How Do I Start?
Everyone has a unique and special situation. We at NAFG need to hear your story in great detail so we can discuss the options available to you. This consultation may take place in-person in Boston or New York, or by phone or video conference. Your schedule and plan will be customized to fit your needs. We believe in everyone's right to have a child, and welcome people of any age, marital status, or sexual orientation.
The First Steps: the carrier/ intended parent matching process
Working with our surrogacy team, we learn about you and provide information on the medical, social, and financial aspects of the process. Unlike the egg donor selection process, there is no on line database of potential carrier candidates. Since intended parents and carriers will ultimately be known to one another, it is a more mutual matching process, as carriers have their own expectations for the type of parents they would like to work with. You would create an anonymous written profile, and we would present a recommended carrier profile to you for your consideration. We have no waiting lists for carriers, but it typically takes two-three months to get to a provisional match with a carrier.
The first contact with the potential carrier will occur by conference call, then an in-person meeting supervised by one of our staff. Depending on the residences of the parties, some travel may be required for this step. Once the match is official, the intended parents and carrier and her husband/partner have a series of screening appointments at the IVF clinic over the course of one-two days. [This IVF clinic is where the eventual embryo transfer takes place.] The carrier has her pre natal care and birth close to where she lives, often with the same doctor who delivered her other child(ren).
Throughout, the NAFG surrogacy coordinator acts as liaison between carrier and intended parents. She arranges local appointments for the carrier and helps her follow the conditions of her agreement while informing the intended parents of her progress. Intended parents may review all medical records pertaining to prenatal care and delivery. [The carrier provides a HIPAA-compliant general medical release at the start of her treatment.] The surrogacy coordinator oversees the day-to-day health and well-being of the carrier (both physical and psychological), and serves as a resource for intended parents to prepare for the new arrival. The surrogacy coordinator is the primary contact for this phase, but all parties can be assured that the full staff of NAFG is always available to them at any time, should any particular needs arise.
After the baby is born and is ready to be released from the hospital, the intended parent(s) are able to take immediate custody of their newborn. In the states where we work, the intended parent(s) will almost always have their name(s) on the birth certificate, and no additional legal work is required. We work in legal environments that have proven consistently favorable to pre-birth orders [which requires the intended parent(s) names to appear on the baby’s original birth certificate].
Can the surrogate acquire legal custody to the child? What about the Baby M case?
If the intended parents fulfill their contractual obligations, it would be virtually impossible for a gestational carrier to acquire legal custody after the birth. The surrogate has no genetic relation to the child. NAFG conducts surrogacies only in states favorable to such arrangements, and the gestational carrier agreement is drafted and signed before the embryo transfer.
The Baby M case [109 N.J. 396, 537 A.2d 1227] (1988) was a traditional surrogacy, in which Mary Beth Whitehead used her own egg and was inseminated with the intended father's sperm. Unlike in a gestational surrogacy, Whitehead was the genetic mother of the child. The final ruling granted custody to the intended parents with visitation rights for Whitehead, based on the best interests of the child. The court refused to enforce the terms of the original contract.
Is surrogacy legal everywhere?
Intended parents may live anywhere in the United States, and NAFG has worked with intended parents from many US states and countries overseas. However, since statutes and case law (if existing) are different in every state, carriers must reside in states where commercial surrogacy is not prohibited. There are a number of states in the US with established surrogacy processes where we choose to work.
Why would a woman choose to be a carrier?
A carrier provides a very special gift to a couple or individual incapable of bearing children on their own. She is generously compensated financially for her time and effort, but her heartfelt commitment to help is the primary motivation. The ideal carrier is married (or in a committed relationship), is raising at least one child, and does not desire any more children of her own. Her family and friends are very supportive of her choice to be a carrier.
Candidates approach NAFG through mainstream media, word-of-mouth, and a variety of other sources. All candidates are rigorously screened medically and psychologically, and many aspects of their background are thoroughly investigated. Intended parents are matched with a compatible carrier from the pool of candidates we have carefully prescreened. Our staff serves as liaison before, during, and after the pregnancy. The carrier and intended parent(s) meet in person before the final decision to proceed is made. All parties must feel completely comfortable with the arrangement before any medical procedures take place.
Where can the medical procedures take place?
The participants decide, along with NAFG’s recommendations, on a reputable IVF clinic that is suitable and convenient for the intended parents, and/or donor and/or carrier. Travel may be required for some of the parties.
How long does the process take?
Because of the many variable components of the surrogacy arrangement, the duration of each one is different. Much depends on the availability of carriers, whether an egg donor is involved, the success of the medical procedures, and a host of other factors. A general time frame of eighteen months from the time you start with us to the time your baby is born would be an average.
How much does it cost?
The fee structure, like the time frame, varies for each case. For example, the use of donor egg will cost more than the use of the intended mother’s egg. Also, some carriers have greater expenses than others, and fees for IVF procedures can vary among facilities. Depending on where the carrier lives, there may be travel costs to consider. An average total of $120,000 to $180,000 would be reasonable to project for intended parents considering surrogacy.
The fee structure breaks down as follows (these are estimates and will vary with the scope of services you will require):
NAFG program fee: $27,000
Carrier compensation: $50,000 to $60,000
Egg donor compensation (where applicable): $12,000 or $15,000 for an NAFG donor; compensation varies for donors from other programs *
Egg donor agency fee (where applicable): $6,000-$7,000 for an NAFG donor
Catastrophic liability insurance premium (if necessary): $9,200
IVF costs: approx. $15,000 to $30,000 (depending on whether donor egg is used and other factors)
Negotiated private-pay prenatal and delivery expenses (if necessary): approx. $12,000 to $20,000
Travel: approx. $5,000
Legal services (including independent counsel for carrier): approx. $7,500
This general estimate contains a complete forecast of fees for all components from start to finish (certain elements may not be applicable to your situation, however). It is payable in stages over a 12 to 18 month period.
*Please see the Egg Donation section of our site for our Egg Donor program fees; if you choose a donor from a different agency the costs will vary.
The fees listed above do not include medical tests and procedures, which vary and are paid directly to the medical facilities involved. IVF costs (including medical procedures, medication, and lab fees) can range from $15,000 to $30,000.
Does insurance cover any costs?
In some cases, IVF procedures are covered. Separate medical insurance (liability only) is almost always purchased for the carrier.
Can single people or gay and lesbian couples/individuals use gestational carriers?
Yes. NAFG supports the right of all people to have the families they desire, irrespective of marital status or sexual orientation. In fact, in many cases, surrogacy is the best option for single and gay people. The laws in some states, however, are more restrictive than with traditional heterosexual married couples, so our team will take special care to devise a plan that is right for you.
What is NAFG's policy on maintenance of records?
NAFG will endeavor to maintain, to the extent feasible, Donor/Carrier identifying information and Recipient Parent/Intended Parent identifying information for an indefinite period of time. When an Egg Donor Agreement or Gestational Surrogacy Agreement governs the relationship between the Parties, it customarily indicates instances when the identities of the participants may and/or must be revealed. NAFG will do its part to comply with the terms of these Agreements. The IVF clinics involved and individual attorneys involved should also be considered a resource when and if necessary.