A surrogacy journey is comprised of ten major steps and we take pride in carrying Intended Parents through to the finish line. Understandably, the matching process is often the main focus for most Intended Parents. Every agency does it differently. It is as much an art, as it is a structured process. Here is a summary of our approach along with some helpful matching tips.
Your Matching Profile
In our Orchid Journey Management portal, both Intended Parents and Gestational Carriers have the opportunity to build a matching profile. This is the first step in the matching process.
For Intended Parents, we have basic demographic information, an explanation of why you are pursuing surrogacy, your expectations for communication before, during and after the pregnancy, and a space to discuss what values are important to you and your family. Additionally, there is a place for a letter to tell your story and any other information you would like to share with a prospective surrogate. Towards the bottom of your profile are medical preferences on critical issues like the number of embryos you would like to transfer, selective reduction and abortion, fetal abnormalities, high-order multiples, and vaccination. Finally, there is an opportunity upload lots of pictures and even a video.
For the Gestational Carrier, there is a similar profile set up with demographic information, communication expectations, a letter explaining why they would like to be a surrogate, and medical preferences. In addition, there is a complete pregnancy history, as well as any clinical history if they have undergone previous surrogacy journeys (including transfer outcomes). We also provide insurance information and estimated out of pocket medical costs for maternity care. Finally, the gestational carrier can upload pictures and video for the Intended Parents.
Screen, Then Match
After profiles are built, neither side is automatically advanced to matching. For gestational carriers, an extensive screening process occurs and we do not share any profiles until screening is complete.
Gestational carriers in our program undergo:
- Local, state and federal criminal background checks
- Credit and financial background check
- Lifestyle screening
- Medical records review, including pre-approval by partner clinics
- Evaluation for high-risk pregnancy by a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist
- Psychological evaluation by an independent therapist who is familiar with the issues surrounding surrogacy
- Medical insurance evaluation
Intended Parents are also not matched unless they have met with a psychologist who specializes in third-party reproduction. Additionally, embryos must be made. Note: you can be on our waitlist if you are still creating embryos. The idea being that you bubble to the top of the matching list as that embryo creation process is completed.
Like all reputable programs, we have a significant waitlist of Intended Parents. One way that we manage this waitlist is by setting up cohorts for matching. Cohorts are a way that we group lifestyle and matching preferences of IPs. Some examples of cohorts are: single parents, sibling journeys, and LBGTQ+ families. Within a cohort, IPs are then stacked by wait time with matching priority going to those who have been on our list the longest.
The Profile Swap
As mentioned in our previous newsletter, gestational carriers are in the position of picking from a large number of IPs. Surrogates see Intended Parent profiles first. On average, a carrier is seeing at least three profiles before agreeing to an initial facilitated call/meeting. If the carrier expresses interest in a family, then we send the GC profile over to the IPs. If everyone would like to meet, then we move forward with a facilitated meeting.
When we say to IPs “you’re at the top of your cohort,” it means that your profile will go out first to a carrier who is open to matching with your preferences. We often provide additional background with your profile to encourage a match, especially if you have been waiting a long time for a surrogate.
In the end, it is about the quality of the match. Just like when you’re finding a life partner, there is no crystal ball telling us when your match will come up. However, as “matchmakers” we do our part to curate good quality matches. This is why we don’t allow IPs and GCs to comb our database and look at any available profiles.
Your match meeting may be in-person or via Zoom. Your case manager from the agency is present and will help facilitate the conversation. We talk about how you came to surrogacy, your expectations for the journey, as well as those harder topics like your thoughts on pregnancy complications. It is an organic, honest conversation.
99% of the time, everyone is giddy to move forward and match. However, we always tell both sides that they’re welcome to have a repeat meeting or meet with another match. We want everyone to be completely comfortable about moving forward together.
Helpful Tips for Matching
Everyone wants to match as soon as possible. Building a strong matching profile is your best strategy. Taking your time to think about and discuss your matching preferences is essential. If you build your profile based on what you think will get you matched quicker vs. your actual values, you’re going to run into trouble when it comes to contracts and potential future complications. Honesty is the best policy because the right surrogate is out there for you.
We also need to share what will NOT get you matched quicker.
- Trying to pay us more money. We do not have a “get matched quick” extra agency fee. If an agency offers this, we think this is a red flag.
- Offering a substantially higher level of compensation to the surrogate. That’s very generous of you, but carriers in our program have a standard base compensation package plus additional allowances that can flex with their life circumstances. What’s the risk? Offering thousands more in compensation will attract candidates who are financially motivated vs. altruistically motivated. It also drives up the overall cost of surrogacy industry-wide, which goes against our agency values of affordability.
- Calling us everyday asking about the wait… (we had to say it!) Okay, we know you’re anxious. Remember, we don’t take any agency fees until you’re matched. So we aren’t hiding any gestational carriers away from our Intended Parents. As soon as we screen and identify a potential carrier for you, we want to match them and we will reach out about it!
Don’t forget to check out our tips for building a great matching profile. Feel free to reach out if you need us to unlock your matching profile for editing within Orchid.