What is Independent / Private Surrogacy?

Independent Surrogacy (a.k.a Private Surrogacy) is when an Intended Parent enters into a surrogacy agreement without the aid of an “Agent”. Independent Surrogacy is significantly less expensive than typical Agent Programs because they forgo professional services and avoid exorbitant agency fees.


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Because surrogacy can be a long and complicated process, most intended parents choose to work with an experienced agent. But a professional agent can often be an expensive luxury. Independent surrogacy is the lower-cost alternative.

An Independent Surrogacy program is an option for Intended Parents who are comfortable managing complex projects or (in many cases) have gone through previous fertility cycles and so are familiar with the requirements.

The biggest challenge to an Indy Surrogacy program is finding and negotiating the relationship with a qualified surrogate mother. This is often a challenge for many Intended Parents. It is also poses a significant risk if the legal conditions are not well defined, or if the Surrogate lives in a state where the surrogacy contract is unenforceable (or possibly even illegal).

Private Surrogacy agreements are not uncommon. In countries that allow only altruistic surrogacy agreements, all surrogacy programs should be Private – without the commercial services of an Agent (although many Consultancies and Clinics will offer these commercial services in defiance of local prohibitions).

That said many couples successfully choose the Independent Surrogacy route every year.

Why choose Independent Surrogacy?

Independent-surrogacy-mother-and-fatherMost surrogacy programs are managed by professional “Surrogacy Agents” who charge from $15,000 to $30,000 USD. But an agent is not a requirement for a surrogacy program – and in many cases, can be an expensive luxury.

Independent Surrogacy (a.k.a. Private Surrogacy) programs do not use an agent. Instead the Intended Parents perform the agent’s duties, including vetting their surrogate mother, locating a clinic, working directly with their own lawyer for the Surrogacy Contract, and helping the surrogate throughout the course of pregnancy.

Independent Surrogacy is most often used when a couple already have a friend or family member who will carry their pregnancy. One of the most time-consuming tasks of a surrogacy agent is to find a qualified surrogate mother. If the parents already know a surrogate, or have a reliable source to find a qualified surrogate, they may choose to work with her directly, arrange her pay, and oversee her pregnancy directly.

In other cases, Intended Parents may choose to find their own surrogate through various online communities to save money. The process of locating a qualified surrogate on one’s own can take many months, usually joining online communities and posting requests for surrogates. Professional Agents have the benefit of established networks, marketing and word-of-mouth referrals to find surrogate mothers faster.

If the Intended Parents decide to find their own surrogate online, they should be prepared for a vetting process that will include a full medical evaluation of the surrogate, a review of her lifestyle and living situation, legal background checks, psychiatric evaluation, and other qualifications. For a list of criteria for a qualified surrogate mother, check this article.


Independent Surrogacy: Parents’ Task List

During a Independent Surrogacy Program, the Intended Parents will have to perform these basic tasks, normally performed by an agent…

  • Finding, meeting, and vetting their surrogate mother
  • Agreeing to the terms of the Surrogacy Contract, including pay and benefits
  • Locating a lawyer licensed in their state with expertise on surrogacy contract law
  • Finding an appropriate fertility clinic to handle all the surrogate’s fertility treatments
  • Managing all clinical appointments for the donors and surrogate mother
  • Oversight of the surrogate throughout the pregnancy
  • Emotional support during the fertility treatments and pregnancy
  • Troubleshooting any conflicts in the relationship with the surrogate or the clinic
  • Arranging the delivery in a convenient obstetrics hospital or birth center
  • In a typical “Agency Program” these tasks are all performed by the Surrogacy Agent. Because agents handle many cases, these tasks are largely routine and uncomplicated. But for the inexperienced parent, they may seem tricky.



Low-cost Independent Surrogacy options from Sensible Surrogacy

In 2018, Sensible Surrogacy pioneered an alternative to Independent Surrogacy that saves Intended Parents the cost of Agency Fees while avoiding the challenges that Independent Surrogacy entails.

