How to Choose a Surrogacy Program [5 Tips for Surrogacy Success]

There are so many choices to make before you start your surrogacy journey — it can be hard to know where to start. One of the first decisions you’ll need to make? Choosing a surrogacy program.

A surrogacy program guides intended parents and surrogates through the necessary steps, from start to finish. However, there’s a lot of confusion about different types of surrogacy programs and professionals, how to choose one, as well as whether or not to pursue surrogacy without a professional.

Please note: There will always be some core professionals involved in surrogacy, like attorneys. You can’t exactly “DIY” your way through the required legal and medical steps. From there, you may choose whether or not you work with additional professionals who can help you find a surrogacy match, provide support and coordinate the process.

Choosing the right professionals for the journey ahead will be one of the most important decisions you make early in the process. These are the five questions you should ask yourself when choosing a surrogacy program or professional:

1. Does the surrogacy agency have a careful screening process for both intended parents and surrogates?

Intended parents should receive education and counseling from the prospective professional. That professional should confirm that potential surrogates and intended parents are physically, financially and emotionally ready for a surrogacy journey.

Prospective surrogates should also receive education and counseling about the journey ahead. If they choose to move forward, they’ll need to undergo medical tests and physical screening to confirm that they are physically healthy enough to become a surrogate. They’ll also need to receive mental and emotional screening, to ensure that they’re ready to carry someone’s child.

Be sure to ask the professional what their screening process is like and what would disqualify a potential intended parent or surrogate from working with that professional.

2. Does this surrogacy program have a history of success?

There are many small, regional surrogacy programs out there that have very little real-world experience in completing surrogacy journeys. At the same time, bigger doesn’t always mean better.

Speaking with people who have worked with the prospective professional will be incredibly helpful in your decision-making process. Be sure to talk to former intended parents and surrogates alike — ask if they felt supported and informed, and ask if they had a positive experience. As personal voices of experience, they may also be able to offer you helpful advice.

3. Are they transparent and honest about the process?

If a surrogacy professional promises you that every aspect of the surrogacy process always goes 100% according to plan, you should look for a different professional! A good surrogacy professional will be up-front with you about the challenges (as well as the joys) of the journey ahead. What’s more, they’ll outline how they intend to support you through the ups and downs you may face.

They’ll be able to provide you with concrete responses to your questions and will know what to do in the event of any “what if” scenario. No two surrogacy journeys are alike, but a good professional should be able to guide you in any situation.

4. Are they able to provide the necessary support for the intended parents and surrogate?

The right surrogacy professional will make sure that they are available to the intended parents and surrogate — they should respond to intended parents and surrogates promptly and check in on your progress. The support that a professional provides will be invaluable throughout your surrogacy process — they should be able to offer the education, advice and emotional support needed for a successful and positive experience.

5. Is an experienced legal team involved?

The guidance of an experienced legal professional is mandatory, not optional. Without it, you have no assurance that your surrogacy process is being completed correctly, ethically, or legally. Experienced surrogacy attorneys like Jennifer and Catelyn are there to make sure the intended parents, the surrogate and the child at the center of it all are all legally protected.


Let’s answer some of the questions you may have about surrogacy programs and professionals:

FAQ About Surrogacy Professionals

There are a lot of different terms to learn (some are synonymous) and different choices to make at this stage in the surrogacy process. We’re here to answer any questions you may have, and guide you to the path you feel is best for you.

The answers to some of these commonly asked questions may help you as you consider your options:

“What are surrogacy agencies?”

Some surrogacy programs refer to themselves as surrogacy “agencies.” Surrogate “agencies” are not licensed or regulated in the U.S. in the same way that adoption agencies are licensed or regulated. So although we, like many people, will use the term “agency” throughout this article when referring to surrogacy programs, that’s an important distinction to keep in mind.

“What are surrogacy programs?”

A surrogacy program is the same thing as a surrogacy agency. This type of professional may be commonly called several names, including:

  • Gestational carrier agencies
  • Surrogacy agencies
  • Surrogate programs
  • Matching programs
  • Surrogacy groups
  • Surrogate companies
  • Surrogacy centers
  • Surrogate businesses
  • Or other variations of the same name

Regardless of what a surrogacy professional calls itself, the role it plays will be largely the same: guiding intended parents and surrogates through the process, creating matches, and coordinating steps with the necessary legal and medical professionals.

“What does a surrogacy agency do?”

So, if all those things listed above are the same thing, what does that professional do? They match intended parents and surrogates, as well as provide a number of support and coordination services.

A hopeful couple may contact a surrogate program to be connected to a pre-screened and waiting potential carrier. Similarly, a woman who wishes to become a surrogate can contact that same professional to be connected to waiting parents.

Some surrogacy agencies will offer additional services, like screening services, match support, counseling and education, or referrals to medical professionals and attorneys like Jennifer and Catelyn. Agencies will coordinate communication between the professionals, handle finances and more.

“What is an attorney’s role in the process? Do they function like a surrogacy program?”

Law firms do not typically offer matching services. While some attorneys own and operate their own surrogacy programs, most attorneys, like Jennifer and Catelyn, work independently of surrogacy programs and offer legal representation to one party in the surrogacy (either the intended parent or surrogate). We do not directly match you with an intended parent or gestational surrogate.

However, we can complete the legal steps that are required for a safe and legal surrogacy process. We can also refer you to programs that can help you find a match, give you expert advice on how to find a safe surrogacy match independently, offer referrals to local medical professionals and more.

So, although working with a surrogacy program is optional, working with a licensed and experienced attorney is not optional.

“Where can I find a gestational surrogacy agency?”

Almost all private surrogacy agencies in the U.S. exclusively complete gestational surrogacies.

“Where can I find a traditional surrogacy agency?”

Due to the increased emotional and legal risks associated with traditional surrogacy, there are virtually no traditional surrogacy agencies in the U.S. Most professionals will not complete a traditional surrogacy journey, and some states do not permit traditional surrogacies.


Pros and Cons of Surrogacy Programs

There are two options:

  1. You find a match through a surrogacy program (aka an agency-assisted journey)
  2. You find a match yourself (aka an independent surrogacy journey)

Remember: Both options require the help of an attorney, but the first option requires an additional professional. In both options, you’ll also need to work with a fertility clinic for the necessary medical steps.

No option eliminates surrogacy professionals entirely. You’ll always need to work with an attorney and a team of medical professionals, at a minimum.

If you do wish to consider working with a matching surrogate agency in addition to our law firm, we can recommend a list of surrogate agencies that can help you get started on an agency-assisted path. Schedule your consulation now to learn more.

“I believe in working with each of my clients—in support of their family dynamic—to make the dreams of parenthood a reality. Whether you are single or married; or gay; a step-parent, a surrogate or intended parent or a child of adoption, it is my mission to serve as your advocate. With a dedication to the ethical and sensitive nature of each situation, I will help you understand the laws within Maryland or Washington, DC for adoption or surrogacy, and pledge to be your partner throughout the journey.” - Jennifer Fairfax