Should I Self Match with a Gestational Carrier or Parents-to-be? Pros, cons, and considerations
What is a Self-match with a gestational carrier?
Sometimes, the parents-to-be have a sibling, friend, co-worker, or friend of a friend who is willing to be a gestational carrier for them and they decide among themselves to work together. Gestational carriers and parents match online today more frequently. In these cases, the parties choose to do an Independent Self-Match or an Agency Self-Match.
What is an Independent Surrogacy Journey?
An Independent Self-Match or “Independent Journey” means just that. The gestational carrier and the parents-to-be navigate the entire process from start to finish on their own – reaching out to psychologists, IVF clinics, attorneys, hospitals, insurance companies, escrow agencies, courts, etc. themselves. There is no agency fee and there is no agency assistance.
How does an Agency help with a Self-Match Surrogacy?
An Agency Self-match means the gestational carrier and parents-to-be receive support and guidance from the agency. At Forward Fertility, we reduce the agency fee for a ‘self-match’, since we did not identify the gestational carrier. While the work with a self-match can be the same or more than a non-self match, the reduced cost helps the parents keep costs down, too, and provides access to surrogacy that, otherwise, may not be possible. This reduced agency fee is paid in two installments, with the first one being at the time you sign up with Forward Fertility. Unlike the agency fee for an agency gestational carrier, which would be paid to Forward Fertility after the vetting of the candidate.
While Forward Fertility has been working with self-matches since 2013, we’ve seen a huge rise of self-matches in 2023. Additionally, some IVF clinics now require Self-Matches to work with an agency. This is due to the colossal amount of work that goes into getting ready for the embryo transfer (psychological consults, medical screening, legal contracts, escrow account). Doing a thorough job with the pre-treatment steps should make the treatment and pregnancy smoother.
You can read about some of our testimonials from former Parents and Gestational carriers here: https://forwardfertility.com/forward-fertility/testimonials/
Self-matches come with some benefits and with some downsides, too. Every pro has a flip side of being a con. We’ll walk through these below.
All self-matches (Independent AND Agency) should adhere to the following:
- ASRM (American Society of Reproductive Medicine) guidelines.
- Both parties retain their own, separate, independent attorneys.
- Careful review of Health Insurance Policy by both parties, attorneys, and/or agency.
- Utilize and independent Escrow agency to protect both parties’ financial interest and to minimize miscommunication and awkward conversations that take away from the relationship you’re working to develop and maintain.
Pros & Cons of a Self-Match
Trust and Knowing the Other Party.
One of the biggest ‘pros’ that people identify is that they know and trust the other party. They contrast this with working with someone new to them they’ve met through an agency, in which case they develop a relationship over the duration of the match. Going through surrogacy with someone you know could be one of the most beautiful experiences your relationship ever could have experienced. You may grow closer together and have an unbreakable bond between your families forever.
- Con: “When things go well, they go well.” What we mean by this is that it is when things do NOT go well, the situations tests people and their ability to cope. Relationships experience strain, devastation, and possible irreparable damage when events such as blame for a miscarriage, resentment over micromanagement/smothering anxiety, or spiraling anxiety occurs with a failed transfer.
- Existing relationships could be irreversibly damaged – a tragic loss for all.
More Affordable Surrogacy.
Some, but not all, self matches, are among very close friends or families. Often, those matches agree that the gestational carrier will not receive any compensation. Rather, her medical bills, lost wages, travel, post-partum recovery, etc. are paid for, but no compensation in addition to that. For many Parents-to-be, this cost savings can mean the difference between being able to pursue surrogacy and not. Independent Self-matches do not pay an agency fee and take on the tasks of coordination themselves.
- Con: The downside of this could be that the gestational carrier may feel resentment or frustration when they are doing the shots, appointments, ultrasounds, transfers, etc. There is a reason that most surrogates request compensation! This process is not for the faint of heart and the compensation that is received, while beneficial, is not commensurate with the emotional and physical work done by gestational carriers.
- Con: for Independent Self-matches, many times the burden that would normally fall upon the agency falls upon the surrogate. This may lead to a surrogate who is overburdened, mistakes, or errors in the process.
Flexible Criteria for Gestational Carrier.
IVF clinics and mental health professionals tend to have more flexible requirements with a Self Match Surrogacy. This is a generalization and does not apply everywhere, but many times, the IVF clinic or the mental health professional are weighing the value of the existing relationship when they approve a gestational carrier. Perhaps the BMI is a little higher or her age is a little higher than ideal or maybe she takes an anti-anxiety or anti-depression medication for mild symptoms. If all other factors are in line, then the carrier and the parents will be counseled about the risks and be allowed to proceed with legal contracts and treatments.
- Con: Guidelines for gestational carriers exist for a good reason. A self-match who is allowed to proceed with risk factors for gestational diabetes or high blood pressure risks experiencing pregnancy complications at a higher rate. A gestational carrier’s mental health history may have excluded her from being an agency candidate and she proceeds with a self-match. She may struggle with the emotional toll of surrogacy. These situations can be compounded without the support and guidance of an agency. Ideally, with a Self Match Surrogacy, the match has received very thorough counseling from their medical, psychological, and legal teams. As a result, they are not surprised about the findings and navigate the consequences in a productive way for all parties.
Gestational Carrier & Carrier’s Partner On Board
We’ve had some gestational carriers and/or their partners who are doing a self-match share that they would NOT want to proceed with this process of surrogacy if it was though an agency and was with someone they did not know. Doing this for someone they know feels ‘worth it’ or ‘comfortable’. Or, perhaps they feel they will get more support or less judgement from their social circle if they are ‘not doing it for money’.
- Con: Self-match gestational carriers often care very deeply about the Parents-to-be (as a friend, relative, or someone known to them). Yet, they have NOT researched or investigated all the details and hurdles that come with being a surrogate. In this case, when the rubber meets the road, the gestational carrier may feel that this process is not for them. Gestational carriers who reach out to agencies on their own invest in the process of surrogacy first, then they connect with the parents second. So, agency candidates may be better equipped to weather some of the hard spots that inevitably come along with fertility treatment.