What to know about selecting a surrogate By The Egg Donor & Surrogacy Program on October 29, 2020
“Intended parents need to know that there are no surrogate unicorns.”
That’s been the experience of Janice Chavez, a surrogacy coordinator for The Egg Donation & Surrogacy Program. She’s also been a surrogate. So, for anyone who wants to know what it’s like to be a surrogate— and for intended parents to select a surrogate—she’s the one to talk to.
“Selecting a surrogate is a crucial step people take in their intended parent journey,” said Janice. “And it’s helpful to know what to expect. My job is to guide them through this process.
“During our initial meeting, we’ll go over what they want in a surrogate. Where they would ideally want their surrogate to live. What ethnicity, age, or occupation. Do they prefer a surrogate who’s a stay-at-home mom or someone with a career? The requests range.
“There are some intended parents who are very specific. For instance, they want a donor who does yoga, is Italian, in her twenties, and has great health insurance. Like a young model, who’s super healthy and fit, and surrogates don’t always meet these requirements.
“However, our surrogates are healthy and have given birth before. More importantly, they love being pregnant and being able to bring a child—and tremendous joy—into other people’s lives.”
A rigorous surrogate screening process
As one of the first surrogacy agencies in America, The Egg Donation & Surrogacy Program has established best practices and ethical standards that set the bar for all other programs. Their surrogate screening process is one of the most thorough in the country.
Which explains why their surrogate candidates are among the top five percent of the nation. And why the agency attracts so many intended parents.
“I am a part of the matching process,” continued Janice. “My counterpart and I work very closely in matching all intended parents and surrogates. She screens the surrogates and I do the same for intended parents. Then we work together to create curated matches.
“My initial call with the intended parents concentrates on what’s important for them. If cost is a factor, then I hone in on surrogates who have low-cost insurance policies. If location is a factor, I focus on profiles where the surrogates will be closer to the intended parents or to their IVF doctor.
“However, it’s rare for a surrogate to perfectly match everything intended parents are looking for. Still, we try to find the most ideal surrogate for every intended parent.”
At The Egg Donor & Surrogacy Program, surrogates are screened for body mass index and a stable, healthy lifestyle with a history of healthy pregnancies with no complications. The agency looks for women who are financially stable, as well as physically and psychologically healthy. Plus, surrogates must show a willingness to allow all intended parents to make medical choices and participate in the pregnancy and birthing experience.
Selecting a surrogate
“We’ll have a pool of candidates prepared and we’ll give the intended parents one profile at a time,” explained Janice. “In our experience when intended parents have more than one surrogate profile, they become overwhelmed and don’t know who to work with. Every surrogate’s lifestyle is so different, but they all have a caring heart and want to help a loving family.
“For example, say we have seven available surrogates that are a potentially great match for an intended parent. At the same time, we’ll have five to seven intended parents who may be a great match for those surrogates. We keep profiles rotating.
“If one intended parent isn’t completely happy or comfortable moving forward with a particular surrogate profile, I rotate it to the next intended parent who has been waiting to see a profile. It’s a protocol we’ve used for a decade now.”“Once an intended parent has a profile, they have 48 hours to make a decision. If an intended parent sees a surrogate that they really like, I’ll arrange a phone call with the candidate to reinforce the good vibe they received from the profile. After all, it’s a big step to work with someone for over a year who’s going to carry your baby."
From profiles to phone conversations
“I’ll do an introduction call via Skype and introduce both the surrogate and intended parents to each other. I make sure that the conversation flows, if there’s any sort of silence or the intended parents are just not sure what to ask, or if they don’t want to offend the surrogate, or anything like that, I’ll usually ask those questions on behalf of the intended parents.
“I’ve been doing this long enough to where I can maintain the flow of the conversation while going over really important questions that can be uncomfortable to ask. I do the same for the surrogate. I always like to tell the surrogate, this is your interview, too. You’re doing this for this family, and it’s important that you feel comfortable as well.”
A liaison for the entire process
“Once the intended parents select a surrogate, I coordinate their appointments and serve as the liaison between them and their surrogate. Not all our surrogates are comfortable with the intended parent relaying all the medical updates. So, I act as the go-between.
“We want it to be a very casual, friendly relationship when it comes to medical bills, finances, and medical updates. So, I’m the mediator when it comes to all that communication, from the very beginning of the process up until the surrogate is postpartum.”
Well worth the wait
“The process of matching intended parents and surrogates can be challenging. On average, it takes about three to six months. But all that hard work and patience is worth it to find an ideal pairing. Everything we do is to make sure our intended parents and surrogates have the most rewarding experience possible. That's why the matching process is essential.”