By G. David Adamson, M.D., Founder and CEO of ARC Fertility
Having a child is one of the most important decisions in your life. It impacts your lifestyle, your body, and your finances. When you must use fertility treatments and assisted reproductive technology (ART) to have a child, these considerations are amplified: You must find trusted fertility doctors and clinics. You may have to select sperm, egg or embryo donors, or surrogates. Finally, the costs are exacerbated for many, as traditional healthcare and benefits plans may not cover fertility. All these factors contribute to increased stress during a time that is supposed to be exciting.
For those who are working with surrogates — whether there’s no female partner involved or because of health issues — finding a clinic to facilitate IVF and surrogacy is even more challenging. With many different parties involved in the process, there are more individuals who need to be involved in choosing a healthcare provider. When embarking on this journey, it can be difficult to navigate what to expect, what to look for, and what questions to ask when choosing an IVF clinic for surrogacy.
As a reproductive endocrinologist and the founder of ARC Fertility, I have years of experience helping individuals and couples become parents. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with fertility clinics, finding trusted fertility care providers across the U.S. for ARC Fertility.. For individuals and couples undergoing a surrogacy journey, here are my top three considerations for choosing an IVF clinic:
1. Choose Expertise
Most fertility clinics and doctors have general knowledge on all fertility matters but have a specific area of interest or expertise. PCOS, fertility preservation, male infertility, IVF; the potential areas of expertise are endless. That’s why it’s important to find the right doctor for your unique fertility journey.
Since surrogacy is a complicated process, having a doctor that has experience with your specific needs is important. When choosing a clinic, find one that has experience with IVF specifically in relation to surrogacy. They will understand the nuances of the situation and be able to offer the best advice for your circumstance. They may also have additional resources to help you through the process of choosing a surrogate and understanding the laws around surrogacy.
Many clinics advertise their areas of expertise, and all clinics should have reviews on their quality of service and care. Spend time researching each potential clinic to ensure that other individuals have had positive experiences with IVF and surrogacy, including looking into success rates. If it’s possible, ask someone you trust who has undergone the surrogacy process. Finally, trusted online resources, such as ARC Fertility’s clinic directory, are great places to start your search for clinics with good reputations.
2. Ensure Comfort
With many different parties involved in surrogacy — the intended parents, the surrogate, and potential egg or embryo donors — it is important that all parties involved are comfortable and agree on the clinic that will be used for the procedures. This means ensuring that the staff and doctors create good relationships with all parties, and that there is clear communication and visibility into the process for all.
Many individuals or couples who choose gestational carrier surrogacy are in the LGBTQ+ community, which is why it’s also important to choose a clinic that promotes diversity, inclusion, and equity, and creates a culture of inclusion. Luckily, there are awards and resources to direct patients to the best care. Family Equality is also a great resource for members of the LGBTQ+ community who are looking to build their family.
3. Review Resources
Surrogacy carries complicated legal implications. In many states, the process is entirely legal, but other states are still adapting and modernizing laws. There are also implications about legal parenthood in relation to surrogacy. Ensure that the clinic has good legal counsel to help you understand these factors, and help you create and understand a surrogacy arrangement. Make sure that the legal counsel is available to both yourself and to the surrogate. That way, there’s no confusion or unexpected issues at the end of the journey.
The clinic should also provide proper resources for screening and finding a surrogate. Surrogacy agencies will provide background and credit checks, as well as psychological evaluations, screening for high-risk pregnancy issues, and a home visit, all to ensure that risks to any parties involved are minimized, including the child. The clinic, on the other hand, is responsible for reviewing these records and screening them for any potential risks before medically clearing the surrogate. Make sure that your clinic is reviewing all the necessary records to ensure the safety of all parties.
The journey to become a parent can be complicated. It’s important to work with a clinic that will provide every party with realistic expectations. This can include providing resources to help patients understand and pay for the cost of surrogacy and outline realistic timeframes for procedures. The clinic should also be in continual communication with you and the carrier, and actively sharing what to expect during each phase of the journey. This can reduce stress for all parties.
Beginning Your Surrogacy Journey
When starting your surrogacy journey, there are a lot of considerations. Choosing the proper clinic and doctor is as essential as choosing the best surrogate. By looking at a clinic’s expertise, ensuring that all parties feel safe and comfortable, and having the proper resources available for your journey, you can help to reduce some of the stress. In the end, the goal of all parties involved should be the same: to help you have a baby. Find a clinic and a doctor that can help you the most to achieve that goal.
Dr. G. David Adamson M.D., FRCSC, FACOG, FACS, is the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of ARC Fertility. He is a globally recognized reproductive endocrinologist and surgeon, and is a Clinical Professor, ACF at Stanford University, and Associate Clinical Professor at UCSF. Dr. Adamson also serves as the current Chair of the International Committee Monitoring ART (ICMART), a WHO NSA/NGO.