a surrogate yourself. Of course, it is important to work with an attorney specializing in reproductive law for various important steps in surrogacy, but finding a surrogate is usually not one of them.
Pros of Finding a Surrogate through a Reproductive Attorney
- Potentially one less organization you need to work with, which could simplify things.
Cons of Finding a Surrogate through a Reproductive Attorney
- Little to no guidance or support through key stages of the surrogacy journey.
Finding a Surrogate through a Fertility Clinic
Similar to surrogacy attorneys, some fertility clinics recruit, qualify, and match surrogates with intended parents at their clinics.
That said, most fertility clinics refer to specialized surrogacy agencies like Surrogate Steps to find a surrogate before engaging in the medical aspects of surrogacy the fertility clinic manages.
Still, it’s a good idea to check with your fertility clinic (if you have one) to see if they have their own surrogates.
Fertility clinics with their own surrogates clinics can perform all the medical screening of prospective surrogates to ensure they are fit for pregnancy before matching with intended parents.
However, even if a fertility clinic has its own surrogates to match, their guidance and care often end after the embryo transfer leaving intended parents on their own to navigate the legal arrangements and other stressful events that may arise during the surrogate pregnancy.
Pros of Finding a Surrogate through a Fertility Clinic
- Potentially one less organization you need to work with, which could simplify things.
- May simplify coordinating fertility treatment aspects of the surrogacy journey
Cons of Finding a Surrogate through a Fertility Clinic
- Very few fertility clinics maintain a full-service surrogacy program
- Of clinics with their own surrogates, options may be limited.
- Fertility Clinics, even ones with surrogacy programs, typically only focus on the medical aspect of surrogacy, leaving you alone to sort out all other aspects of the surrogacy process.
How to Find a Surrogate Using Online Support Groups
One of the most popular ways for people searching for a surrogate is to look through online support groups. With the advent of social media and the prevalence and support groups for nearly everything, many websites and social media groups have sprouted to act as a place to connect surrogate mothers with intended parents.
While this may be a more affordable solution in the short term than working with an agency or some other options, it is not for the faint of heart. Surrogacy is a highly complex process with important medical and legal considerations.
When finding a surrogate in an online support group, you’ll be responsible for screening the surrogate, coordinating their medical care, managing the legal aspects of surrogacy, and more.
It’s also important to note that there will be no intermediary between the surrogate and the intended parents.
Pros of Finding a Surrogate Using Online Support Groups
- It could be less expensive due to not needing to pay an agency fee.
Cons of Finding a Surrogate Using Online Support Groups
- You have not known the person for a long time. Given the monumental nature of surrogacy, not having an agency AND not having a long personal history with the person could be a problem.
- All screening will need to be done by yourself.
- Much like other options on this list, there is no support or expert to guide you through the process if you work with a surrogate you find through an online group.
- The quality of the surrogate may suffer as many high quality surrogates want to work with an agency due to the support and other protections it offers.
- It could actually be more expensive than working with an agency if costly mistakes are made in the screening of the surrogate or with medical or legal aspects of surrogacy.
Finding a Surrogate Mother through Family or Friends
If you are keen on finding a surrogate independently, the best place to start is likely amongst your friends and family.
Of course, when working with a family member, there are still lots to important logistical and legal matters to be handled so it can still be good to work with a surrogacy agency like Surrogate Steps or a reproductive attorney.
Pros of Finding a Surrogate Mother through Family or Friends
- It may be less expensive than working with an agency
- You know them well (or at least better than you would know the surrogate in other arrangements)
Cons of Finding a Surrogate Mother through Family or Friends
- It has the potential to spoil important friend or family relationships
- It can be more expensive than working with an agency if costly mistakes are made during the process
How to Get a Surrogate: The Bottom Line
Finding the right surrogate is one of the most important steps when growing your family through surrogacy.
There are many potential ways to find a surrogate mother, including networking with and asking family or friends, exploring various online surrogacy groups, working with a trusted agency, and more.
There are pros and cons for each of the different ways you can get a surrogate, so exploring each option’s benefit and potential downside is important.
When considering all the potential ways to find a surrogate, it’s important to think holistically and beyond the initial challenge of finding a surrogate. How will the surrogate be screened? What aspects of the surrogate’s life will be evaluated? Who will manage the screening? Who will manage the relationship? What if something doesn’t go as planned? Who will provide support and guidance throughout the complex process of surrogacy?
Due to the multitude of factors that go into successfully finding, screening, and managing a surrogate and the entirety of the process, we highly encourage any intended parent to at least contact us to request more information and free consultation about our surrogacy program. Even if you have a surrogate in mind or choose to find a surrogate through an alternative path, we may be able to help manage some of the other important aspects of your surrogacy journey.