How are surrogates screened?
Whether you are a surrogate or intended parent, the surrogate screening process will depend on the agency you work with. Surrogacy agencies develop their own requirements and procedures for matching a surrogate with well-suited intended parents.
When intended parents decide to pursue surrogacy, they want to know that their surrogate is emotionally and physically ready to commit to the journey and all that it entails. Surrogacy agencies like Creative Family Connections have surrogate matching and screening processes to ensure surrogate and intended parents know what to expect and that important protective measures are in place. A thorough screening process is also essential in that it allows an agency to gather pertinent information about prospective surrogates so that they are matched with their ideal intended parent or parents.
Why surrogacy agencies screen surrogates
Surrogacy can be an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling experience for intended parents and gestational carriers. However, a surrogacy journey also comes with incredible responsibilities.
When an agency provides comprehensive screening services, the purpose is to protect everyone involved, including the intended parents, surrogates, and the agency itself.
Surrogate screening services ensure that a surrogate:
- is healthy enough to begin the journey. A surrogacy agency will ensure the surrogate undergoes a thorough medical evaluation and examination of her previous pregnancy and medical history.
- understands the terms and what the journey entails. Screening services help educate surrogates on the processes, legalities, and timelines involved in a surrogacy journey. Screening also enables an agency to find the perfect intended parent match for a new or repeat surrogate.
- is emotionally prepared for surrogacy. An agency will evaluate a surrogate’s feelings about a surrogate pregnancy, as well as her support system and psychological state. Psychological evaluations are conducted to further educate women about the emotional ups and downs of the surrogacy process.
- has the support she needs. The surrogate’s partner or spouse, if applicable, and several close family members are included in the screening process to ensure the entire family is committed and prepared for a surrogacy journey. Single women absolutely can be surrogates as well, so long as there is strong friend and family support in place!
Throughout the surrogate screening process, surrogacy professionals will screen a prospective surrogate and ensure she meets certain qualifications. While these qualifications vary by agency, most surrogates are required to meet the following criteria:
- Be financially independent
- No felony convictions
- Have transportation to and from surrogacy appointments
- Have a limited number of previous Cesarean births
- No major complications from previous pregnancies
- Have at least one prior successful pregnancy
- Be within a certain age range
- Have a clinic-approved body mass index (BMI)
- No drug use or smoking within a certain time frame
An overview of the surrogate screening process at Creative Family Connections
Have you ever wondered how we screen our gestational surrogate candidates?
CFC has a rigorous applicant screening process that sets our agency apart from others in the U.S. We not only strive to be leaders in the industry, but we find this comprehensive approach makes for successful matches based on surrogate and intended parent preferences and personalities. We treat our surrogate applicants and intended parents as individuals, not numbers in a crowd, so getting to know them on a personal level is just business as usual.
Surrogate pregnancy application and phone conversation
After a prospective GC has submitted her application, which is no small feat – there are questions with topics ranging from religion to embryo transfer preferences – we conduct an intake phone interview. This gives us the opportunity to review the surrogate application and hear about what motivated her to apply. The applicant also has the chance to ask questions and is given an overview of next steps, as well as what’s in store once she is matched to her intended parents!
Agreement and waiver
If the first intake call goes well, we then ask the applicant (and her significant other if she has one) to electronically sign an agreement and waiver, acknowledging that although Creative Family Connections facilitates her journey, we are not her legal counsel. Each candidate will have their own, independent legal counsel representing her during the process, paid for by the intended parent or parents. This is also the time that a candidate can opt in to our CFC Exclusivity Program, which is when a surrogate candidate decides to move forward with only us for her surrogacy journey.
Criminal records check
A criminal records check is completed for every applicant and for any adults living in her home.
