There’s more than one way to start or grow a family. With the increasing popularity of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART), the surrogacy process is becoming more and more common for couples who struggle with infertility, LGBTQ partners, and other hopeful parents.
Understanding the surrogacy process can be complicated enough on its own. There’s a lot to learn, and the legal and medical aspects of the process can be highly complex. That’s why most people — both gestational carriers (surrogates) and intended parents — choose to work with a professional surrogacy program.
However, there are others who are interested in pursuing a private surrogacy process. Private, or independent surrogacy, is an appealing option in some situations.
If you are interested in surrogacy but unsure of which type to pursue, then this guide is for you. Here, we’re going to:
- Define private surrogacy, independent surrogacy and identified surrogacy
- Explain the pros and cons of each
- Show how surrogacy professionals are still vital to a successful process
- Give you your next steps
For personal help, you can contact us today to speak with a surrogacy professional at any time.
Defining Your Surrogacy Options
The most common way to conduct the surrogacy process is with the help of a surrogacy program, like Southern Surrogacy.
In this type of gestational surrogacy process, surrogates and intended parents will come to our organization for the services necessary to complete a process. This can include:
- Initial screening and background checks
- Finding the right surrogacy match
- Referrals to fertility clinics
- Guidance, support and counseling throughout the process
- Legal services
- And more
The two most common reasons for choosing a surrogacy program instead of private surrogacy are:
- The services listed above make the process much easier, and much more likely to succeed.
- Most surrogates and intended parents need help finding a surrogacy match.
However, you may be in a situation where you already have a surrogacy match. No matter how you were connected — family, friends, social media — you already know who you would like to carry your baby, or who you would like to carry a baby for. In a situation like this, you can consider one of these options:
- Private Surrogacy: A surrogacy process conducted without the support of a surrogacy program
- Independent Surrogacy: Similar to private surrogacy, independent surrogacy is an attempt to complete the process with minimal assistance from surrogacy professionals.
- Identified Surrogacy: A surrogacy process in which the gestational carrier and intended parents already know each other. Identified surrogacy is sometimes done as a private surrogacy process, but can also be done with the support of a surrogacy program.
While all of these are distinct in some ways, they are generally variations on the same idea: Completing a surrogacy without match-finding services (and other services) from a program. Let’s explore the benefits, and potential risks, of private surrogacy.
Pros of Private Surrogacy
Individuals who are interested in completing a private surrogacy or independent surrogacy typically have an existing relationship with the surrogate or intended parent(s) they would like to complete the process with. Without this relationship, a private surrogacy can be very difficult, as we’ll explore more below.
If you know somebody you would like to complete a private surrogacy process with, then you may be compelled to move forward with an independent surrogacy because:
- It involves less support from professionals, which can potentially lower the cost
- It feels more secure when you already have an existing relationship with the surrogate or intended parents
- It gives you a sense of having more control over the process
For many people, these reasons may be enough to move forward with an independent, identified surrogacy. However, before you make that choice, it’s worth considering the potential risks of private surrogacy, as well as understanding that you will need some level of professional support, even for independent surrogacy.
Potential Risks of Independent Surrogacy
Surrogacy is complex, and each state has its own surrogacy laws. In order to complete a successful private surrogacy, these laws must be followed exactly. In addition to the legal requirements, the surrogacy medical process is also a delicate endeavor, and it’s vitally important for the health of the gestational carrier and the baby to work with a trustworthy clinic.
When you work with a surrogacy program, you can be confident in the legal and medical services provided to you. When you pursue private surrogacy, all of these decisions and responsibilities fall on your shoulders. Because of this, independent surrogacy can put the intended parents and surrogates in a more tenuous position, as it relates to the law and the medical process.
Additionally, without the support of a surrogacy program, individuals pursuing private surrogacy should be prepared to take on (or outsource) the following requirements of the process:
- Use advertising and other methods to locate a match with a surrogate or intended parents (if a match does not already exist)
- Locate screening services to conduct medical and psychiatric background checks on the other party (as required by all fertility clinics) to ensure they are a qualified candidate for the embryo transfer, as well as prepared for the other challenges of surrogacy
- Find or provide emotional support and counseling to the gestational carrier and intended parents throughout the process
- Map out the logistics of every step of the process, from filing all required documents, to scheduling and attending all meetings with medical and legal professionals, to working out travel and lodging arrangements (if necessary), to coordinating with healthcare professionals
- And more
Finally, along with the medical and legal risks, and the assumption of responsibilities that would be provided by a program, there is also the emotional challenges of the process.
Many programs, like Southern Surrogacy, provide counseling from start to finish as you navigate the unique and complex emotions of surrogacy. Carrying someone else’s baby, or walking alongside the woman who is carrying your baby, is an experience truly unlike any other. You are going to have difficult feelings at times. Without a program, you will have to find healthy ways to navigate this on your own.
These potential risks do not mean independent surrogacy is impossible. However, anyone committed to the idea of a private surrogacy process should have a plan to confront the potential challenges outlined here.
How Surrogacy Professionals Can Help with Private Surrogacy
Regardless of whether you pursue private surrogacy or a surrogacy program, you will need some professional support. The question is how much.
You can pursue private surrogacy without the services of a surrogacy program if you believe you can handle the responsibilities listed above and are comfortable with the risks. Even still, you will need to work with medical professionals (like the fertility clinic, OB/GYN and hospital) and legal professionals (like a family law attorney).
Or, you can still pursue your identified surrogacy (so that you have the comfort and security of knowing your surrogate or intended parents) while enlisting the service of a surrogacy program likes ours.
How Southern Surrogacy Can Help
Identified surrogacy with the support of a surrogacy program can offer the best of both worlds. You’ll go through the process with someone who you already know and trust, while also receiving all of the benefits our program provides.
Southern Surrogacy can make your identified process much easier and less stressful because:
- We are equipped to complete the required screening processes
- We have connections with amazing local fertility clinics and other professionals
- We are owned by a local law firm that specializes in family law, which means we can also handle the legal aspects of your identified surrogacy, such as the surrogacy contract
- We provide counseling for the emotional challenges of the process
- We work out the logistics of each step, including coordinating with the hospital on birth plans, and arranging lodging and travel, if needed
- We can mediate difficult conversation that come up in response to some of the more challenging emotions of the surrogacy process
- We have years of experience that can give you peace and confidence in your process
If you would like to learn more about how our team could assist with your identified surrogacy, please contact us today.
How Claiborne | Fox | Bradley | Goldman Can Help
Is independent surrogacy the right choice for you? Our local law firm, with years of experience in adoption and family law, can help. In order to complete the process, you will need an airtight surrogacy contract.
The best surrogacy contracts are drafted to meet the needs of your specific situation. Our team of legal professionals takes a personal approach to surrogacy contracts, ensuring that we provide a sound legal document for your private surrogacy that protects and benefits everyone involved.
Additionally, our experience in the region puts us in a good position to recommend high-quality fertility clinics and other ART professionals for your process.
Interested in learning more? You can schedule a consultation to speak with a member of our team.
What Comes Next
You don’t need to rush this decision. Choosing private surrogacy or a surrogacy program will be one of your most important choices in the entire process. If you’d like to speak with a professional about your options, you can contact us today.
If you’re interested in becoming a gestational carrier with Southern Surrogacy, you can take a few minutes to fill out our Information Request Form to get your process started.
And if you’d prefer to pursue independent surrogacy, you can contact our law firm today.