As intended parents in the beginning stages of the surrogacy process, you may be overwhelmed at the thought of how to find a surrogate mother. Matching with a surrogate who fits your needs and is willing to carry a child for you is, after all, an emotional and complicated process. It’s also one of the most amazing, beautiful, and truly life-changing experiences you will ever have.
Intended parents come to surrogacy for different reasons, and they have different expectations for their surrogate journey. Finding, matching, and building a relationship with the right gestational surrogate mother may seem like an insurmountable task. But many nervous, vulnerable, and hopeful intended parents have been right where you are… and today they’re holding their miracle baby in their arms.
We are on a God-lead mission to help families grow, one surrogacy at a time! Our goal is to share our knowledge with you, so that you can make the most informed choice for your family.
We understand the intricacy and miracle of bringing a new life into this world, and want to help you as you begin your own surrogacy journey. So let’s dive in and start at the beginning, by explaining how the surrogacy process works. Then we’ll share some tips to help you find the perfect surrogate mother for your family.
What Is Surrogacy?
Surrogacy is a method of assisted reproduction where intended parents work with a gestational surrogate who will carry and deliver the baby. In most cases, intended parents use surrogacy to start or grow their families when they have been unable to have children.
It’s important to point out that the terms surrogate, surrogate mother, surrogate carrier, gestational carrier, and gestational surrogate are all used interchangeably. They mean the same thing, and you may see these terms used in various surrogacy-related literature or websites.
Surrogate mothers have their own families, and often their motivation to become a surrogate is to share the blessings of parenthood with another person or couple. Surrogates are generous, loving women who find the surrogacy process to be a rich and meaningful experience.
Furthermore, gestational surrogates have no biological connection to the child they carry. Intended parents provide their own genetic material, which is then used to create an embryo at a fertility clinic. In cases where infertility is due to a lack of viable eggs, an egg donor may be needed. But with gestational surrogacy, the donor would not be your surrogate.
Gestational surrogacy is the most common form of surrogacy and is legal in all 50 states. The majority of surrogacy agencies only offer this form of family building.
How The Surrogacy Process Works
Understanding how gestational surrogacy works is pretty straightforward. Understanding the surrogacy process, however, is a bit more involved.
That’s why so many intended parents choose to work with an agency like Surrogacy By Faith. A reputable agency will help you navigate the many necessary steps in the surrogacy process, and provide emotional support when you need it most.
That being said, let’s take a look at the surrogacy process for intended parents and surrogates:
- Find the surrogacy agency you want to work with.
- Complete an initial consultation.
- Fulfill all requirements for both the agency and the state.
- The agency helps find the right surrogate mother for the intended parents.
- Meet potential pre-screened surrogates and find your match.
- Sign a surrogacy contract that’s been drafted by attorneys representing all parties.
- The surrogate is impregnated via an embryo transfer.
- Confirm the pregnancy.
- Establish legal parentage via pre-birth orders (depending on the state).
- The surrogate gives birth and the intended parents welcome their new baby!
These are just the basic steps – for a more detailed description, make sure you check out our blog post How Does The Surrogacy Process Work?
Finally, it’s possible for the intended parents to start fertility treatments before they find a surrogate. Ultimately, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is used to create a viable embryo to impregnate the surrogate, but many intended parents wait on this step until they’ve found a strong match.
How To Build A Surrogacy Plan
Before you can be matched with a surrogate, you’ll work closely with your agency contact to talk about what you’re looking for in your surrogacy journey.
During this magical time you’ll be determining your hopes and dreams for your surrogacy experience. You’ll also be narrowing in on your preferences for the surrogate mother you work with.
In essence, you’ll be developing a surrogacy plan, and this plan will guide the process of matching you with the right gestational surrogate.
Each agency is a little different in their approach. But, generally, you’ll complete an initial inquiry form and talk to an experienced agency contact to further explain your goals. A quality agency will want to get to know you well, so they can work closely with you to find the right surrogate match.
