Surrogacy has been changing a lot in recent years, and one significant change is the rise of independent surrogacy. While many intended parents choose to work with surrogacy agencies, more and more people try the independent route.
In this guide, we will walk you through the essentials of independent surrogacy, highlighting the advantages, challenges, and key steps involved.
What Is Independent Surrogacy?
Independent surrogacy, sometimes called private surrogacy, is a surrogacy arrangement where the intended parents and a surrogate collaborate without the support of a surrogacy agency.
Surrogacy agencies typically provide different services, including matching, screening, counseling, and coordination of legal and medical processes. In private surrogacy, it becomes the responsibility of the intended parents to manage everything themselves.
Why Choose Independent Surrogacy?
Independent surrogacy comes with several advantages that make it a popular choice among intended parents. First and foremost, it’s often a more cost-effective option compared to agency-assisted surrogacy. Additionally, the rise of online surrogacy communities has simplified the process of connecting with private surrogates. Lastly, independent surrogacy gives more autonomy to the intended parents and surrogate and the ability to have a more hands-on role.
Independent Surrogacy Checklist
During an independent journey, the intended parents must perform some basic tasks, which the agency typically does. It’s recommended to have a checklist to ensure a smooth process. This checklist serves as your roadmap, helping you stay organized.
- Education: Ensure you have a solid understanding of surrogacy, its processes, and the legal obligations involved.
- Surrogate Search: Start your search for a surrogate who shares your goals and expectations.
- Legal Procedures: Consult legal experts to draft a surrogacy agreement.
- Medical Requirements: Undergo necessary medical screenings and fertility treatments.
- Financial Planning: Plan your surrogacy budget.
Legal Considerations of Independent Surrogacy
In private surrogacy, intended parents must remember they can’t set their own rules, as surrogacy is subject to strict regulations in most countries. It’s essential to understand the laws in the area where your surrogate resides. In particular, there is a significant risk if the surrogate lives in a country where the surrogacy agreement is unenforceable. This highlights the need for understanding local surrogacy laws. Consulting with a reproductive law specialist is strongly advised.
Some key legal considerations include:
- Surrogacy Contracts: These agreements outline expectations, responsibilities, and compensation. They cover things like medical care, possible risks, and financial agreements.
- Parental Rights: Making sure the intended parents have parental rights from the moment the child is born is extremely important. The legal process may involve court orders and filing legal documents.
- Pre-Birth Orders: In certain jurisdictions, intended parents can get pre-birth orders, making it easier to establish their legal parenthood even before the baby is born.
Independent Surrogate Search
One of the biggest challenges in private surrogacy is finding a qualified surrogate. The process of finding a surrogate can be different depending on whether you are seeking a traditional or gestational surrogate. Here are some strategies you can consider when searching for a surrogate independently:
Looking for a Traditional Surrogate
Traditional surrogacy is when the chosen surrogate also provides the egg for the intended parents. This type of surrogacy is rarer than gestational surrogacy and can often involve a family member.
For example, let’s say same-sex couple Jim and Pete want to have a baby. They decide that rather than adopt, they want to be at least partially connected to the baby. Jim’s sister Gina agrees to carry the baby and provide the egg. In this case, Jim cannot provide the sperm for fertilization. Pete, however, could provide the sperm.
Does a traditional surrogate have to be a relative? No, a traditional surrogate can be anyone. In the previous scenario, Jim and Pete could use a friend or someone unknown.
Looking for a Gestational Surrogate
The more popular method of surrogacy, especially in the US and Canada, is gestational surrogacy. With gestational surrogacy, the surrogate carries the embryo to term and delivers the baby. The embryo is created in a lab using eggs from someone other than the carrier. Most of the time, it is the intended mother’s eggs, but it could also be another donor’s eggs.
Like traditional surrogacy, a known gestational carrier could be a friend, family member, or acquaintance. Sometimes, the intended parents have a family member willing to help carry a baby if they cannot.
For example, Sam and Jen have been trying to have a baby for several years. They have suffered several miscarriages and learn that there is a problem with Jen’s uterus. They may ask Jen’s sister, Candace, to carry their child. Jen and Sam provide their genetic material, and Candace is simply a gestational carrier (gestational surrogate) for the embryo.
In some cases, however, the egg or sperm may be donated by another person.
How Do I Find a Surrogate Independently?
There are situations where intended parents need to think about surrogacy options outside of family members. Most of the time, people do not just walk up to a woman and ask her to carry a baby. Let’s take a look at how some intended parents can connect with independent carriers.
- Surrogacy websites and forums. These websites help prospective parents connect with surrogates and egg donors. The parties involved may be in different parts of the world, so it is vital to know where your carrier lives.
- Social media. Social media can connect people in many ways. Surrogacy groups on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other networks might be beneficial for matching independent gestational surrogates to intended parents.
- Blogs. You can create your own free blog with WordPress or Blogger to help you share your story.
- Surrogacy professionals. Sometimes, your fertility doctor or surrogacy lawyer has worked with a surrogate before and knows she is willing to be a carrier again. In this case, they can set up a meeting between the interested parties.
- Word of mouth. If one person knows a surrogate, they may be able to pass her information along to the intended parents. Tell everyone you know that you are looking for a surrogate. Share your dream of becoming parents with family and friends. This method doesn’t always work, but you should try every possible avenue.
11 Tips for Your Independent Surrogacy Search
We give you eleven ideas for finding an independent surrogate mother on your own.
Please note that forums and online groups are an excellent way to meet potential independent surrogate mothers for your Indy surrogacy journey. However, they are not regulated or monitored, so you need to use good judgment and do a rigorous screening.
Independent Surrogacy Costs
Independent surrogacy offers a more affordable alternative compared to agency-assisted surrogacy, saving on agency fees and providing parents with more financial control and transparency.
Also, intended parents can negotiate financial arrangements directly with their surrogate, sometimes resulting in more budget-friendly agreements.
It’s important, when preparing your surrogacy budget, to consider all the possible expenses, including medical treatments, legal fees, and surrogate compensation, to create a comprehensive budget.
Advantages of Independent Surrogacy
Independent surrogacy offers several benefits that make it an attractive option for intended parents.
- Lower Costs: Independent surrogacy is often more affordable because it eliminates agency fees.
- Stronger Personal Connections: Private surrogacy allows for more personal relationships between the intended parents and the surrogate. Also, they have more control over the decisions and people involved in the process.
Challenges of Independent Surrogacy
However, it also presents specific challenges that require careful consideration.
- Financial Negotiations: Discussing financial agreements directly with the surrogate can be challenging.
- Limited Support: In independent surrogacy, the lack of professional guidance may lead to potential medical and emotional risks if not properly managed.
Independent surrogacy is a viable and increasingly popular option for intended parents. It offers cost savings and greater control. However, it requires planning and exhaustive research.
When it comes to finding an independent surrogate, there are no hard and fast rules, but you will likely need to share your story to find an appropriate match. The important thing is to explore all your options and find the surrogate who is best for your family. Your independent surrogacy journey will begin with finding the right match and will close with a wonderful addition to your family.
Good luck in pursuing your dreams of parenthood!