1. Understand the laws of surrogacy in your state. There are some states where surrogacy is not legal. Consult a local reproductive lawyer. Your clinic or agency will be able to provide recommendations.
2. Choose an Agency! Do not use surrogates off the internet, and go running at the mention of a home insemination. Get several references from others who have used the agency. You get what you pay for. There is a difference between services offered from more and less costly agencies. If you are using a friend or family member as a carrier, put together a team of experts including a lawyer, mental health provider, and reproductive clinic.
3. Whether you are using an agency or a family member or friend, make sure you use an escrow account. It provides reassurance to you and the carrier that the finances will be there and not be pocketed inappropriately.
4. Meet potential surrogacy candidates in person before selecting one to be your carrier. There is so much more you can learn from an in person interview than through phone or internet communication. She will have one of the most important jobs in your child’s life. Don’t skimp on traveling to meet your potential carrier in person.
5. Be open and honest with your surrogate. This is likely a lifelong relationship of some type. Lying today will be there forever.
6. Utilize mental health providers who are a part of the mental health group of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine. Working with infertility is a specialty and not all providers are trained in reproductive psychology. Do not work with a provider or agency that agrees to evaluate a surrogate over the phone. Evaluation must be face to face.
7. Understand your financial obligations to the process and financial risk, especially worst-case scenario.
8. Your surrogate must have medical insurance. Make sure her insurance policy does not have a surrogacy exclusion. Have a lawyer review her policy.
9. Be open to a positive relationship with your surrogate, however it develops. The relationship between intended parents and gestational carrier is the most important part of the process.
10. Let go and be flexible! Realize that this process requires you to give up control of what you would normally have control over, had it not been for infertility. Surrogate-Intended Parent relationships can be ruined by bossy, over reaching intended parents. Practice compassion.
Dr. Carrie Eichberg is a graduate of Tufts University and California School of Professional Psychology. She is a licensed psychologist in private practice specializing in reproductive psychology. Dr. Eichberg counsels patients regarding a variety of reproductive issues including infertility, third party reproduction, including donor conception and gestational surrogacy, miscarriage, and grief and loss issues. She conducts psychological evaluations for reproductive centers, donor agencies, and surrogacy agencies. Recently she organized a national conference on contemporary ethical dilemmas in reproductive medicine. She is a member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, the Idaho Psychological Association and the American Psychological Association. She is a National Health Service Provider in Psychology and holds the Certificate of Professional Qualification in Psychology. Dr. Eichberg can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.dr.eichberg.com/a>.