Before you can officially begin the wait to be matched, you will also need to complete your agency’s screening requirements, which may include an in-home assessment. All of this builds into your surrogacy plan and will help move you one step closer to finding a surrogate mother you match with.
Do I Need To Use An Agency To Find A Surrogate?
The short answer to this question is: No, you don’t have to use an agency. This is also known as independent surrogacy and it is certainly an option, but you’ll be taking on all the extra legwork that goes into finding the right woman for the job.
However, and this is very important, just because you can use independent surrogacy doesn’t mean that you should use independent surrogacy. As we discussed in our earlier section on the surrogacy process, there are a lot of ins and outs to this whole surrogacy business – it’s hardly simple.
Additionally, the process and laws will vary from state to state. For example, you can see our articles on surrogacy in California, Oregon, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, and Washington to learn about some of the similarities and differences.
In other words, you probably want to use an agency in order to ensure your surrogacy journey goes smoothly! This is one area where it’s definitely best to leave it to the professionals; if you choose the right agency, then it can make all the difference.
For many intended parents, working with an agency is an effective way to be matched with a compatible surrogate. Plus, you have someone with experience to guide you and hold your hand throughout what can be a very emotional process.
Why Should I Use A Surrogacy Agency?
Reputable agencies are experts in surrogacy planning and matching. Intended parents who choose to work with a surrogacy agency throughout their journey enjoy many benefits.
For starters, the agency is responsible for the recruitment and pre-screening of potential surrogates, including background checks and medical reviews. All of this would be taken care of before you’d ever see a surrogate’s profile. In addition, a surrogacy specialist will work with you to discuss your goals and find a surrogate mother who fits into your plans.
“Surrogacy By Faith helped us complete our family! We are truly grateful for the outstanding service they provided. It was a smooth and positive journey. Thank you very much.” –Cindy M, IP
Agencies are also very familiar with the fertility process and can walk you through what to expect. They’ll also handle all the legal issues, including having a surrogacy contract drafted.
You might not know this but, surrogacy laws vary by state, sometimes considerably. Agencies stay on top of state requirements to help ensure your surrogacy process goes smoothly.
Finally, the surrogacy agency will handle all the legal logistics, including surrogacy contracts. These are complex documents that handle all the important
How To Find A Surrogate Mother Without An Agency
If you’ve decided that you want to forego all the benefits of using an agency and still want to try independent surrogacy, then there are a few ways to find the right woman for the job:
- A friend and/or personal connection
- Referral from a surrogacy attorney
- Social media
- Fertility/surrogacy clinic
- Surrogate finder website
- Surrogacy forums and classifieds
Although it’s not easy, it is possible to find a gestational surrogate without an agency. However, it’s important to enter the situation with your eyes completely open and totally prepared for the challenges.
It may be that you have a family member or friend who’s offered to be your gestational surrogate. And this works for some families. But you also need to consider that if you don’t work with an agency, you’ll need to shoulder the responsibility for all the process and planning work they do.
First, you’ll need to ensure your chosen surrogate is healthy and meets medical requirements. In addition, you’ll have to find an attorney to handle all the necessary legal work. Plus you’ll need to coordinate with a fertility clinic and doctor for the delivery.
Another thing to consider is how you will handle the surrogate compensation. Some intended parents fear they cannot afford the services of a surrogacy agency. But even in independent surrogate situations, you will still face legal fees, medical fees, and more. The cost differential may be less than you think
And if the surrogate is a family member or friend, they will continue to interact with your child on a personal level far into the future. Some people are comfortable with all of this and have no qualms about handling the surrogacy journey on their own. But for many, the benefits of working with a knowledgeable professional make going with an agency worthwhile.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Not Using An Agency?
There are some definite drawbacks to independent surrogacy, including:
- You’ll probably have a hard time finding qualified and eligible candidates who meet all the requirements.
- You won’t be able to do a background check that is as comprehensive as a surrogacy agency.
