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Family Forward Surrogacy believes that finding the right match between Intended Parents and Gestational Surrogates is of the utmost importance. In order to create an excellent match we get to know each of our Intended Parents and Gestational Surrogates personally. This way, we can understand each party’s preferences and ensure the right fit.
Initial Meeting: First, we meet with the Intended Parents and ask them detailed questions regarding the qualities they would like in a Gestational Surrogate (GS): marital status, geographical area, educational level, etc. We have a number of Gestational Surrogates who are already working with FFS and may be a good fit right away. Or, if the IP(’s) prefer, FFS will conduct a custom search for a Gestational Surrogate specifically for them. Most of our Intended Parents use their IVF clinic or an egg donation agency to procure donor eggs, but if a custom egg donor search is desired, we will work with IP(’s) to determine the characteristics they are seeking in an Egg Donor (candidates with a specific educational background, religion, ancestry, physical characteristics, if they would like to meet her in person or have her remain anonymous, etc.), and we will perform that custom search as well.
Engagement Contract: If the Intended Parents select FFS to help them build their family through surrogacy, we will draft an engagement contract describing in detail the specific services we will provide, the financial terms involved, and the specific expectations and responsibilities of FFS and of the IP(’s).
Gestational Surrogate Search: Once the engagement contract is signed, FFS will provide the Intended Parents with profiles of GS’s we are already working with, or we will begin a custom search for a Gestational Surrogate who meets the Intended Parents’ preferences. For a custom search, FFS will place ads on the IP(’s) behalf on surrogacy websites, in local newspapers that surrogates are likely to read, and on social networking sites.
GS Screening: FFS Gestational Surrogates must pass a multi-step screening process. First, FFS pre-screens GS’s for lifestyle and medical prerequisites via our website application. Then we conduct an interview. Next, we conduct a comprehensive background check of the GS (and her partner, if applicable – the GS Family). This check includes FBI, Child Protective Services, and state police record checks for any state in which the GS Family has lived in the last five years. If surrogates meet all pre-screening criteria, FFS will send a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW-C) to perform a home study (similar to an adoption home study) of the surrogate and any other adults living in her household. A written report on the home study will be provided to the IP(’s).
Matching: If the surrogate “passes” the home study, and both FFS and the IP(’s) believe that she would be a good Gestational Surrogate, then FFS will arrange an in-person meeting (dependent upon the geographic location of the GS) or a phone or Skype call between the surrogate and the IP(’s). If both parties believe that they will be a good fit, then the match is made, with the understanding that further medical and psychological screenings are positive.
Gestational Support Services: FFS provides its Gestational Surrogates with a dedicated case manager, herself a former GS, to act as their advocate. We find that having this additional support for the gestational surrogate keeps the lines of communication open, and helps to address any issues before they become problems. FFS will accompany the gestational surrogate to her first appointment at the IVF clinic and to the Embryo Transfer. FFS will also act as a liaison between the IVF clinic, the Gestational Surrogate and the Intended Parents. The case manager will be available to the GS or the Intended Parents throughout the pregnancy and for up to a month after birth.
Psychological Screening: A psychological counseling and educational session about what to expect during a surrogacy, emotional considerations, etc. will be conducted for the Intended Parents. A separate psychological screening of the Gestational Surrogate (and her partner, if applicable) will also be performed. A written report of the GS screening will be provided to the Intended Parents. Next, a joint session between the IP(’s) and the Surrogate Family will be conducted by the same psychologist who performed the initial psychological sessions. This way, any issues or concerns will be addressed in advance.
Medical Screening: If the psychological sessions are positive, then the medical screening will commence. All parties will be screened for STD’s and the GS will undergo a number of gynecological tests. The type and number of tests may vary depending upon the gestational surrogate’s medical history, tests she has already taken, and the particular protocol of the IVF clinic that the IP(’s) choose. FFS is familiar with all of the Washington, DC area IVF clinics and would be happy to recommend a clinic or make introductions depending on the specific situation of the parties.
Contract Phase: If all the psychological and medical screening is positive, then the contract phase begins. During this phase, the IP(’s) will retain an attorney who specializes in Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Law. The attorney will draft the contract between the IP's and the Gestational Surrogate. (A separate contract between the Egg Donor and the IP(’s) will be written, as necessary).
Trust Account: Once the contract is signed, a Trust Account will be established with a trusted 3rd party Escrow company, and funds will be deposited for disbursement on a monthly basis to the Gestational Surrogate.
IVF Cycle: The Reproductive Endocrinologist (an M.D.) at the IVF clinic chosen by the Intended Parents will determine the specific medical protocol that the surrogate and the IP(’s) will follow, and the cycle will begin. The Intended Parents will engage and pay the IVF clinic directly.
Transfer to OB/GYN: If pregnancy is achieved, the IVF doctor will continue to monitor the pregnancy until approximately 8 weeks gestation, when the responsibility of “primary doctor” will be transferred to an OB/GYN located in the area where the gestational surrogate lives.
Hospital Plan: At 20 weeks gestation, the Intended Parents' attorney will draft a hospital plan. The attorney will work with the staff at the hospital where the baby is to be delivered, and file a plan which details the special circumstances of the surrogacy. This plan will explain the relationship between the Gestational Family and the Intended Parents, and will document in writing that the Intended Parents have all parental rights, will make all necessary medical decisions regarding the baby, and that the baby will be covered under the IP(’s) health insurance. In addition, this agreement will stipulate if the Gestational Surrogate will have access to the baby while in the hospital, dictate that the Intended Parents are issued the “parental” hospital bracelets, and will address any other hospital specific issues.
Parental Rights Established – If the surrogate lives in a state that routinely grants pre-birth orders, then at 20 weeks gestation, the Intended Parents' attorney will file a pre-birth order with the court in the state in which the baby is to be born. This will ensure that the Intended Parents’ names appear on the birth certificate. For same-sex couples, a post-birth adoption may also be necessary for the non-genetic parent to establish parental rights. In certain states in which pre-birth orders cannot be obtained, the gestational surrogate’s name may appear on the birth certificate. In these cases the surrogate will have to terminate her parental rights, if any, and the baby’s non-genetic parent will have to file for a co-parent adoption after birth.