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The Surrogacy Questionnaire: Nothing’s Irrelevant By Mary Ellen McLaughlin

14 Jul

We recently came across a thread in a Yahoo discussion group from a would-be gestational surrogate. She had completed an agency’s questionnaire to become a surrogate. And while she understood the rationale for the questions (many of which appeared on the surface to be quite intrusive), there was one that had her puzzled for its relevance: “What is your religion?”

That’s a pretty typical question for agencies to ask. It points to the depth that principled and discerning agencies will go to in vetting prospective surrogates.

The religion question can relate to any number of considerations – beliefs that may influence a decision on selective reduction, for example. And, let’s face it, for both Intended Parents and prospective surrogates, religion may be a sticking point whether it’s relevant to the task at hand or not.

Taking a deep dive into the prospective surrogate’s background, beliefs and support network is absolutely essential to ensure she’s emotionally up to it – and, equally important, is a responsible individual who surrounds herself with people who share her principles and behaviors.

The stories about con artists who hold the baby for ransom are the exception, but they’re the ones that people remember. Not surprisingly, they weren’t properly vetted. We’re not about to take that risk.

A typical surrogacy application form can run up to 20 pages. It’s the first screen; subsequent ones include interviews with the agency’s staff and, preferably, independent mental health professionals. It is not something to be completed in an hour, or even a day. Are the questions intrusive? Some are – of necessity. And prospective surrogates should expect no less given the very important role they’re applying to play.

It asks for the candidate’s and her husband/partner’s five-year employment history and educational backgrounds. It asks about family structure – how many children and their ages, and the support network. It asks whether the candidate or her partner have criminal records or substance abuse histories. It asks health questions including a medical and pregnancy history, ranging from how the applicant relieves stress, to whether she’s had an HIV test and the results, to birth control methods and delivery experiences.

And it asks questions to gauge the candidate’s emotional state. What are her hopes, wishes and expectations? Will she work with same-sex couples or unmarried couples? What are her strengths and values? How does she manage difficult times or experiences? Her partner is asked to share feelings about her taking on this role, and how the partner’s family would feel about it, as well. Descriptions of the couple’s children are solicited, along with how they will be prepared and involved in the process.

They’re also asked about issues that must necessarily be grappled with: How will you deal with relinquishing the baby to his or her parents? How do you feel about future contact with the child and his or her parents? How do you feel about carrying multiples, and the issue of a selective reduction if you’re carrying more than two fetuses?

This is only a sampling of the ground covered in the surrogacy application form. It is exhaustive, though we prefer to think of it as thorough. But that’s what it takes to make sure the surrogacy experience lives up to its promise for everyone involved.

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Egg Donation, Surrogacy and the Internet Age

4 May

Lately I’ve been hearing a lot of “thank you for calling me back” which surprises me each time I hear it. To me it’s important to talk to people – actually talk face-to-face – about egg donation, gestational surrogacy, and other aspects of third party reproduction that affect so many people every day.   Center for Egg Options, Illinois is a donor and surrogacy agency founded on a core belief of helping,  so it’s hard to believe there are some agencies who don’t return calls.

Ah! Let’s chalk it all up to the evolution of egg donation and surrogacy in the Internet Age. Back in the day, when we opened our program in 2000, we had conversations in person. Imagine that! We actually scheduled appointments to meet intended parents to give them choices, information, and support for their searches. Now so many responses and discussions are handled via email, or sometimes by video chat, that it’s the rare occasion that we have those old in office meetings and we miss it!

We do appreciate how much technology has helped agency programs evolve in very sophisticated ways, like enabling us to share egg donor information on password protected web sites. This kind of advancement makes it easy for someone out of the agency’s geographic location to participate, or for someone who is more comfortable taking these first steps behind the computer wall rather than in person.

Regardless of whether you are downloading our online Gestational Surrogate Form, or Egg Donor Form, or contributing to a thread on our Facebook discussions, it’s important to me and CEO that you know we are here for you. Technology can be a great friend but it can never replace real life experiences. So our door is always open if you want to have a coffee while discussing your family plans. Your phone message will always be returned. And you will always be our priority. You have our word on it!

Best wishes,
Nancy Block

“Through our relationships, we help create families.”

