Most of your surrogacy medical process will be completed by a surrogacy clinic, which is also known as a fertility clinic. This medical professional works with intended parents completing all kinds of assisted reproductive technology methods, including surrogacy, in vitro fertilization, gamete donation and more. In short, surrogacy clinics exist to help intended parents realize their dream of a biological child, however they achieve it.
Because you will most likely be a gestational surrogate, a surrogacy clinic will be required to complete your surrogacy journey. Just like a surrogacy attorney, a surrogate clinic is a necessary part of a safe and legal surrogacy process — and the services this professional provides will always be free to you as a prospective surrogate.
Surrogacy clinics play an important role in every surrogacy, which is why it’s important that you, as a prospective surrogate, understand exactly what they do before you start the surrogacy process. Keep reading this article to learn more.
What Does a Surrogacy Clinic Do?
A surrogacy clinic performs the important medical processes involved in gestational surrogacy. Because a gestational surrogate is not related to the child that she carries, extra medical steps are needed to implant the intended parents’ embryo in her uterus and ensure a successful pregnancy is as likely as possible.
You will likely start working with a surrogacy clinic from early on when you start the process of becoming a surrogate. If you work with a surrogacy agency, they may refer you to a trusted surrogacy clinic their organization works with; if you independently match with intended parents, they will likely already have a surrogacy clinic in mind to complete the medical process.
In most surrogacies, the surrogacy clinic will complete these steps:
- Pre-surrogacy medical screening: Before you can undergo any medical process as a surrogate, you will need to be cleared by a medical professional. This professional will run some tests to ensure that you are physically capable of undergoing the medical process of surrogacy and carrying a child for someone else. Pre-screening typically involves blood tests, saline sonograms and more.
If the intended parents that you match with have not yet undergone the same kind of medical screening to create their embryos, they will also need to be tested by a surrogacy clinic. In most cases, however, intended parents have already been screened and created their embryos for transfer when you are matched with them.
Your surrogacy clinic may also offer psychological testing during this screening, as well, to make sure that you and the intended parents are mentally ready for the challenges and rewards of the surrogacy process.
- Gamete retrieval: After you and the intended parents are medically cleared, the medical process of surrogacy can begin. If the intended parents have not yet created their embryos, the surrogacy clinic will work with them and any necessary gamete donors to obtain sperm, egg or embryos. If the intended parents are using a fresh cycle to create their embryo, you will likely need to take additional medication to sync up your menstrual cycle with that of the intended mother or egg donor.
- IVF and embryo transfer process: Once the embryos are created, the surrogacy clinic will guide you and the intended parents through the in vitro fertilization process. An agreed-upon number of embryos will be transferred to your uterus in a relatively quick and painless procedure.
- Pregnancy testing: Once the embryo transfer is complete, the surrogacy clinic will usually require you to return a few weeks later to test for a successful pregnancy. The blood and hormones tests can confirm your pregnancy through a more detailed and accurate process than at-home pregnancy tests.
Remember, each surrogacy process is unique, and what services a surrogacy clinic will suggest and offer for your journey may vary from the steps outlined above. You and your intended parents will need to speak with your surrogacy clinic from the beginning of your surrogacy journey to determine what your personal medical process may look like.
How Do I Find a Surrogacy Clinic?
As mentioned, in most cases, the intended parents that you are matched with will already have a fertility clinic selected for their embryo transfer process. If they don’t, there are two paths you can take to find a surrogacy clinic that works for you and your intended parents:
- Utilize references from your surrogacy agency. If you and the intended parents are working with a surrogacy agency, your specialist will likely provide references to surrogacy attorneys and surrogacy clinics that the organization trusts and frequently works with. Speak with your surrogacy specialist about your surrogacy goals and preferences to help him or her locate a surrogacy clinic that meets those expectations. They may even be able to provide a discount on services for the intended parents because of an existing relationship.
- Find a surrogacy clinic through your own research. If you are completing an independent surrogacy with your intended parents and they do not have an existing relationship with a fertility doctor, you will need to locate and coordinate with a surrogacy clinic on your own. A good place to start is the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, which maintains statistics and success rates for different surrogacy clinics across the country. With your intended parents, research different professionals to determine whether they can provide the services you need, and take the time to interview these professionals to get to know them better before committing.
Keep in mind: Often, the surrogacy clinic that you will end up using will depend upon the location of the intended parents, as they will utilize a local clinic to complete the gamete harvesting and IVF process. Any travel costs you incur while traveling to their chosen surrogacy clinic will be covered by the intended parents.
If you and your intended parents need more assistance locating a surrogacy clinic, it may be a good idea to contact a local surrogacy agency for suggestions and referrals.