Every year, hundreds of children are born with the help of surrogacy agencies. Despite all the controversy that continues to surround surrogacy, the agencies responsible for providing couples with surrogates live on, strong in the belief that the agencies are helping couples achieve their dream of becoming parents. For as long as these parents continue to dream, babies will continue being conceived with the help of surrogacy agencies.
Attorney Noel Keane is considered a pioneer in the world of surrogacy. He was responsible for drafting the first contract between an infertile couple and a surrogate mother in 1976 in Dearborn, Michigan. Noel then went on to open surrogacy agencies in Nevada, New York, California, and Michigan between the years of 1976 and 1981. The Infertility Center of New York was perhaps the most controversial. This is the surrogacy agency used by Marybeth Whitehead and William and Betsy Stern in 1985, leading to the “Baby M” case. This case resulted in a lawsuit against the agency due to the contract not being legal in the state of New Jersey, the state where both parties resided at the time.
There are 30 surrogacy agencies operating in the United States. Many of these agencies are owned by women who have been surrogates at some point. There are many infertile couples who are willing to pay the fees in excess of $25,000 rather than wait 5 plus years for the opportunity to adopt. The willingness to pay this much is also due to the fact that the surrogacy agency does everything in its power to legally protect both parties involved, with the hopes of preventing another “Baby M” case from occurring.
Surrogacy agencies work by matching a surrogate mother with a compatible, childless couple. The agency will screen both parties involved to be sure that they are pursuing surrogacy for the right reasons. Perhaps the most important job of the surrogacy agency is to screen prospective surrogates with complete psychological evaluations. This ensures that she turn the baby over to his rightful parents once he is born. The intense screening process is only one of the many responsibilities surrogacy agencies choose to take on, though. The agencies also provide a complete legal team to write up a contract between the two parties which will be recognized as legal in a court of law. In addition, they provide the initial meetings with fertility specialists to increase the rate of success with conception. The surrogacy agency and its counselors also act as mediators between the parties, doing whatever is necessary to make the act of surrogacy as smooth and problem free as possible.
What makes surrogacy agencies unique are the services they offer to both the intended parents and the surrogate. They take the footwork out of the process for them by providing fertility specialists who conduct all the physical testing, counselors to help both parties if problems arise and they keep a staff of high risk pregnancy specialists on hand in the event that medical problems arise during the pregnancy or birth. They protect both sides legally and equally, ensuring that the intended parents receive their baby while providing the surrogate with the security of knowing she will be paid. Couples who choose to use a surrogacy agency can include any personal preferences in their contract as well, such as the surrogate not involving themselves with anything that can potentially harm the baby, like smoking and drinking, while pregnant. Pursuing surrogacy independently does not ensure this, as it is basically based on the word of both parties.
When searching for a surrogacy agency, you want to ask them as many questions as possible. Start with their success rate and number of births. If they have a high rate of success, you can rest assured that they incorporate a fertility specialist who oversees all testing and procedures. They will also employ a professional staff who is educated in the areas of psychology, reproductive studies and women’s rights. In addition, they will provide legal services by lawyers whose area of expertise is in family law, adoption and surrogacy.