Before you sign with any agency, here are 20 questions to ask any agency before you commit to using them to guide your journey. In addition, the reasons behind these questions are attached below! Good luck and sticky thoughts!
20 Questions to Ask Any Agency Before Signing
1. What is the average time it is taking your agency to match Gestational Carriers with Intended Parents?
2. What is your position within the company and why was your agency started?
3. Do you attend any medical appointments and/or delivery?
4. How many employees do you have? Will one person be handling my journey from start to finish?
5. How many of your surrogates do a second journey with your agency?
6. Do I have to be willing to terminate a pregnancy if the parents request it? For any reason or just “medically necessary” reasons?
7. Have you ever worked with a surrogate in my state? What are the potential legal and insurance pitfalls?
8. What does your Surrogate Benefits Package consist of? Can I see a copy of it?
9. Do you require your surrogates to sign an Agency Contract? How long does it last?
10. Do you only use Gestational Carriers, or would I potentially be asked to be a “traditional surrogate”?
11. How many current surrogates are pregnant within your agency? How many cases do you handle in a calendar year?
12. What clinics do you typically work with? Where are they located?
13. Will you handle the upfront costs of travel, insurance premiums, prescriptions, etc. or will I be required to pay them and then be reimbursed?
14. Where do the majority of your Intended Parents live? Domestically? Internationally? Are they English speaking?
15. Do you handle all of the billing, payments and escrow disbursements or am I required to do that?
16. What is the current insurance situation in my state and can you refer me directly to a broker to discuss my options? Am I required to pay the premiums, or will those be paid by the IPs?
17. Can I speak with at least three of your current surrogates about their experience with your agency? 1
8. How often do your Intended Parents require DETs (double embryo transfers)?
19. Do you have a support network for your surrogates where their can interact with one another, build friendships and ask questions in a private setting?
20. Are counseling/mental health services offered throughout the journey? Are they required after the initial psychological evaluation?
MORE IMPORTANTLY: Why Do I Need to Know These Things?
1. If you are excited to start your journey and it is taking the agency 4, 6 or 12 months to be able to make matches, they may be the wrong agency for you.
2. Does the person helping you have a good grasp on what kind of agency they are working for? Is it the President of the company? Do the have dozens of case managers who come and go and do not believe in the mission or vision of the company they work for? Those things will ultimately affect your satisfaction and success of the journey.
3. How involved is the agency? Are they actually there to support you physically and emotionally or are you going to be left to figure a lot of the process out on your own?
4. Is this a giant corporation where you will feel like “just a number” instead of a client? Are they so small that they aren’t going to be able to help because they are over-worked, and they do not have enough support?
5. This is a good indication that their GCs (Gestational Carriers) were happy with the services the agency provided and returned for another journey.
6. Agencies vary on policies regarding termination. You DEFINITELY need to know their policy and how it aligns with your choices.
7. All states vary, and the laws can be complex. It is important that your agency has a very solid understanding of the laws and insurance options of the state in which you reside (* the birth place of the baby)
8. Surrogate Benefits Packages vary as much as surrogates themselves. You want to see as many as you can to have a good idea about what is offered.
9. Some agencies require you sign a contract with them and are then tethered to them for some amount of time, even if they can not match you. You want to know how long that period of time is.
10. A Gestational Carrier has no genetic relationship to the embryo. Traditional Surrogates use their own genetic material and then carry the baby (use their own eggs).
11. This is a good indication of how busy they are and the kind of success they are seeing.
12. This is a good question that will give you some insight into the likelihood of travel during your journey.
13. These costs can be extremely expensive and if you are not prepared to take on hundreds of dollars in costs and wait to be reimbursed, it is good to know up front if that is the expectation of the agency.
14. THIS IS HUGE. There is a VERY large market of parents who are using IVF services and working with gestational carriers who do not live in the United States and may or may not speak English. If you are looking for a journey with a lot of communication, these types of matches can be extremely challenging for the carrier.
15. How much of the operational management is the agency willing to take on? There is a lot of billing and account keeping and you are definitely hoping that the agency and escrow company are willing to handle the majority of that.
16. Health Insurance issues can stop a journey dead in its tracks. Your agency must have a very firm handle on the laws and options in your state.
17. Straight from the horse’s mouth is the best type of referral. Being able to talk to several carriers, you will be able to get a good feel about what they agency is like and how they treat the carriers they work with.
18. Double Embryo transfers can result in a twin pregnancy (or more!) and increase risk for both the babies as well as the carrier. It also increases the odds of bed rest, NICU time for babies and general health issues with the carrier. Be very sure that you are comfortable with twins before agreeing to a DET. It is always safe to talk with your own OB/GYN about risks as well.
19. Support is a HUGE part of surrogacy. Carriers who are surrounded by caring and compassionate agencies, other surrogates and their own family are MUCH more likely to enjoy their journey.
20. Surrogacy can be challenging. Does the agency require weekly or monthly meetings with a Mental Health Professional? If not, do they offer ongoing support if you seek it. Having someone outside your agency and family to help you through challenging times can be super helpful!
We hope this helps you decide on the right agency for you! If you have any questions about how Roots Surrogacy can help you through your surrogacy journey, give us a call or shoot us an email. It’s your journey; we’re here to help! Cheers! Brooke and Cassie, Co-Founders, Roots Surrogacy