Finding a surrogate in Canada takes some effort and intended parents can be tempted to fall in love with the first surrogate they meet. To make sure that you stay true to your ideals, I suggest that you make a list of non-negotiable items before you meet your first surrogate, so that you will be less tempted to stray from your vision.
The following questions can help you identify a list of your most important criteria:
1. Where does the surrogate live?
Think about how much or how often you want to be involved in the pregnancy. If you want to attend each medical appointment, or see the surrogate frequently, you should choose a surrogate who lives within driving distance of your home. If you are satisfied to rely on Skype, telephone calls, emails and text messages for communication, you can expand the search to include other provinces. There are certainly other questions to ask about which provinces are surrogacy friendly, and I’ve written about them in another blog post which you can read here.
2. Is the surrogate experienced?
When I started drafting surrogacy agreements over 20 years ago, intended parents took great comfort in working with a surrogate who had previously successfully acted as a surrogate. The worry then was always about whether or not the surrogate could or would give up physical custody of the baby. Over 2,000 surrogacies later, relinquishing custody just isn’t a concern. An experienced surrogate will know exactly how she wants things to happen, and that can help streamline the process, but a first time surrogate will also have her charms, including a great sense of optimism. Surrogacy experience does not need to be an an important factor in choosing a surrogate, but having a surrogate who has had uncomplicated, full term pregnancies is crucial.
3. Does the surrogate have a strong support network?
Support for the surrogate is crucial, and the Intended Parent(s) cannot be a surrogate’s sole source of support. If a surrogacy agency is involved, the agency’s support network will be very helpful and informative, but the surrogate will likely turn to her friends and family for daily support. Support in this context can be more than emotional support: is there someone who can walk the dog when she has to attend at a medical appointment, or is there someone who can go to the appointment with her? If the surrogate doesn’t have that kind of support, her journey will be more difficult, and so will yours.
4. Is she excited?
One of the important roles filled by the counsellor and the surrogate’s lawyer is to ensure that she is acting freely and voluntarily and without duress. It is important for a surrogate to be proceeding for the right reasons, and not because of financial need or other external pressure. At an early stage, the easiest way to gauge the surrogate’s motivation is by seeing her excitement. A surrogate who really wants to carry a baby for an intended parent will be positive and excited. It’s a good sign.
5. Does the surrogate expect to work with an obstetrician or a midwife?
At the beginning of a surrogacy journey, most intended parents can’t see past the first positive surrogacy test but it is important to ensure that you and the surrogate have the same vision for the pregnancy. If a surrogate’s children were delivered by a midwife, she may wish to be under a midwife’s care again. Think about whether or not you are comfortable with pre-natal care being offered by a midwife alone, or if the care of an obstetrician is crucial. It may seem like a small point, but people feel strongly about it and if your vision isn’t flexible, make sure you choose a surrogate whose ideas align with yours.
There are many questions to ask at the beginning of a surrogacy journey, and these are just a few to get you started. Let me know if you’d like to see future posts to continue the conversation.