1. How do we begin our journey to parenthood?
2. Do we need to come in for a full consultation?
3. Some questions to be considered during the psychological consultation are:
4. Do we get more "personal" service with a "small" program than with CSP?
5. Is CSP more expensive than other programs?
6. Which of your two offices should we work with?
7. Why do we need a psychological counselor to assist us?
8. What contact should occur after birth?
9. What happens if we do not get along during the pregnancy?
10. What happens if our match doesn't "work"?
11. Do we have to be married to participate in surrogacy?
12. Do surrogate mothers do this for the money?
13. Do couples report a change in their feelings about surrogacy once they become parents?
14. Do you work with gay couples?
15. Am I crazy to consider surrogacy?1. How do we begin our journey to parenthood?
You took the first step by reading this information. The next step is to click on the "Need A Surrogate Mother" button page (if you have not yet done so). To get started with our program, please contact our office to book a consultation. Consultations are conducted Monday through Friday at our offices in Encino, California, or our East Coast office in Annapolis, Maryland. There is a fee of $400.00 for this consultation. (The psychologist will receive $200 of this amount for her time). The consultation at our office in California usually lasts four to six hours. During this consultation, you will meet one-on-one with a psychological counselor, an attorney and members of our staff. The consultation at our Maryland office usually lasts approximately 4 hours. During this consultation, you will meet one-on-one with a psychological counselor and our program administrator, Sherrie Smith. The legal consultation occurs by means of a telephone or Skype conference call. The consultation allows you the opportunity to meet and evaluate the team who stands ready to assist you in fulfilling your dreams. 2. Do we need to come in for a full consultation?
- Yes, and No. If you are not ready for a full 4-6 hour consultation, you can come in for a 45-60 minute mini-consultation. There is no charge for this. Please note that we cannot accept you into our program until you have attended the full 4-6 hour consultation. We can also conduct either a mini consultation or the full consultation using Skype and a webcam.
- We believe the decision to participate in surrogacy and which agency to work with is extremely important. You must be fully informed about surrogacy and have an understanding of our program before joining us. The consultation affords you the opportunity to get to know and evaluate us. After all, you trust us with your money and most important of all, with the task of helping you create your family.
- We need to understand what you are looking for in this surrogacy relationship so that we can find you an appropriate surrogate mother.
- There is a lot of information provided at this meeting. At its end, you will have a comprehensive view of all aspects of surrogacy: psychological, legal, administrative and procedural. We have never had a couple regret attending the consultation. Following the consultation most couples advise us that now they understand how important it was for them to meet with us.
It is essential that we feel comfortable with one another and want to work together. We have always enjoyed long and friendly relationships with our clients. Creating a child together is an unforgettable experience. Choosing to work together is the key to the success of our relationship.3. Some questions to be considered during the psychological consultation are:
4. Do we get more "personal" service with a "small" program than with CSP?
- Why have you chosen to pursue surrogate parenting? Have you told anyone of your plans to work with a surrogate, and if so what were their reactions? Do you need help in explaining surrogacy to a family member or friend?
- What qualities do you want your surrogate to have? What type of contact do you want to have with your surrogate during the pregnancy and after birth?
- Will you request your surrogate undergoes an amniocentesis, and if so what will you do with the results?
- Will you elect to terminate a pregnancy if there is a diagnosis for Downs syndrome, or only for something more severe?
- Will you choose selective reduction in the case of a triplet pregnancy?
- What changes will occur in your life after you have a child?
- What do you plan to tell your child about his/her unique origins?
- How has the struggle of infertility affected your marriage/relationship?
- How would you describe yourselves to a potential surrogate mother?
- How can we help make this a good experience for you?
5. Is CSP more expensive than other programs?
- No! CSP is the largest, oldest and most established surrogacy agency in the world, yet we actually have 15 staff members. In the business or professional world, we do not even qualify as a "small business"! It is interesting to note that the small "mom and pop" agencies are the ones that usually claim that because they are smaller they can offer more personal service. This is simply not true. When a small agency is dealing with one client, there is no other person available to help you. We have sufficient staff members to ensure each client receives the personal care and attention they deserve. When one staff member is on vacation, is ill or out of the office, the rest of us will provide coverage. This is something small agencies cannot offer! With a small agency you usually cannot get someone to answer the phone, because he/she is talking to someone else! Our -years of experience has taught us how many staff members it takes to run a successful surrogacy program. Our longevity in this competitive field is tangible evidence that we are thorough, attentive to details, professional and caring. A high percentage of our new clients are referrals from our past clients.
