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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.

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.”

CEO Information for Intended Parents of Gestational Surrogacy

1 Apr

Below are some general questions that Intended Parents often ask when considering Gestational Surrogacy. To set up an appointment with one of our wonderful staff members, use our contact information provided below.

How long will it take to find out gestational surrogate and make our match? It takes about 2-4 months to meet the ideal gestational carrier to build your family.

Are there any up-front costs involved? YES. There is no fee charged by The Center for Egg Options for a consultation appointment.  To view gestational surrogate  profiles, there is a fee of $5000.00(non-refundable).  The profiles shown to you are of carriers and their husband/partner that have completed their psychological screening, and have provided CEO with previous delivery records, insurance coverage information as well as her current pap smear results and a medical clearance letter from her current physician.

Where will our gestational surrogate deliver the baby? Your Gestational Surrogate will deliver the baby in her home state at the hospital of her choice or as agreed upon in advance by (you) all parties involved.

What kind of relationship will we have with our surrogate? It depends on what you and the Gestational Surrogate agree to. This can be discussed with the surrogate before you ever agree to work together, and The Center for Egg Options always try to match you with surrogates with similar expectations about post-birth contact.

 

Please call us with any additional questions and we would be happy to set up a free consultation!

The Center for Egg Options Illinois
3100 Dundee Road
Suite 101
Northbrook, IL  60062
Email: info@egg411.com
www.egg411.com
Phone:  (847) 656-8733
Fax: (847) 656-8737

FAQs on Gestational Surrogates at the The Center for Egg Options

31 Jan

What expenses will be paid by the intended parents? The intended parents will pay any and all reasonable and necessary expenses that you incur in connection with your surrogacy program, including, but not limited to, all uninsured medical expenses and co-pays, your legal fees for evaluating and negotiating the surrogacy agreement, any and all necessary counseling expenses, child care reimbursement, life insurance, and lost wages plus your agreed compensation.

May I choose the parents with whom I work with? Yes. You will receive a brief biography from the intended parents for your review. You will then speak to them by phone with an agency program coordinator at The Center for Egg Options.

What happens after I select a couple to work with? Once you are matched with a couple, a surrogacy agreement will be drafted and reviewed by all parties. The intended parents will pay for an attorney to review the Agreement with you. Once everyone has agreed to the terms of the agreement, it will be signed, and the program will then begin with medical testing.

Once the match is made, how long is it before the first embryo transfer? It usually takes 2-3 months to match a surrogate and prepare for the transfer.

Will I have to travel? You will have to travel if the clinic that the intended parents select is in a different city than the one in which you live. The length of stay is usually a few days for each visit.

May I bring my husband and/or children with me if I have to travel? The intended parents pay for travel and accommodations for the surrogate and one companion. Your children may, however, travel with you at your own expense.

Will I have to take any medication? When the medical testing requirements are completed and reviewed by the doctor, you will be ready to start your fertility treatment. You will receive specific instructions about your medications. You will take medications to have your cycle synchronized with the egg donor’s or intended mother’s menstrual cycle and to help your uterine lining thicken in order to accept the transferred embryos. You will take medications both orally, vaginally and through small injections under the skin that most women give themselves. Some women have their husband or friends help them with the injections.

Do I receive compensation? As a gestational surrogate you will receive a base compensation of $25,000.00 to $30,000.00 for your services.  You are not PAID for a baby, you are paid for the service of carrying and delivering a child for the intended parents.

If I get pregnant, where do I deliver the baby? You will deliver the baby in your home state at the hospital of your choice or as agreed upon by all parties involved.

May I remain in contact with the parents and the baby if I wish to? It depends on what you and the intended parents agree to. This can be discussed with the intended parents before you ever agree to work together, and we always try to match you with intended parents with similar expectations about post-birth contact.

Online Egg Donor Resource Relaunches as Free Service With 6,000 Profiles! Visit Donor Network Alliance

16 Nov

 The Donor Network Alliance (DNA), the largest single resource available profiling egg donors from throughout the United States, announced today that it is relaunching as a free service to intended parents. 

DNA features a web-based searchable database of more than 6,000 egg donors, including their complete descriptions and contact information for the agencies that represent them. The site also includes profiles of gestational surrogates. 

“DNA was designed to make the search for an egg donor an easier process for intended parents – one stop, versus many agency websites, where they can browse according to anything from ethnicity to hair color, and save their searches over time,” said Nancy Block, Chief Executive Officer of DNA. 

“Making it free removes another stressor in intended parents’ journeys to create their families.” 

In addition to being the largest single source of egg donors, DNA also is the repository for the most ethnically diverse. This includes Asian (418); Jewish (116); East Indian (29); African American (372); Hispanic (655).isHH  

Block noted that the DNA profiles are easy to sort through, and a video on the site walks people through the process. 

For further information on the Donor Network Alliance, call 847.480.0888 or email donornetworkalliance@gmail.com.

