Dear Sassy: I’m really interested in being a gestational surrogate. I’ve done a lot of research and think I have a pretty good idea about whether I am qualified and that I want to move forward. The biggest part I am still struggling with is whether to use an agency or to look to match independently. Do you have any insight? – Independent Thinker
Dear Indie; That’s a great question that many struggle with and there is no truly one size fits all answer. An independent match saves the intended parents quite a bit of money, which is fantastic during such an expensive process, and it’s admirable that you want to help them do that, but it requires a LOT of work and extra effort on both yours and their parts. If you are matching independently keep a close eye on your own safety and security (treat it like blind dating via the internet!) as you explore a match with new intended parents – and know that it can take a lot of time and effort just to find a good match. Using an agency can be an advantage in that they have a number of systems set up already to support you, they handle the legwork, know where to refer you to and just generally have a great idea of how the entire system works to help troubleshoot any potential roadblocks. Additionally, they screen all intended parents and should be matching you based on preferred criteria, thus saving you quite a bit of time and effort as you work through compatibility issues. Another advantage of using an agency is that in the event of a communication issue with your intended parents you have a built in mediator to help handle everything. There’s also a third option out there that many don’t consider. Some agencies offer concierge services. In cases such as that, you match independently but come to the agency (at a reduced agency fee) to have them assist through the logistics and look out for all parties best interests
Dear Sassy: I don’t have kids of my own yet (And don’t have any desire to. Ever, if I’m honest.) but I’m watching my best friend struggle with infertility and want to offer to help by being her gestational surrogate. What can I do? - Childless Supporter
Dear Childless: Your offer is so lovely and heartfelt that it really hurts me to have to give you the blunt truth that it’s just not possible in that exact way. In order to act as a gestational carrier you need to have given birth to at least one child and be raising that child – it’s also highly suggested that you be done creating your own family as while it is a rare complication, acting as a gestational surrogate could impact your own future fertility. Channel that giving and altruistic spirit, though – we need more people like you in this world! There are a lot of great organizations and events out there that allow you to show your support in other ways, such as the RESOLVE Walk of Hope held in many locations throughout the US (in Denver it is on June 24, 2017)
Dear SS: Breastfeeding my child was really important to me. I really want to match with Intended Parents that want me to pump breastmilk but I’m overwhelmed at the logistics of it all. How in the world does that work??? - Breasturant Open
Dear Breastaurant: You are an incredible human being! Pumping for your own child takes an incredible amount of time and dedication. For someone else? You rock! It’s definitely possible, but it can become very costly for the parents (they are no longer the intended parents at this point in our hypothetical – they ARE the parents – how awesome is that?!?!). I’m assuming for sake of this discussion that the parents don’t live close enough to easily drive and pick up any supplies of frozen milk. The parents will pay you for pumping either weekly or by the ounce. They’ll also need to pay for all of your supplies (I would suggest you insist on a hospital grade pump if you are going to do this for any amount of time). At agreed upon intervals, again at the parents’ expense, you’ll pack an appropriate shipping container full of the frozen milk, pack it with dry ice to ensure it stays cold for a longer period of time, and will then ship the very heavy box overnight via FedEx. It’s very important that you confirm with and disclose to the shipping company that you are making a shipment containing dry ice. There are special restrictions on shipping containers containing dry ice (it has to do with how it consumes oxygen – it’s actually fascinating if you’re into learning about things like that). As a personal aside, I would make sure you ship the container to somewhere that you know the intended parents (or someone who is able to sign) will be available to receive it as well as shipping early in the week in case there are any delays. Happy pumping!