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Surrogacy Choices

The HER Foundation has collected input and resources from other mothers pursing surrogacy after a pregnancy with HG. We have not verified this information, so please research your choices prior to making a decision. We provide this as a courtesy to you.

"I know 3 women who turned to gestational surrogacy because their HG was too severe and too risky to go through again. All three have had healthy babies via a gestational surrogate and all are beyond happy with their decision."
MF, California

Here is their information and advice:

1a. Southern California Agencies to find a surrogate (most agencies also set you up with a contract, a lawyer, and a psychologist that they work with if you need them), and provide you with continuous support and service throughout. They should also find and sign your surrogate up for health insurance that covers surrogate mothers which you are usually expected to pay for. The average waiting list for a surrogate is 6 months. Unless you have someone you trust who has offered to be a surrogate for you, an agency is preeferred over online sites to find a surrogate, although it can be cheaper because you cut out the ~ $10-15,000 agency fee. If you choose to go online to find a surrogate yourself, consider hiring a detective to check out the surrogate (see phone number below).

1st Choice: Center for Egg Options (CEO) 310-546-6786
This agency is the most personable of all the agencies we checked out-Stacey and Michelle give you their cell phone numbers and allow you to contact them day or night. They also do not require any money to go on the waiting list (all others we looked into ask for a down payment of approximately $5,000). Their surrogates are pre-screened medically and psychologically and you do not have to put money down until you have met the surrogate and approve of their choice. The surrogate they found for us was ideal-a young married woman with 2 young and very healthy children whose husband was very supportive and even took off work to accompany her to all appointments. She got pregnant on the first try with our twins and took them to term.

Other Options:
Creative Conceptions 888-411-3447
Reproductive Solutions 818-832-1494
Options 800-786-1786
Surrogate Alternatives 619-426-7833
Center for Surrogate Parenting 323-655-1974 (heard this one is big and once you sign on they treat you like a number and often don’t return your calls)
Surrogate Parenting Services 949-363-9525 (be careful with this one-we had to sue to get our retainer fee back after being offered 3 unacceptable surrogates-for example, one had a recent drunk driving conviction!)

Example of agency fees:
Retainer to reserve a gestational surrogate $1,500.
Cycle/administrative fee $10,000.
($2,500 upon execution of agreement between surrogate and parents, $2,500 at time of initial transfer procedure, $5,000 upon Surrogate being discharged by fertility specialist to independent obstetrician)
Medical insurance for surrogate: $200/month premium
Life insurance for surrogate: $250/annual premium
Expect additional fees $5-10,000 for example for twins, uncovered prenatal diagnosis procedures or extra procedures that may provide additional discomfort, pain, and risk to surrogate (like CVS, C-section), hotel for surrogate to rest and stay off feet a few days after transfer, etc.

1b. California Bay Area – not recommended: "Woman to Woman" in the Bay area- should be on the "do not call" list. We had a terrible
experience with them, although had to go through the entire process.
Completely unprofessional (one may not know this from the start). They took advantage of the situation financially and psychologically.

2. Doctors-California Fertility Associates 310-828-4008 this group is among the first to perform surrogacy procedures in the U.S., and therefore has the most experience, but there is a waiting list-I recommend making an appointment with them as soon as possible so that by the time you find a surrogate, you won’t have to wait for a doctor to get started.

Example of fee: approximately $20,000 (includes screening for donor and partner, screening for surrogate and partner, test cycle, medications, ultrasound aspiration, egg culturing, embryo transfer, endocrine lab fees, ultrasound ovulatory monitoring fees, hospital surgery fee, hospital embryo transfer fee, anesthesia fee, embryo freezing fee, and administrative fees.

California Bay Area recommended group-We had a fantastic fertility specialist in the Bay area (Daly City). His name was Christo Zouves at the Zouves Fertility Center (www.goivf.com). He has also written a "mainstream" book about IVF and surrogacy that is wonderful to read for anyone just getting into this. I have visited a lot of physicians in my life, and I feel this man is gifted and is a true healer.

3. Lawyers/contract-our lawyer did 4 things for us: 1) wrote up the surrogacy contract 2) wrote up and filed the agreement of our parental rights at 6 months gestation 3) discussed and sent the approved parental rights agreement to the birth hospital so that the hospital and social services were aware of the arrangement and parental rights before we arrived, and 4) managed a trust fund to send payments to the surrogate, agency, etc. These things can also be done by your own lawyer to save money (you can find sample contracts online or through the support group listed below), but if you have the money, it is nice to have someone with experience in case something goes wrong. We recommend Steven Lazarus (323) 692-7848, slazarus@earthlink.net.

