Building or adding on to your family via surrogacy is no easy matter. While some will try to go at it alone, others often decide to hire a surrogacy agency to assist them in finding a woman to carry their baby and take care of all the overwhelming details.This short post will help you think about what to look for in a surrogacy agency. Still, you may have a lot of questions. LaMothe Surrogacy Consulting can help you chose the right agency for your unique situation and educate you on the entire process. **Remember that your first 40 minute call is free!
The best way to start your search for an agency is ask your clinic who they recommend. Usually the clinic works with several agencies but they may have a favorite. You can also find a list of agencies online and, of course, you could ask for referrals from people in your support group if you belong to one. Once you have the names of several agencies and perhaps have read through their websites, then you need to interview them yourself. Email or call to set up an appointment and expect to spend a couple of hours on each interview. Remember that the agency will need to know about your own needs and desires in order to answer your questions to the best of their ability.
Some questions you might ask are:
*How long have they been in business
*How much experience do they have and in what capacity—Past personal experience? Gestational Carrier, Traditional Surrogate, Past Intended Parent? Worked in a medical office or reproductive attorney office?
*Do they attend conferences or have any type of continuing education in the Infertility Field?
*How many IP's (Matches) are currently in the program?
*Any law suits or complains against them? BBB issues? Other?
*Do they carry E&O insurance? (Errors and Omissions) What is E&O insurance? Errors and Omssions (E&O) is the insurance that covers your company, or you individually, in the event that a client holds you responsible for a service you provided, or failed to provide, that did not have the expected or promised results. For doctors, dentists, chiropractors, etc., it is often called malpractice insurance. For lawyers, accountants, architects or engineers, it may be called professional liability. Whatever you call it, it covers you for errors (or omissions) that you have made or that the client perceives you have made. Most E&O policies cover judgments, settlements and defense costs. Even if the allegations are found to be groundless, thousands of dollars may be needed to defend the lawsuit. They can bankrupt a smaller company or individual and have a lasting effect on the bottom line of larger companies. In short, E&O coverage provides protection for you in the event that an error or omission on your part has caused a financial loss for your client.
*How much does the surrogacy agency charge? and for what services? Agency Services might include: *Providing Surrogates and/or Egg Donors and their profiles (Pre-screened or not) *Background Checks *Arranging Life, Disability and Health Insurance Policies for the surrogate *Arranging verbal agreements between parties on important issues like selective reduction, termination and basic fees etc. *Recommending/Providing at least 2 reproductive attorneys for providing a contract and surrogate review *Recommending Psychologist for evaluation *Assisting with the location of a "surrogate friendly" OB (If needed) *Coordinating Escrow/Trust accounts for the distribution of funds throughout the contract time frame (This should be separate or the agency should be bonded) *Providing mediation or counseling if needed between IPs and GC *General Case Management and Support (Providing an emergency telephone contact number, plenty of staff to support amount of people currently in the program) *Attending Transfers, Appointments and Births if asked *Support of all parties after the birth (at least 6-8 weeks)
Don't ask how many pregnancies or births an agency has had because that is solely dependent on the clinic/RE working with those past surrogates and is no reflection on the agency itself. How many matches they are currently working with and how many staff is appropriate if you don't want to feel like a number or feel that the agency is overwhelmed. You can also ask for a copy of their retainer agreement and have your own attorney review it if you don't understand some of the jargon. Of course there is always more to know and it's good to research and educate yourself before you more forward with your search for an agency.