We have exciting news to share! After months of careful research, we have decided on pursuing our surrogacy journey with the help of an agency instead of through an independent journey. (If you haven’t read the first part of this article, I would highly recommend doing so.)
This was not a decision we took lightly – these past few months have been filled with long, informative conversations with surrogates, other IPs, our lawyer, and representatives from the dozen or so surrogacy agencies operating within Canada. We quickly learned that while each agency is passionate about helping to build families, there are many philosophies on exactly what role an agency/consultancy can fill to make that happen.
Why work with an agency?
While embarking on an independent surrogacy journey initially seemed tempting from a financial perspective (why pay an agency if you don’t have to?), we ultimately felt that the support we stood to gain from partnering with experts outweighed the savings we might have.
This is our first surrogacy journey, and despite our research there is a lot we don’t know. By signing with an agency, we now have a team behind us to answer questions, support us in finding our perfect match, help us manage reimbursements with our future surrogate, and provide guidance as we move through our journey.
So…who did we choose?
After much consideration, we have signed with 4U Surrogacy Canada. This move feels right to us for many reasons – not only do their core values of transparency, positivity, and support resonate with us, but we love that 4U was founded by both a surrogate and an IP together. It is important to us to know that both our and our future surrogate’s interests will be valued equally, and that our agency’s philosophy is built on understanding the perspectives of both.
4U also offers one of the more rigorous vetting processes for both surrogates and potential IPs. By taking the time to ensure everyone entering their program is committed, healthy, and has a strong understanding of what is expected of them in a journey, they aim to minimize potential for disappointment or unmet expectations. This gives us confidence in their program, and will hopefully help our future surrogate to feel comfortable with what she can expect from us.
In terms of cost and fee structure, 4U was an excellent match for us as well. Not only do they have one of the more IP-friendly pricing structures in the industry, they are also based in Alberta (saving us having to pay Provincial Sales Tax!). Their price is also meant to support IPs in bringing home a baby – not simply facilitating support for a set number of transfers. This may at face value seem like an obvious statement, but when we questioned other agencies about what might happen to us if we had matched and then our surrogate decided not to proceed with us (or vice versa) after a failed transfer, we were informed that we might incur additional administrative fees to access surrogate profiles again. This did not sit well with us, especially given how expensive accessing the support of an agency can already be.
We spoke briefly in the previous article about expense management. This is a touchy subject for agencies and surrogates alike. We don’t see reimbursement as a taboo part of this experience – quite the opposite! We are clearly very open people, and we would never want our surrogate to be out of pocket for any expense she incurred. However, by having an agency manage the bookkeeping, it gives us the opportunity to focus on building the relationship and enjoying the pregnancy together. 4U values transparency and gives us the opportunity to ask questions and understand in detail what is being expensed, without making our surrogate feel like her spending is under a microscope.
Included in 4U’s services is psychological counselling for both surrogates and IPs. This is a requirement at our clinic, CReATe Fertility Centre, to be done in advance of embryo transfer. This is just one example of a way 4U is working ahead to simplify the process and help reduce IP costs.
We also really appreciate that 4U keeps a short roster of intended parents. By having under 20 pairs of IPs waiting for matches, we know that we are getting the personal attention we are looking for from an agency. Likewise, once we match with a surrogate, we appreciate that we will be only one of a few other matches in that stage of the process. We know that we will be able to call Lindsay and her team with any questions we have. We will not simply be clients, but part of the 4U Circle.
In all of our conversations with 4U so far, we have felt understood and respected. They seem genuinely excited to help us build a family, and exactly the type of cheerleaders we want on our team.
We look forward to the next steps in this process: building a profile and matching with a surrogate!
P.S. If you’ve ever considered surrogacy, please see 4U’s health and lifestyle requirements below:
- between 21 and 45 years of age
- delivered your own child, carried to full term
- no more than 2 previous c-sections
- healthy BMI (ideally 38 or less)
- financially stable
- no previous serious pregnancy or delivery complications
- in excellent mental health
- live in a stable, healthy home environment
- a good support system in place
- no history of drug or alcohol abuse