It is time to see if our frozen eggs can make there own way in the world (as hilarious it is to send off checks for their daycare/nightcare/storage). As such I have been so lucky to be given recommendations from dear friends to talk to people in this world from all over the country (well, left and right coasts). This is a small snapshot of what I have learned...
The only organization that seems to have ranked the MANY surrogacy agencies/fertility clinics out there is called Men Having Babies. You can check out their ranking on their website: MenHavingBabies.org. (caveat, the organization is based in New York City - so it is fairly NYC centric and they have not ranked everyone). The nice thing about this ranking is that you know the agencies/clinics are all LGBT friendly, which is important.
This was a fascinating lesson in the variation of State Laws - as a native Washingtonian, I didn't know what a Governor did till I was in college. For example, a Gestational Surrogate (GS) in California is not allowed (per her contract) to be in Arizona for the last trimester of her pregnancy - because, if the baby comes early, Arizona will keep the child and not give it to the Intended Parents (IP). In Florida it is illegal to pay someone to be a GS for you, ditto in NY. However - as this Surrogacy Central FAQ states, "Thanks to our United States Constitution, one may travel to any state in the United States and do anything that is legal in that state." I think that is one of the best sentences ever.
The legality arguments about surrogacy are fascinating. A lot of the people who fought the first court battles are still working today. The most striking sentence I found from my readings about how this has moved forward was from the Center for Surrogate Parenting, when talking about laws in CA in 1980: "Existing laws at the time were: ... (2) you can't sell a child - Emancipation Proclamation outlawed slavery in 1863 ... (4) Sperm Donor Act stated if a man produces sperm so that another man's wife can have a child, the donor has no liability and no right to declare the child's father; i.e., the surrogate's husband was deemed the father of any child she carries."
Some agencies have psychologists on staff, some do not.
Some agencies tell you that the GS's insurance will not pay for her pregnancy, some tell you it is not a problem (wonder if that is a question of which state the surrogate is in).
Most agencies want you to pay the retainer upfront before your find the surrogacy - I only spoke to one that did not.
Here is my one snarky learning that I hope perhaps some of the agencies can hear: When a heterosexual married woman is talking to a surrogacy agency it is safe to make the assumption that this is not her first choice of being a mother (unless she is super model and doesn't want to ruin her figure). As such, there is no reason to ask any questions along the lines of: "Why are you and your husband infertile?" Just take the facts (frozen embryos, wants to find a GS) and move on.
On that same vein, I found myself doing some really good cleansing of bottled emotions (that bottle that seems to be neverending). Tears, yelling, walks, meditations, talkings with friends - all good flushings in order for me to hug our future pregnant GS without reservation and throw a kick ass baby shower.
We will write up a vision for how we want this process to go when we are in Brazil with John of God. 5 weeks away!