- Surrogacy is not a professional endeavor that anyone could have prior training for. The art of surrogate parenting can only be mastered through vast experience in the field. Having been involved as the premier agency in the field of surrogacy for over years, no other program has the hands-on experience that we have.
- After office hours, there is are emergency numbers for you to call anytime to reach the program directors or one of our staff members or one of the psychological team members or one of the legal counselors.
- CSP staff members meet face-to-face weekly with members of the psychological team and attorneys to discuss each couple and surrogate mother. You have all these professionals monitoring your case! Everyone discusses any problem or concern that arises and a solution is offered. With a small agency you receive just one or two opinions or suggestions. With CSP you have an extraordinary team working on your behalf.
- CSP is associated with a psychological team consisting of six full-time counselors a law firm with and three full-time attorneys (that specialize in the field of reproductive law).
No, not if you compare "apples" to "apples." Our program is comprehensive. We have a staff of 15 employees who are trained and ready to assist couples and surrogate mothers. In addition, we are associated with a psychological team of six experienced counselors, with Dr. Hilary Hanafin heading the psychological team. We are also associated with a law firm that assists our clients in drafting and finalizing contracts, verifies insurance coverage, finalizes parental rights and assists couples in obtaining birth certificates and passports, if necessary.
We also state all costs up front. Our estimate anticipates all of your expenses, instead of giving you an initial low fee that excludes many expenses you will later be asked to pay. If other agencies give you the same service, with the same caliber staff and professionals, their costs would no doubt be greater than ours. Our fee is $20,000. Most clients are with our program for one to two years. (i.e. 9 months of pregnancy, several months of trying to get pregnant, and several months after the birth to finalize medical bills.) The remainder of the costs are medical, psychological, legal and surrogate mother fees and expenses. Please note that these fees are incurred no matter which program you select. Compare our estimated cost sheet line-by-line with any other agency. This will clearly show you what costs are being overlooked by other agencies.
Some couples believe they are paying us to match them with a surrogate mother. In other words, they are paying to be introduced to a surrogate mother. This is true of many small agencies. However, this is only the beginning of our work on your behalf. You are paying our program for our accumulated experience in this field. There is no book or class you can attend that will teach you how to accomplish surrogate parenting. Here some questions that you should ask every agency you investigate to evaluate their experience and ability to assist you:
6. Which of your two offices should we work with?
- How many surrogate mother profiles do you have at any one time?
- If the surrogate mother you present us with does not pass her medical and/or psychological testing, who pays these costs? How long will it take before you present us with another surrogate mother?
- If your surrogate mother cannot find transportation to the embryos transfer appointment, who will help you get her to the transfer?
- If your surrogate mother is hospitalized, who can visit her, take her some needed toiletries or comfort food, and take her children to the park?
- If your surrogate mother has a miscarriage, and her husband is not available, who can transport her to the hospital, or home again?
- If your surrogate mother delivers prematurely and your baby only survives for a short time, do they know how to arrange the birth certificate and, for those sad cases, funeral arrangements?
- If your surrogate mother's insurance changes mid-pregnancy to another insurance carrier and that carrier exclude surrogate parenting pregnancies, do they know how to help you get insurance coverage for the pregnancy?
- If complications develop during the pregnancy and her own doctor wants to observe her for a while before referring her to a perinatologist, can your agency help?
* In 1999 we opened an office in Maryland to better service our East Coast and overseas couples. Many of our surrogate mothers reside in states outside of California. Working with a surrogate mother who resides close to the intended parents' state allows the parents to more actively participate in the pregnancy. They are therefore able to attend more medical appointments and are more likely to be present at the birth of their child. For many of our couples from Europe it is more convenient to travel to the East Coast rather than all the way to the West Coast.
* Whether you work with our Maryland office or our office in California
, you are afforded all benefits of our program. Attending a consultation at one of our offices does not preclude you from being presented with surrogate mothers with residency in California or other states. The matching process is independent of where you attended the consultation. We are committed to matching you with the most suitable surrogate mother for you, and therefore your location is of secondary importance. You will be presented with surrogate mothers that would be a good match for you and you make the final decision regarding selection.
