Ask the Surrogacy Experts

“Our US agency told us they needed 3 months to find a surrogate. Is that long? If surrogate matching takes that long, how long will the entire surrogacy journey take in the US? Is it faster in Ukraine or another country?


Thanks for the note, Elizabeth,

Your US agency is probably right… it’s hard to find surrogates, and depending on where you’re looking and the specific criteria you may be looking for, finding a surrogate can take a really long time. Some other countries also take a long time to find a surrogate. That’s because there are shortages of surrogates or there are altruistic surrogacy laws that restrict the kind of recruitment techniques agencies can use.

In the UK and Canada for example, it’s technically illegal to advertise for surrogates (altruistic laws prohibit commercial activities, like advertising). There are also restrictions on other professional services that can help find surrogate candidates. As a result, it can take from 3 to 12 months (or even longer in some cases) to find a surrogate. Of course not all agencies have the same difficulty — some larger agencies have a broad network and don’t need to rely as heavily on advertising. Also some parents have a compelling story and so more surrogates are willing to help them, making matching much easier.

Meanwhile, surrogate matching in a country where commercial activity is legal, or where the demand for surrogates is not as high) can take as little as a month. Surrogate matching in Ukraine is relatively quick becasue there are well-established processes to find and recruit candidates.

So, how long will the total surrogacy process take?

If you put the surrogate search aside then a typical journey should take no more than 12 months. There’s a full step-by-step review of the surrogacy process in the Surrogacy Guide, which will detail all of the steps that comprise those 12 months.

Assuming your qualified surrogate has been found, the rest of the journey timetable will look like this:

  • • 1 to 2 months for medical/psychological/legal evaluation and clearance for your surrogate
  • • 1 month for contract drafting and review
  • • 2 to 3 months to prepare your egg donor for retrieval and the IVF cycle. (This can be done while you arrange your surrogate’s medical clearance.
  • • 2 months to prepare your surrogate for the embryo transfer
  • • 9 months of a natural pregnancy, and
  • • 4 weeks for overseas couples to arrange their baby’s passport (overseas couples only).

If you are a US couple, then you can trim a month from the journey in the US. Some European countries may add additional weeks to approve the baby’s passport.

The typical schedule for your surrogacy journey:

    • • Review & complete the signed agreements, clinic registration, plus an initial consultation: 1 week


    • • Select the Egg Donor and medical review by the IVF clinic: 4 weeks for donor selection and screening


    • • Future Parents’ initial visit to the clinic to donate sperm and/or eggs, and sign contracts: 4 days for sperm donation / 2 to 3 weeks for ovum donation


    • • Egg donor preparation for egg retrieval: 2 to 3 weeks from the start of her natural cycle


    • • Select the Surrogate mother, plus medical screening, background checks and psychiatric evaluation: 8 to 12 weeks


    • • IVF clinic fertilizes the eggs and incubates the resulting embryos: 5 days


    • • Preparation of your surrogate and embryo transfer to your surrogate: 2 to 3 weeks from the start of her natural cycle


    • • Pregnancy is confirmed. The surrogate is placed under the care of our caregiver and medical staff: 12 days to confirm pregnancy


    • • Prenatal care, medical checkups, and required tests: 38 weeks


    • • When the surrogate is ready to deliver we notify the parents: Immediate


    • • Future Parents second visit to our clinic. Legal team assists in the application for birth certificate (and passports if needed): 1 week for birth certificate, and 3 to 5 weeks for passports


  • • Parents return home: 2 days

Total time required: 60 to 65 weeks (approximate)

I hope this is helfpul,

About the authors

  • Bill-Houghton
  • Author: William Houghton

    Bill Houghton is the founder of Sensible Surrogacy, author of the Sensible Surrogacy Guide, 2x surrogacy dad, and a dedicated advocate for secure, legal and ethical Gestational Surrogacy. Read Bill's Biography


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