- There’s a constant risk of fraud or a potential surrogate misrepresenting who she is and what her intentions are.
- It can take much longer to find a surrogate on your own.
- You’ll be responsible for all the logistics and challenges of the surrogacy process.
- There won’t be an impartial third party who can mediate differences or communication challenges.
At the end of the day, using a surrogacy agency makes it much easier to navigate the surrogacy journey. This means that you’ll have more opportunities to enjoy it and to prepare yourself for the upcoming addition to your family.
Plus, working with a reputable and experienced surrogacy agency makes it more likely that the surrogate will have a successful pregnancy and give birth to a healthy baby. At the end of the day, that’s what everyone wants: a healthy baby and a happy family!
How To Use A Surrogate Search Website
If you’re trying to find a surrogate without an agency, one good place to start is with a surrogate search website. These are basically exactly what they sound like: websites that help you search for surrogates. They’re kind of like databases, although you usually have to pay for access.
In other words, they’re like virtual agencies, but without all the extra guidance and help that is so critical for a successful surrogacy journey. They simply provide you with surrogate candidates that have met minimum requirements set down by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).
That being said, let’s take a look at a few of these surrogate search websites:
- Donor Concierge Surrogate Search Service
- Find Surrogate Mother
- Surrogate Finder
- FESKOV Surrogate Mothers
In most cases, you have to pay a sign-up or membership fee to use the search function. You’ll set up a profile and you can set your search parameters: age, location, experience, salary range, and so on. The search function will then return a list of potential candidates and you can start contacting them.
However, an agency always performs screening and background checks that are much more in-depth and comprehensive than a search website. This includes detailed interviews to make sure that the potential surrogate is emotionally and psychologically prepared for the job and any challenges that may come up.
How To Use Surrogacy Forums & Classifieds
You could also use surrogacy forums or classified to find a surrogate without an agency. These function much in the same way as posting ads on any online classifieds website. The potential surrogates make profiles and you can then browse them at your will. However, you usually have to register and pay to access this type of information.
For instance, these profiles will contain all the surrogate’s crucial information, including:
- Portrait photo (possibly)
- General location
- Basic physical characteristics (height, weight, etc)
- Marital status
- Number of other children (and possibly their ages)
The ad will also state if the candidate is interested in commercial or altruistic surrogacy – in other words, are they looking to be compensated or not. If they’re interested in commercial surrogacy, then it will likely include their asking salary or pay range.
In some cases, they may even include such bits of information like blood group, race, religion, personality characteristics, and/or hobbies. If they’re located overseas, then it may include their passport status and whether they’re willing to travel.
Some of the most popular surrogacy forums and classifieds include:
- All About Surrogacy Classifieds
- Surrogate Mothers Online Classifieds
- All Things Surrogacy Classified Ads
- All Things Surrogacy Facebook Group
- Surrogate/IP Meeting Facebook Group
- MySurrogateMom Classified Ads
- Babygest Surrogacy Forums
Finally, it’s highly unlikely that the surrogate’s full name, address, and direct contact info – like phone number and/or email address – will be included. In most cases, this type of intimate information is exchanged after the surrogate and intended parents have already matched and interacted. This is a highly personal and sensitive process, so it’s best to protect everyone’s privacy and personal information.
What Should I Look For In A Surrogacy Agency?
Most intended parents start their surrogacy journey by researching agencies to find the one best suited to what they’re looking for. Think about your goals, values, and the type of surrogacy experience you want. It might be helpful to make a list so you can refer to it as you do research.
Here are a few criteria to consider when choosing a surrogacy agency.
Agency Services and Success Rates
Intended parents should look for reputable agencies with high surrogacy success rates, and a proven track record of successfully managing many surrogacies. Each surrogacy journey is unique. You want to find an agency that has a breadth of experience, so they can handle any challenges that might arise.