Prenatal and delivery records
CFC obtains prenatal and delivery records, as well as a form from the applicant’s OB/GYN approving her for a surrogate pregnancy. The physician’s report specifies past complications or anything important to note in the candidate’s history, such as gestational diabetes managed without medications or an abnormal pap smear result. The OB/GYN form also indicates whether she followed through with appointments and OB/GYN recommendations during her own pregnancies or previous surrogate pregnancies.
Personal and professional references
One way we get to know our gestational carriers better is to talk with at least two people who know her very well. Typically, references include the applicant’s mother, or someone else in her immediate family, and a friend whom she’s known for at least 3 years. We also reach out to a professional reference, when necessary, who can share more about the surrogate candidate’s responsibility, trustworthiness and stability. References help us learn more about the personality of a surrogate candidate and sometimes, we discover things an applicant may not have revealed about herself, such as whether she is emotionally and financially stable. Reference calls also demonstrate to us if a GC has a great support network in place for the surrogacy journey.
Health insurance plan overview
The candidate’s health insurance plan is reviewed by insurance experts in the field to determine whether it is likely to be usable for a surrogacy journey.
CFC is proud to conduct an in-home interview for all of our surrogate candidates and their partners (if applicable), with a member of our direct team. We often say that if we would feel comfortable with her carrying our own baby then we would be able to recommend she carry for one of our intended parents. These interviews give us the opportunity to see where the surrogate lives to ensure it is a happy, healthy, and safe environment. Meeting candidates and all adults who live in the home allows us to thoroughly vet her preferences again, like whether she will completely defer to the intended parents regarding termination, and her intentions for a journey, such as what kind of relationship she envisions with her intended parents during and after the journey.
The in-home interview is another opportunity to ask questions and discuss next steps in the process, including the transition to her case manager, the introductory meeting with her intended parents, the medical and psychological screening, contracts, and embryo transfer(s). We also ask that a surrogate candidate send us several photos of her family and home.
Intended parents review in-home reports, GC profile, and decide if they would like to move forward
After the in-home interview, a surrogate package is put together for the intended parents to review. Each package contains the references, in-home report, as well as a profile about the candidate. They will have the chance to decide if they would like to move forward with the surrogate candidate, and then, they will write her a letter. Each candidate has the chance to read this personal letter with photos from the intended parents before deciding to move forward with the video introductory meeting with them and their case manager.
Surrogate matching: The official introduction stage
At this point, we are ready to move forward with the official introductory meeting between the intended parents, gestational surrogate, her significant other if she has one, and their case manager! About 99% of the time, this first meeting will feel amazing for all parties because, as your agency, we have taken the time to find your perfect match. If for some reason this first meeting doesn’t feel quite right, talk to us! We can always go back to the drawing board if needed to make sure everyone feels comfortable with the match before moving forward in the journey.
Surrogate screening process timeline
From start to finish, the screening and surrogate matchingprocesses take an average of six to eight weeks during which our team carries out all the tasks outlined above, but also maintains regular contact with the candidate to keep her informed as we check things of the list. Those regular touch backs help us build a solid relationship with a surrogate and creates a strong foundation for the rest of her journey. We’re here to get to know you as a person as well, not just a surrogate!
What is the success rate of surrogacy?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calculates success rates for various assisted reproductive technologies, or ART, and fertility clinics in the United States. It’s important to remember that the embryo transfer isn’t always successful the first time. It can take a few tries, and most of the time, it isn’t a surrogate’s fault at all if an embryo transfer does not take.
IVF clinics in the U.S. have a success rate of about 75%. Although, the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) claims that success is variable due to many factors. The success rate for a healthy birth through surrogacy once the surrogate is pregnant is as high as 95%. We are not affiliated with any specific IVF Center, however, we can offer a recommendation based on our previous experiences and based on your specific desires for a surrogacy journey.
Begin your own surrogacy process at Creative Family Connections
Whether a surrogate is needed for you to start your family or you’re thinking about becoming a surrogate, you can count on CFC for a smooth and stress-free process. Are you ready to apply, now? Click here to start your application or feel free to reach out to us with any questions.