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Surrogacy Program Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions About Surrogacy Programs
I have found a surrogate over the internet. Can you work with her?
Yes, providing she meets our criteria for selection. She would have to go though our full screening process prior to acceptance into our program.
I have several frozen embryos at a clinic, but they are unable to work with a surrogate. Can you help us use our own embryos?
Yes, depending on the clinic you select. We have had experience shipping embryos from Europe, parts of the U.S., Canada, and Israel. It may require the filing of several customs documents, a specialized shipping container (which we can make available to clients), and communication between the two centers. We also receive documentation about the embryos’ freezing and storage techniques. Our staff will organize this with you. (This has been done successfully.)
Is there a difference between frozen and fresh embryo transfer pregnancy rates?
Yes. There are higher pregnancy rates using fresh embryos; however, there is still some discussion on this issue. The higher rates could be a function of the fact that the best quality embryos are used first. It is hard to say if the difference in rates can be attributed to the freeze/ thaw or to the quality of the embryos.
I would like to use my local fertility clinic for the medical treatment of your surrogate mother. Is this possible?
We have clients come to us from all over the world. Many American couples ask this question. IARC® has used several clinics, but the process of learning about each center, its staff practices, philosophy of treatment and its surrounding neighborhoods is time-intensive and expensive. It is impossible to do this procedure with every one of over 380 clinics in the United States. If you know of a well-organized clinic that you would like to recommend, please let us know. In order for us to refer to a clinic, we must be sure of several key points:
Safety: Our clients and fertility helpers must not be sent to a potentially unsafe neighborhood. Many fertility helpers’ husbands feel relieved to know we have provided maps and locations for travel/sightseeing/shopping/hotels.
Reproductive Technologies: The fertility treatments must be performed in a manner that is in keeping with IARC®’s ethical philosophy of treatment. The majority of centers provide excellent care. Nevertheless, until regulations are in place to mandate standards of care, IARC® is committed to working with centers that have a similar treatment philosophy. An example of this occurs when some clinics are willing to transfer six to seven embryos at a time. They may feel confident in this and have good success rates; however, there is no proof that this increases the pregnancy rate, and there can be a great deal of emotional stress surrounding, and some medical risk to the pregnancy as a result of, the much more likely procedure of selective reduction. It also increases the number of required IVF cycles and encourages production of higher egg quantity through increased fertility medication. This is undesirable because medical complications such as hyperstimulation are more prevalent when higher doses of fertility medications are used unless careful monitoring is done.
Stress Reduction: We are firm believers that stress affects many of the body’s functions. It can spark headaches, perspiration, dizziness, high blood pressure, constipation, nausea, cramping, changes to menstrual cycles, vision problems, etc. There is no reason to think that the reproductive system is immune to this. IARC®’s staff will spend a great deal of time communicating with your selected clinic’s staff members and, if possible, visiting the clinic. IARC® can provide maps to the clinics, hotels, restaurants, cinemas, airports, and sightseeing attractions. We can describe the clinic’s specific office, medical procedures, and staff members. The couple and fertility helpers will know exactly what to expect. They will feel more comfortable and in control of their care. Please let us know if you have a center that meets these criteria, and we will be pleased to call it.
If my surrogate changes her mind or if she does not get pregnant after trying for a while, will I have to pay you to help me find another?
No. Your agency fee covers all administrative costs to match you with other surrogates at no additional cost for two years from the date of the first medical procedure (retrieval/implantation).
How long will it be before I have a baby?
Fertility is not an exact science. We cannot guarantee a child. IARC® is willing to work with you and as many surrogates as you would like to try, in succession, until a child arrives within the two-year period described above. A positive pregnancy test could happen after 6 months, or it could take 2 years or more. We would be misleading you if we told you we could guarantee a baby within a specific time frame.
My friend wants to be my surrogate and does not want to be paid. We do not know what to do to have the legal and medical work done. Can you help us?
Yes. Please be sure to understand the emotional impact this may have on your friendship, both if it fails and if a baby is born. We recommend that everyone see a psychologist familiar with third-party reproduction to explore this issue. If you decide to continue, your friend would have to go through the screening and education procedure like any other surrogate. Please remember that age is a factor in the fertility rates with AI Surrogates. Most 40-year-old women have friends who are also 40 years old. Your friend would not meet the criteria of our program as an AI surrogate and would not be accepted. It is important that your friend understands the legal, financial, medical, and psychological implications of her decision. We would have her review all of these in depth. A legal document must be completed whether you will be exchanging money or not. This is for the protection of all parties involved, including the unborn child. Essentially, your friend would have the same program as all of our surrogate mothers. Your agency fee, however, could be reduced since you do not need our services for advertising for or finding and matching you with a surrogate.
If my surrogate becomes pregnant, where will she deliver?