Example of lawyers fees: Intended Parents Attorney Fee: 3,500
Surrogate Attorney Fee: 1,000
Filing Fees: 500
Setup and management of Trust Account: 1,500

4. Detective -You may want to hire your own detective to do a background check on the surrogate if it is not done by your agency. Most agencies only do at most an interview, a medical, and a psychological screen, so a savvy con-artist can slip through the cracks. The detective can do a background check on the surrogate and her spouse to double check the facts and be sure for example, that they have no past criminal record and to give you a history of their past residences so you can know whether they move around a lot or are relatively stable people.

We recommend Mason and Tully (510) 655-6822, but suggest, after signing them on, that you keep small talk to a minimum since they bill for every second of phone time.

5. Online support groups. We saved money by not using a psychologist. Instead, when in need for support (and advice) we used the online support group which I think was way more valuable than a psychologist since you get loads of support and advice from people who have been and are going through the same thing as you and truly understand. I found this group extremely helpful since I didn’t know anyone who had done surrogacy at the time and didn’t want to discuss it with people at work or people other than very close friends and family.

You can log onto the support group at all hours of the day/night to get feedback on everything from what your surrogate’s HCG levels mean to what to buy your surrogate for a gift, and to get support when you get good or bad news from people who aren’t going to judge your decision to do surrogacy. I met two other women on this site who had severe hyperemesis and were pursuing surrogacy during the same year that I went through the process. These people can also give you more advice on doctors/agencies/lawyers, etc. around the country.

SUPPORT AND INFORMATION WEBSITE: http://www.surrogacy.com

6. What to look for in a surrogate:

a. Healthy pregnancy history - in addition to your own concerns about this, most I.V.F. doctors will not accept a surrogate if they have not had a history of at least one healthy pregnancy.

b. History of sexual responsibility-you do not want your surrogate to be having unprotected sex during the early stages of the process or she could become pregnant with her own baby. Surrogates and spouses should be pre-screened for HIV and other infections prior to the transfer, but a history of sexual responsibility will increase the chances that she will not be having unprotected sex with unscreened partners (especially for single mom surrogates) and minimizes the risk of catching or passing on viruses to your unborn child throughout the pregnancy. For these reasons, it is best to have a happily married surrogate with small children-someone who is less likely to be going out at night and sleeping around. I would watch out for someone with a recent history of abortions or small children born out of wedlock-although some can be great surrogates, it can be risky because they probably have a history of having unprotected sex. If they are not careful with their own body-are they going to be careful with it when your baby is in it?

c. Stability- someone who has lived in the same area for many years is more likely to have a network of support while pregnant and is more likely to be stable and less likely to move during the process. California has the best precedent in the country for honoring surrogacy contracts (it is still illegal in some states), so if you have a surrogate in California, you don’t want them moving away and having your baby somewhere else.

d. Small children-a person with a baby or young child is less likely to be going out at night and is more likely to be in a “taking care” phase of their life, making them more likely to take care of your baby as well.

e. Family support-all pregnancies can be different, especially with IVF where multiples are more common. Be sure your surrogate has a husband, relative, friends or someone who can help her out if she goes on bedrest, etc. You may be expected or want to pay extra to get your surrogate some help at home if she has to go on bedrest for example and needs extra help taking care of her family, but it always helps if she already has built-in support. Example of first time surrogate fee for singleton gestation: $17,000.

7. Let your fertility doctor know: I know three women who have pursued surrogacy due to hyperemesis and all successfully had biological children via surrogacy. One word of caution: all three women hyperstimulated during the egg stimulation process producing from 20-40 mature follicles (average is 8). All three women had to be put on lower doses of the follicle stimulation medicines and were nauseous for a few days before the egg retrieval probably due to the high levels of estrogen that the maturing follicles produce. After the eggs are retrieved, the empty follicles fill with fluid, and the larger number of follicles put you at risk for ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome which can be serious if you do not take care of yourself for the week after the retrieval-stay off your feet as much as possible and maintain a minimal fluid intake and you should be fine. The great part about this is that you will have an excess of embryos to work with-the best ones will be transferred to the surrogate and you will have a good chance of success with a nice store of backups if the transfer doesn’t take the first time. The daily shots the month or so prior to retrieval, and the egg retrieval itself are nothing when you’ve gone through hyperemesis gravidarum, so don’t be worried about that.

 

Updated on: Apr. 18, 2013

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