Men shaking hands

Step in Surrogacy 1: Find the Right Agency or Clinic

The very first step is to find the right agency or clinic with whom you want to take the surrogacy journey. A surrogacy journey lasts anywhere between 18 months to 24 months, so you’ll need to be with a competent, dedicated, communicative, honest, and ethical agency or clinic. I didn’t just throw these adjectives because they sound good. Every one of these adjectives is important aspect of how an agency or clinic should be when you are with them.

1) Competent: Don’t assume every agency is competent because they are not. Some agencies may be new to the surrogacy sphere in Mexico and are still trying to figure out how to find a surrogate, how to screen a surrogate, how to coordinate timing and activities with the clinic, how health insurance works in Mexico and so on. There are many bits of quirks particular to doing surrogacy in Mexico that agencies have to be aware of. If you are doing an independent journey, you’ll want to find a clinic with experience and medical competence because some doctors are new to surrogacy or embryology in general.

2) Dedicated: An agency coordinator should be a responsible, dedicated person who is committed to helping you. Sometimes, an agency coordinator takes on too many patients so he or she doesn’t have enough time for you case. Your case get shafted to the end of the queue and your journey gets delayed. You’ll want to be with an agency whose coordinator is committed to your case.

3) Communicative: One of the biggest complaints by intended parents doing surrogacy in Mexico is that their coordinator is slow at responding to their questions or requests. Intended parents working with a non-responsive coordinator might receive a response after days or even weeks, delaying their journey and mounting frustration.

4) Honest: Communication should be honest and transparent because as intended parents, you have the right to know what’s going on in your journey. The agency or the clinic should do what they promised to do on their agreement with you, and if something goes awry, they should be honest about it with you. For example, if an agency promises to match a surrogate to you within 3 months, it should not drag on for 6 months or 12 months. Sometimes, unforeseeable circumstances force a delay or make a procedure impossible – in that case, the coordinator should be transparent about it instead of lying or blaming someone else. If an intended parent cannot trust their coordinator or doctor, it will be very difficult to have a smooth surrogacy journey.

5) Ethical: A lot of things in a surrogacy process take place where an intended parent cannot see – this is natural as some processes require an expertise of a professional, such as legal or medical professionals, that doesn’t require the intended parent to be involved. Also, an intended parent usually resides in another country, so it’s difficult for an intended parent to keep an eye on everything. That’s why intended parents must be able to trust that an agency or a clinic is doing the right thing. They need to know that the surrogate is being treated ethically with respect and paid what she is legally owed. They need to be confident that their agents are following the spirit and the letters of laws in Mexico.

Should I Use a Surrogacy Agency or a Clinic Directly?

A surrogacy agency which operates in Mexico usually takes care of the entire process of surrogacy in Mexico. It would arrange a trip for you to deposit your sperms in the clinic for analysis and storage, ask the clinic to do IVF for embryo creation, find and screen a surrogate, present the profile of the surrogate to you, update you on the embryo transfer results and ongoing pregnancy, arrange a trip for you to come to pick up your baby, and help you with legal matters such as drafting surrogacy contract and registering the birth.

A clinic is a fertility clinic in Mexico that has expertise to do things like IVF and embryo transfers. Whether a clinic takes on a patient for the purpose of surrogacy depends on the comfort level of the clinic. Some clinics, for example, don’t do any surrogate cases while other clinics take on surrogacy cases if an agency is involved. There are some clinics which take in direct patients for the purpose of surrogacy, and some clinics even do surrogate search and matching like an agency.

When you go with a clinic directly, you may be embarking on an independent journey. What this means is that you might be responsible for doing a lot of aspects of surrogacy on your own. For example, in some cases, you may have to find a surrogate yourself, use an egg donor agency or an egg bank, and find your own lawyer to draft surrogacy contract or register the birth. If you don’t speak Spanish and don’t have contacts in Mexico, this may prove challenging.

Advantages of Using a Surrogacy Agency in Mexico

  • You will have a peace of mind that the agency will do all aspects of surrogacy for you. Depending on your contract, some services might incur extra charges.
  • A surrogacy agency usually have a network of clinics and lawyers. You may be able to choose or change a clinic or lawyer if you have a different preference.
  • If one clinic or lawyer goes under business, an agency can use another one it has a relationship with.
  • Some agencies have programs that guarantee you a live birth.

Advantages of Doing an Independent Surrogacy Journey in Mexico

  • You may have easier time setting up appointments and consultations with the doctors or lawyers directly since there is no middle person.
  • The cost of an independent journey could be about 25 – 35% cheaper than using an agency. This can translate to more than $20,000 to $30,000 USD of saving.
  • You may have more control over your surrogacy journey such as finding your own surrogates, having a direct contact with a surrogate during pregnancy, and paying the surrogate yourself instead of through an agency.