* Ultimately, deciding at which location to attend a consultation depends on which location is most convenient for you. 7. Why do we need a psychological counselor to assist us?
* CSP is associated with six full-time psychological counselors universally recognized as the most experienced and knowledgeable in this field.
* The counselors will assist you in answering some important questions: Can you cope with the stress of surrogacy? Can you live with the fact that you have no genetic link to the child you will raise? (For egg donation and traditional surrogacy.) Will you feel that this is not your child, but rather your husband's child? How will you cope with the fact that you are not carrying this pregnancy? After years of infertility and perhaps unsuccessful pregnancies, how can you allow yourself to overlook your sad history and be happy when your surrogate mother is confirmed pregnant?
*The counseling team helps determine which match is best for you. For example, a couple that wants to terminate the pregnancy for Downs's syndrome must be matched with a surrogate mother that has a similar view.
*Other considerations are the amount of contact you are both comfortable with during and after pregnancy, will you selectively reduce a triplet pregnancy, how will you cope with a failed cycle or a miscarriage, etc.?
*The counselors play a major role in the matching process, although the couple has the final say as to whom they wish to help them have a child.
*The counselors also conduct group support meetings for surrogate mothers. These meetings give the counselor an opportunity to see the surrogate mother and ascertain how she is coping. Additionally, it gives the surrogate mother the opportunity to meet other women who are in various stages of participation in our program. They can exchange stories, wish lists, things to avoid, ideas of how to plan for the birth, etc. 8. What contact should occur after birth?
After delivery of your baby, you will be legally recognized as the baby's parents. Every surrogate mother would like time alone with your child, so simply say "goodbye". She has carried and nurtured your child for 9 months, and now is the time to say farewell. However, the most important times for your surrogate mother is to see you become parents. She wants to see you cry when your first see your baby, she wants to see your hold your baby and witness the bonding process begin. The birth is not really about the baby being born; it is about your becoming parents. In reality it is about your surrogate mother completing her promise to you that she would help you become parents.
Couples visit their surrogate mother frequently while their baby and surrogate mother are still in the hospital. Most babies stay in the hospital for approximately 48 hours after birth and are then released. Most airlines will not allow a baby to travel that is under ten days old; you will have to stay in town for a while. Please note that airlines frequently change their rules, so you should always check what age your baby needs to be before traveling. Once your return home it is important to call your surrogate mother so that she knows you have arrived safely. Although you will be overwhelmed at times by having a newborn at home, it is important to take time to contact your surrogate mother at least once every five days for the first month. It is also very important that you send her pictures of the baby as agreed upon in your contract. The first month after birth is especially important to a surrogate mother. It is natural that she may have feelings of loneliness or emptiness. The most important project of her life is over, she is unsure if she will ever hear from you again, and she has lost a very special friend.
NEVER treat surrogacy as if it were a business arrangement. If your surrogate mother wanted little or no contact after birth, she probably said this BEFORE you became friends. Her feelings of loss are over the loss of your friendship.
Over time the relationship will naturally slow down as all parties return to their own lives. Typically couples keep in contact for the first year and thereafter send holiday pictures once a year to each other. 9. What happens if we do not get along during the pregnancy?
Always remember that pregnancy can cause emotional behavior in women! It is important that you stay calm and immediately contact your counselor to discuss this behavior. Remember that technically you are also pregnant and therefore this statement applies to both parties. You will become overly protective of your child and want your surrogate mother to report what she is eating, how much rest she is getting, etc. If you have the need to control, criticize your surrogate mother's eating habits, experience feelings of jealousy that she is pregnant, etc., and call your counselor. All these feelings are natural and your counselor can share "coping" skills with you. All relationships have bumps, this is expected. Participants in a surrogacy relationship are very interested in fulfilling one another's wishes and therefore there is goodwill on both sides.
We are continually pleased at how well our couples and surrogate mothers get along and work as a team. The important issue is that you have retained professionals who have been helping couples for over years and are always on hand to guide you in how to recover a relationship. 10. What happens if our match doesn't "work"?
We are very attuned to the "workings" of a match. The counselors are there to counsel and advise. The golden rule of surrogacy is do not work with a surrogate mother you do not get along with. If you are uncomfortable, immediately notify your counselor and CSP and ask to be matched with another surrogate mother. At CSP we make sure that part of our resources are devoted to continued advertising to ensure an appropriate rematch with another surrogate mother occurs within a 1-3 month time period. Smaller programs will not be able to rematch if needed and may even overlook difficult relationships in order to make the match work. 11. Do we have to be married to participate in surrogacy?
