Should You Pursue Independent Surrogacy? [4 Dos and Don’ts]

The Complete Guide to Independent Surrogacy

Regardless of whether or not you work with a surrogacy matching program (also sometimes called a surrogacy agency), we can help you complete the necessary legal steps of the process. We’re able to create your contract for a private surrogacy through an agency or your independent surrogacy contract. Although working with an experienced surrogacy attorney is not optional, you do have a choice to make: Should you pursue an independent surrogacy (without an agency) or agency-assisted surrogacy (they find and screen a match for you)?

What’s the Difference Between Independent Surrogacy and Agency-Assisted Surrogacy?

In independent surrogacy, the intended parents and surrogate complete the process themselves (except for their attorneys and the fertility professionals). They’re responsible for learning how to complete a surrogacy journey, finding and coordinating with the necessary professionals, finding and screening their own surrogacy match, handling the finances and more.

The other option is to work with a surrogacy program (also sometimes called a surrogacy agency). They coordinate with the necessary professionals, handle the financials, find and screen surrogacy matches and guide the intended parents and surrogate throughout the complexities of the surrogacy process. Because of those complexities, agency-assisted surrogacy is often the preferred route — the intended parents and surrogates have a professional who will walk them through each step and handle things on their behalf.

Here are four important dos and don’ts, as well as answers to some common questions which can help you decide whether or not surrogacy without agency involvement is right for you:

1. DO consider how you want your surrogacy match to be screened.

In a private surrogacy arrangement through an agency, the professional would match you with someone who has already completed their screening process and is confirmed as ready for surrogacy — physically, mentally and emotionally. These professionals will have their own set of screening methods and requirements.

In an independent surrogacy journey, the intended parents are responsible for finding and screening their prospective surrogate themselves. Our firm can offer advice and help you understand what to look for in a surrogacy match, but intended parents who pursue surrogacy without an agency will need to be ready to screen potential surrogates and avoid scams.

2. DON’T try to D.I.Y. the surrogacy process.

Some intended parents misguidedly hope to further cut down on the cost of surrogacy without agency involvement by avoiding hiring attorneys or medical professionals.

Again: Working with a surrogacy program/agency can be beneficial for intended parents and surrogates, but is optional. A qualified attorney and a medical clinic are both required. You can’t, nor should you try to, complete a surrogacy journey without the help of the appropriate legal and medical professionals, at the very least.

3. DO think about what you feel confident taking responsibility for.

The primary draw of working with a surrogacy program/agency is that they handle everything on your behalf: Finding a match, screening that potential match, hiring and coordinating with the necessary legal and medical professionals and more. Many intended parents, especially those who have not previously completed a surrogacy journey, are not confident in their ability to handle those tasks themselves. So, they hire a surrogacy program/agency to do it for them. But, this type of professional is an additional expense to consider.

Intended parents who do feel confident that they would be able to manage all of these elements may ultimately decide to skip that guidance and pursue an independent surrogacy arrangement on their own. If you think you may be comfortable with those responsibilities, we can offer some guidance on how to find a surrogate without an agency.

4. DON’T let cost be the only factor in your decision.

For most intended parents, the lower independent surrogacy cost versus the higher private surrogacy cost is one of the primary considerations in choosing whether or not to pursue independent surrogacy. This is an important and reasonable factor. However, cost should never be the only factor in any decision.

You should also consider the services and protections that surrogacy programs/agencies offer, and whether or not you think those services will be important for you throughout your journey. There is no right or wrong answer — there is only the path that’s right for you. Regardless of whether you choose to pursue an independent or an agency-assisted surrogacy, our attorneys will be able to help you navigate the legal steps of the process, help you create a contract and more.


FAQ About Independent vs. Agency Surrogacy

Most of the questions about choosing between independent gestational surrogacy and agency-assisted surrogacy revolve around cost. Surrogacy programs/agencies are an additional cost for intended parents, but for some, their services are important enough to make it worthwhile. Whether or not you want access to those services throughout your surrogacy journey is entirely up to you.

With that in mind, here are our answers to some of the most common questions about independent vs. program-assisted surrogacy:

“How do I go about finding a surrogate without an agency?”

If you do decide to pursue an independent surrogacy journey (surrogacy without an agency), you would be responsible for finding and screening a prospective surrogate yourself. This is often achieved online, through word-of-mouth and personal connections, or advertising. Our firm can offer advice on how to find a surrogate safely and legally, even if you decide to not work with a matching professional.

“How much does independent surrogacy cost?”

Because the intended parents find and screen the surrogate themselves, this eliminates the match fee that surrogacy programs charge, which can save approximately $17,000 to $25,000. The other costs of independent surrogacy, like medical expenses, base compensation and more, will be similar to the costs of a private (program-assisted) journey. 

“How much does private surrogacy cost?”

Surrogacy programs will charge a fee for finding and screening a surrogate for the intended parents, which can cost approximately $17,000 to $25,000. The other costs of private surrogacy, like medical expenses, base compensation and more, will be similar to the costs of an independent journey. 

“How much does surrogacy cost if you have a surrogate?”

If you already know the woman who plans to carry your child, then you’ll be able to skip the match fee that attorneys and agencies would otherwise charge, which can save you up to $25,000. However, you’ll still need to cover all the other costs associated with the surrogacy process.

“How much does a private surrogate mother cost?”

A “private surrogate mother” is what some people call a woman who works with a matching program or agency to find intended parents. These women have typically already undergone rigorous screening and testing to ensure that they are ready to become gestational carriers, and they are waiting to be matched with the right intended parents.

Most surrogates, whether you find them through an agency or on your own (independently), will receive some amount of compensation. The exact amounts will be established within the surrogacy contract you create with an attonrey on our team. However, regardless of whether or not you work with an agency, intended parents will pay for many expenses beyond base compensation for their surrogate, including screening services, background checks, attorney and medical professional fees, and more. Learn more about the costs of surrogacy here.


Ready to begin your surrogacy journey? Whether you choose to work with a surrogacy program/agency or not, we’ll be able to help you complete the necessary legal steps. Contact us now to get started.

“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