On January 18, 2020, a group of Carrot employees including myself attended Men Having Babies, a conference focused on helping gay men access the gestational carrier (also known as surrogacy) space. As with every aspect of fertility care, the gestational carrier (GC) services space is constantly evolving, and conferences like this help us make sure we’re staying informed on the latest updates. With over 300 intended parents and over 50 providers and professionals in the field attending, we had the opportunity to learn from some of the leading voices.
Here are a few of our team’s biggest takeaways for intended parents:
When working with egg donation agencies, safety and ethics are key.
It may seem obvious that egg donation agencies should prioritize the safety and health of the donor over profits, but it isn’t always completely clear what to keep an eye out for. An ethical egg donation agency should be transparent about the health risks, aim to retrieve a safe number of eggs, and should provide the donor access to their own legal council. These are just a few of the green flags intended parents should look for when working with an ethical egg donation agency.
Know the difference between full and limited service agencies.
One common topic of discussion at the conference was full vs. limited service agencies. While Carrot is able to help people choose an agency that feels best for their situation, it's still an important difference for people considering GC services to understand. Here’s how Men Having Babies described the differences:
- A full service agency provides GC matching services along with full screening and all coordination between parties. In addition, attorney, and psychological services, and escrow services are included in their agency fee. While there may still be other expenses that pop up, full service agency fees cover the vast majority of the expense associated with using an agency.
- A limited service agency provides GC matching services, but their fee won’t cover additional expenses. The agency provides some but not all of the providers, may charge an additional fee for escrow services, and may ask the intended parents to find their own attorneys. In general, the agency fee may be lower, but there are also fewer services included in that fee.
Historically, there hasn’t been a lot of research on GCs — but that’s changing.
While GCs are not a new idea, there hasn’t been as much research conducted compared to many other pursuits of parenthood. But that’s starting to change. At the conference, there was a lot of discussion about recently released research that noted children born via gestational carriers to gay fathers showed healthy emotional well-being, with fewer instances of anxiety and depression than the general population.
Matching with a GC is both an art and a science.
As with any donor-assisted reproduction method, there are many important things to consider about who you choose to partner with on your GC journey. MHB shared a few of the most important questions to ask your potential gestational carrier:
- How do you feel about selective reduction? While it’s a tough question to ask, you must be on the same page when it comes to ending an unsafe pregnancy.
- How many embryos would you like to transfer? Since multiple transfers could lead to multiples such as twins or triplets — often increasing the risk of the pregnancy — it’s important to make sure you and your potential GC are on the same page.
- Where do you want the delivery to happen? Should the delivery happen in the intended parent’s home city? Or should the delivery happen where the gestational carrier lives?
- What level of contact will the intended parents have before, during, and after with their GC? Are the intended parents hoping to become best friends for years after the birth, or is the expectation that you plan to talk only when necessary? This question can greatly impact who the best choice is for an intended parent's journey.
We look forward to applying our learnings towards helping our Carrot members on their GC journeys. If you’d like to learn more about Carrot, reach out today.