Why Work with The Center For Egg Options Illinois?

16 Apr

Our philosophy and Mission: The Center For Egg Options mission is to provide unparalleled patient and donor advocacy while expediting the smoothest ART cycle with the final goal being a worry free and successful method to helping people achieve their family building goals.

Nancy Block’s 25+ years of obstetric and infertility nursing experience and professional medical relationships combined with her sincere and empathic desire to partner with all of her clients (donor/surrogates and intended parents) in their quest for parenthood makes her a true standout in her field!

The Center For Egg Options ‘ expert leadership supports a team approach with established reputation of the highest standards:

  • Personal and hands-on service: The Center For Egg Options meets all donors and surrogates personally!
  • Comprehensive, complete and personal assistance with EVERY aspect of your program.
  • 25+ years experience.
  • No Fee until you match.
  • Features partner clinics and centers nationwide.
  • Industry’s most competitive fee structure.
  • Superior and incomparable donor and surrogate screening process inclusive of all the standards as are required by ASRM.
  • The Center For Egg Options is FDA certified and registered.
  • NEW! The Center For Egg Options is now offering Intended Parents around-the-globe personalized international matching arrangements.
  • The Center For Egg Options has successfully and personally guided 2,000 Donor and Surrogate matches
  • Features an ongoing pool of qualified Egg Donors ready to match, as well as a network alliance to hundreds of others.
  • The Center For Egg Options is currently expanding our international Gestational Surrogate Program.
  • The Center For Egg Options offers stringent screening of potential donors and surrogates.

Meet Susan! CEO’s Wonderful Program Case Manager!

18 Apr

We love getting to know our Intended Parents, Surrogates and Egg Donors and often make long lasting friends with some of our clients. We thought it would be a great idea to let you really get to know each of us on an individual level. Today it’s all about Susan, our wonderful program case manager! 

Susan attended the University of Illinois and graduated from Rush University with a Bachelors of Science in Nursing.  She is married with three children ages 21, 19 and 16.  Her previous work experience includes Labor and Delivery nurse at Northwestern Hospital and at Michael Reese HMO as Clinical Nurse Manager in their outpatient OB/Gynecology department. Susan has been with CEO for over eight years and coordinates all of the donor and GS matches/medical records with the doctor’s offices.  She also handles the escrow accounts for travel and CEO’s gestational surrogacy’s. On top of all that, Susan also meets with donors and recipients.   

Susan answers calls every day from young women who have the desire to become egg donors. When asked what is your best advice that you can give to women who are interested in donating their eggs she says “make sure the agency you are going to donate with is reputable and is accessible to you to answer your questions and give support.  You want to work with an agency such as CEO that has their staff available to the donors and intended parents.  This is a wonderful gift that you are giving to recipients and it is important for you to have support during your donation cycle.”  

Women who want to become Gestational Surrogates often contact CEO and talk with Susan about the Surrogacy Process. Susan says to them “Ask as many questions as you can.  You want to make sure that you are working with an agency that has knowledge of not only the fertility process to become a surrogate, but also the pregnancy and delivery aspect.  It is important to work with an experienced agency to assist you in this process.  It is also important to meet your intended parents and establish a relationship that works for both of you as to the level of involvement during the surrogacy and after delivery.” True words! Some agency’s are only involved in the match, but that is not CEO’s style. Susan and the rest of the staff are involved from conception to birth and beyond! 

Working at Center for Egg Options is pretty exciting stuff but the most rewarding part, Susan explains, are “the phone calls we receive when an intended parent calls to say they are pregnant.  The excitement and hope in their voice is such a thrill.  We have a few recipients that have had such a long and disappointing journey to become parents and knowing that we have played a part in making their dreams come true is our biggest reward!” 

When Intended Parents retain our services they should know that the goal of CEO is to provide the best customer service possible. Susan says that they strive to give personal one-on-one attention to everyone-donors, surrogates and intended parents.  “We spend time with everyone, and no question or concern is too small”.

Feel free to call The Center For Egg Options and speak with Susan, Nancy or Jan. We would love to hear from you and answer any questions you may have! After all that’s what we are here for!