Sensible consulting services guide inexperienced Intended Parents through the entire surrogacy process, step-by-step. The consultant gives the parents detailed instructions to perform all the tasks listed above, and as also provides support services if the parents encounter any obstacle or unforeseen difficulty.

The unique service pairs the Intended Parents with an experienced consultant who will work with them throughout the process. The service includes full support until the parents return home with their baby.

For parents who begin the Independent Surrogacy program but find themselves overwhelmed, they may also buy Agency Services ala carte. For example, Sensible Surrogacy will provide names of pre-screened surrogacy candidates. But for parents who don’t have the time to fully evaluate their surrogate candidate, they can ask the Consultant to handle this specific task for an additional fee. While this is an added fee, it is still much less than the entire cost of an Agency Program.

The Sensible Surrogacy service can further reduce costs over a traditional agency program by referring parents to lower cost service providers. Agencies typically have exclusive commitments to clinics, vendors, and legal resources.

Clients of a traditional Surrogacy Agency are forced to pay pre-defined service fees, which have been negotiated by the agency. A Independent Surrogacy program allows parents to “shop around” for lower cost options. Parents also negotiate the compensation of their surrogate themselves, and so may be able to reduce the costs even further, or compensate the surrogate in some mutually amenable way.

Parents may also find service providers in their home region, saving the cost of travel, while allowing them to stay near their surrogate during her pregnancy.


Sensible Surrogacy’s Independent Surrogacy Consulting: Point by Point

Below are the detailed points of the Sensible Surrogacy Independent Surrogacy option:

  • On average, the Independent Surrogacy program is about $65,000 USD, depending on the Intended Parent’s chosen options and budget. (That’s about 50% less expensive than a traditional agency program.) Sensible Surrogacy will provide ongoing support for an additional $6,500 USD.
  • Consulting Services includes introductions to multiple Surrogate Mother candidates who have passed initial screening and are available to serve as a surrogate.
  • Intended Parents will meet with their surrogate and verify her qualifications. This usually entails a home visit, interview, review of medical records, and OBGYN screening. Sensible Surrogacy will provide detailed instructions on what parents need to ask, request, and advise to successfully complete the screening process.
  • Intended Parents will work with an experienced surrogacy lawyer to draft the contract with their selected surrogate. Sensible Surrogacy will introduce the IPs to a licensed local attorney who can fill that role. Sensible will also give insights and assistance into the terms of the contract if requested.
  • Sensible Surrogacy will introduce the parents to a qualified Fertility Clinic that will perform the IVF cycle, prepare the surrogate, and perform the embryo transfer.
  • All clinics recommended by Sensible have been pre-screened for success rates, reliability and affordability. Recommend clinics all have pregnancy rates at least 15% higher than the national average, according to CDC data. Alternatively, parents may choose their own fertility clinic if they prefer.
  • Intended Parents will work with the surrogate and the clinic to schedule all the appointments and receive all test and exam results.
  • Parents may be required to purchase health insurance for the surrogate. Sensible Surrogacy can introduce a qualified broker in the surrogate’s home state.
  • During the pregnancy, Intended Parents will keep track of the care and well-being of their surrogate. This will most likely be with the surrogate’s own OBGYN.
  • Intended Parents also will organize the delivery of the baby at a local hospital. With the surrogate’s permission, the parents may attend prenatal checkups and ultrasound exams, and eventually the delivery.
  • Overseas parents will also need to arrange for their baby’s citizenship and passports through their local embassy. Alternatively, parents may request US citizenship for a baby born in the United States. Sensible Surrogacy can provide immigration consulting to assist in this process as well.

For some IPs, this list of tasks may seem a heavy burden. Others with experience in project management may find this unassuming. Parents should remember, the tasks are performed over the course of a full year, and under the guidance of an experienced consultant. In many cases, these tasks are the same as would be performed by any couple considering their own IVF program (without a surrogate mother) or their own natural pregnancy.

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