The following comment from another agency was recently shared with us:
We have found that our chief competitors do extensive prescreening before a match. This is a way for them to charge you more up front, give you a false sense of security and in the long run, end up having no extra added value. The medical screening could be different when it comes time to match the Surrogate. Also, the very involved psychological screening isn't necessary and drives up your costs; our screening process is so involved that we'll pick up psychological problems before matching. Finally, they're very concerned with the Surrogate's needs and not so much with the Intended Parents' needs; we strike a healthy balance between the two.
This from an agency who claims to have been in the business in the field of surrogacy for 6 years and whose experience is based upon the fact that they became parents through surrogacy. Their lack of experience and knowledge is rather startling.
The following are our responses to each of those comments:
1. Extensive prescreening is a way to charge you more up front:
All screening of a Surrogate Mother and her husband/partner, if any, is an expense the agency must incur. If the Surrogate Mother does not pass psychological or medical screening, gets pregnant during the screening herself, changes her mind about participation in surrogacy, her financial circumstances change, she changes jobs and cannot take the necessary time off work needed, she needs to move to a different state, she divorces or there is illness in the family, etc., then the entire costs of all of her screening are borne by the agency. It is unclear what they meant by “This as a way of charging more up front.” Quite the contrary, does it make more sense for an agency to undertake minimal screening up front and pass the entire risk on to the Intended Parents?
Secondly, all Intended Parents pay for the screening costs of the Surrogate Mother they work with. Ultimately all Intended Parents will be billed for or have to pay directly for the costs of psychological screening, social disease testing, an appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist to evaluate her uterus and approve her to proceed with their program, and a background check. This is completely standard for EVERY surrogacy agency.
Therefore the only difference to be considered is WHO pays the costs of those candidates that do not pass the screening process. In CSP’s program, a surrogate candidate that does not pass any stage of the screening process is a cost incurred by CSP. In other programs the cost is borne 100% by the Intended Parents. Depending on what stage in the screening process the prospective Surrogate Mother reaches before she is deemed ineligible to participate, the prescreening costs can run anywhere from a few hundred dollars to approximately $4,000.00. The upper figure is reached if the surrogate and her husband are completely psychologically screened, have undergone all social disease testing, background checks are completed and the surrogate was seen by an reproductive endocrinologist for her screening (including laparoscopy, etc) and she then decides not to continue as a surrogate mother.
2. Giving a false sense of security … end up having no extra added value
This statement is blatantly inaccurate. What false sense of security can there possibly be in being matched with a Surrogate Mother and her husband/partner who is 100% psychologically screened, has undergone full social disease testing, completed her background check and been approved by a reproductive endocrinologist? It is almost impossible to imagine that an agency is so lacking in knowledge and experience that they would ever utter such a shameful statement. The value of a prescreened Surrogate Mother is immense, compared to that of a prospective Surrogate Mother who happened to complete an online questionnaire a week ago and was interviewed over the phone by an agency staff member whose only qualification, is that she was a Surrogate Mother once before.
3. The medical screening could be different when it comes time to match the surrogate.
What CSP does is an initial screening with the Surrogate Mother and her partner to clear her for participation in our program. These tests are then transferred to the doctor’s office once the Surrogate Mother is matched and the doctor has the case. The IVF doctor will have additional testing for the Surrogate Mother, but that is in addition to what CSP has already done and the Intented Parents are not paying again for those same tests.
4. The very involved psychological screening isn’t necessary
Of all the other statements this agency has made this is probably the one that causes us the most concern. Are we to believe that they do not have their surrogate mothers undergo psychological screening by an independent licensed mental health provider? This cannot be possible. Do they claim that their apparent 6 years of experience equals that of a professionally trained psychologist or licensed psychotherapist with years of experience in the field of surrogacy? Going back to the famous Mary-Beth Whitehead case out of NJ to the more recent tragic surrogacy case featured on the Dr. Phil show, it is painfully clear that surrogacy cases can go wrong, wreck lives and destroy a childhood when psychological screening is not performed and counseling is not available throughout the pregnancy.
5. More concerned with the surrogate’s needs than the Intended Parents’ needs.
This is a statement that causes us to shudder. Is it not in the interests of the Intended Parents that an agency take good care of their surrogate mother? It is important that an agency deals with the needs of a Surrogate and her family so that these needs do not become overwhelming or become the burden of the Intended Parents.
Most agencies have a case manager – which is typically a prior Surrogate Mother – who is the contact person between the Intended Parents, the Surrogate and the agency. CSP believes that each party needs a person whose sole responsibility is them. CSP has a case manager that works exclusively with Intended Parents. The Surrogate Mother has a separate case manager who works with her. The two case managers consult once a week with the counselor on the case. The counselor is a mental health professional – psychologist or psychotherapist – whose offers counseling, guidance and support to both the Surrogate Mother and the Intended Parent.
Therefore the statement that CSP is more concerned with the needs of one party over the other is ridiculous. The Intended Parents have a representative, the Surrogate has a representative and both parties have a full time mental health professional working on their case.
With other agencies if the Intended Parents do not get along with their case manager, they have no alternative. That is the only staff member available to them. Their only choice is to retain an independent mental health professional at their expense to coordinate between them, their Surrogate and their case manager. That cost would be an additional cost for the Intended Parents.
The danger lies in what an Intended Parent does not know about the surrogacy process. CSP offers 30 years of experience. In that time we have gained the experience from over 1,500 pregnancies, and we have dealt with couples from a variety of countries and cultures. There is simply no substitute for experience. CSP offers more experience than any other agency in the entire world.