Most surrogates will deliver in their hometown. She usually chooses to see the doctor who has delivered her own babies. You would, however, be able to offer input into this decision. Legal and insurance factors can impact the doctor/state of delivery, but this would all be discussed prior to signing any surrogate contract. We help you through pregnancy, delivery and the final court proceedings.
I want a 23-year-old traditional surrogate with a university/college education who has already had children. Do you have anyone to help me?
Probably not. Think of yourself at 23 years of age. If you have a university education, you may just have graduated and started your first job. Very few women with a university education have even begun, let alone finished, their families. They are not ready to think about helping others form theirs. Even 25- to 27-year-olds are rarely within this group. If you review applications of women with children in this age range, they often had an unplanned early pregnancy and chose to have the child. Unfortunately, this usually prevents them from following any plans for further education. Nevertheless, I have worked with many surrogates without a college degree who are very bright and follow IARC®’s directions quickly and without difficulty. (The medications/medical procedures can be quite complex.)
How long will it be before my surrogate starts fertility treatment?
This depends on many variables including how long it takes to match you with a surrogate. Full surrogates who undergo artificial insemination with the husband’s sperm are less available since many surrogates do not want a genetic relationship to the child they are carrying. IVF surrogates are more common; they opt to carry babies that are formed from the couple’s embryo after in vitro fertilization or with the help of an ovum donor. Couples who request very specific characteristics in a Full Surrogate will also have a longer wait. For example, one couple wanted a 5’4″, slim, young, blonde, fair-skinned woman with a college education and non-mixed cultural background. IARC® always tries to meet our client’s needs, but, needless to say, they had to wait much longer than other clients. Once you have chosen your surrogate, time is required to verify insurance, complete medical testing, undertake surrogate counseling, conduct legal agreement negotiations, and make the necessary travel preparations. Although much of this is done prior to matching, we still often require 4 to 7 months after matching before fertility treatments can begin.
Is your agency the largest in the country?
No, it is not the largest. We do not spend a lot of money on fancy office surroundings or computerized data systems that can pull any statistic-relevant or not-out of the air. (Of course it would be your increased fee which would pay for those kinds of expenses!) IARC® provides you with ample staff to organize all aspects of your program. We provide personalized service. We have formal weekly team meetings and communicate on an ongoing basis to keep your case organized and progressing as quickly as possible. You will not get lost within a huge facility treating hundreds of clients.
How can I be sure that my surrogate will continue in the program with us?
You cannot be sure. No agency can be sure. Of course, IARC® explains the program to the surrogate, and we outline the requirements and responsibilities for her participation on many occasions. We discuss the psychological effects of the unique relationship she will have with the couple and the child, and we afford her many chances to change her mind before she has started her fertility treatment. Some women find the reaction to fertility medications too disruptive, and some find the treatments/testing difficult to fit into their busy lives. Remember, these are women with young families of their own. Occasionally, a new boyfriend will have an impact on her involvement, or a family emergency changes her ability to participate. These are life situations that are impossible to control. If this happens, we will help you find another surrogate. The majority of the women we work with are kind, helpful, genuine and RELIABLE.
Will medical insurance pay for the birth and any complications?
Since IARC® is not an insurance company, agency or broker, we can only assist you in finding medical coverage and offer some general insights into the policy based on our experience. We cannot guarantee coverage. Any insurance disputes must be handled directly between you and the insurance company, and you must pay all uninsured expenses. You will, however, have the opportunity to review your surrogate’s policy yourself with our general assistance, and we will help you to identify and implement effective coverage, if possible.
We do not want to have a personal relationship with our surrogate that will continue after the birth of our child. How can we be kind to her but still stay slightly removed?
IARC®’s staff has many conversations with the surrogate during the screening process. Her expectations for the couple’s involvement are discussed at length and are a topic in the psychological evaluation. As IARC® helps match you with a potential surrogate, we address this issue and try to match you with a surrogate who fits your requirements. You will have the chance to meet with her or talk with her on the telephone before you choose her. Open discussion on this issue is best so that all parties understand each other’s expectations. Total anonymity is not possible since legal documentation has both parties’ names in print. There are some surrogates who wish to stay emotionally removed from the couple to some extent as well. However, in the majority of cases, a surrogate tends to be more involved and dedicated to the medical/travel/legal/obstetrical care if she feels that she is helping another couple she likes and respects. In turn, she needs to feel respected and appreciated, especially when her hormones are surging. We recommend frequent contact with the help of the IARC® staff. We can protect your emotional distance to some degree by helping to organize telephone conversations and by forwarding letters between you. If you want to meet your surrogate, it is best to do so on neutral ground such as a restaurant. We have occasionally sent fruit baskets, small gifts for her children at Christmas, or flowers to the surrogate on intended parents’ behalf. One couple wanted a basket of cheese, vegetables, and fruits sent monthly to ensure that their surrogate was eating well. IARC®’s staff will implement these steps, when necessary or requested, and offer insights into your surrogate’s frame of mind as she progresses through the program.