In addition you’ll want to know exactly what services a particular surrogacy agency will provide. This can vary from agency to agency. Check to see if they will manage the entire surrogacy process; from finding a surrogate mother, to surrogacy coordination, legal and accounting services, emotional support and guidance.
It’s also good to know just how ‘hands on’ you want your surrogacy agency to be. If you’re looking for someone to be with you every step of the way, you might enjoy working with a smaller surrogacy agency. Just be sure they have the right level of experience.
As part of your due diligence when researching agencies, be sure to read reviews from both intended parents and surrogate mothers. You may also want to speak directly with other parents who have used the agency’s services to ensure they are reputable and successful.
If you ever ask an agency for information on their process and success rates, and they are unable to provide them, this could be a red flag. Trust your instincts!
The relationship you have with your surrogacy agency will play a pivotal role in your journey to parenthood. Be sure whoever you work with is credible, and a good match for your family.
Screening and Selection Process
The specific requirements to become a surrogate mother vary from agency to agency. One major factor that is common across the board is that all surrogacy candidates must have experienced at least one successful pregnancy and birth.
Finding a surrogate mother generally starts with a potential candidate completing a surrogacy application. If the potential surrogate meets the pre-screening criteria, then there’s usually a medical screening and background check.
You should be able to review surrogate criteria for an agency on their website, or by asking for a copy of their application. Make sure you are comfortable with the screening and selection process of any surrogacy agency you plan to work with.
Surrogacy Agency Values
And finally, you want to be sure your chosen surrogacy agency aligns with your family values. For example, Surrogacy By Faith is a Christian agency dedicated to helping grow families by the grace of God.
We are one of the only surrogate agencies in the country that does not support fetal reduction and/or pregnancy termination. If there ever comes a point in the pregnancy where the treating physician suggests termination for medical reasons, Surrogacy By Faith’s very specific, one-of-kind legal contract gives the surrogate the final choice, without being in breach of her contract.
In addition, our agency only works with couples who have passed the PGS (preimplantation genetic screening) and have had their embryos chromosomally tested for genetic defects. Intended parents must also be willing to sign a contract stating they would not terminate for any reason unless the OB physician deemed it medically necessary.
Knowing your values, and ensuring the surrogacy agency you work with shares those values, is an important part of your selection process.
How To Find A Surrogate Mother
So you’ve decided to go with a surrogacy agency to find the right gestational carrier – that’s great news! You’ve made the right choice, but now you have to actually find the best surrogates and then choose the right one.
Of course, this will be done with the help of your agency and case manager, but you’ll still have major input on who you want to work with. This is a big decision!
The agency will screen potential surrogates and any who don’t meet the requirements for both the state and agency will be automatically disqualified. That’s what’s so great about working with an agency: they screen out candidates who just aren’t right for the job. By the time you see the list of potential surrogates, you can rest assured knowing that they’re at least qualified.
Intended parents that approach the matching process with honesty and an open mind are more likely to find their perfect match.
How To Choose The Right Surrogate
So the agency has sent you profiles for candidate surrogates – what’s next? Choosing the right surrogate is such a crucial part of the surrogacy journey that you’ll definitely want to take some time in making your choice.
As a result, we’ve put together some basic strategies for choosing the right surrogate:
- Always remember that surrogacy is a trust-based relationship, so the right match should feel comfortable and truly seem like a good fit.
- You want to feel a genuine connection with your surrogate.
- Go with your gut – sometimes it’s best to trust intuition in these situations.
- Make sure the potential surrogate is easy to communicate with; if your communication doesn’t flow, or you’re not on the same page, this could cause issues down the road.
- Choose a surrogate who shares your values – this will make for a more harmonious working relationship.
That being said, it’s also important to be open-minded. Reviewing surrogate profiles and learning more about the women who might carry a baby for you is a chance to meet new people.
Intended parents may find that they instantly click with a surrogate who lives in another state, or who on paper seems to have a different lifestyle than yours. You won’t know until you meet!