 

CEO’s Procedure for Intended Parents of Gestational Surrogacy

14 Nov

Here is a step-by-step overview of the process of using a Gestational Carrier to build your family:

STEP 1: Choose The Center For Egg Options Illinois As Your Agency

We’re confident in the program we have designed at The Center for Egg Options and are basking in our exceptional statistics so once you decide we are the agency for you, you will be asked to send in your Intended Parent Application and Questionnaire.

STEP 2: Choosing Your Surrogate

While we’re sure you have thought of most everything you are looking for in a surrogate, we will spend some quality time with you- personally going over some desirable traits you may or may not have thought of. You will then have the opportunity to review surrogate profiles with pictures until you find one that feels like your match. Each prospective surrogate profile includes a detailed medical history of her and her family over several generations, pictures (of her and any of her children), physical information, her interests, education, work, and medical history. You will choose your carrier based on the information you receive from these profiles.

STEP 3: Signing On With The Center For Egg Options Illinois

Upon choosing your surrogate, you will be required to retain The Center for Egg Options Illinois and at that time, your non-refundable retainer fee of $1,500.00 is due to reserve your surrogate. Included in this fee is the initial psychological screening.

STEP 4: Surrogate Interview

Upon selecting your potential surrogate, we will share your Intended Parent Application and Questionnaire with her. If she is interested in working with you, you will have the opportunity to speak over the phone in an anonymous conference call organized through The Center for Egg Options Illinois. We will provide you with some guidelines about issues that are helpful to cover in this phone interview. The Center for Egg Options Illinois will then schedule a personal interview (2 if requested) between you and your potential surrogate because we feel it helps increase the surrogate’s commitment to you and the program. Upon mutual agreement, you will take the next step together.

STEP 5: Contract Is Signed By You and Surrogate

Both you and your Gestational Surrogate will be referred to Attorneys that specialize in Reproductive Technology Law for contract review and drafting. Our Intended Parents, along with your legal counsel will submit an Agreement to the Surrogate’s Attorney for review. Once the Agreements are signed, the medical process may begin.

STEP 6: Insurance Review

The Center for Egg Options IL will assist your surrogate in finding medical coverage and offer some insight into the terms of the policy based on our previous experience. The surrogate‘s existing insurance policy will be reviewed for surrogacy exclusions and maternity coverage.

STEP 7: PSYCHOLOGICAL TESTING

The Center for Egg Options Illinois requires all of our Gestational Surrogates to undergo psychological testing with a Licensed Social Worker or PHD Psychologist, including an MMPI-2, which is the most widely researched and clinically used of all personality tests. The Center for Egg Options Illinois will arrange the appointment and will receive a written report of results. The results will be shared with you. All of The Center for Egg Options‘ surrogates are fully screened BEFORE their profiles are distributed to any intended parents.

STEP 8: Medical Testing

Your physician consults with your Surrogate. Her medical evaluation will include lab work, pelvic exam, breast exam, a saline ultrasound to evaluate the lining of her uterus and all STD cultures required.

STEP 9: Fertility Treatment

The fertility treatment may vary between physicians, but generally includes ovulation suppression medication like oral contraceptives as well as Lupron® and estrogen for the uterine lining.

STEP 10: Embryo Transfer

At the time of the transfer, your Surrogate will be on a medication schedule of estrogen and progesterone. The number of embryos will be discussed and agreed upon by you, your Surrogate, your Physician and the Embryologist.

STEP 11: Pregnancy

The pregnancy will be monitored closely by your Reproductive Endocrinologist until the Surrogate is released to her Obstetrician for care through delivery.

STEP 12: Birth

The Center for Egg Options’ Surrogates always welcome their Parents at the appointments with the Obstetrician and especially at the delivery.

STEP 13: Baby Goes Home!!

Prior to discharge from the hospital, the nurses will teach you how to care for your baby. You will, in most cases, be able to spend time at the hospital with the baby after delivery. We inform the hospital of the surrogacy situation and they make every effort to assist you. Upon discharge to home, the nurse will clip baby bands that have matching information and have you sign that you are taking your baby Home!

A Note of Gratitude from One of Our Amazing Gestational Surrogate to Her Intended Parents

12 Sep

Dear Joey and Laura,

I think it is a blessing that you are given this option and that you have chosen me to help bring your beautiful baby into this world. Making this decision took a great amount of strength and I admire that. I believe that we all grow up reflecting our upbringing. Often many people bring children into this world and take their children for granted. Not only is that sad, but it effects the child. I know that there are people out there such as you, who are deserving of a child of your own. Partaking in such an emotional and important process, I wanted to communicate with you offering open arms. I admire your desire to be wonderful parents and am completely supportive. In my eyes you are already parents because there is nothing greater than to love the idea of something so much, you will do anything to achieve that end. I do not doubt your child will be raised healthy and happy with best wishes of a promising future. It is an honor to have made this possible for you.

My best for you and your baby, always,
Stephanie

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