Finding A Surrogate

There are many women prepared to be surrogate mothers in an effort to help a couple who can't have their own baby. These women become surrogates for different reasons. Some are motivated by financial compensation - which is sometimes a cause of concern for infertile couples - but it doesn't necessary mean that these women will do a lesser job or be unsuitable surrogates. In your search for a surrogate mother, factors in your final choice will include: her motivation, her personality, her health, her lifestyle and her reputation. But where do you start looking for someone who meets all your requirements?

Agencies Versus Independents

Surrogate agencies act as a "middle man" between couples and surrogate mothers. Their services typically include listening to your requirements and providing a narrowed-down list of potential surrogates who are suitable. Some couples prefer to use an agency rather than an independent surrogate because they think that agencies are probably more reliable. Contact details and information about surrogate agencies can be found online, in your local telephone book, or obtained from fertility clinics.

Independent surrogate mothers are women who basically work as freelance surrogates. They place their own adverts online or in newspapers or pregnancy-related magazines, to name but a few places. You also have the option of placing your own advert saying that you are looking for a surrogate mother. It's best not to put any information about financial compensation in this advertisement. That aspect of the arrangement can be agreed later.

Fraudulent or dishonest independent surrogates AND surrogate agencies do exist. That's why it's so important to ask the right questions when looking for a surrogate.

Questions To Ask

Health - Both agencies and independent surrogates should be able and willing to provide you with extensive information from a potential surrogate's medical records. If this information is not forthcoming, that could be a sign that something is wrong.

Test results you should request include:

- STI tests, including for HIV/AIDS

-Tests for Hepatitis B and C

-A pap smear test

-An electrocardiogram (for checking heart health)

-An X-ray of a surrogate's lungs

It's best to take all these test results to a doctor who can interpret them for you.

You are also entitled to ask questions about a surrogate's lifestyle (drug or alcohol consumption), diet and weight.

References - whether you are using an agency or an independent, they should be able to provide you with personal references. If a woman is a first-time surrogate, she can't give you references from couples who have previously used her services, but she can provide character references. If she's an experienced surrogate, ask if you can telephone or, better still, meet couples who've used her services to become parents.

Interview Points

In addition to basic health information and references, there are many points you need to discuss with a surrogate, preferably in person. You and the surrogate need to come to an agreement on these issues before signing a contract. These include:

Conception - how will the pregnancy be conceived? (Through artificial insemination, or embryo transfer, etc.)

Your involvement during the pregnancy - will you attend medical appointments and scans? How often will you visit or call her? How often does she need to update you on progress?

Expenses - how will she be paid for her services? Who will purchase maternity clothing and other pregnancy-related items? What type of medical insurance will she need and who will pay for it?

By addressing these and other interview points, you'll be able to narrow down your list of potential candidates. Remember that although you are the customer, the surrogate is a human being with the right to refuse your custom if she isn't happy with the arrangements - so be ready to accept compromise within reason. Once both parties are satisfied with the terms, you can move onto the next step. This is getting an attorney to draw up a legal and binding contract.

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