Sunday, 14 January 2018

Surrogacy Sunday: How Do I Match?



Unlike the US, here in the UK it is illegal to advertise for a surrogate. So, if you require a surrogate, how on earth do you locate one? Also, if you are a surrogate, how do you find the couple that you wish to help?
Currently there are two ways in which surrogates and Intended Parents (IPs) can match; independently or via an agency.
Independent matches are formed via the likes of forums and Facebook groups. Alternatively you may have friends or family members of whom require a surrogate and you wish to help them. From my own experience, I have found a good few UK Surrogacy Facebook groups of which have provided me with an abundance of information. I have also been able to follow people’s journeys and ask my own questions - everyone I have come across has been so helpful in helping me to understand the ins and outs of treatments, legalities and more, ready for my own journey. A lot of matching goes on in these groups which is fantastic to see. I myself have chatted to a few IPs since joining, one of which is now happily matched and I can’t wait to see what 2018 will bring for her.
If you wish to match through an agency, the main two that come to mind are COTS and Surrogacy UK. Early in 2017 I contacted Surrogacy UK to request an application pack to register with them as a Surrogate. However, I ended up discovering the Facebook groups and never carried on with my application as, for me, independent matching seemed more personal. 
The way in which agencies work is that the surrogate is provided with a number of IPs profiles; the surrogate then decides if she would like to get to know any of them. This can be done through Surrogacy socials, meals out, phone calls, texts etc. Some agencies provide a three month get to know period before both parties need to decide if they want to match. If it’s a yes then that’s great, if it’s a no then it’s back to looking at other profiles. 

A few of the pros and cons that I have come across from my own experience in regards to independently matching are as follows:
You can chat to who you want, when you want, and for as long as you want. There is no specific time scale for the getting to know period - this ensures that everyone can take their time and be 100 percent sure before matching. 
IPs can talk to other couples who are going through the same and surrogates can chat to other surrogates. I am actually in a Surrogate Only Facebook group too which I have found to be so useful.
If you are a first time surrogate like me, then you will obtain an abundance of information from more experienced surrogates which I appreciated.
It can work out cheaper. Let’s be honest, if IPs have a friend or family member who is willing to be their surrogate, a lot of the time the expenses may work out less. I know it would for me! 
So far, the biggest con I have found with the Facebook groups is that sometimes a troll can slip through the net into the group.
As a surrogate, I have had messages from IPs which literally say “are you available as a gestational/traditional surrogate?”. No “hi how are you?” - surrogates are people too and getting to know us is key! 
Sometimes questions can go unanswered; not very often but it can happen. 

Whilst I haven’t been registered with an agency before, I do know some surrogates who have and they have helped me compile some pros and cons:
Everyone is protected; agencies tend to require letters from GPs and DBRS checks. However, there is nothing stopping you from doing this with an independent match either.
They ensure that surrogates receive their expenses, however they may not do it the “standard” ten per cent a month.
A much less chance of any trolls slipping through.
With some agencies, a surro can only get to know another couple once ties are completely severed with the couple they were speaking with before; this can reassure the IPs as they have a form of “exclusivity” knowing the surrogate isn’t getting to know another couple alongside them.
You are limited when it comes to matching; for example, surrogates read IPs profiles and select who they wish to chat to from there. Some couples may not come across as well on paper than what they do in real life so miss out.
Some agencies place ridiculous fees on IPs to join when there’s no guarantee of a match.
Agencies can close their books to IPs when there aren’t enough surrogates. This isn’t the case with independent groups where anyone can join; naturally there tends to be a higher ratio of IPs to surrogates but IPs can spend this time chatting and gaining information.

Essentially there are probably a lot more pros and cons to both ways of matching; these are just the ones that I have encountered. The best advice I can give to both IPs and surrogates is to take your time and don’t rush for a match; build a friendship first.
I’d love to hear how you matched and whether you would have done anything different.

To read what Surrogacy actually is, take a look at the first of my Surrogacy Sunday posts.
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