How NOT to Save Money on a Surrogacy Agency Fee

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save money on surrogacy agency feeI appreciate that surrogacy costs a lot of money.  Some intended parents want to save some money by cutting out the surrogacy agency as the middleman and matching themselves with a surrogate.  This is known as an independent “indy” match.  The savings can be quite substantial–tens of thousands of dollars.  But is it worth the risk?

This couple found out the hard way it wasn’t.  According to the article, here’s what happened: they matched indy with a hopeful surrogate, apparently upon the encouragement of their IVF clinic.  They entered into an agreement where the surrogate agreed to carry a baby and would receive $13,000 compensation from the intended parents.  The surrogate planned to use the funds for her own future cycle of IVF.  The intended parents felt good about this because it allowed them to help someone else out.

Now, this was a giant red flag!  A prospective surrogate who is planning to pursue her own infertility treatment down the road is never an appropriate match.  No! No! No!

But in this case, according to the article, the surrogate got pregnant as everyone had intended.  And then–a few weeks later–the surrogate  stopped all contact with the intended parents and basically disappeared.

Finally, the intended parents learned that two months earlier, the surrogate had given birth to extremely premature twins, one of whom had died a week after birth.  According to the intended parents gofundme page, the surrogate had been acting as if these were her own children–she named them, she made medical decisions for them, she accepted social security benefits for them, and so on.  Worst of all, she had the deceased baby cremated without the intended parents knowledge.  Once the intended parents learned what was going on,  it took a couple more months for the intended parents to secure a court order granting them custody of the surviving baby.

And it’s not over yet.  The surrogate is pursuing an appeal, which could take a very long time.  From a purely financial perspective, I imagine the intended parents’ legal bills will easily exceed the amount they would have paid an agency to screen the surrogate properly.  Not to mention the heartbreak they have endured, for which no amount of money is enough to compensate them.

The parents say they are telling their story now to warn other intended parents.   Now I know some indy matches proceed smoothly, but I think it’s important to get this story out there so that intended parents can really think about whether saving the money is worth it.

NH Reproductive Attorney Catherine Tucker