Where Should I Go to Find a Surrogacy Agency?

The simplest method is to Google “Surrogacy agencies in Mexico”. You’ll find sponsored results and non-sponsored results. Another method is to go to a surrogacy review site like Surrogacy Network.

What Questions Should I Ask a Surrogacy Agency?

It’s very important to talk to the representatives from different surrogacy agencies before you make a decision. Try to schedule a video conference with different surrogacy agencies and ask them various questions. Get a feel of the agency through your call and your subsequent interactions. However, do also keep in mind that, as with any business, customer service reps are paid to be nice and communicative with you for scoring a sale. So, make sure you ask factual questions and if possible, cross reference the answers with what you find on websites and what you hear from fellow intended parents.

Some of the basic, factual questions you can ask are:

  • How much is the overall cost?
  • Do you offer guarantee of live birth?
  • What are the conditions of guarantee of live birth? (E.g. using egg donors) How do you define live birth?
  • What items are covered in the overall cost? (E.g. legal services, how many embryo transfers, NICU insurance, surrogate insurance, egg donation)
  • What extra expenses are there? (E.g. the cost per extra embryo transfer, the cost to replace a surrogate, the cost for legal services, the cost for using premium egg donors, additional compensation for twin pregnancy, the cost for PGT-a tests)
  • What are the profiles of screened surrogates look like?
  • How much compensation do you pay for the surrogate (Average rate is about 300,000 Mexican pesos)
  • What is the approximate % success rate per embryo transfer? Which clinic do you use? (If you know the clinic’s name, you can look up its reputation on the internet.)
  • Which law firm do you use? (This is an important question if you plan to use Amparo to modify the birth certificate or do a “pre-birth order” as the competency of the lawyer is important)
  • What legal process do you follow to make sure I am on the birth certificate and not the surrogate’s? (Refer to the exit process guide for Canadians and Americans)

There are some extra questions you might wish to ask:

  • Tell me about your agency. How long have you been operating in Mexico? How many successful births have you had?
  • What kind of egg donors do you have? Are they local women?
  • Where does the surrogate live? (They should live at home with her family)
  • Can I contact the surrogate directly?
  • What is the current wait time for a surrogate match? (3 months to 6 months is common)
  • How many embryos are transferred at a time? (Standard consensus of medical community is that more than 1 embryo transfer at a time is risky and may result in twin pregnancy)
  • Is the birth through C-section or natural birth? Can I choose?
  • How do you pay the surrogate? Do you pay them, do I pay them, or are they paid through an escrow service? (Recently, there are unsubstantiated reports that surrogates are not fully paid as agreed in the contract. In my opinion, escrow payment through a third party escrow agent or a lawyer is the most transparent.)
  • Tell me about the doctors that work in the clinic. Are they experienced? Have they handled many surrogacy cases?
  • What’s the payment plan? How much is the initial deposit? What are the refund terms?

I’ve made an excel template that you can use to keep track of your research and easily compare surrogacy agencies in Mexico.

How Do I Know If the Agency is Right for Me?

Whether the agency and the surrogacy program you are considering is right for you or not depends on your specific situations. The fact is that every agency probably has its strengths and weaknesses, and no two surrogate journey is alike. One intended parent might have a superb experience with an agency, and another intended parent who followed his advice to go with the same agency might end up having a terrible experience with them. However, there are patterns of behaviors or procedures that make one agency more suitable for you compared to others.

Ask yourself:

  • Is the legal pathway and the program offered by the agency make sense? For example, if you are a single woman who has a full-time job that doesn’t give you much maternity leave, then you’ll want to avoid programs that force you to stay in Mexico for months after birth in order to amend the birth certificate with your name on. You may want to choose an agency that gives you a “pre-birth order”.
  • Is the agency generally reputable? Don’t rely on Google reviews or Facebook reviews. In my experience, they are generally inaccurate as happy parents may be asked to rate them positively, or people who are against surrogacy and not pursuing surrogacy themselves can give 1-star reviews for spite. Rely on general reputation of the agency from fellow intended parents’ comments and discussions on their experiences on places like Reddit, Facebook, and forums where conversations take place. If an agency is doing something wrong, you may hear many voices of dissatisfaction.
  • Does your gut tell you to go with the agency? Well, if your gut feelings have mostly been right, then go with your gut feeling. Otherwise, ignore your gut feeling.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *