Are you thinking about signing up to a surrogacy service, like an agency or matching service? Whether the service is in Australia, or overseas, you should do your due diligence and make sure the service offered meets your expectations and needs.
If you are new to surrogacy, you can read about how to find a surrogate in Australia, or how to become a surrogate yourself. You can also download the free Surrogacy Handbook which explains the processes and options.
There is no harm in asking questions, especially if a service is able to produce a glossy website but is unwilling or unable to provide evidence of its success. If their response is to be defensive or refuse to provide clear answers to your questions, proceed with caution.
Regardless of where you go for your surrogacy arrangement, you should consider what best practice surrogacy looks like.
Some questions you should ask, of the service provider, before signing up:
- How many successful surrogate/intended parent matches have they made this past year?
- How many surrogates do they have available that are ready to start talking to intended parents? There are always more intended parents than surrogates, but having a sense of what the ratio is can help you manage your expectations.
- What are their screening processes, for surrogates and intended parents?
- How does the service find and match surrogates and intended parents?
- What are the support services along the way, and how are those services capped or limited?
- How does the fee structure work, and are there different points where we can change our minds and receive a refund of parts of the fees?
- What sort of timeframe can we expect to match with surrogates/intended parents?
- What happens if we do not match within a set timeframe? Do we get a refund?
- What happens if a match falls through? Do we go back to the end of the queue?
- If they are referring you to another organisation, ask whether they receive a commission or referral fee for sending you there.
You may also like to get legal advice, either in Australia or in your destination country. While some agencies will make lots of promises, the legal framework may contradict what they are promising and even place intended parents in a vulnerable position.
There are surrogacy consultants and third-party brokers who will happily take your money and may offer services and promises that are unnecessary and may even break laws. Beware consultants who take commissions from agencies and clinics and do not declare the conflict of interest when they take your money and refer you to the agency which is paying them. I have been offered $2000 to refer people to overseas agencies and clinics – the practice is unethical and illegal.
There are restrictions on facilitating a surrogacy arrangement in several States, and there are also restrictions on advertising a service. You can read more about the surrogacy laws in each State, and get legal advice if you are unsure.
Sarah has published a book, More Than Just a Baby: A Guide to Surrogacy for Intended Parents and Surrogates, the only guide to surrogacy in Australia.