You do not have to be married to participate in our program. If you intend to participate in traditional surrogacy (AI), you may have to be married because we may have trouble finalizing parental rights if you are not married. If you elect to participate in the gestational surrogacy (IVF) program, you do not have to be married. We do not require any legal documents for a same-sex couples. We have a separate legal process for finalizing parental rights for same-sex couples.
However, your marital status will probably be an issue in the matching process. Some surrogate mothers prefer that the couple they assist is married and that the child will have a two-parent family. Surrogate mothers are often cautious and ask if a couple cannot commit to each other, will they commit to their child? Some surrogate mothers will not be overly concerned about you not being married, but will want an explanation and want to know how long you have been together. Some couples have gotten married once they retained us or once they were matched with a surrogate mother. For some surrogate mothers the fact that you have been in a long-term relationship is very acceptable. 12. Do surrogate mothers do this for the money?
Yes and No. Surrogate mothers often describe their feelings toward the child they carry for another couple as different from their feelings toward their own children. This sentiment is felt regardless of whether she participated in traditional (AI) surrogacy or gestational (IVF) surrogacy. They feel affectionate towards the child and protective, but no more than they feel towards a sibling's child or a friend's child. When they think about their experience of surrogacy, they often talk about their couple and the couple's feelings of happiness. The bonding that usually occurs is with the couple. Often a surrogate mother will grieve the loss of their special relationship and will miss the attention she received when she was going through the surrogacy process. Contact from the couple after birth, such as a card and occasional photographs, helps the surrogate mother through this transitional time as she returns her focus to her own family and life. Almost all women experience some degree of post partum depression following a birth. Surrogate mothers are not immune from PPD. However, with contact from her couple and her counselor, she will often recover and return to her life within weeks of delivering her couple's child. 13. Do couples report a change in their feelings about surrogacy once they become parents?
Yes. "Surprised" is the word most often used by couples to describe their feelings about surrogacy once their child is born. They are surprised by their very positive feelings towards their surrogate mother. One intended mother, who helped deliver the baby, said she felt an intense love and connection with her surrogate mother. Couples often report that they predicted they would feel indebted towards their surrogate mother, but they were surprised at how much they learned from her and the high regard they felt for her as a person. One intended mother who was worried about the possible exploitative nature of surrogacy was amazed to discover how many benefits the surrogate mother enjoyed, independent of the financial aspects. She watched her surrogate mother grow in confidence, having managed and completed the surrogacy process with such success. According to Dr. Hilary Hanafin, many surrogate mothers report that they felt surrogacy was beneficial to their self-esteem and self-confidence. Many report an increase in their confidence and self-worth. Often they report that their marriage has grown stronger and that they both have a greater appreciation of their family. Couples often report that all parties had grown and changed, having learned a great deal from each other.
A common "surprise" reported by most couples was the desire to "let the world know". Often they would start the surrogacy process unsure of what they would tell friends, colleagues and even their own child. However, having participated in surrogacy, grown close to their surrogate mother and actively participated in the pregnancy and birth, their caution about letting anyone know about their participation in surrogacy changed. They became proud and open about the unique circumstances of their child's birth. 14. Do you work with gay intended parents?
Yes. We helped our first gay intended parents in 1989. Our policy has always been that intended parents who are ready and willing to take on the responsibility of parenthood deserve that opportunity. 15. Am I crazy to consider surrogacy?
No. Surrogacy works ... and will continue to help childless couples realize their dream of parenting. CSP has been helping couples for over years and we are growing stronger every year. We know that surrogacy is not anyone's first choice in creating a family. However, surrogacy offers you the opportunity of creating your child and playing an integral role in the pregnancy. Surrogacy offers you the opportunity to "relax and enjoy" the pregnancy. Most couples turn to surrogacy after suffering several losses in trying to have a baby. Surrogacy is safe because you work with a wonderful woman who has carried at least one child already and has a good pregnancy history. The gift you offer your child is a safe environment for your baby to grow in until he/she is ready to come home with you. If you are ready to become parents, we are ready to assist you in your journey towards parenthood.