From an outside perspective, it may seem that the process of becoming a surrogate is pretty straightforward. It usually starts with a woman who enjoys pregnancy and has the desire to help another family, connecting with an individual or a couple who wants to have a child. Then the rest is history and it’s super simple. If only it were this easy! Actually, there are necessary steps that must take place before this very intimate and unique journey can take place. We will explain the steps involved in our screening process to verify that a surrogate candidate is able to move forward and become matched with her future intended parent(s).
Our first connection with the surrogate candidate begins with the completion of an application and an interview that explores the GC qualifications in full. Think of this as the first two steps of a three-step hiring process consisting of job application, interview, and credential verification. The woman will complete an application. . This is a simple form that collects her basic information, followed by a series of questions that provide the framework for the interview to follow. FCS staff reviews the application before scheduling a formal interview with the surrogate. While the interview is structured around the application questions, there is ample opportunity for the surrogate potential to get to know the FCS staff and ask questions. There is usually a general discussion to form some understanding of priorities and mutual responsibilities for the process of the surrogate journey. During the interview, the candidate will be asked detailed questions about herself, her family, and her pregnancy history. This interview is designed to get to know the surrogate better and determine if she meets all the necessary qualifications to move forward. Every FCS surrogacy journey is unique and based on forming a close relationship between the GC and FCS staff. After the application and interview process is complete, the potential surrogate and FCS decide together whether to move forward with the surrogacy journey.
During the documentation collection phase, the GC potential will be asked to provide FCS with a significant amount of information in a timely manner. Communication will be frequent between FCS and the GC as we work together as a team to begin her personal surrogacy journey. This effort, outlined in detail below, is coordinated by FCS, but much of the effort and responsibility to satisfy these qualification criteria resides with the GC.
First, we begin with the review of the medical records. Previous pregnancy history and health are primary indicators of her ability to get pregnant, carry to term, and deliver a healthy baby. Some health conditions can exclude a woman from continuing the process, such as a history of pregnancy complications (e.g. gestational diabetes or preeclampsia). Typically, FCS will request the health records directly from her healthcare providers. Upon receipt of the medical records, FCS will perform a review and may request clarification or other information if needed. When FCS determines the medical records provide a clear picture of probable healthy pregnancy and delivery, we transmit the records to one of our partner fertility clinics for physician review and approval.
Additional documents needed for verification purposes include a copy of a valid driver’s license, a copy of a birth certificate, uploading a copy of a pay stub, and proof of health insurance if both apply. We ask for these things to confirm the candidate is who she says she is, a legal US citizen, and for future compensation/insurance components of the process.
The surrogate candidate’s relationship with FCS and her future Intended Parents is built on trust and transparency. To reduce risk and help ensure her motivation is aligned with these concepts, a criminal background check is required for her and any partner. Upon successful completion of the background check the next step would be a psychological evaluation. The GC journey is a life-changing experience. It is important that GCs are emotionally and mentally stable throughout the journey. FCS partners with licensed mental health care professionals who administer testing and evaluate the psychological condition of GCs and their partners. The psychological evaluation begins with a meeting with a mental health professional to discuss the emotional implications of surrogacy. The mental health professional will also utilize a standardized, objective psychological test to determine the GC’s fitness for surrogacy from a mental health perspective. Finally, there is the health insurance review process. This review is necessary because surrogacy coverage is inconsistent among health insurance providers and policies. Since the IP(s) are responsible for out-of-pocket medical expenses related to the pregnancy and delivery, our goal is to determine the most cost-effective way to ensure that high-quality health care is received while avoiding undue financial burden on the IP(s). If the surrogate has health insurance, it is evaluated to ensure a surrogate pregnancy is covered. FCS partners with an experienced insurance broker who evaluates the policy to determine whether it excludes surrogate pregnancy. If the GC candidate does not have health insurance, or her health insurance excludes surrogate pregnancy, then we will explore purchasing a policy that will cover her pregnancy. Upon completion of the insurance review, the process continues with the compensation and matching preferences counseling. FCS believes compensation shouldn’t be the primary motivation for undertaking the GC journey. That said, compensation is a very large part of the process and needs to be fully understood by everyone involved. FCS uses a variable compensation model that considers the various components of each surrogacy journey. We work with the GC personally to arrive at a base compensation that is comfortable for her and considers her unique family situation, insurance coverage and costs, prior experience as a surrogate, and the surrogate industry compensation averages. It is important to understand that this compensation agreement is subject to minimal negotiation and is only finalized during the legal process. Personalized matching according to GC and IP(s) preferences is critical to our agency. FCS utilizes a proprietary matching system, called Perfect Choice. Perfect Choice optimizes the alignment of the GC journey goals and expectations with those of our IP(s). This allows FCS to create more successful matches by identifying potential areas of conflict that could adversely impact the GC / IP(s) partnership after the journey commences. Both parties first complete an extensive matching questionnaire. This questionnaire will help to identify the elements of surrogacy important to both the GC and IP(s) so they can be matched with those who share the same priorities and philosophies. FCS reviews the questionnaire, then schedules a call to review the questionnaire with the GC perspective. The review is intended to ensure FCS fully understands the surrogate’s concept of a perfect match and any categorical type exclusions.
Finally, the screening process includes our certification training called Foundations of Surrogacy. This program was created to help GC candidates fully understand the surrogacy process from start to finish. FCS has many conversations about the steps involved throughout the screening process, however, we respect that people learn new material in a variety of ways. The FOS training is a voiced-over presentation broken down into 7 modules that highlight the main components of the process. Once each module has been reviewed the GC then takes a short quiz to test for comprehension of that module. Then she moves on to complete the remaining parts. FCS surrogates can confidently enter into the matching phase knowing that they are ready and prepared to take on this endeavor.
While the surrogates screening process includes many steps, it is done for the protection and well-being of this process that is used by many to grow their families. FCS works diligently to make sure the GC candidate is fully screened and approved to be presented to the IP’s(s) clinic in good faith that she will be able to proceed forward to the next steps of the journey.
To learn more, complete our application: https://familychoicesurrogacy.com/surrogates/gestational-surrogate-application/