There are many factors that will shape your journey as a gestational carrier. However, none may be quite so important as the choice of independent surrogacy vs. agency surrogacy.
For obvious reasons, the professionals you choose for your surrogacy process will play a huge role in how that process goes. After all, these are the lawyers, physicians and specialists who will guide you through every step ahead. Their opinions and practices will shape the process your experience, which is why finding the right surrogacy professional from the start is crucial.
In order to do this, however, you first need to answer one question — Which is right for you: independent vs. agency surrogacy?
We know this question can be difficult to answer, so we’ve created this guide to help you out. Below, learn more about the pros and cons of each process to aid in your decision-making. Need more information? Don’t hesitate to contact a surrogacy professional for more assistance.
Independent vs. Agency Surrogacy: What to Know
Women have successfully become gestational carriers through independent and agency-assisted surrogacy for many years. Both are viable options for you, and both can help you achieve your surrogacy dreams. There is no one “right” answer when it comes to independent surrogacy vs. agency surrogacy — just what is right for you.
We encourage all prospective surrogates to talk to a surrogacy agency before making the decision that is best for them. Even if you are leaning toward independent surrogacy, you can gain a better understanding of the surrogacy process (and what you will personally be responsible for) when you speak with an appropriate surrogacy professional.
In the meantime, we’ve listed some of the biggest pros and cons of each path below to help you start your research.
- Saves intended parents money: When you work with intended parents without the assistance of a surrogacy agency, they will not have to pay the extra costs associated with agency programs and assistance. Your intended parents will still cover all of your surrogacy expenses, and you will have the right to surrogate compensation, but choosing an independent surrogacy can alleviate some of the financial burdens for the intended parents that you work with.
- Allows you more control and responsibility over your journey: If you’re considering independent surrogacy vs. agency surrogacy, you should know that, in an independent surrogacy, you and your intended parents will be responsible for all of the coordination, communication and logistics that a surrogacy agency would otherwise handle. For some surrogates, this sense of responsibility is too much; for others, it is the ideal situation.
- Possibility for a closer relationship with the intended parents: In an independent surrogacy, you and your intended parents will have to work closely together to manage all the logistics and requirements of the surrogacy process. Without a professional taking care of those for you, you and your intended parents may find yourself building a stronger bond through your direct communication and shared responsibilities.
- Lack of professional guidance: Those who choose independent surrogacy should be ready for the responsibility of handling a surrogacy journey on their own. If you are unfamiliar with how surrogacy works, an independent surrogacy may not be the best first journey for you. You may be exposed to increased risks and liabilities due to your lack of knowledge.
- Increased fees for intended parents: While independent surrogacy does not require that intended parents pay agency fees, they will have to hire their surrogacy services a la carte from different professionals — which can sometimes add up to a higher cost than if they were to obtain all of those services from one surrogacy agency.
- Professional guidance available 24/7: When debating independent vs. agency surrogacy, ask yourself this: Don’t you want to have a professional protecting your rights and interests the entire time? When you work with a surrogacy agency, you will be assigned your own surrogacy specialist, who will advocate for your surrogacy needs and preferences from start to finish. You’ll have a professional on your side, which is not always the case in a private surrogacy arrangement.
- No extra fees: As a gestational carrier, you will not have to pay any additional fees for the services provided by a surrogacy agency. Your intended parents will cover all of these services — counseling, support, contact mediation, communication with other professionals, and more.
- Larger selection of intended parents: In an agency-assisted surrogacy, your surrogacy professional will have a large network of intended parents to choose from. They will find intended parents who meet your preferences and needs — and who are already approved for the surrogacy process. This eliminates the lost time spent searching on your own in a private surrogacy arrangement.
- Pre-screening for eligibility: You will not be the only one undergoing pre-surrogacy screening when you work with a surrogacy agency; prospective intended parents will, as well. This means that any intended parents you eventually match with are already cleared for and ready to start the surrogacy process — unlike in independent surrogacy, where you may match with intended parents who are later disqualified because they don’t meet intended parent requirements.
- A smaller sense of responsibility: Debating between independent surrogacy vs. agency surrogacy? If you are someone who wants to take on a degree of personal responsibility in your journey and have your hands in every aspect of your journey, an agency-assisted surrogacy may not be the right path for you. A surrogacy specialist handles all of the nuances in an agency-assisted journey, which may be a disadvantage for certain gestational carriers.
- No options for traditional surrogacy: If you want to be a traditional surrogate (in which you donate your egg to the intended parents’ embryo), agency-assisted surrogacy is not the right path for you. Because of the legal and emotional complications associated with this kind of surrogacy, surrogacy agencies typically do not complete this kind of surrogacy.
Remember — debating independent vs. agency surrogacy is a conversation that only you can guide yourself through. Make sure to do thorough research before deciding which path is truly right for you and your family. Don’t hesitate to reach out to surrogacy professionals for more information about each option during your decision-making process. Good luck!