In any decisions being made, for fertility, there are ways to empower people with the tools and knowledge they need to make informed decisions. There is a huge education piece lacking in the system and we are trying to fill that gap with the amazing team of professionals we align with. A community is designed to provide a safe space to connect and grow together as we foster a foundation built on trust, respect, and communication.
Our goal in establishing Canadian Surrogacy Community, is the development and fostering of a community around surrogacy, creating harmony amongst surrogates with their Intended Parents, building relationships and providing ways to grow and develop those relationships. Asking a stranger to carry a baby for you is not an easy task. How do you share your story and create a meaningful profile and then what does the process look like after you find a potential match? What are the processes to a surrogacy journey in Canada and what does an agency provide to help? Let’s explore these answers together.
Navigating the waters of infertility can be an intimidating process for many. We want to help alleviate those worries and answer any questions or concerns you may have towards surrogacy. So why go on such a precarious journey? The short answer is that it may be one of the very few options for people looking to build their families. Infertility comes in all shapes and forms. We’ve had women who’ve suffered from MRKH (no uterus at birth) and truly cannot even attempt to carry a child. We’ve had women struggle with life-debilitating diseases that render them extremely high risk for pregnancy. We’ve seen secondary infertility after the birth of the first baby. We have also seen a huge increase in same-sex couples deciding surrogacy is a viable option to start their family. Adoption can be a long and exhausting process that has very strict guidelines around who qualifies and many times Intended Parents wait for years with no success before they come to surrogacy.
How to choose an Agency:
This answer is complex, so I’ll address it by making some points to consider.
- What does your gut tell you when you speak to someone at the agency? Don’t ignore your instincts when it comes to choosing a team.
- How many people will be handling your case? Will you be shuffled from one person to the next to provide support?
- Does the agency meet your specific wants and needs? Do they attempt to control the process or aid in helping you become informed and empowered to handle much of the process without constant handholding?
- Cost: You do not need to pay for the most expensive program to find an amazing team. Many programs offer a more affordable solution.
- How much emphasis is put on the development of IP and Surrogate relationships? This is crucial to navigating through tough waters together.
- How quickly does your team react?
- Do you feel listened to when you have concerns or questions, or do you get the impression you might get lost in the paperwork after your invoice is paid?
- Is there a ‘whole team approach’ to the program? Does the agency recommend and work with knowledgeable and respected fertility clinics, lawyers, and counsellors?
- Does the agency stay involved post birth to ensure everyone is healthy, happy, and feeling like the journey was a success on all fronts?
- Will it be important for the agency to always tell you the whole truth, even when it’s difficult to hear?
- Do all surrogates get to read your profile or does the agency specifically handpick who they want to match?
The Surrogacy Process Essence:
Once you’ve hired an agency (because we never recommend going Independent with surrogacy), the process should be laid out thoughtfully and in easy steps so that Intended Parents don’t feel overwhelmed. We provide a checklist of steps, along with online courses that share valuable information, advice, and perspective from fertility professionals. In our program, you will be introduced to a Fertility Coach who has a son through surrogacy and can offer support and help with profile building, video creation, and overall guidance on how to work through emotions that will run high at times. We have a strong admin staff that will respond quickly to any emails and phone calls. And most importantly our Intended Parents have the owner of the agency on the front lines making sure that all parties have a voice and concerns are dealt with accordingly. This concierge service is what an agency should be about.
Once a profile is published, surrogates should be able to view your story and make their own informed decision about who they want to get to know better. Ultimately both the surrogate and Intended Parent should be in the driver’s seat to choose, but when there are more IPs than surrogates, this becomes more on the surrogate to decide whom she wants to help.
After a match, your agency should be assisting with all coordination with the fertility clinic so that someone is advocating for you at each step. This is especially important if either or both parties are unfamiliar with the fertility world. In our program, we have weekly calls with our preferred clinics and lawyers to discuss all clients and assist with the efficiency of each part of the process.
Extra support can come in many forms: Nursing on staff, experienced counsellors, fertility coaches, and/or experienced surrogates. We like to provide all these supports at different points to include a well-rounded experience for everyone.
The Role of an Agency:
Over the years the role of agencies has evolved to offer more than just a matching service. In my humble opinion, agencies should be your advocate at all aspects of the journey. You aren’t paying to have them just help find a surrogate. The role of an agency should be to project manage and coordinate all steps so that you never feel stressed by the unknown. Your agency should have good working relationships with all industry professionals they work with. Receipt management is not necessarily part of every program, as many Intended Parents would like the right to see where their money is spent. Handling reimbursements yourself can help increase communication with your surrogate and make her feel supported. Our programs have been running for 7 years now and we have only managed reimbursements a handful of times because we would rather empower couples to understand and control their own money. Agencies should also take care of the profile building and how you represent yourself in the matching phase. They should have a good relationship with your fertility clinic and be able to help coordinate with them to make the medical process smooth. Most importantly, the agency should listen to you, guide you, and provide a higher level of support than you would get on your own.
The world of surrogacy is complex
There are many working parts that will be unique for every person who decides it is the road they want to travel. Everyone deserves to be educated and supported throughout the journey – no matter what choices each person makes.
Fertility Friends Foundation is here to make a difference!