Tips For Meeting Potential Surrogates
Once your agency finds some potential candidates, it’s time to actually meet. The first meeting could be via phone call, video, or in-person, depending on the distance. Ultimately, this process will vary from agency to agency.
For your first meeting with your gestational surrogate, don’t be surprised if it starts off a little shaky. Everyone is nervous, and this is probably one of the most important meetings of your life. This person might be the surrogate mother of your child!
Here are six (6) tips for meeting your surrogate mother.
- Be Yourself! Share your honest and true feelings about the journey and your expectations. Let your surrogate get to know your personality.
- Be Prepared. Think of topics you want to discuss, review your surrogate’s profile, and have a couple of questions ready.
- Share information about yourself. Surrogacy is a two-way street, this meeting is as much about your surrogate getting to know you as it is about you learning more about them.
- Talk about your hopes and expectations for surrogacy. This is the perfect opportunity to explain your journey so far and share initial thoughts on how you’re hoping the surrogacy relationship will work.
- Don’t rattle off a list of requirements. Remember, this person has been pre-screened by your agency and already matches your parent profile.
- Try not to stress out about it. It’s normal to be nervous but remember, building a family is an exciting process. Keep an open mind, try to relax, and really get to know your potential surrogate mother.
The best way to form a healthy connection is to act naturally and let the conversation flow organically. At the end of the day, a strong relationship between intended parents and their gestational surrogate mother makes for a more rewarding surrogacy journey all around.
Building A Relationship With Your Surrogate Mother
Once you’ve found your surrogate mother “match”, what comes next? An important part of the surrogacy journey for intended parents is to build a relationship with their surrogate mother.
Surrogacy is an emotional and vulnerable experience for both parties. Intended parents and their gestational surrogate are embarking on an incredible journey together. Building a strong relationship with the woman carrying your baby can help you feel more connected to the pregnancy process.
Sometimes, intended parents can feel a little removed from the pregnancy. A strong relationship with your surrogate can help you feel like you’re a part of your baby’s growth.
Surrogacy By Faith is a relationship-based agency, so we encourage intended parents to form a special bond with their surrogate mother. Feeling like you are ‘in this together’ and being able to communicate and share experiences along the way is a beautiful part of the path to parenthood.
“We believe it is of the utmost importance to become friends with the surrogate so she feels comfortable throughout the journey.”-Surrogacy By Faith
In addition, your relationship to your surrogate will impact the pregnancy. Throughout the process, you and your surrogate mother will make decisions together that impact both her body and your baby. Being able to have open, honest communication where both you and your surrogate feel cared for and respected is crucial.
Many of our surrogates go into this experience feeling it will be one of the most profound and meaningful acts of their lives. We want them to feel appreciated and proud of their selflessness. Surrogate mothers who have positive experiences with their intended parents may come back to do a sibling journey with you, or even go on to help other couples.
Why Choose Surrogacy By Faith?
Becoming a parent through surrogacy is an emotional and extremely rewarding process. Intended parents put their trust not only in their gestational carrier but in their surrogacy agency as well.
This journey can be challenging… but the day your baby is born is a joy like no other. At Surrogacy by Faith we are truly doing God’s work. We understand the intricacy and miracle of bringing a new life into this world.
There is nothing we enjoy more than helping couples longing to have children see that dream fulfilled by finding a caring and genuine surrogate mother. This is one of our favorite parts of the journey, giving intended parents hope!
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
Our relationships last far beyond the end of the journey, which is an added blessing. Most Surrogate Mothers of ours express this experience as God-filled, life-changing, and extremely meaningful.
If you’re an intended parent who’s interested in learning more about starting your surrogacy journey with Surrogacy By Faith, please complete our initial Inquiry Form. We will answer any questions you might have and if you wish to proceed, we’ll start looking for the angel that will carry your child. Plus, if you’re a potential surrogate who’s interested in working with us, make sure you fill out our surrogate inquiry form!