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When embarking on a surrogacy journey in California, choosing the right surrogacy agency can make all the difference. Whether you are seeking to become a surrogate or intended parent, a surrogate agency provides support and guidance during the surrogacy process. California is a surrogacy-friendly state where compensated surrogacy is legal and governed by state laws; California is legally among the best states to become a surrogate or grow your family using surrogacy. Before selecting a surrogacy agency in California, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the function of an agency, the factors determining an agency’s strength, and the role of the surrogacy clinics that agencies partner with. 

What does a surrogacy agency do?  

Essentially, surrogacy agencies are the first and last point of contact for anyone looking to begin their surrogacy journey. Surrogacy agencies are professional organizations that provide surrogates and intended parents with advising, matching services, and financial oversight. Surrogacy agencies connect surrogates and intended parents with legal resources, fertility clinics, and psychological counselors. They screen surrogates, guide intended parents, and mediate the relationship between surrogates and intended parents. Because surrogacy agencies oversee such a wide range of aspects of the surrogacy process—from medical to legal to psychological—it’s essential that surrogates and intended parents select an agency that corresponds to their budget, location, and values.

How are surrogate mothers screened in California?

Before potential surrogates are formally matched with intended parents, they undergo an extensive screening process to ensure they’re physically and mentally prepared to become a surrogate. The screening process begins with a simple application: surrogates self-report their height, weight, drug use, recent piercings, and birth history. 

What does the initial surrogate screening entail?

While this initial screening process varies by surrogacy agency, the requirements are fairly consistent. To become a surrogate, an applicant must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or legal immigrant between the ages of twenty-one and forty with a healthy BMI. An applicant cannot use tobacco or illegal substances, and they cannot have any recent tattoos or piercings (in the last twelve months). They cannot have been on any antidepressant or anti-anxiety medications in the preceding year. Additionally, an applicant must have a healthy reproductive system. They must provide medical documentation proving they have carried at least one child to term and delivered without complications. The applicant must be currently raising that child in their own home. Finally, an applicant must be financially independent—they cannot be receiving any form of state or federal aid. Once a potential surrogate has completed the initial application and met all of the requirements, the surrogacy agency will move forward to one of the next phases of the screening process: psychological or medical. 

What should applicants expect from the psychological screening?

The psychological screening process is designed to explore whether an applicant is mentally fit to carry a child for someone else. A psychologist or counselor associated with the surrogacy agency will perform the psychological evaluation. They will assess the applicant’s mental health history as well as discuss the applicant’s feelings towards family, surrogacy, and pregnancy. The mental health professional will also inquire about the applicant’s familiarity and comfort level regarding the risks involved in surrogacy. The act of bringing a life into the world for another family can be incredibly rewarding, but it can also be emotionally and psychologically demanding. A potential surrogate must be both psychologically healthy and mentally prepared to take on the role and responsibilities of surrogacy.

What does the surrogate medical screening involve?

Finally, the applicant will receive a medical screening conducted by a health professional at a surrogacy clinic. The health professional will compile a comprehensive family health history and perform a thorough physical examination. While the specific procedures vary by agency and clinic, they always include drug and STI testing for the applicant (and their partner, if applicable). In addition to a general physical, the provider will perform a gynecological examination including a pap smear and exploratory uterine examination. The purpose of the medical screening process is to determine if the applicant is physically able to carry a healthy child to term and to deliver that child without complications. Once the medical screening process is complete—with a successful outcome—the applicant is ready to be paired with an intended parent or intended parents. 

How to find a surrogate mother in California

Once a potential surrogate has successfully completed their screening, a surrogacy agency representative will meet with the potential surrogate to gather information about their values, preferences, and location. Meanwhile, the intended parent or parents (having undergone a screening process themselves) will complete a comparable questionnaire. Then, the surrogacy agency will match the potential surrogate with an intended parent or intended parents based on their answers. 

The primary considerations when matching potential surrogates and intended parents are location, views on termination, and expectations. Location is a vital factor when matching not only for convenience, but also for legal reasons—surrogacy laws can vary by state, and it is essential that both the surrogate and intended parents operate within their respective state laws.

For example, intended parents in California would likely be matched with a surrogate living in a state with similarly surrogacy-friendly laws. Next, intended parents will be matched with a surrogate that shares their views on termination. Should a situation arise in which the surrogate or intended parents were considering ending the pregnancy, it is imperative that all parties involved hold corresponding views on termination. Then, agencies will take into account both surrogates’ and intended parents’ expectations for the kind of relationship they would like to have with each other during the surrogacy process. The screening and questionnaire will identify how much contact intended parents would like to have with the surrogate—and vice versa—so that intended parents and surrogates feel comfortable, supported, and involved throughout the process. 

Finally, surrogacy agencies in California connect intended parents with potential surrogates until they find, select, and request the right person to pursue surrogacy with. Once the surrogate accepts, they embark on their surrogacy journey together. 

What legal services do surrogacy agencies oversee?

