There are many reasons to go through an agency as a prospective surrogate mother or parents. But perhaps the most compelling is the fact that agencies provide certainty and a smooth process for all involved. An agency can ensure enhanced physical and psychological health for the surrogate mother, ensure that she has everything she needs, and aid in a positive, constructive relationship between the surrogate mother and the intended parents.
So how can an agency go the extra mile in making sure their surrogates are happy and healthy? After all, happy surrogate mothers make for healthy babies, happy families, and successful agencies. The health and happiness of the surrogate mother is a very important role of the agency, and agencies should take this responsibility very seriously.
- The agency should do all it can to facilitate positive communication between surrogate mothers, health care professionals, and the intended parents.
Communication is key. The surrogate mother will be going to many doctor’s appointments, whose outcomes and updates should be communicated properly to the intended parents. Likewise, the intentions, needs, and requests of the intended parents should be communicated clearly to the surrogate mother. It’s important for everyone to be on the same page during this process. When the agency takes responsibility for making sure the rights of both parties are respected and upheld, every party feels more at ease throughout the surrogacy journey.
Especially since surrogacy is a multi-faceted, sensitive experience, the agency can ensure that everyone is communicating as effectively as possible. This way, the agency can prevent misunderstandings and potential conflict.
- The surrogate should be provided with monthly pay installments for proper nutrition and care.
In addition to the final payment, the surrogate mother will need regular, monthly payments so she can purchase maternity clothes, healthy foods, medicine, and other items that will allow her to have a healthy, happy pregnancy. The agency should be responsible for the health of the surrogate mother, and in doing so, they should ensure that the surrogate mother has every financial need met.
Communication comes into play here, too. Surrogate mothers should have full knowledge of when they can expect payment, so they can best manage their personal finances. Most surrogate mothers have existing children and families to take care of, and their surrogacy experience should not be the reason for undue financial stress.
- Agencies should be choosy in who they accept as surrogate mothers.
This is perhaps the most important job of the agency, because if prospective surrogate mothers and mentally and physically healthy, there is less likelihood of any issues happening throughout the process. They should ensure that their surrogate mothers are prepared for the task at hand, and this includes evaluating them for emotional, mental, and physical health. This is to ensure that all surrogate mothers – and intended parents – have a smooth, positive, and healthy experience.
Surrogate mothers should have at least one child that they have given birth to, whom they are currently raising. They should not be smokers, should be screened for proper nutrition and physical activity, and should not have a history of severe mental illness or health problems.
- Agencies should provide legal support to surrogate mothers who face disputes.
In the rare instance that a surrogate mother faces a legal dispute, the agency should ensure that the surrogate mothers and intended parents alike have the legal resources they need. Every surrogate mother makes the cognizant decision to put her body and health on the line. She is thinking of others in order to help families grow. She should not be left out to dry. Many surrogate mothers may not have lawyers of their own and may not have the finances to protect themselves in court. Facing legal repercussions without proper representation can be a traumatizing experience.
For the most part, if the agency does a good job in facilitating communication between all parties involved, it will never reach this point. But just in case it does, everyone has the right to a fair shot at justice.
- Agencies should procure a mental health professional that is assigned to the surrogate mother throughout (and after) the entire surrogacy process.
Studies show that in general, surrogate mothers do not appear to experience psychological problems as a result of the surrogacy arrangement.1 Only 32% of women surveyed reported experiencing difficult feelings after handing over the baby. In all reports, these negative feelings were not severe, short-lived, and dissipated with time.
Nonetheless, the agency should cover all their bases by ensuring that the surrogate mother has all the psychological services she might need. Even though agencies screen first for previous mental illnesses and other psychological issues, the surrogacy journey can be an emotional time for the surrogate mother. It’s best to prioritize the mental health of the surrogate mother. Her health directly impacts the health of the child, and her relationship with the intended parents.
- Agencies can ensure that the match is mutually beneficial for both the surrogate mother and the intended parents.
Making sure that both parties are a compatible match is important. Personality traits, end-goals, and what each party views as an appropriate relationship should all be considered before the match is made. All intended parents are different and all expect something different from the surrogacy process. Likewise, surrogate mothers may all have different ideas of what makes a positive surrogacy experience. Making sure that everyone is perfectly matched can make all the difference in the wellbeing of everyone involved.
For a successful pregnancy, the surrogate mother needs adequate care and attention. A good agency ensures this and treats each surrogate mother with respect. Surrogate mothers should not be looked upon as just a number in the system, or a means to an end. They are humans who have the right to excellent care and a positive experience. After all, as alternative reproduction agencies, we have a responsibility to women’s health and wellbeing, as they are the reason we are able to bring beautiful children into the world.