So, since my uterus is now retired, our only option for our remaining frozen embryos is to use a gestational carrier (surrogate).
So I’m probably not the best person to describe the process of surrogacy, but the basics are that you first need to find a good candidate to be your carrier. Some people are fortunate in having a sister or cousin or close friend who is able to carry for you. You want someone who has a good history of healthy pregnancies and ideally who is done with her own family. Once you identify that person, you need them to be screened by your RE as a good candidate for IVF. Then you need to ensure you have done psychological exams as well as background checks to make sure you are all ready for the process of surrogacy. Finally, both parties need separate lawyers to draft up a contract to ensure that everyone has the same expectations of the process and that there are provisions to protect both parties. Once those are signed, the surrogate will prepare for an IVF transfer- in our case, we have made the embryo’s already, so that simplifies the process. Once the surrogate is pregnant, you ideally want a state that supports the Intended Parents (us) in getting a Pre-Birth Order (PBO) that allows for us to go directly on the birth certificate as parents instead of the surrogate. Sounds easy, right? (Ha!)
Since we didn’t have any close family or friends to act as a carrier, we chose to find an agency who would find a match for us. It’s also very common for an agency to guide you through the whole surrogacy process making sure that you don’t miss any steps.
We chose an agency that we initially found to be professional, responsive, and had good word of mouth (in general). In our discussions, they claimed they had over a dozen surrogates ready to go and we were told that we would be an easy match. We chose our agency over some other agencies who told us that a timeline to match with them would be 4-6 months. Obviously, we want thing to move quickly and smoothly, so we paid the gigantic agency fee and sat back. And waited. And waited. And waited some more.
We still have yet to speak with a single surrogate in 10 weeks.
I guess I know I should be more patient, you can’t rush some things, right? Ok, I would be patient, except when this agency was trying to get us to sign on with them, they insisted they had ‘over a dozen ready to go’. Um, why tell us that if it’s clearly not true (which we have learned by now)? Doesn’t that strike you as a way to have lots of unhappy Intended Parents by lying to them in your very first conversations?
Then it’s made worse by the responses we get from the agency when we try to get more information on what’s happening. I’ve gotten snippy responses that piss me off to no end, had emails ignored for over a week, and one email response told me that all their carriers are rigorously screened and I won’t get to be ‘picky’ about who we get! It took every ounce of decency I have to not send back the nastiest piece of email I could think up! (Thank goodness my dear husband knows how to calm me down!) How can an agency take thousands of dollars from their clients and then turn around and send rude, dismissive emails to them? Easy, they know that they are controlling the process until they match us and I imagine if we piss them off, then they can just delay things that much more.
I unfortunately am keeping their identity completely confidential as we did sign a non-disclosure and I take that seriously, no matter how disgusted I am. I really wish they would have been honest from the get-go before we spent so much money to sign on with them- we may still have signed even if they had been honest about match time. Unfortunately now, even if they found us the perfect candidate tomorrow, I would still be wary of them for the rest of this whole process because of the way they have lied and communicated so poorly already.
Maybe at the end of this, I will look back and be thankful that we had an agency. Doubt it, but stranger things have happened! And here’s hoping that this agency is the most difficult part of this journey, I can’t take much more.