After screening and matching, one of the first steps of every surrogacy journey is drafting, negotiating, and signing a contract outlining expectations for the surrogacy. Surrogacy agencies oversee the legal aspects of surrogacy by connecting both surrogates and intended parents with attorneys to represent their respective interests throughout the surrogacy process. The surrogacy contract is designed to protect the interests of the surrogate, intended parents, and child before, during, and after the pregnancy. A surrogacy contract can include a range of considerations but typically dictates the parties’ roles, rights, and responsibilities. In addition to the contract, surrogates and intended parents in California using gestational surrogacy can generate a “pre-birth order,” a legal document that identifies the intended parents as the child’s parents at the time of birth. A pre-birth order allows an intended parent or intended parents to list their name or names on the child’s birth certificate. From finding a surrogacy attorney to drafting a contract to filing a pre-birth order, surrogacy agencies can help surrogates and intended parents navigate the legal landscape of surrogacy. 

How much does using a surrogacy agency cost?

In order to provide screening, matching, medical service, legal services, and surrogate compensation, surrogacy agencies charge intended parents a wide range for surrogacy—between $50,000 and $130,000 in California, one of the most costly states for surrogacy. The price range for surrogacy is conspicuously large because of the wide variety of surrogacy paths. For example, gestational surrogacy is more expensive than traditional surrogacy; twin or triplet pregnancies accrue additional costs; facilities and providers vary by surrogacy clinic; experienced surrogates are compensated at a higher rate than first-time surrogates. When selecting the surrogacy path right for you, a surrogacy agency can walk you through payment plans, loan options, and financial expectations.

Learn more about surrogacy costs in our article here:

What is the Cost of a Surrogate mother in California?

How to find a surrogacy agency in California 

Selecting the right surrogacy agency can feel daunting, but it doesn’t have to: once you consider your preferences, budget, location, values, and expectations for your surrogacy journey, it is a simple matter of identifying the agency that aligns with those perimeters. After compiling a list of your biggest priorities, the next step is conducting research into the reputation, culture, and logistics of local California agencies.

Ask about the services an agency provides

The first consideration when selecting a surrogacy agency should be the services the agency provides. While some agencies perform only a perfunctory screening, matching services, and a legal referral, other agencies offer an all-inclusive surrogacy journey. When selecting a surrogacy agency, it is important to consider how comprehensive you would like your agency to be.

Determine the agency’s culture

Next, intended parents and surrogates should explore the surrogacy agency’s culture. Is the agency communicative and hands-on? Does the agency have a religious affiliation that aligns with your own? Does the agency have a clear stance on termination? Selecting a surrogacy agency with a culture that suits your surrogacy journey can make all the difference. 

Decide what size surrogacy agency is right for you

Also, when selecting a surrogacy agency, it is essential to consider the size of the agency that works best for you. Smaller agencies can provide a more intimate, personalized experience for intended parents and surrogates, but they might lack the resources to devote extensive amounts of time to your journey. In contrast, larger agencies can offer larger pools of clients to choose from during the matching process, but they can be less personal. When choosing an agency, take into account which size agency is right for you.

How do you find a surrogacy clinic in California?

Surrogacy clinics (also known as fertility clinics) handle the medical portion of the surrogacy process. Surrogacy clinics perform medical screening for surrogates and procedures associated with IVF. (Surrogacy clinics do not monitor the pregnancy—prenatal care is typically administered by the surrogate’s obstetrician.) Whether you are a surrogate or intended parent, choosing a surrogacy clinic right for you is an essential step in the surrogacy process. Surrogacy agencies can provide valuable insight into the surrogacy clinics in your area. Often, surrogacy agencies have relationships with local surrogacy clinics and can make informed recommendations based on location, budget, and preferences.

When assessing a surrogacy clinic, it is important to consider whether the clinic’s location is convenient for both the surrogate and intended parents. Surrogacy clinics can vary in facilities, technologies, and providers that inform the cost of their services—after assessing your budget, ensure the cost of pursuing surrogacy with a given agency falls within that budget. Finally, it is essential to consider the characteristics of a surrogacy clinic. Is the clinic large or small? Does it have a positive reputation? Who are the providers serving the clinic? What technologies does the clinic offer? What services does it provide? Answering these questions will hopefully guide you towards selecting the surrogacy clinic right for you. Fortunately, California is home to some of the nation’s top surrogacy clinics, and surrogates and intended parents pursuing surrogacy in California will have a range of centers available to them.

Why choose Surrogacy by Faith?

Surrogacy by Faith is a surrogacy agency based in Irvine, California, built on a foundation of Christian values. We believe the surrogacy process should be communicative and supportive. We begin each surrogacy journey sensitive to the needs, hopes, and values of the individual surrogates and intended parents—guided by our faith in God, we work with our clients to craft unique, personalized routes through the surrogacy process. If you’d like to learn more about our surrogacy agency, reach out to us. If you’re considering beginning your surrogacy journey, fill out a surrogate initial inquiry or an intended parent or parents initial inquiry.