Considering the sensitive nature of surrogacy, it is extremely important that the agency is adept at matching surrogates to IPs.
Working with a surrogacy agency is a choice. While successful independent surrogacies do happen, there is no question that there are huge benefits in working with a surrogacy agency for ever party involved.
One of the most important—and valuable—aspects of working with an agency is their ability to successfully match IPs and surrogates. Here’s a run-down of the matching process from an agency perspective.
The first step towards making a strong match is selecting quality surrogacy candidates. Before a gestational carrier can be matched, she must meet the surrogate qualifications:
- Must between 21-40 years of age
- Must be a United States citizen or hold a permanent Green Card
- Must live in a surrogate-friendly state
- Has delivered at least one child
- Has a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 33 or less
- Has had no more than three (3) Cesarean Sections
- Is a non-smoker
- Is a non-drug user
- Is not currently on any anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medication
Qualifying candidates will then be expected to agree to the agency’s screening process:
- Submit Documentation—The surrogate will be required to submit documentation, including recent photos of herself and her home, insurance cards, and a valid driver’s license.
- Psychological Evaluation & Background Check—The psychological evaluation will be conducted by one of the agency’s in-house psychologists. It consists of a PAI personality test to ensure that the surrogate is prepared to handle the pregnancy. In addition, the surrogate and her spouse/live-in partner (if applicable) will undergo a background check to ensure that they have no prior convictions that could negatively impact the surrogacy process.
- Medical Approval—Surrogates will need to submit their medical history and pregnancy medical records for review by a reproductive endocrinologist.
Once the gestational carrier has successfully completed the agency’s screening process, the agency will start the matching process.
Agencies will propose a match based on the criteria the surrogate and the Intended Parents provide, and a phone call will be arranged for the surrogate to connect with the proposed Intended Parents. If both parties would like to continue working together after the call, they will move on to the contract phase of the process.
Once matched, the surrogate and IPs can focus on their journey together. Transparency pertaining to anything involved in the surrogacy is necessary to make the perfect match.
The agency will also work to get to know the Intended Parents.
When they initially sign on with an agency, they submit a comprehensive personal profile and will likely sign a retainer. After successfully taking care of the preparation and paperwork involved in the first few steps of the surrogacy journey, they’ll receive their first Gestational Carrier profile.
If they’re interested, the agency will give the Intended Parents profile to the gestational carrier. If both parties are interested, they’ll set up a Skype, call, FaceTime, or in-person meeting (if desired) so you can get to know each other.
Surrogate and IP Questionnaires
During initial interactions with the surrogacy agency, the surrogate and the IPs will be expected to complete a surrogate or Intended Parent questionnaire. The questionnaire serves as a snapshot of the individuals and helps the agency begin to identify what will be important to help the surrogate/IPs gain the most from their journey.
The importance of being honest and thorough on the surrogate/IP questionnaire cannot be stressed enough. Identifying relatable characteristics as well as desired details (i.e. race, religion, willingness or reluctance to work with same sex couples/single IP/heterosexual couples, preferences to work with IPs from the U.S. or internationally, etc.) will help the agency to recommend the most suitable matches.
Pool of Qualifying Candidates
With a bank of exceptional candidates and a passion for their work, the agency will identify who is likely to pair as a perfect match. A meeting will be scheduled (either in person or over the phone) once a match is proposed. If the surrogate and IPs hit it off and choose to proceed then the journey to make baby begins!