Questions to Ask a Surrogacy or Egg Donation Agency Before You Retain Their Services

11 Apr

It is sometimes an overwhelming process to find an agency to work with let alone an egg donor or gestational carrier. The dread of going through a donor data base or wondering about a million surrogacy questions can be daunting and depressing for any Intended Parent or Recipient. But with the ‘right’ agency building your family via egg donation and/or surrogacy it doesn’t have to be like that. Below are some very important questions that you should have answered when you are looking for a reputable agency to work with. Know that The Center for Egg Options can answer all of these questions to your satisfaction!  How long has the agency been in business? Are they an LLC? Has the Agency been in business under a different name?

How many staff members are associated with the agency?

Is there an emergency number for 24/7 contact?

How many donors/carriers has the agency matched with recipients/intended parents in the last year? Does the agency have references from IP’s? 

How many donors/carriers does the agency have available at one time? 

What is the agency fee for their services? What exactly do these fees cover? 

What do you have to pay up front and what do you have to pay once the surrogate/donor has been selected? 

Are the fees refundable if you change your mind? or if the carrier/ donor backs out of the agreement? 

If the RE/Clinic cancels the cycle because of poor performance/unqualified donor or carrier will the agency rematch intended parents with no extra charges? 

How much is the donor/carrier compensated? When is the compensation given to the donor? When will it be dispersed to the carrier? 

Can the egg donor or carrier set her own level of compensation? 

Does the agency provide a retainer agreement to be used between the agency and IPs/Recipient? 

Does the egg donor/carrier undergo a psychological screening before being placed on any prospective  lists? Who performs this screening? 

Does the agency facilitate a meeting between IPs and the donor or carrier? 

How does the agency manage its records regarding donors and carriers? How long is this information kept by the agency? 

Does the agency adhere to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine Guidelines for Oocyte Donation?   

What is included in the legal contracts that a donor signs? 

What is included in a legal contract that a carrier would sign?  

What type of medical coverage for the donor or carrier does the agency provide and what are the terms? 

Does the agency provide a fair refund policy? 

Does the agency charge differently if you pay cash, check, or credit card?

 If the Recipient or IP pay for the donors or carriers expenses does the agency provide an itemized list of expenses? 

Does the agency recommend an escrow service? If so how much money is needed up front to fund the escrow account?

Does the agency carry Errors and Omissions Insurance? 

As you can see this is quite a list and there is more to know! A reputable agency will be able to take the time to answer all of these questions to your satisfaction and share with you what is unique about their agency, staff, donors and gestational carriers. Knowing what to ask is the first step in having a successful outcome when building your family through any Assisted Reproductive Program! We look forward to hearing from you!

The Relationship Starts With CEO: Getting to Know our Intended Parents

24 Mar

What is the secret ingredient for The Center for Egg Options success? Why are Intended Parents who sign up for our programs satisfied and happy? Nancy, Jan and Susan (the heart and soul of CEO) strive to get to know what has brought our Intended Parents to us in the first place. We offer them the tools they will need to take this huge step in their journey to parenthood. We listen. We hold hands. We make time. We acknowledge that this isn’t easy, needing an egg donor or surrogate. We hear what Intended Parents need and want and we do our best to find a way to fulfill that void.

We start with the first phone call. Getting to know our potential client is more then just jotting down the ‘basics’ and sending them to our data base. It’s learning what brought them to us in the first place. What their expectations are for CEO and other professionals that they soon will be working with and, most of all, what they expect from a surrogate or egg donor. Recently an Intended Parent who had been struggling for over 8 years with infertility treatments stated “Thank you, Nancy, for talking to me Saturday. I really needed to vent and you let me.”  It seems simple enough. Listening. But so many agencies don’t know just how important it is. Taking the time to know these Intended Parents as human beings first. Often times they come to CEO with a lot of pain, sorrow and loss and that should to be acknowledged and then, hopefully, the healing can begin with our help and expertise.

The Center for Egg Options prides itself on our long lasting relationships with our Intended Parents. Susan, Jan and Nancy are thrilled for IP’s when their newborn is placed into their arms. We all know that this miracle happened because our team of caring people started out with our Intended Parents on their journey by simply listening and then helping them make their dreams come true.

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