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How to Pick a Surrogacy Agency

Learn how to avoid scams, plus a list of local agencies.

Illustration by Chris Philpot.

Surrogacy agencies aren’t regulated, and it can be hard to distinguish the reputable firms from the scams. In 2011, for example, the FBI busted a baby-selling ring led in part by Hilary Neiman, a Chevy Chase resident who founded Rockville’s now-defunct National Adoption and Surrogacy Center. The leaders of the ring had flown surrogates to the Ukraine for insemination and, when the pregnancies reached the second trimester, offered the babies to prospective parents for more than $100,000 each, according to the FBI.

To avoid these types of scams, experts say you should ask to speak with current and former clients. “If they don’t let you do that, that’s a huge alarm bell,” says Diane Hinson, founder of Creative Family Connections in Chevy Chase. Also ask how many cases they’ve handled. Hinson advises against using firms that have a financial interest in another business entity, such as a particular fertility clinic or insurance company.

Another red flag: any company that says it’s okay for the same attorney to represent both the intended parents and the surrogate. Each should have a separate lawyer. (You can also find a surrogate without using an agency and hire lawyers to handle the contract.)

Before signing on with an agency, you should have a face-to-face meeting, even if by video conference. Ask the agency staff to describe a situation in which a match didn’t turn out well for the intended parents and what the agency did about it. Also ask how they screen surrogates and how often candidates are declined.

Intended parents can pay as much as $100,000 for the entire process when using their own eggs, or up to $130,000 when using an egg donor, depending on the fertility clinic and the number of IVF cycles necessary. On top of the surrogate’s compensation, the cost might include a $20,000 agency fee, at least $15,000 for an IVF transfer, and several thousand dollars’ worth of medical and legal fees, travel, and perhaps lost wages and child-care expenses.

Respected agencies select candidates who are emotionally and financially stable, with at least one spouse gainfully employed. They can’t be on welfare, in the middle of a divorce, or offered so much money that the situation could be considered coercive.

Surrogates are required to have had at least one healthy pregnancy and delivery, and they should be finished having their own children. Most agencies have an age cutoff between 42 and 45.

Agencies should spell out in advance what happens if clients aren’t happy with their surrogate or if they change their minds during fertility treatments, before the pregnancy begins. Reputable agencies should refund the money that the agency and surrogate have not yet earned.

Here are the major agencies in this region:

ARTparenting, 1004 Willowleaf Way, Potomac; 301-217-0074.

Center for Surrogate Parenting, 9 State Cir., Suite 302, Annapolis; 410-990-9860.

Creative Family Connections, 2 Wisconsin Cir., Suite 700, Chevy Chase; 240-235-6006.

Reproductive Possibilities, One Paragon Dr., Suite 160, Montvale, N.J.; 201-505-0078.

  • Lucy

    I was actually a surrogate and I really enjoyed it, I am willing
    to do it again. I have a son of my own and I carried twins. Everything was by
    the books and planned out perfectly. I did have to pass a medical exam, and a psychological
    screening. Along with that process I did have my own lawyer that was provided
    to me, she was separate from the lawyer that the future parents had. I met the
    future parents for the first time over skype and we talked for hours. I then
    gave them my number so that we could start a relationship, I think it is very
    important to get to know who you are helping, as it is important for them to
    know who will be carrying their baby. I was completely honest with them. At
    first I was spectacle about working with an agency but since my friend worked
    with them first it was easy to see what she went through and how she enjoyed
    it. The agency was called Genessics, they did everything by the books and made
    sure we were both happy, the future parents as well as me. I think that is the
    most important part to both be on the same page and both agree on everything. I
    am not trying to advertise for the company I am just saying my experience with
    them was very satisfying, I had all the documentation that I needed, the
    payments were always on time and the most important both the agency and the
    future parents were really nice and I really enjoyed working with them. I would
    do it all over again as long as I get future parents like the last ones.

  • surroSDmom 2014

    There are alot of agencies out there posting ads for surrogate moms, making promises and not delivering on them. Stay away from agencies such as Extraordinary Conceptions

  • WeeCareSurrogacy USA

    To be frank me and my wife went around many agencies but at last we are successful at wee care surrogacy (yashoda hospital)

  • Barrie

    This is a great story and reads very true. There are lots of scams out there right now and lots of FBI investigations on-going. Please be safe with your money guys and think about the fantastic job the surrogate does for you for the whole period and beyond.

    if you need advice on Surrogacy then may i make a suggestion and pass on the details for he British Surrogacy Center of California.

  • Surromom

    I agree, I think it's rude to just post an ad and not comment on the story!

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