Surrogacy without an agency: What do you need to consider with independent surrogacy?

For many embarking on surrogacy the thought of navigating the journey without the help of an agency is daunting. Therefore, it is important to work through what aspects of your journey you want to do on your own, versus where you might want to get support from a surrogacy agency. Below we’ll look at how independent surrogacy works compared to what an agency, like Brilliant Beginnings, would offer.

Does independent surrogacy differ from agency surrogacy? 

In short no. Surrogates come to surrogacy for different reasons, but helping others to have a child is their universal motivation. Likewise intended parents are focussed on becoming parents. 

For some this can mean they will spend time researching and will settle for one or another, for other intended parents they will be comfortable working with a number of options to maximise their chance of finding a surrogate. 

An agency or organisation is generally going to work best for those teams who want to objective guidance with someone keeping an eye on the path ahead as well as carrying out the preliminary preparation for everyone. 

Finding support and guidance

For anyone involved in surrogacy, it is crucial that there is guidance for dealing with things that don’t go according to plan, or if there is a set-back or disappointment. 

It can be very difficult when navigating through the practicalities of independent surrogacy, as well as maintaining objectivity when everyone is in the midst of emotional stresses, and supporting each other in the best way possible. Worry and stress can often become compounded and establishing where additional support lies is important from the outset. 

There are some great groups on social media that do a good job at providing guidance and support to surrogacy teams, but this should certainly not be taken for granted and is typically anecdotal. Support from friends and family who know everyone can provide that objective support that is often needed for independent surrogacy. 

It is crucial that time is taken to research the different groups and ask how they might be able to help, and how they operate, if friends or family are able to offer that supportive role and if not, whether an independent route is right for you and your team. 

Surrogacy agencies can also help those undergoing independent surrogacy if needed, taking a more guidance role than the involved one if you were using them for the entire journey. Similarly, legal advice on surrogacy, from a solicitor, can be obtained independently.

Getting legal advice

In the UK the woman who gives birth to a child is considered the legal mother. If she is married or in a civil partnership, her husband or wife will be on the birth certificate too. It makes no difference if you go through an agency or not. Because of this, It is really important that all involved are aware of how the law will affect them and their family, and regardless of the route.

Additionally, it is currently a criminal offence for intended parents to ‘advertise’ they are looking for a surrogate, and likewise for a surrogate to ‘advertise’ she is offering to be a surrogate. On the many independent groups and websites this is clearly being approached quite liberally, but it is important to be aware of the law around this.

Since surrogacy in the UK is a nuanced process from a legal and practical standpoint, legal advice is going to be important to obtain. With UK surrogacy, there are no legally binding agreements, however, putting a surrogacy agreement in place is advised and this can be done with the support of Brilliant Beginnings.

With independent surrogacy, it will help to ensure everyone is fully aware of their legal status in relation to any child born through surrogacy and what their role is before moving forward. By comparison, at our agency, we include a Legal Review as part of our service to make sure both surrogate and intended parents are clear on what is involved legally.

Working with a clinic 

During the surrogacy process, whether with an agency or when working with an independent surrogate, you will need to be in contact with, at least, a fertility clinic. Any clinic will be happy to treat you without the support of an agency, but some may have other requirements to make sure that you have had professional advice and guidance. 

Clinics will typically want everyone to approach surrogacy in a well-informed and settled perspective so that there is minimal risk to anyone involved. Some clinics will want to ensure that at the very least the intended parents have formal legal advice and will require confirmation of this. Others will want to see that everyone has had legal advice, and/or an agreement is in place between the surrogate and intended parents. 

All these can be difficult things to coordinate without a third party helping. If you did decide to do so, it is important that the agreement is approached in an open way, and that everyone feels able to voice any concerns or desires and that these are listened to and taken on board before finalising any agreement. 

How can we help with your independent surrogacy journey?

The team at Brilliant Beginnings is always on hand and happy to speak with any woman considering becoming a surrogate, and will spend as much time as she needs to go through the things to consider and what to expect. Our growing surrogate community is also on hand to provide first-hand experience, advice and support.

For intended parents at an early stage we offer an options review meeting which is an opportunity to explore all the possible routes in more detail before deciding which will work for them. You can find more information about this on our Services & Fees page.

All our UK teams benefit from complete preparation (counselling, psychological evaluation, understanding expenses and impact on family and work life), bespoke matching, legal advice, a mediated agreement and professional guidance from a dedicated Client Manager to help with all aspects of the clinical, emotional and practicalities of your journey.

In addition to our complete UK Matching and Management Service, we can also help surrogacy teams who have met each other independently to bring together an agreement, and legal advice from NGA Law is included as part of this. NGA Law can also provide a standalone legal review.