That “uh-oh” feeling when you’re starting to sense that you’re being taken advantage of. It’s not a good feeling. And, instantly, you begin reeling and rewinding to where things went wrong.
That regret should never happen when you’re working with a surrogacy agency. But it does, and it can, because scarily enough, anyone who wants to open a surrogacy agency, can do so! Few regulations or laws about forming surrogacy agencies exist in the U.S. The surrogacy start-up industry falls just short of a free-for-all. We can help you separate the sheep from the goats, in selecting an agency.
Surrogacy agency red flags
Here are some red flags that should prevent you from picking the wrong agency.
- You can’t find much about the agency online
The agency should have a solid web presence for itself. Ideally, it has an informative website with straightforward information about its staff, credentials, and experience. All the better, social media accounts that have regular and recent updates demonstrate that the agency actively engages with its surrogates and intended parents.
From what you find online, you should be able to glean the agency’s reputation. Seek out whom the agency partners with, including which fertility clinics. Also, when you find information about the agency staff, look closely at how much experience each person has and whether it is experienced specifically with surrogacy.
There should also be information about how the surrogacy process works for that agency so that you can have a road map for how things will proceed once you contact them. And that also will give you a feel for the fit of the role of the surrogate herself, in that agency’s arrangement.
- They are dismissive of you or your questions
From the first phone call or meeting with the agency, you should feel welcomed. After all, what you are offering them is no run-of-the mill service: You may provide them your womb, your entire body, and your emotional investment for a year or more. Not to mention, the time you will be taking away from your own family, to help the intended parents. If the people at the agency don’t seem to value you or your sacrifices, then that is not the agency for you.
Furthermore, you will have a lot of questions about surrogacy, the agency, and everything else about the process. This is your physical and mental health at stake, so you need solid, full answers. If you aren’t able to speak to the same person from the agency at most every call or meeting, or if they are too rushed to listen and answer questions, then they might not be trustworthy. Information about the matching process, success rates, and termination rates is critical for you to understand their operation, and they should be on board with sharing all of that and more.
- Financial information is murky or nonexistent
We often tend to feel uncomfortable when discussing payments or money. Surrogacy involves large amounts of money changing hands, including you being fully and fairly compensated, and it is no time for nonsense. The agency should be fully transparent about how they operate and what all is included in their compensation package. That conversation should take place BEFORE you are asked to sign any contracts or commitments. How can you agree to anything, if you don’t know precisely what you are agreeing to?
Comfort is key
Back to that “uh-oh” feeling. Your intuition is right more than it is wrong. There is no hurry to become a surrogate. No magical timeline exists from when you first inquire to an agency to when you sign the paperwork. You should be able to ease into all of the information, reviews, and research you want until you and your family are 100% comfortable with pursuing surrogacy. A good agency knows exactly that and will accommodate you on all aspects of your decision.